Sometimes, an artist is lucky enough to have things come easy for them. However, most of the time, an artist’s success comes from the work they put in to their career, and how they connect with their fanbase.
Nashville native Kyle Elliott has not only done just that, but prides himself on it, and is starting to see the results. Nearing 100,000 streams collectively on his three single releases thus far, Elliott is looking to build his momentum with his debut EP, “Love Hangover,” which is set for release during the summer.
Before the release, hear from Kyle about having a musical background, what led to pursuing a career in country music, the stories behind his releases, what fans can expect from “Love Hangover,” and more!
Pro Country: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
Kyle Elliott: I’m born and raised here in Nashville, so I’ve been around country music my entire life. My dad had a cassette box in his pickup truck, and he would listen to George Strait, Randy Travis, and Wade Hayes; the more traditional, 90s-country sound. It really comes from my childhood. As far as influences today, I still like to think I’m a little bit more traditional than your average male artist in country music. Today, my influences are Chris Young, Josh Turner, and Lee Brice. That area of music is what I’m most in to.
PC: You got involved in music at a young age. What was it about music that connected with you so early in your life?
KE: I really didn’t have a choice. My mom was our music director at church when I was a kid, so there’s video of me singing at the age of three. And she became our high school choir teacher in our hometown, so I really didn’t have a choice (laughs). It’s just always been in my blood.
PC: What led to the transition of being around music to realizing you wanted to pursue music as a career?
KE: I had planned on going to college to study vocal performance, which most people think is a degree where you learn to be a star, but it’s all very classical. I did that during my first year of college, and decided that wasn’t where I wanted to be in life, and that’s not what I wanted to pursue. I moved back home to Nashville, and started working on a degree in audio production, because I figured if I’m not going to play the music, I can at least make the music in the studio. However, I’m not the greatest when it comes to math, and they wanted me to learn things like the acoustics of algebra, and I don’t even know what that means (laughs). I ended up changing again, and took a radio and television direction. I worked at the local news station doing production with cameras, and I really enjoyed that, but that world is pretty harsh as well. You’ve got non-stop working hours, traveling non-stop, and they don’t pay you very much, so I kind of fell out of love with the production side of it.
I remember exactly where I was when I decided that I would go into country music. I’d actually been in an alternative band prior to that, which was fun, but not what I wanted to do. It was November 3, 2016, and I was sitting at the doctor’s office, and I had gotten a text that my girlfriend was dumping me, and I said, “You know what, screw it. I’m going to go for it.” I changed every plan I had, and started pointing myself in the direction of being an artist and songwriter. I didn’t know where to start, so I just started going out in town and listening to writer’s rounds. I picked up my guitar, and started writing my own songs.
My mom’s friend does recording for choir groups, and has his own home studio, and he was willing to record me for a small fee, so I recorded my first single there, and it just really took off from that point. I didn’t really have any direction, I just went wherever the wind was taking me.
PC: Were you feeling any type of pressure, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release music for the first time with the “Anymore” single?
KE: It wasn’t really pressure, I was just eager. it wasn’t that I needed to show anybody anything or I needed to prove anything, I wanted to claim to have something; so when people asked me what I do, I could tell them I was a singer/songwriter. The first question that always comes up after you say that is, “What have you done?” I had to have something to show them, so that’s what the idea was with releasing that first single, which has done really great, I’m really fortunate with that. That song also shows how far I’ve come in just three short years.
PC: “Anymore” is a pretty heavy song. Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind that song?
KE: That was the first song I wrote as a solo artist. Most people don’t record their first song until they’ve written a hundred songs, but I recorded the first song that I wrote. Most people say you try a hundred before you get a good one, but I guess this one was okay enough because people seem to like it (laughs).
When I decided that going into country music was going to be my path, I mentioned that it was because I got dumped over text message. My life had kind of been in limbo as far as what I was going to do next with my career. The idea was that I didn’t want to be on the fence anymore. “Anymore” was me turning a new chapter in my life, and that’s really where the inspiration came from; from that moment on November 3rd. That’s the story that just poured out of me, which was surprisingly easy to write. I hadn’t written much before, so I guess I had a lot to say (laughs).
PC: “Temptation” has a bit of a different sound to it, sounding a bit like an outlaw song meets “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. Is it at all important to you to showcase that versatility in your sound?
KE: I wanted to write something for another artist to see if I could make songwriting take off. I’m a big Chris Stapleton fan, and I have some bluegrass ties in my family, so I really like listening to The SteelDrivers, which was Chris Stapleton’s original group back when he was doing bluegrass. It was kind of that mixture of southern rock and a little bit of a bluegrassy feel. I was thinking that I would write the song, and Chris Stapleton would cut it (laughs). I started playing it out at writer’s rounds, and people would say that they really like the song, and that it has a really cool meaning. I really like it too, but the people I played it for and the reaction I got from it was why I recorded it.
However, it’s absolutely important to showcase different sounds like that. As an artist and a writer, you have to play two different areas. As a writer, you want to play where the money is, and you want to play to what selling, and what’s selling is “bro-country,” But as an individual, I love the more traditional side of country music. I think that’s kind of shown with the sound in “Temptation.” I don’t know what the next chapter of my music is going to sound like; I think it’s ever-changing. I think, right off the bat, this song shows what I’m capable of doing. It’s all about seeing what people like, and seeing what the fans want.
PC: What kind of validation was it to see “Never Break” achieve more than 70,000 streams on Spotify?
KE: It’s really big for me. I didn’t study the music industry in college like a lot of my songwriting friends did, and I didn’t really understand how it worked. Streaming was really new to me, and it’s still pretty new to in general, but figuring out the algorithms built around it and everything, and getting a bump when you first release something is so important. I figured that out by the time we were getting ready to release “Never Break.” I had two singles that I had already released that had done okay for not having any music out there, but I really needed to push this one. Having a great second person being on the song, Stephanie Nash, was key. Having two people push a song instead of one is great. The more attention you can draw to at the better. We share that work of art as well, so trying to make it successful together is easier than trying to do it by yourself. Having that success is awesome, and it just sets the bar even higher for the next one.
PC: You’ve mentioned that you will be releasing an EP later this year. What can fans expect to hear on the EP?
KE: I’ve been working on it recently, it’s going to be six songs total. We’re going to try to do two early releases as singles from it, and then we’re going to release the entire thing together. That will all be done hopefully by the end of August. This EP has a very summer feel, which is why I wanted to get it out before the summertime really got here. We’re kind of running behind, but I think we’ll be able to get it out before that’s all said and done.
Four of the six songs I wrote by myself, and I’ve had those songs for over two years now. I’ve been playing them out and about and getting really great responses. It’s kind of a continuity album where all the songs are related to one another in some way, shape, or form. The title track is called “Love Hangover,” and that’s about getting over all the early stuff that I wrote about my relationships and my hard times over the past couple years, and moving on to something bigger and better, which is where the whole album leads you. It’s a cool concept album, and I’m really excited to let people hear it, because I’m almost tired of hearing it by myself (laughs).
PC: Along with the release of “Love Hangover,” what are your plans for 2019?
KE: I’m planning on doing some smaller tours here in the southeast; going as far east as the Carolinas, as far west as Texas, and as far south as Florida. I’m working on getting connections with a booking agency or a PR Company. I’ll also be playing some festivals. One will be the Muscle Shoals Singer/Songwriter Festival, which will be at the end of October, so I’m really looking forward to that!
PC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
KE: I’ve met a lot of songwriters and artists that really want the success and fame. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of money, and I don’t have the deep connections in the music industry, and looking at my track record, I’m not particularly lucky (laughs). The hard work and dedication and the authenticity of my music is really what’s important to me. If I become the next superstar that is selling out arenas across the country, awesome! If I’m living off of my music, making a couple thousand dollars a month just by playing shows here and there and picking up streams, awesome! I’m not looking for any specific milestone in this career, I just want to do what I love, and I just want people to enjoy what I do. I’ve really come to terms with the reason that I like putting out music now more than I did before; I really love expressing myself through my lyrics and through my songs, and since I released these three singles, fans and the people that listen to the songs tell me how my songs have helped them to a tough time, or how my song is so relatable to what they’re going through. Music is unlike anything else, and just being able to show that expression and hear other people’s stories through it is almost as rewarding as writing it by myself.
*All images courtesy of Kyle Elliott Facebook Page*