As much as country music is known for sad songs and songs of love and love lost, it is also known for its humorous songs and elements, and Hickory, North Carolina native Krystal King has tapped into that tradition with her debut single “(You Had Me At) Double Wide.)
Feeling a connection with country music from an early age, King moved to Nashville after getting engaged to her husband, and has been steadily making a name for herself in writer’s rounds around Music City.
Before she releases “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” on November 16, read along as King describes her journey to Nashville, the emotions she’s feeling as she prepares to release her debut single, the real-life inspiration behind it, her big plans for 2020, and more!
Pro Country: Can you talk about your start in music and how you’ve gotten to the point of releasing your first single “(You Had Me At) Double Wide”?
Krystal King: I’m from Hickory, North Carolina. When I was younger, my parents listened to the radio a lot. My parents didn’t really listen to country music, but they just happened to be scrolling through the channels and landed on a country station, and I happened to catch a glimpse of a song I really liked, and started listening to country from there on out. I started listening to artists like Alan Jackson and Shania Twain. I fell in love with the traditional sound and the stories that country music told. I always said I wanted to be a country singer. My took me to a karaoke event one time, and they dared me to sing. They didn’t think I’d do it, but I did, and I knew all the words. They were really shocked, and that’s where it all started. As I got older, I begged my parents to take me to guitar lessons. One of my guitar teachers got me started with songwriting. I started out with that, and I started playing coffee shops, restaurants and things around the area throughout high school and college.
I went to Appalachian State University, and I studied music therapy. I still told myself that I wanted to move to Nashville and do the country music thing, but I would do that after school. When I graduated, I took a job as a music therapist. I’m a pretty dreamy person, but I’m also pretty logical, so while the artist thing was still in my mind, I took a job as a music therapist for a Cancer Institute and General Hospital.
At the end of that year, me and my husband had gotten engaged, and we were deciding who was going to move to who. I had been feeling the desire to move to Nashville and pursue music, because I felt like I had kind of held myself back from it. So when we got engaged, we moved to Nashville. The first year sucked [laughs]. The first year was pretty terrible. I took the first job I could find. It was a rewarding and humbling job, but it was in a setting that I never had a desire to work in. I wasn’t using my music therapy much, and I also had terrible hours. I didn’t have much time to do my music stuff. As soon as I was able to get out of that position, I took a job part-time as a music therapist for a psych hospital.
The past year or so, things have started to take off, and I’ve started writing and playing out a ton. I’ve done a lot of open mics and writer’s rounds, and now I’m into some of the more established writer’s rounds. We started doing band stuff about five months ago, so we’re taking off with everything, and the eventual goal is to move that into full-time! We have one song recorded, and we have two more ready after that, and we want to do a small EP after those!
PC: What emotions are you feeling as you are preparing to release music for the first time with the “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” single?
KK: Mostly, I’m just excited. It’s been a long time coming. I wish I would have released music way sooner. It’s a little nerve-wracking because you’re putting something into the world, and you don’t want the first thing you put out into the world to stamp you forever, but I think this is such a fun song. It’s one that everybody loves and it brings a smile to their faces. It’s fun to perform live. The guy that’s playing the instruments on the recording is amazing. His name is Mike Loudermilk, and he used to be Crystal Gayle’s guitar player. He did everything on the track except for singing and writing it [laughs]. That was a really cool experience to get in the studio and see how your song turns out. We took a pretty traditional country sound with the song, and I think it turned out great!
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “(You Had Me At) Double Wide”?
KK: It was a co-write between me and my friend Laura Rabell. It was her first time coming over to my place to co-write, and I shared with her that when we moved here, we didn’t realize that we had moved into an HOA. We parked in a parking space; none of them were numbered, and a lady come up to us as we were unloading boxes and told us that we were in her parking spot. We discovered we lived in an HOA and that nobody told us. My husband and I are just your standard redneck neighbors. We don’t disturb the peace a lot; we’re not doing anything too crazy, so we were just talking about that and laughing about it. I was talking about needing to get my redneck out of me, and she threw out the line “you had me a double wide.” We just started laughing and having fun with that and the images that came with it. We used some of the cliches about the images of double wides, but a lot of it was stuff that me and her had done. All my dad drinks is Natty Light beer, so it wasn’t making fun of anything, that was real life. My mom always had the pink flamingos out in the front yard. We didn’t have the double-wide, but we had a small home that some double wides might have been nicer than [laughs]. It might sound cliche, but all of the things in that song are things that my family did at some point.
PC: You mentioned the humor element of “(You Had Me At) Double Wide,” and your website mentions another song called “You’re The Reason I Drink” that also features a humorous story. How important is the humor element to you, and where do you draw that inspiration from?
KK: I’ve always been kind of a quirky person. I think sometimes people are afraid of cheesy things because music is supposed to be artsy and meaningful, but I think sometimes people forget that music can also make you laugh, relate and bring a smile to your face. I love country music, so I obviously love a good, sappy and sad song that I can cry to, but when I’m writing, I find that the fun stuff is nice to write in about and listen to. It always gets the crowd’s attention, and it’s always nice when the crowd is really engaged in what you’re saying.
The funny songs have a lot of true elements in them as well. With “You’re the Reason I Drink,” my husband tells me that all the time [laughs].
PC: You won the Old School Songwriting Competition in January. What kind of validation does that give you in your craft at this early stage in your career as you’re establishing yourself?
KK: That was really exciting! I was still getting started, and Old School provided me with a lot of my first gigs. It was cool to be up there with other songwriters that I thought were awesome and still get to win that, because those people were so amazing in the competition. It was a really cool moment! Winning that was what got me my first recording session. “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” was the song I recorded after winning that, and I liked working with Mike Loudermilk so much I went back and recorded with him again, and there will probably be more songs on the EP that he works on as well!
PC: What can listeners expect to hear from your EP when it is released and what information can you give about it?
KK: We’ve been in the brainstorming process lately. We decided to release “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” first, and “90 Proof” will be the follow-up single. I originally wasn’t even thinking “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” would be on the EP; I was just thinking it was going to be the single, and the EP would have a different idea, but I’ve been recently thinking that the EP will have a love story line. I have a song about what I want in a guy, “90 Proof” is about meeting and overcoming the odds, “(You Had Me At) Double Wide” is the proposal song, and I have another song that’s about a honky tonk marriage, and “You’re the Reason I Drink” is post marriage. It’s about having the songs create their own story storyline, while letting the songs tell their own individual stories. That’s the EP that we’re looking at right now. Nothing is finalized, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and going in to 2020?
KK: I’ve purposely slowed down a little bit with my shows this month and next month to enjoy the holidays and work on prep for 2020, but we’re hoping to do a lot more traveling in the surrounding areas of Nashville and back home. We’re going to start doing more full band shows as well. We’re looking at releasing the next single in January or February, and we’re going to try to do a series of Christmas videos. Hopefully next summer or next fall, we’ll have the whole EP released. We’re looking to do a lot of booking, playing, and writing in the meantime to support us!
*Images by Daniel Jones and courtesy of Krystal King*