There’s something about marching to the beat of a different drum that makes an artist easy to root for, and for Nashville native and recent Los Angeles transplant Aubrie Sellers, it has allowed her to connect with fans spanning various genres and carve her own path in the music industry.
Sellers’ debut album, New City Blues allowed her to introduce her brand of music, which she has appropriately labeled “garage country,” to the masses. Now, following nearly four years of touring and growing, Sellers is set to release her highly-anticipated sophomore album Far From Home on February 7.
Sellers’ path to music seemed almost predetermined. As the daughter of multi-platinum artist Lee Ann Womack and major label artist/chart-topping songwriter Jason Sellers, Aubrie has been surrounded by music her whole life.
“We were all just immersed in music. There was no real ‘start,’ it was just always there,” says Sellers. “I got my first guitar when I was 13, and I think that was a turning point. I started learning how to play and started writing songs as a teenager and just figuring out my own sound.”
In doing so, Sellers drew on a variety of influences, ranging from George Jones to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Robert Johnson; creating her own sound that blended them all together.
“I listen to a lot of different music, which is why I think my music is eclectic in that way,” says Sellers. “All of it came together and influenced me, and that’s why I called my music ‘garage country.’ I feel like the only way to categorize it is to come up with a new term for it.”
As she began to make a name for herself, Sellers was able to rely on both firsthand experience and instincts to make headway.
“I grew up seeing a lot of things firsthand, so a lot of times, I didn’t even have to ask for any advice for myself,” Sellers says with a laugh. “I absorbed a lot of that, but at the end of the day, you just have to learn to trust your gut and do what’s right for you. There’s really no right answer for how to do things; it’s just about what’s right for you and what works for what you’re doing.”
As she hit the road, Sellers was forced to address anxiety that she had lived with since childhood and had been kept a secret for many years.
“When I was first touring, it was really difficult for me. I learned early on that I have to make myself uncomfortable all the time and put myself in uncomfortable situations, and that’s really the only way to get over it,” says Sellers. “Over all of the shows I have played since starting out, I’ve gotten more comfortable. You just have to find your footing in the world again and make sure you do everything you can to take care of yourself personally and mentally, so experience has really helped a lot.”
As she continued to grow and 2016 began, Sellers released her debut album New City Blues, which earned top 25 status on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and was named number 13 on Rolling Stone’s “Top Country Albums of 2016,” something that came with a level of validation for the young artist.
“I’d like to say it doesn’t matter, but it does feel good,” Sellers says with a laugh. “It feels like you’re getting support from people who listen to music all day long, so it’s nice to have any kind of support like that. I take it with a grain of salt, but I’m very appreciative when anybody says nice things about me and the music I make.”
With the recognition and chart success as an independent artist under her belt, major labels began to take notice and made their calls to Sellers, who eventually agreed to a deal with Warner Music Nashville.
As the time came to release new music, the visions of Sellers and Warner Nashville didn’t align, and she decided to pursue her artistry independently again, signing with Soundly Music ahead of the release of her sophomore album Far From Home on February 7.
“I was an independent artist first, and in my heart, I knew that was the best route for me. I co-produced the Far From Home record, I wrote all but one of the songs, and I had the photo ideas; I had a hand in pretty much every part of it, and that’s really difficult when you’re plugged into a system that has a formula where they do things a certain way,” says Sellers. “It’s really difficult to try a new route, even for someone like me who grew up around the business and knows what the dangers are. There’s so many things that are out of your control that have to align perfectly for things to work out, especially when you’re doing things that are different than the norm. It just didn’t feel like the right fit. Having already had experience as an independent artist, I decided that was the route that worked best for me and allowed me to do what was right for me creatively.”
Going into the writing process of Far From Home, Sellers was able to draw on the experiences on the road and the music she was listening to at the time to create a sonic and lyrical map for the album.
“On my first record, I hadn’t been on the road too much yet. I had just moved out and had started living life as an adult. It was a very different time in my life, even though it’s only been three to five years in between, it felt like a really significant three to five years where my life had completely changed. I was touring and away from home more than I had ever been. All of those changes were coming out in my songwriting,” says Sellers. “Sonically, I had been listening to a lot of desert music like Quentin Tarantino soundtracks and The Ventures, so I took my camper out to Marfa, Texas, which is a cool desert town and wrote some of the songs there. When it came time to record them, we went to a ranch outside of El Paso, so all of that informed the sound of this record as well as what’s behind the songs.”
Sellers delivered the first taste of Far From Home with “Drag You Down,” the album’s lead single that bluntly covers emotional injustice. The boldness of the track and the timeliness of the lyric drew Sellers to make it the first single from the album.
“It’s pretty bold with that big scream in the beginning,” Sellers says with a laugh. “To me, on first listen, people may not fully understand that it’s not really a bitter song, it’s about emotional empathy and wanting people to see your point of view and having them put themselves in your shoes. If you can’t see or feel what’s happening to me, I’m going to show you. It was interesting to put that song out because it feels like the world is struggling and losing touch to have the ability to empathize with people who aren’t in the same boat or share the same beliefs as us. I thought it was a timely song for that reason, and the boldness of the track is symbolic of a lot of the record and of me as an artist.”
The album begins with the title track “Far From Home,” a song that builds perfectly and features a strong vocal and a glimpse into the artistic life and personality of Sellers herself.
“I chose ‘Far From Home’ as the title track because not only was I literally ‘far from home,’ I’ve always felt like an outsider in a lot of ways,” says Sellers. “I’m a little different, so it can be a little difficult to find a place where I feel like I belong, and I think this record is about that journey: growing up, becoming comfortable, trusting myself and having hope. There’s a little bit of that spiritual element of hope in the songwriting for me. That encompasses where I was when I was writing the song.”
With the release of the album’s newest song “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet,” Sellers is already connecting with listeners on a broad spectrum, even though the lyrics are specific to her own life.
“All of my songs come from a true place,” says Sellers. “That was one that I sat down wrote by myself. It’s a lot of peoples’ tendency to go as broad as possible with their songs in order to feel like people can connect with it, so as a songwriter, people may be a little tentative to write something down exactly how it happened because you might think that people won’t relate. It seems like people are still able to insert their own experiences into these songs and transpose them into their own lives.”
After listeners complete the 12-song journey that is Far From Home, Sellers hopes that listeners connect with the music on a deeper level.
“The reason I write songs and share them is because I want to be able to connect with people. I know what I feel when I listen to a record that I really connect to. I love records that pump me up, and I love records that I feel like I can emotionally connect to no matter what I’m feeling,” says Sellers. “I hope that’s what people get out of it. When I write songs like ‘Worried Mind,’ I hope they connect with people in some way. I hope people feel like they have a community and that the songs tell them that they can vent to and that they don’t feel alone.”
With the release of Far From Home, Sellers will be spending time on the road with Robert Earl Keen and Tanya Tucker, spreading her music to fans across North America.
And with her sophomore release nearly four years to the day after New City Blues, Sellers is taking newfound confidence and comfortability on the road with her.
“I’ve learned to trust my instincts more. In this business, there’s a lot of opinions that are flying at you all the time from all directions. At the end of the day, you have to trust your gut and do what’s right for you. That doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, that just means it’s right for you, so I feel like I’ve grown a little more comfortable with myself and learned that gut feelings are things that I should follow,” says Sellers. “I’ve got to make myself happy with the choices I make at the end of the day. I’ll never be perfect, but I want to be comfortable knowing that whatever happens is meant to happen.”
*Feature image by Ethan Ballinger*