There’s just something about an artist who is unashamed to be and stay true to themselves that allows them to to fully spread their wings. For Reagan Quinn, it was admittedly a learning process, which makes her new single, “Like the Wind,” such a triumph.
In a time not so long ago, Quinn’s hand was more or less forced into a sonic box that wasn’t “her,” and it left her heartbroken and unhappy. Just a few short years later, she’s taken the reigns on her career and her sound, and with an EP, Texas Sky, already under her belt, “Like the Wind” isn’t just a logical next step, it almost feels like an anthem for Quinn’s journey over the past few years.
We chatted with Quinn about her journey to “Like the Wind,” including finding herself as an artist, the personal inspiration behind the song, what the song’s positive response has meant to her, her plans for a 2021 filled with new music and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of the influences you’ve drawn on that have shaped your sound?
Reagan Quinn: I grew up listening to classic country. My dad was a songwriter, and I always name him as my biggest influence. I grew up thinking that songwriting is how you expressed emotions. I grew up listening to his songs, and I always tell people that I didn’t know George Strait sang “Amarillo by Morning” until I was 12 or 13 and I heard it on the radio, because I heard my dad singing it mixed in with all of his songs, so I just thought it was his song [laughs]. Growing up, I loved listening to Stevie Nicks, EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton and all of the great female songwriters.
PC: Your bio mentions that you began writing songs at just six years-old. What was it about the art of songwriting that connected with you so early in your life?
RQ: I wish I had a good answer, because I wish I knew what it was in my brain that didn’t function right as a child [laughs]. I think growing up seeing and hearing my dad writing songs and just connecting to music at a young age to where it just seemed like a natural outlet for me. I remember the first song I wrote; going into the kitchen and being so proud of it, and stopping my mom from doing dishes and telling her I had written a song and I wanted to sing it for her. That just became a habit, to the point where my family must have gotten sick of it [laughs]. It was just something I always felt connected to and did naturally as a kid, and especially through my teenage years. I was kind of a lone wolf and did my own thing through high school, and I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in sharing that I was writing songs. I didn’t really perform publicly, I was just writing with my sisters. I would just be in my bedroom writing about everything I went through.
PC: At what point did that early interest and connection with music translate into you wanting to pursue it as a career?
RQ: It took a while. When I was in high school, I had a songbook full of hundreds of songs I had written. Nobody really knew, but I submitted a piece to an essay contest, and I wrote about songwriting and hearing music in everything around me. I ended up winning, and they ended up coming to my school with cameras, and I won $25,000. I was 15, and I was mortified [laughs]. They put my picture in the paper, and all of a sudden, everybody knew. People would come up to me and say that they didn’t know I sang and that it was something that was important to me.
I got my degree in Psychology, and started a children’s music program, which I still do with a lot of my time. I prioritized that for a long time before performing; I wouldn’t say I started performing until five years ago, which is when I really started pursuing music as a career. I signed with an independent label here in Austin, and that didn’t work out because it went in a whole different direction than I planned. Only about two or three years ago was when I really started writing more from my roots and turned to country music, and now I do It full-time!
PC: Is there a certain level of validation that comes with winning the essay contest, especially because it wasn’t widely known that you were writing so many songs?
RQ: Definitely. I think it was the first time I felt like maybe music was something I would be able to pursue and something I was good at. I think as an independent artist, there’s a lot of self-promotion; you have to be your own support system a lot of the time and tell yourself that it’s worth it and that you’re good enough. It always feels good to get that validation from an outside source. It keeps you going and keeps you motivated, and that was the first time that I had any kind of recognition outside of my family.
PC: You mentioned that you released your debut EP, A Girl Like That, on an independent label and that it didn’t work out, and your bio mentions that you split with them because of artistic differences and manipulation of your songs. How important is it for you to be hands on in the sonic process and stay true to yourself as an artist?
RQ: It was so important. I think that’s important for everybody to figure out. I try not to harbor any regret on things like that. I haven’t even listened to those songs in probably a couple years now, but when I first made it, I was so disappointed. It was kind of heartbreaking to think that I went with these acoustic songs that I was so proud of, and then they got transformed into something that I wasn’t proud of, and that’s never a good feeling. I think that comes with the territory of finding your sound and figuring out how to speak up. When you first start recording, you don’t know anything, you just trust people and that they know what they’re doing and have your best interest at heart. I don’t harbor any bad feelings about it; it was a growth process. After that, I was making the music I wanted. If I heard something I didn’t like, I spoke up and took full control of my music.
PC: Your sophomore EP, Texas Sky, does feature a more overall folk sound than A Girl Like That. Did writing the EP on the banjo, recording the EP in your home and that control have that sonic effect on the EP?
RQ: Definitely. I really looked at that as a project; I wasn’t even sure if I was going to release it when I was recording it. That was recorded by my bassist at the time. He went to school for audio production, and we just started a project on a few songs I’d written on the banjo and recorded it in my home. By the time we were done with it, I was so proud of the way it told my story and the way I had developed. It felt like me for the first time. I felt the songwriting and the process of making the songs was so very natural and authentic to who I was as a person and as an artist. It was awesome to be able to release it and get a good response.
Because that was recorded in my home and may not necessarily be “studio-quality,” we’re actually going back this year and re-recording all of the vocals and adding some more production to it, and I’m going to be releasing it probably around the end of next year. It’s kind of come full circle, and I’m pretty excited about it!
PC: You mentioned that you’re on new music, and your bio mentions that you are working on a new EP to be released next year. What went into the decision to release your newest single, “Like the Wind,” first from the EP?
RQ: I wrote that song two years ago, and it just didn’t feel right at the time. I felt like I still needed to grow as a performer and play a lot more shows before I was ready to release it in the way I wanted to release it. I didn’t really have a plan, but when Covid hit and shut down my music studio, I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself like I think all of us were. I got a call from my friend Maxwell Butterfield at Machine Shop Recording Studios, and he asked me what I was doing with my free time and if I wanted to record something, because he had free time as well. It’s funny, because I don’t know if I would have felt like I was ready to record something like “Like the Wind” if Covid didn’t happen; it was kind of a blessing in disguise. Now that it’s released, it’s getting a really good response. It’s really jump-started me.
PC: You mentioned “Like the Wind” is a song you wrote two years ago. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
RQ: It’s a really special story to me. The second single from Texas Sky was called “Alcohol Makes Women Cry,” which was the last song I wrote for that EP, because it was the relationship I was in at the time. It was a really difficult relationship, but I thought I was going to marry that person. My sister-in-law called me one day, and she said that she had a really strange dream the previous night and that she wrote a poem about it. She said she realized it was off the wall and kind of strange, but she wanted to share it with me and tell me about the dream. She said that she had a dream that I was walking down the aisle towards somebody, and she said she didn’t know if it was the guy I was dating at the time that I was walking towards, but I had all these things I wanted to tell him about you that I felt like he didn’t know or wasn’t doing. Essentially, the poem was saying that he would have to promise that he wouldn’t clip my wings and to let me be free and follow my dreams. I read the poem, and it was very special to me because it was somebody that knew me personally. I had two realizations in that moment; one was that the person I was with wasn’t the person I was supposed to be with, and two was that I had a moment of thinking how we’re all born who we really are. I’ve realized that’s especially true since working with kids, and how they’re not afraid to fall down, yell and scream, and just be exactly who they are. As they get older, the world’s kind of tames you and slows you down, whether it’s people, relationships or experiences, it changes you. You gain insecurities and fears, and you’re less the person you were born to be. I wrote the song in like 15 minutes; it basically poured out of me.
PC: You’ve been sharing statistics updates for “Like the Wind” since its release. What has the response to the single meant to you so far, especially given how personal and special the song is to you?
RQ: Oh my gosh, it’s meant everything! I’m pretty introverted, so for me, releasing something feels very personal, and it’s always a scary thing. I doubt myself a lot, but seeing that response has been so validating and special. I’ve been trying to respond to every single person that comments or messages me, because it’s important to me that it means something to them too.
PC: You’ve mentioned that you also own and run Reagan Quinn Music & Movement, a children’s music therapy program. How did you get into that line of work, and what is your favorite part about it?
RQ: I worked in childcare as a nanny and a teacher for a few years within my church doing missionary work, and I used to take one of the kids I nannyed to a music class. I would be there with them, and I would think it could be done so much better and that they weren’t tapping into the emotional part of the music. When I started performing so much that I couldn’t also work a full-time job anymore, I had to make a decision, so I quit my full-time job and started that instead. I’ve taught classes all over texas, and we’ve taught multi-generational classes in retirement communities where older adults also participate and get joy from being around the kids. I also work one-on-one with kids with special needs, and it’s all based around awareness of self and emotional connection through music and becoming aware of that early on.
PC: 2020 has altered most of the plans of artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year and going into 2021?
RQ: This year, I’m releasing one more song; it’s a version of “Silent Night” that I did with my sister. It’s a live recording, and that will be coming out November 29th. Next year, we’re re-recording Texas Sky, recording a couple more singles, and recording an acoustic cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” There’s just a lot of new music that’s going to be more regularly released than what I’ve been doing in the past!
*Reagan’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*