Authenticity is a big thing for Brit Taylor. So big, in fact, that she was willing to step outside of the Nashville system, take her music career in her own hands and blaze her trail the way she wants to blaze it. And so far, that path is proving fruitful.
After earning millions of streams on her debut album, aptly titled Real Me, Taylor has returned with Kentucky Blue, a Sturgill Simpson co-produced effort that made its way into the top 15 of iTunes’ country albums chart on release day and offers a glimpse into the day-to-day of happenings of the Bluegrass State native.
We chatted with Taylor all about Kentucky Blue, as well as blazing her own trail, lessons learned, taking her music on the road and more!
Pro Country: Your bio mentions that you “played by the rules” musically for about a decade before setting off on your own path and walking away from a songwriting deal. When did you reach the point of realizing you needed to blaze your own trail and go it alone?
Brit Taylor: I was going through a divorce, and that flipped my world on its head. The band I was in had been turned down by three or four record labels multiple times. Everything just hurt, and it felt like nothing could hurt worse, so I just quit. It was like ripping a Band Aid off. I felt like I had hit bottom, so I might as well just quit everything. I quit all my gigs down town, I quit my publishing deal, and I just went inward and tried to figure out who I really was and started diving in to healing. I wanted to know who I was in my late 20s as opposed to who I was trying to be in my early 20s.
PC: After making that decision to follow your own path, was there a level of pressure you felt, internally or externally, to achieve a certain level of success with your debut record, Real Me?
BT: I think I had given up on expectations at that point. I definitely set goals, but I set them and literally burned them [laughs]. I put them in my fireplace. At the end of the day, I wasn’t doing this for Nashville or anyone other than myself. I was doing it because I was born with a love and desire to play music. That’s exactly what I’m meant to do, regardless of who comes along for the ride with me.
PC: Combined, the songs on Real Me have earned nearly one million streams on Spotify alone. As an independent artist who had recently set of on your own, what was it like to tangibly see the success and support you received on the album?
BT: Oh my gosh, I didn’t think any of that would happen. the first single got put on Spotify’s Indiego playlist, and then American Songwriter put us in a print magazine. It was a whirlwind. It felt validating; like I am meant to do this. It felt like I was meant to do this in a way that makes me feel good and allows me to be authentic.
PC: Along with American Songwriter, Real Me was also received praise from Billboard and Rolling Stone, among many other big-name outlets. What was it like to see an album that you had released yourself reach the heights of those outlets and to receive the kind words you did?
BT: It was validating. It was a clear sign that this was what I was supposed to be doing. There can be a lot of doubts when you’ve been turned down multiple times by record labels [laughs]. It told me that I can live the life I want to live and that nobody could tell me I couldn’t.
PC: One of the major storylines surrounding your new album, Kentucky Blue is Sturgill Simpson serving as co-producer. Can you tell the story of how he became involved with the project?
BT: I had been meeting with producers to feel out what I was supposed to do on this record, and I just didn’t feel like anybody understood what I really wanted to do. It all felt like a shift back into trying to be something different. I was pretty frustrated after a meeting one day, and I texted David Ferguson telling him we should make a record together. He knows how to make country records better than anybody. I didn’t know why we hadn’t already made one. He texted me back immediately: “How about me and Sturgill make you record?” I almost wrecked off the highway [laughs].
PC: What was it like to share a creative space with Sturgill and renowned engineer and producer Dave Ferguson?
BT: They’re legends. Sturgill inspired me to go with my gut. Him and Tyler Childers are two of the reasons that showed me I could do this on my own, because they did it. They didn’t have anybody’s support, they just went out and did what they loved and everything else followed. I’ve been a big fan of Sturgill and have been heavily influenced by him for years. For him to come along as a creative on this project is hard to explain. It’s validating and really exciting.
PC: You have Thirty Tigers behind you to help with the promotion and rollout of Kentucky Blue. How important has that collaboration been and how much do you enjoy having that helping hand with this release?
BT: They’re pros. I remember looking up different distributors and trying to really figure out the industry as an independent artist. They’re the best of the best. If you hear a good independent record, Thirty Tigers probably put it out. They have a team of people who are authentic and hardworking, and I feel very honored to be able to work with them.
PC: You released “Cabin in the Woods” as the lead track from Kentucky Blue in September of last year. Why did you and your team feel “Cabin in the Woods” was the right lead single from the project?
BT: That was my big thing that I wanted to happen. I knew I wanted “Cabin in the Woods” to be the introduction to album number two. It was an introduction into who I am right now. Luckily, they agreed, and I felt like it was a welcome to my front porch. It was like, “come on in, take your coat off, grab a drink and let me feed you.” I wanted people to feel welcome to my world.
PC: “Kentucky Blue” is a song you co-wrote with Kimberly Kelly and Adam Wright during the pandemic. What drew you to have “Kentucky Blue” serve as the title track of its album?
BT: I am a Kentucky girl, and Sturgill’s a Kentucky boy. When I was thinking of record titles, I thought “Kentucky Blue” has to be the title of this record. Sturgill said it made a lot of sense [laughs]. It felt like the right thing to do. It was an intuition thing.
PC: “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” is a sonically unique track that captures elements of country and a blues/soul sound. Can you talk about the sonic inspiration behind the song and how much fun it was to record in the studio?
BT: That one came together really fast! We just went in there with the band and it just happened. It’s such a groovy song, and there’s so much attitude on it. Sometimes things just feel like magic in the studio; things just happen out of thin air. That song is about a guy, but to me, it’s kind of about Nashville in a way and the people that don’t wanna love me, and that’s fine. I won’t hold it against them if they don’t like the music, but somebody will, and I’m gonna keep doing it no matter what.
PC: “Love’s Never Been That Good To Me” is a song you co-wrote with Jerry Salley, and is our favorite song on Kentucky Blue. Can you take us in the room and talk about how the song came together?
BT: I wrote that song in 2018. I had just recently started seeing my now-husband, and I just had so many fears of jumping back into another relationship. Adam is the best person in the whole wide world, and I was so afraid to mess it up. I took that title to Jerry Salley and he loved it. I wanted it to sound classic and timeless. It’s a really honest, real song about something I was feeling really deeply about at the time.
Pc: On release day, Kentucky Blue landed in the top 15 on iTunes’ country albums chart. What was it like to see your album and name amongst some of the biggest in the genre?
BT: That’s news to me! [laughs]. Oh my gosh, I did not know that. That’s crazy! As an independent artist making a country record that’s arguably not country, but it is country because country is something different to so many people, it’s just crazy.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Kentucky Blue after listening all the way through?
BT: I hope they feel at home. I hope they feel seen and a little less alone. I hope they feel like they’ve made a new friend.
PC: You have a lot of shows on the books going into the summer months. How much are you looking forward to taking Kentucky Blue on the road and staying active on stage?
BT: I can’t wait! I haven’t done a ton of touring. When I first got to town, I stuck my head down and started writing songs. I did that for years, so I haven’t really gotten to travel playing music. We have some shows opening up for Blackberry Smoke, I’ll be at Railbird, and just seeing my name on these festival posters with Tyler Childers and all these big acts is nuts to me. I can’t wait to get the crowd’s reaction to these songs and meet them at the merch table, because that’s one of my favorite things to do!
PC: In these last few years since you decided to take full control of your music career, what would you say has been your biggest area of growth?
BT: I’ve learned to say no and to know when something doesn’t feel authentic. There’s a lot of people that I look up to and love that have their own opinions, and that’s okay, but at the end of the day, I’ve had to go inward and listen to myself to know what’s truly authentic to me. I want to make people happy and I don’t want to disappoint anybody, but at the end of the day, this is my life and my music, and I know what I want to say.
PC: Along with promoting Kentucky Blue, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?
BT: Just touring and promoting this record. There will be some new music videos coming out. All the stuff!
*Brit’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
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