From a young age, Brit Taylor knew she wanted to be a musician. However, her journey to becoming one hasn’t been anything like she’d expected.
Originally from the small town of Hindman in Eastern Kentucky, Taylor first began to shine on stage aged seven, whilst performing as a member of the local Kentucky Opry chapter in nearby Prestonsburg. That childhood success eventually led her to Nashville, where she signed a publishing deal as a member of the band Triple Run, before circumstances turned sour in 2017. During the tumultuous year, Taylor dealt with her now ex-husband walking out on her, stepping away from the band and her publishing deal and nearly missing out on an opportunity to co-write with Grammy-nominated producer Dave Brainard (Jamey Johnson, Brandy Clark).
Now 31, Taylor is reaping the fruits of her labor as a solo artist, following the November 2020 release of her debut Real Me, a collection of 10 songs that document her divorce and the journey of self-discovery that has since followed. A mix of old-timey waltzes, acoustic confessionals, bluesy ballads and 90’s era country make up the Brainard-produced record, that also includes several songs co-written by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
Calling from a front porch swing on her farm in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee - with dog Whiskey by her side - Taylor candidly reflects on everything from using nature as inspiration to working on your own terms, while discussing the long and difficult road to releasing Real Me.
You grew up back in Eastern Kentucky. Does being out in the country and away from Nashville remind you of home - and if so, how does that inspire you creatively?
It absolutely takes me back to how I grew up, which was on top of a mountain with no neighbors in sight. It was quiet, I loved being at one with the trees and wildlife. I feel like I’ve longed to get back to that ever since leaving for Nashville, so when I found this place I just felt right at home. I always get my best song ideas when it's quiet - sometimes it’s while I’m taking a walk and other times it’s when I’m driving through the country, but most recently it's when I’m at work in the garden. Songs tend to just fall out of the sky, eventually landing on my shoulder and singing into my ear. I feel like they’re coming from somewhere other than myself. If it’s loud and I’m anxious, I can’t hear them; I need to have my quiet time and space, which makes having this place perfect. I love the feeling of leaving for a tour followed later by the joy of returning home. I really do get the best of both worlds being out here.
In regard to your music, Real Me has been a breakout for you. What was your mindset going into its release, particularly considering the level of uncertainty within the industry caused by the pandemic?
Most of the songs were written in 2018 or 2019. We finished recording and got the masters back in December. I had planned to release something in March 2020, but then the whole world shut down. I ended up pulling everything and waiting. Everybody was telling me not to put out any music until the new year, and I remember thinking how terrible that sounded - I started on this project over two years prior and now I had to wait longer? There was no way I was going to hold onto these songs for another year. I waited a few more months, praying and meditating on what to do next, and everything kept saying that the time is now to put it out. So I went with my gut and released it on my own label this past November.
You’re getting ready to re-issue the record later this summer with a few new tracks. What can you share about that?
In addition to all of Real Me, the deluxe version will have two covers and a new original duet called ‘At Least There’s No Babies.’ Dee White, who is on Dan Auerbach’s label Easy Eye Sound, sang on it with me. We wrote it about halfway through recording the album and already had the tracklist completed without it. I was devastated about not getting to include it the first go-around, because I felt like the album wasn’t truly finished without it - its story is a huge part of the journey of the album and towards discovering the real me. I also covered songs by two of my favorite artists—Dwight Yoakam’s ‘Ain’t That Lonely Yet’ and Peter & Gordon’s ‘I Go To Pieces’—because I wanted to remind people of my influences, since they come from all over the place.
What’s the backstory to ‘At Least There’s No Babies?’
It's just another song that ties into everything I went through during my divorce a few years ago. One thing people would always tell me was, “At least there are no babies getting caught up in it”. It’s true, and I know they meant well, but at the same time that’s not the advice I wanted to hear. It was annoying for a while, but looking back now it's pretty funny. I remember telling Dee one day and he immediately perked up and said, “That’s our song”. It’s really funny; there's lots of dark humor. I think people will really enjoy it.
What were the circumstances leading to you first crossing paths with Dan Auerbach?
It was early 2018 and we’d just started writing the record. It was one of those typical Nashville stories. I was out eating lunch with a friend that I hadn’t talked to in years, and I was at my wit’s end. I didn’t know what to do with my career, whether I should just quit and go home to Kentucky or not. While pouring my heart out to him, he asked if I wanted to see someone, not saying who, and proceeded to make a phone call. The next thing I knew we were at David Ferguson’s studio, The Butcher Shoppe, of all places. After talking with Dave for a while I got in the car with him to head to one of his rehearsal spaces in town. When we got there Dan was inside practising with one of his label artists, Robert Finley. I just hung out with everyone, and by the next week we were all meeting again and writing those songs together.
It’s crazy how circumstances work themselves out! Looking back, you’ve had quite the journey in recent months, both in music and in your personal life. What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve taken away from those trials, tribulations and successes?
I’m just glad that I’ve stuck with it. I’m happy that I didn’t give up on myself when it would’ve been easier to do so. Building a company and cleaning houses to fund a record isn’t what I had in mind when I moved to Nashville. I thought I’d just sign a record deal, they’d pay for it and I’d be a big star. But that wasn’t on the cards for me – or at least not so far. The last few years have taught me that you really need to believe in yourself and your own potential, despite what others might think. Nobody was banging on my door to give me a record deal - I played the record for a few people and they couldn’t have cared less, which was very disheartening. It got to the point where I stopped playing the record for anyone at all. I didn’t care what they thought about it, I was just going to put it out myself. It's funny, because now many of those same people are coming back around showing interest like they knew all along. I’m like, “But did you though?” So I’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to clean houses or do something else to keep my dream alive, then so be it.
Brit Taylor’s forthcoming single ‘At Least There’s No Babies’ will be available on June 4, followed by the deluxe version of Real Me on July 9 via Cut A Shine Records. Watch the live video for her single 'Waking Up Ain't Easy' below.
Brit Taylor is the featured cover star of our Introducing Country playlist - subscribe and listen below.