Kane Brown standing in the desert

Meet Kane Brown: Country's Modern Groundbreaker

May 2, 2024 5:23 pm GMT
Last Edited May 3, 2024 4:33 pm GMT

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In the modern era of country music, it's tempting to see today's TikTok sensations and viral R&B-country frontrunners as propelling the genre into brand new territory.

However, in reality, this supposedly fresh ground was first broken over a decade ago, when Kane Brown's classic country covers went viral on Facebook, which in turn launched the career of one of Music City's preeminent genre-blenders.

Unfortunately, Kane is often omitted from the discussion of who the biggest country music stars are in 2024, but when you consider his streaming muscle and his formidable catalogue of Country Radio hits, the Tennessee singer-songwriter has undoubtedly earned his place in the genre's upper echelon. At the end of 2023, for example, Kane Brown joined an elite group of artists to have an RIAA-certified Diamond single to their name, with his slow-burner ‘Heaven’ becoming just the eighth country song in history to sell 10 million equivalent units.

Over the course of his three studio albums to date, he's experimented with a plethora of genres, from Rap to Hip Hop to Latin, while always anchoring his sound to his country roots. This gives Kane's sound a sense of authenticity and sincerity that few other artists could maintain across such diverse tracks as the seismic, trap-infused ‘Grand’ and the ‘90s-inspired, Stetson-adorned ‘Like I Love Country Music’.

In his conversation with Holler, Kane Brown underlines that fans can expect more of the latter, as he readies a new album for 2024. He highlights, “I've got a lot of music that I've been recording, and I'm really excited about it. A lot of it actually sounds really, really, really, really country, so I'm pumped about that because I know usually, when I release an album, there are so many different sounds. This one's going to be pretty easy to do a tracklist for”.

Nonetheless, Kane Brown is retaining his open-mindedness when it comes to blurring the lines between country and neighbouring genres. He epitomised this on his recent link-up with Latin trailblazer, Carín León, ‘The One’, as well as on his new EDM-laced Marshmello collaboration, ‘Miles On It’ - the successor to 2019's ‘One Thing Right’.

It seems one of the key ingredients to remaining true to himself throughout these refreshingly fluid, rule-breaking crossovers is a personal connection with his collaborators. This was particularly apparent with Carín, as Kane outlines, “I just loved the song, and I loved his voice from the start. Then I looked him up and saw everything he was about. Once I jumped on the song, he invited me to Mexico, so me and my team flew down. He had chefs cook us a traditional Mexican dinner, and it was amazing. The food was delicious. I tried everything - I'm usually a very picky eater! He was just so humble, welcoming and very family-oriented. So I really saw a lot of myself in him. After we performed at the Lo Nuestro Awards show down in Miami, I got even closer with him, and he just feels like my brother now”.

Kane expanded, “I've had connections with everybody I've recorded songs with, but there's something about Carín that really resonates with me. I really feel like he could just be my brother. We're the same person. We love video games, we love cars, we love driving. Its really easy to be around him, and when we're on stage and we look like we're having fun - it's because we really are having fun together”.

This warm and familiar ambience pervades much of Kane Brown's expansive, eclectic discography, to the extent that he even aptly titled his popular fashion range ‘Family’.

Kane's keenness for his music and his live shows to serve as spaces in which everyone has a sense of belonging is born from a less joyful source. He endured a tough upbringing, suffering child abuse and contending with racism, bullying and an absent father.

Kane has regularly touched on how he struggled to feel as though he ‘fit in’ anywhere, something that was exacerbated as he emerged into a genre that was - and still is - mainly white.

He draws a fascinating comparison between his sense of being out of place and the way in which he's tackling his new album, “We just write, and whatever comes out comes out. If I like the song, then I'm not scared to put it on my album, even though it doesn't fit”.

Kane Brown smiles as he adds, “Because I don't fit in a lot of places, but I would like to be there anyway”.

Now, as the rollout for his next project picks up pace with the release of ‘Fiddle in the Band’ and ‘Miles On It’, today's country landscape is unquestionably a more interesting, entertaining and - most crucially of all - welcoming setting, in no small part thanks to Kane carving out a unique path in a genre that didn't always reciprocate his love.

On ‘I Can Feel It’:

“‘In The Air Tonight’ has been with me through my musical journey. When I was opening for Jason Aldean, he used to play that before he walked on stage, and I just remember all the lights going down, and everybody singing that song at the top of their lungs. Then last year, I was playing Stagecoach, and we wanted to take an iconic artist out with us on stage and we started naming people. Phil Collins’ name came up, and my writers were in the room during the time. We played ‘In The Air Tonight’ on the loudspeaker in the Green Room. I took it and made a demo. So when I went into write the next day, they were like we should reimagine the song, and that's what made us write it”.

On new collaborations with Katelyn:

“Oh, we have a couple...She's pregnant, so we can't really shoot music videos or anything, and we're just holding on to them until she has the baby. Then we have three or four songs that we could possibly play around with”.

On earning his first Diamond plaque for ‘Heaven’:

“It was awesome. Everybody asks me my milestones, and that's one that I had on my list and was waiting for. Once I got that, it was really cool. It didn't really hit me until I got my plaque, and then once I got my plaque, I held onto it for the rest of the night. When we landed in London for C2C Festival, we got little diamond tattoos”.

On his unreleased song, ‘Hell of a Hometown’:

“That's another song that we will probably talk about putting on [the album]. I remember putting that on Instagram. My fans have so many that they fall in love with, and then they're like, ‘Is this ever gonna get released?’ That's the problem with teasing music - especially years before it comes out!”

On his favourite song to perform live:

“I honestly just love being on stage, so I love playing every song in the setlist...My favourite moment last year was playing ‘Like I Love Country Music’. I love playing ‘Grand’ too, that was a big song for us coming out of the gate. ‘One Mississippi’ was fun, because I got to bring other people on stage with me, and of course ‘Thank God’, because last year was the first time it went No. 1, and me and Katelyn got to perform that together and everybody knew the words”.

On his underrated Mixtape Vol. 1 project:

“That project gets no love! I was so upset. It was during COVID, and we were just trying to get music out. The only thing that really saw any light was ‘Be Like That’. I've noticed that a lot of my diehard fans mention it and I've seen some Country Radio outlets write about it, but there are a lot of songs that got overlooked on there...‘BFE’ gets brought up a lot. We haven't even played that one because I just felt like everybody was like, ‘Screw that song...!’”

Kane Brown's new collaboration with Marshmello,'Miles On It', is released May 3 via Sony Music Entertainment.

For more on Kane Brown, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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