There are definitely occasions when it feels like calling someone a “New Artist of the Week” here at Holler is something of a misnomer. Erin Kinsey is already a decade deep into a career that’s found her doing everything from co-writing for Dolly Parton to picking up 20 million streams and counting on TikTok.
When she moved to Nashville the day after she graduated high school, it was the next step on a journey into country music that had begun when she was just 11 years old in Rockwall, Texas. Her passion for country music had travelling from her hometown all the way to Tennessee during her last year of high school - when she began making regular trips to play and sing there. Now, at the age of 21 and finally old enough to play in bars, honky-tonks and dives, it’s those road trips that have inspired the title of her new EP, 40 East.
“Naming this debut EP 40 East is very special to me,” says Kinsey. “Highway 40 East is the road that gets me most of the way from Texas to Nashville, and it's a road I've driven many times since I started coming to town with my family, my boyfriend, my friends and Chewy (my dog). All of these songs, and this project, are a reflection of my life up until now, and one of the biggest parts of my story is chasing this crazy dream of mine. What I didn't know, is that 40 East was taking me to so many of my dreams coming true, including this EP.”
Kinsey immediately seemed at home on TikTok, covering songs from Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Dan + Shay, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish and Miley Cyrus, along with Miranda Lambert, Morgan Wallen, Rascal Flatts, Maren Morris and Brad Paisley. With nearly four million likes on TikTok alone, over the past year, Kinsey’s fan response on social media has been so staggering that record labels and publishing houses noticed her before she noticed them.
Now signed to Barry Weiss’ RECORDS Nashville imprint – a joint venture with Sony Music – her EP gathers together her debut country radio single, ‘Just Drive’, with its follow-ups, ‘Hate This Hometown’ and ‘Better On Me’, along with two other brand new songs, all co-written by Kinsey. Just like her distinctive brand of energetic high-octane pop country, Erin Kinsey’s career is picking up pace and moving faster and faster by the day, and you get the feeling she isn’t about to slow down any time soon.
“I had a lot to learn, and I had a lot of really wonderful people in Nashville who took a chance on me. What I learned was that getting in the room was the hardest part. The challenge was just getting people to open the door,” she recalls, “and once they did, I was happy to bust through.”
Holler sat down with Erin Kinsey at the Country To Country festival in London to find out what makes her tick.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
My first concert was Lady A. I went with my dad and I was probably 10 or 11, and I remember I thought that they could hear me sing, even though I was in the audience. They can't - they’ve got in-ears and a lot of other things going on, but I was screaming!
What is the worst job you've ever had?
I was delivering groceries for a while, but it does mean that now I know the grocery stores around me really well. I can find eggs just like that.
Which do you prefer, country living or city living?
I think I would pick country living out of country or city. I have a big dog and he needs some room. That’s the selfless answer, I guess.
What's your favourite thing about London?
I love the accent. It's really cool. It's fun being the odd one out! I also really love all the different architecture. We were walking around yesterday and seeing the most antique looking buildings with gold details and all the other little details, and they’d be next to the most modern thing you've ever seen. It's really fun just walking around and seeing all the different buildings, all the different people.
Do you have any bad habits?
Totally. I think my worst habit is probably drinking coffee, because I drink it every single day. I'll drink it to the point of getting shaky, and I know that's when I need more. Like, it's bad. But I guess there are worst habits to have.
If you could go back to any decade, which would it be?
It's not that long ago, but I think I'd back to the 90s, just because that’s before there was social media but you still had TV and things.
What's your favourite football team?
Well, I'm originally from Texas, so I gotta go with Dallas Cowboys.
Have you ever heard any weird rumours about yourself?
I think some of the weirdest rumours I've heard are that I've been planning to move back to Texas and quit music. That’s not really been on the cards for me recently, but I think whenever I post that I’m going back to Texas on social media, people just think I’m moving back there and calling it quits. But I'm just going to see family.
Have you ever received any weird fan mail?
I've not received anywhere fan mail yet! Half of me is kind of hoping I do and half not, but I'm kind of interested to see what it would be.
What’s been your favourite English food so far?
Yesterday we went for brunch, and they had the beans in the brunch and it was good. It wasn't that weird though. It was still like most normal breakfast food. I guess the bacon's a little bit different, but it's good too.
What is your all-time favourite song?
Gosh, that's a really tough question. I think if you ask me on a different day, it's probably a different song, but I was talking about John Mayer this morning and I really liked ‘Slow Dancing In A Burning Room’, so maybe that today.
Who is your celebrity crush?
John Mayer is probably a celebrity crush. He is really good at guitar.
Who would be your dream duet partner?
Okay. Of course I would love to duet with John Mayer but I think my dream duet partner would be Keith Urban, just because he's so cool.
What is your favourite takeaway food?
I think being a musician you have a few different go-to fast food options. But I love Chinese food. Also Chick-fil-A is quite a staple for me.
Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
It would definitely be a Hannah Montana song. I’d really lean into those years, with ‘The Climb’ maybe or 'Best Of Both Worlds’.
Erin Kinsey's debut EP, 40 East, is released on March 25th on RECORDS Nashville.