Some people just have star quality.
Whatever that special something is that makes all the difference, some artists just have it. Shaylen is one of those artists. Her name was already familiar to us as a pop star when she popped up in our Release Radars; the only surprise was hearing her singing country.
Born in Chattanooga, raised in Dallas and now based in Nashville, Shaylen might not have always been destined for country music, but now she’s here, it all makes complete sense.
Growing up with everything from Elvis to Ella Fitzgerald and Willie Nelson to Janis Joplin floating through her home, she’s been influenced by every genre of music from the very beginning. But her roots in the south are where her country and gospel influences came from and define who she is as an artist.
After spending 10 years in Los Angeles as an all guns-blazing pop artist with Republic Records, Shaylen’s career has been built on out-and-out pop songs like ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Come Back To Me’. Now, she’s going back to where she came from with a silky country twang. Taking everything that made her such a great pop star and mixing it with genuine rootsy authenticity, it puts her firmly in the ring duking it out with pop country’s finest.
“I really am thankful for my time in LA," says Shaylen. "It taught me so many different writing techniques I’ve learned over the years that I’m able to apply in my country music".
“I think being able to be submerged in the different cultures of music has been extremely helpful in how I write and sing all together," she continues. "It’s actually crazy, ‘cause switching to country is the first time where I’ve truly felt like my most authentic true self. In fact, it feels far more clear than pop ever did”.
We’re only two songs into this new era, but already it feels like she’s always been a fixture in our landscape. ‘What If I Don’t’ is the kind of song Carrie Underwood would kill for right now, while ‘Roots’ is a playful paean to her country roots that tells the story of her returning to the kind of music she somehow seemed destined to make.
“I was in the middle of leaving my life behind in LA after 10 years. Last summer I had my very first write in Nashville and It all clicked immediately,” she explains. “I was supposed to be here. I’m from Chattanooga originally, so it would seem obvious but sometimes you just have to take the long way around in life I guess. I’ll remember the day we wrote it ‘til I’m 90. We were all crying by the end of it”.
Holler sat down with Shaylen to talk about how she got here and the hard lessons she learned along the way.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
I was born in Chattanooga, TN and raised in Dallas, TX. I've been heavily influenced by country music my whole life, just cause that’s all my parents would play and I would go to all the concerts in the summer when I was old enough! I remember vividly seeing Taylor Swift open for Brad Paisley and remember thinking to myself I couldn’t wait to do that and be up on a stage. Country music fans are the best hands down.
What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to every genre of music you can think of! But mainly country, pop, R&B and A LOT of musical theatre.
How would you describe your sound?
I’d say country with a pop influence for sure! I really love a big anthemic hook, both melodically and lyrically speaking.
You’ve gone from being a pop star living in LA to being a country singer living in Nashville, how does the kind of music you make now feel different?
Man oh man, it feels the most me it's ever felt and I love every second of it. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love singing and writing pop music, but I’ve finally found a way to tell my stories that feels so me. The audience seem to relate to it as well, so I couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter.
Where’s the most unexpected place music has taken you?
SOUTH KOREA!! I've been there once a year for the last 5 years or so, and I go for about two weeks and get hired to write K-pop music for K-pop groups out there. I think it's so surreal that music can bring so many people together, no matter where you’re from.
What inspires you?
I’m so inspired by life, hearing stories that people share with me about their lives and connecting with people on a much deeper level than I ever have before. It motivates me to keep writing and sparks so many ideas. I’m finally in a place where I've fallen in love with making music again' I forgot how much I loved this part of the process.
If you had to make a mixtape for Holler readers of all your favourite songs what would be on it?
OMG THIS IS SO HARD, I’m currently obsessed with all the new HARDY songs, and Morgan Wallen obviously! Megan Moroney, sprinkled with Julia Michaels in there, Sam Smith, Young Thug and then a touch of Cher, Elton John and Elvis…oh and my fave…. DAVE MATTHEWS.
And what’s your favourite song of yours?
At this current moment, my favourite song of mine is an unreleased one called ‘Fathers Daughter’, but I swear it changes based on the newest ones I write.
If you could time travel back to any time, when would you travel back to?
Hmmm! I'd have to say the 70s/80s!
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
How many cowboy hats do you have?
Hahahaha at this current moment about, but I want more in all the colours.
What would be your Spice Girls style nickname?
SHAY BABY SPICE
What advice would you give to the younger you?
You gotta laugh through life, control only what you can and let the things you can’t control go, cause God will always work it out in your benefit. Focus on yourself and not boys! You have so much time for relationships, the one with yourself is the most important.
What’s next for you?
NEW MUSIC, touring and shows! I CAN'T WAIT.
Shaylen's singles, ’Roots’ and ‘What If I Don’t’, are out now on Two Hats Music.