Now/It's: 2018 Highlights & Retrospective

Now/It's: 2018 Highlights & Retrospective

If ever there were a slogan for Now/It’s in 2018, it would probably be some combination of “spare no expense” (in this case, the “currency” serving as the “expense” would be time, sometimes more than anticipated) and “better late than never,” so “Better spare no expense late than never?”

A little hamfisted that one, but maybe (and that’s an incredibly uncertain maybe, at that) it gets the point across.

In short, my original plan for Now/It’s in 2018 was to vastly expand the depth, breadth, reach, and social standing of the site relative to Nashville and the online publishing community. While that was no doubt a high benchmark to pursue, “Would that it were so simple.” Sure, a Coen Brothers film quote (Hail, Caesar!) from 2016 probably isn’t the best pop cultural reference for a 2018 year-in-review, but I couldn’t remember any quotes from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs outside of “Pan shot!”

Coen Brothers’ zeitgeist speculation aside, I would find myself inundated with over-commitments and assurances to publicists, artists, individuals, and the like. Subsequently, 2018 was the year that Now/It’s cemented itself as a “labor of love.” There were times I felt bogged-down to Hell, but that just made coming out the other end in one piece (for the most part) all the more gratifying.

Nevertheless, the beauty of a labor of love is the opportunity to see what it can further grow into in the future. In this particular scenario, that future is 2019. There are plenty (see: a handful) of changes coming to the site, mostly in the form of new features (“Now/It’s: A Day in the Life”) and more interviews, with a particularly concerted effort in diversity of interviews. So that might mean fewer interviews by the end of the year, but by no means does it mean a decrease in (hopefully) valuable, entertaining, challenging, insightful, and stimulating interviews.

Thanks to all who interacted, conversed, skimmed, deep dived (dove?), and read in 2018. Here’s to keeping Now/It’s a “labor of love” in 2019

— SM

The following are selections from Now/It’s’ 2018 run of feature interviews. You can access the interviews in their entirety here.

Karl Dean -  [On Teachers]  So I think if you go back to looking at education, I’d say the key ingredient is teachers, we need to treat our teachers with respect, listen to their voices, and to pay them adequately.

Karl Dean - [On Teachers] So I think if you go back to looking at education, I’d say the key ingredient is teachers, we need to treat our teachers with respect, listen to their voices, and to pay them adequately.

Daniel Ellsworth  - [On Trying New Things]  That’s kind of been our motto the past year and a half. Let’s just try it. There’s no “wrong way” of doing things right now.

Daniel Ellsworth - [On Trying New Things] That’s kind of been our motto the past year and a half. Let’s just try it. There’s no “wrong way” of doing things right now.

Kelly Eberle -  [On writing “Watercolor Fire”]  I think it’s probably just tied to being a creative person. I want to make something of every experience that I have. But this was such a different thing, because the night that I ended up writing this song about, there wasn’t any thought of that. It was “I don’t need to worry about that.” It sounds cliche, but it’s one of those moments where you’re so overwhelmed by everything around you that you’re like “I don’t matter at all.” And it’s a beautiful feeling to not matter.

Kelly Eberle - [On writing “Watercolor Fire”] I think it’s probably just tied to being a creative person. I want to make something of every experience that I have. But this was such a different thing, because the night that I ended up writing this song about, there wasn’t any thought of that. It was “I don’t need to worry about that.” It sounds cliche, but it’s one of those moments where you’re so overwhelmed by everything around you that you’re like “I don’t matter at all.” And it’s a beautiful feeling to not matter.

Bre Kennedy  - [On finding her Nashville music community]  It was quite serendipitous. We all have a moment every once in a while where we’re laughing at each other, poking fun at each other, being five year olds together, and then we realize that what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with is really special. It changed my life, and I’m so thankful for it. I don’t think I’d be making the music I am without them.

Bre Kennedy - [On finding her Nashville music community] It was quite serendipitous. We all have a moment every once in a while where we’re laughing at each other, poking fun at each other, being five year olds together, and then we realize that what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with is really special. It changed my life, and I’m so thankful for it. I don’t think I’d be making the music I am without them.

Saaneah -  [On Drive]  There are these factories that I always go to - your mental, your physical, your spiritual, and your emotional factories. Those are things that you have to cultivate in order to maintain balance within your life. So I want to have those as balanced as possible. There's something to be said for preparing, so I want to be prepared, because I want to do my best. And that's my drive. It's what drives me. My drive is my impact, and the more I can impact others, the more it will end up impacting me.

Saaneah - [On Drive] There are these factories that I always go to - your mental, your physical, your spiritual, and your emotional factories. Those are things that you have to cultivate in order to maintain balance within your life. So I want to have those as balanced as possible. There's something to be said for preparing, so I want to be prepared, because I want to do my best. And that's my drive. It's what drives me. My drive is my impact, and the more I can impact others, the more it will end up impacting me.

Rooted (Aaron Morrison, Jaime Bacalan, and Alexander McMeen)  - [On Nashville’s expanding sartorial tastes]  …there’s segmentation of groups in every city, and that’s what we offer in Nashville, is the proof that there is a desire for much more than [western wear] in Nashville. Once people from the brands and people that aren’t from here visit, they get more of a taste for it, and understand what we’re doing, and better understand the culture here, and where we fit within that culture. And brands have been wanting to work with us more because of that.

Rooted (Aaron Morrison, Jaime Bacalan, and Alexander McMeen) - [On Nashville’s expanding sartorial tastes] …there’s segmentation of groups in every city, and that’s what we offer in Nashville, is the proof that there is a desire for much more than [western wear] in Nashville. Once people from the brands and people that aren’t from here visit, they get more of a taste for it, and understand what we’re doing, and better understand the culture here, and where we fit within that culture. And brands have been wanting to work with us more because of that.

Tatiana Angulo -  [On rolling out her business, Isa + Jude]  It was the classic “Am I enjoying what I want to do?” scenario. Yes, I always wanted to do management, and yes I wanted to do A&R, but I already had my LLC, and I was paying taxes on that shit, I had to say “Come on!” And it suddenly just clicked. I stopped the bullshit. I have to start treating myself as the CEO that I want to be. Not as this girl that’s timid and thinks she started a company, and kind of doing those things, and is so concerned with what every fucking person in the city is thinking about me, especially, being a twenty four year old girl.

Tatiana Angulo - [On rolling out her business, Isa + Jude] It was the classic “Am I enjoying what I want to do?” scenario. Yes, I always wanted to do management, and yes I wanted to do A&R, but I already had my LLC, and I was paying taxes on that shit, I had to say “Come on!” And it suddenly just clicked. I stopped the bullshit. I have to start treating myself as the CEO that I want to be. Not as this girl that’s timid and thinks she started a company, and kind of doing those things, and is so concerned with what every fucking person in the city is thinking about me, especially, being a twenty four year old girl.

Lyon Porter -  [On the warmth of Nashville]  The people here are just absolutely the most genuine, supportive, and amazing people that I’ve ever met. I’ve lived in twenty cities in the United States - I used to play minor professional hockey - so I lived in fifteen different cities in ten years. There’s just something about Nashville that has absolutely blown me away, in the sense that, I was in New York for fifteen years, bounced around before that, I’m originally from Ohio. [Nashville] kind of reminds me of Ohio in the sense that when you meet them and they say they’re from Ohio, you’re like “Oh, hey. What’s up?” You know they’re a good dude. Granted, there are some less than stellar people from anywhere, but overall, you’d be in New York, people would react with a stunted “Oh, you’re from the Midwest.” Nashville doesn’t have…. It’s not mired so hard in the sticky molasses of the Deep South…

Lyon Porter - [On the warmth of Nashville] The people here are just absolutely the most genuine, supportive, and amazing people that I’ve ever met. I’ve lived in twenty cities in the United States - I used to play minor professional hockey - so I lived in fifteen different cities in ten years. There’s just something about Nashville that has absolutely blown me away, in the sense that, I was in New York for fifteen years, bounced around before that, I’m originally from Ohio. [Nashville] kind of reminds me of Ohio in the sense that when you meet them and they say they’re from Ohio, you’re like “Oh, hey. What’s up?” You know they’re a good dude. Granted, there are some less than stellar people from anywhere, but overall, you’d be in New York, people would react with a stunted “Oh, you’re from the Midwest.” Nashville doesn’t have…. It’s not mired so hard in the sticky molasses of the Deep South…

Tiana Lewis -  [On committing to Nashville]  I just had a hard time admitting to both myself and to other people that [Nashville] is the city I want to be in. I always had that inkling in my heart that this was where I wanted to be, and then I finally came to and told myself to be honest with myself, and I moved here, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Tiana Lewis - [On committing to Nashville] I just had a hard time admitting to both myself and to other people that [Nashville] is the city I want to be in. I always had that inkling in my heart that this was where I wanted to be, and then I finally came to and told myself to be honest with myself, and I moved here, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Ben Danaher -  [On tangible credibility]  I feel like we’re embarking on a time where the money is shrinking so much on the business side that everyone is hanging on for dear life, and whatever position they have in the business, they need to cling to that. So I understand why nobody is taking the risk. For me, I’m at a point where I have to prove myself some way, whether that’s through sales, legitimacy, work ethic. You need to be able to point at something and say that this is proven in these certain areas.

Ben Danaher - [On tangible credibility] I feel like we’re embarking on a time where the money is shrinking so much on the business side that everyone is hanging on for dear life, and whatever position they have in the business, they need to cling to that. So I understand why nobody is taking the risk. For me, I’m at a point where I have to prove myself some way, whether that’s through sales, legitimacy, work ethic. You need to be able to point at something and say that this is proven in these certain areas.

Logan Todd and Patrick Sewalk (Patzy) -  [On Pedal Steel]  Patrick - It’s a magical instrument. Every pedal steel player is underappreciated and underrated in terms of the level of feeling and intellect they have to possess.    Logan - I think of the same thing with violin - you’re either bad, or you’re good. There’s not really a mediocre pedal steel player out there. There’s “That’s guys not really good.” or “That person is a god.”

Logan Todd and Patrick Sewalk (Patzy) - [On Pedal Steel] Patrick - It’s a magical instrument. Every pedal steel player is underappreciated and underrated in terms of the level of feeling and intellect they have to possess.

Logan - I think of the same thing with violin - you’re either bad, or you’re good. There’s not really a mediocre pedal steel player out there. There’s “That’s guys not really good.” or “That person is a god.”

Scott Kreuger and Sean Truskowski (Elliot Root)  - [On discourse]  Scott - In a lot of ways, we’re just proving that our music is good enough, so I’m not necessarily going to hop into the pulpit before they even know that [laughs].    Sean - …. we don’t necessarily feel validated to interject our opinion in that manner yet. We’re too busy interjecting our music and our emotions and our feelings and our experiences toward people in what we hope will become a neutral space. At a show, that’s a neutral space. Let’s have fun, let’s connect, let’s just love on each other for a second. That’s the goal.

Scott Kreuger and Sean Truskowski (Elliot Root) - [On discourse] Scott - In a lot of ways, we’re just proving that our music is good enough, so I’m not necessarily going to hop into the pulpit before they even know that [laughs].

Sean - …. we don’t necessarily feel validated to interject our opinion in that manner yet. We’re too busy interjecting our music and our emotions and our feelings and our experiences toward people in what we hope will become a neutral space. At a show, that’s a neutral space. Let’s have fun, let’s connect, let’s just love on each other for a second. That’s the goal.

Jon Decious and Steevie Steeves (TOWNE)  - [On working with your ex]  Steevie - We’ve had our moments. We’re with each other every day. And we create.    Jon - Well, we used to date, so you could say a lot of things to your exes that you don’t hang out with that you couldn’t say to just regular people. Anyone who wasn’t there with you.    Steevie - We’re like an old married couple. So much love.

Jon Decious and Steevie Steeves (TOWNE) - [On working with your ex] Steevie - We’ve had our moments. We’re with each other every day. And we create.

Jon - Well, we used to date, so you could say a lot of things to your exes that you don’t hang out with that you couldn’t say to just regular people. Anyone who wasn’t there with you.

Steevie - We’re like an old married couple. So much love.

Ben de la Cour  - [On Raymond Carver]  Raymond Carver is my favorite. As a songwriter, I feel like Raymond Carver could do no wrong. Every songwriter should study Raymond Carver ….  I love him. I was in the Pacific Northwest last year, and I actually drove out to his grave in Port Angeles. I had a show in Seattle, and people were like “Wait, you’re driving out to Port Angeles just to see some guy’s grave?” And I was like, “You don’t understand, I drive 30,000 miles a year. What’s another 500 mile round trip if it means I’ll get to go see Raymond Carver’s grave?”

Ben de la Cour - [On Raymond Carver] Raymond Carver is my favorite. As a songwriter, I feel like Raymond Carver could do no wrong. Every songwriter should study Raymond Carver…. I love him. I was in the Pacific Northwest last year, and I actually drove out to his grave in Port Angeles. I had a show in Seattle, and people were like “Wait, you’re driving out to Port Angeles just to see some guy’s grave?” And I was like, “You don’t understand, I drive 30,000 miles a year. What’s another 500 mile round trip if it means I’ll get to go see Raymond Carver’s grave?”

Phil Madeira -  [On his hometown of Providence, RI]  I’m at the top of the Newport Bridge, which is this iconic structure that essentially connects the East side to the West side of the state. It crosses the Narragansett Bay, and it’s a suspension bridge, and it’s pretty tall, because it’s so long. So I’m at the top of that, and I look North, and there was this morning sunlight that just made me think, “Man, you grew up here.” The beauty of the place I’m from - I go home there every year - but I just was struck and that’s when the idea hit me to do a song cycle about growing up there.

Phil Madeira - [On his hometown of Providence, RI] I’m at the top of the Newport Bridge, which is this iconic structure that essentially connects the East side to the West side of the state. It crosses the Narragansett Bay, and it’s a suspension bridge, and it’s pretty tall, because it’s so long. So I’m at the top of that, and I look North, and there was this morning sunlight that just made me think, “Man, you grew up here.” The beauty of the place I’m from - I go home there every year - but I just was struck and that’s when the idea hit me to do a song cycle about growing up there.

Joshua Hedley  - [On coming to Nashville]  I just came here to work. My only goal was to just not have a real job [laughs], I just wanted to play. I really thought I was just going to tour with Jonny [Fritz] and play at Robert’s forever. I was fine with that. I didn’t really ever go looking for any of this - it sort of just found me. It still feels kind of crazy. I’m still waiting for something to drop. It’s like “Why is this happening?”

Joshua Hedley - [On coming to Nashville] I just came here to work. My only goal was to just not have a real job [laughs], I just wanted to play. I really thought I was just going to tour with Jonny [Fritz] and play at Robert’s forever. I was fine with that. I didn’t really ever go looking for any of this - it sort of just found me. It still feels kind of crazy. I’m still waiting for something to drop. It’s like “Why is this happening?”

Bantug  - [On Patience]  if I try so, so many times, I understand that it’s probably a lost cause. But it’s just funny when a lot of people tell you that you can’t force something. And it’s not like you’re being lazy - there are times when you can’t force something, and that’s okay - but you don’t have to let it breathe, you can just approach it in different.

Bantug - [On Patience] if I try so, so many times, I understand that it’s probably a lost cause. But it’s just funny when a lot of people tell you that you can’t force something. And it’s not like you’re being lazy - there are times when you can’t force something, and that’s okay - but you don’t have to let it breathe, you can just approach it in different.

Kashena Sampson  - [On Spiritual Observation]  I consciously do it. I don’t drink or anything. I don’t do drugs. I’ve been sober for eleven years. With that, I have a spiritual practice. I meditate. So when there’s a choice to be made, instead of going with it, I really sit back and wait for the right answer to come.

Kashena Sampson - [On Spiritual Observation] I consciously do it. I don’t drink or anything. I don’t do drugs. I’ve been sober for eleven years. With that, I have a spiritual practice. I meditate. So when there’s a choice to be made, instead of going with it, I really sit back and wait for the right answer to come.

Coco Reilly  - [On her musical journey]  I started playing flute when I was a kid, I was in and out of music when I was a teenager and then I got tired of that. I went back to school, ended up working a bunch of corporate jobs in New York City, and then my last job in New York, I worked at a sound design studio, and I realized that being that close to music again, but not being able to make it was something that sparked me.

Coco Reilly - [On her musical journey] I started playing flute when I was a kid, I was in and out of music when I was a teenager and then I got tired of that. I went back to school, ended up working a bunch of corporate jobs in New York City, and then my last job in New York, I worked at a sound design studio, and I realized that being that close to music again, but not being able to make it was something that sparked me.

Bennett Littlejohn (Bent Denim)  - [On finding and utilizing unique sounds]  My mom is an antique dealer, so I spent a lot of my childhood going to flea markets and estate sales and all of that. So I found a lot of weird gear through going to stuff with her and flea markets and stuff. Using all of that vintage stuff isn’t necessarily normal. Or it’s at least a little more esoteric.

Bennett Littlejohn (Bent Denim) - [On finding and utilizing unique sounds] My mom is an antique dealer, so I spent a lot of my childhood going to flea markets and estate sales and all of that. So I found a lot of weird gear through going to stuff with her and flea markets and stuff. Using all of that vintage stuff isn’t necessarily normal. Or it’s at least a little more esoteric.

Catalina and Jon Galvin  - [On how their first trip to Nashville]  Catalina - Well, when we used to live up in Connecticut, our favorite bartender at our favorite neighborhood bar - The Tipping Chair - I can’t remember if her family was from Nashville, or she had some sort of tie to the city - she told us we’d love it. So the first time we were here, we were just visiting - we came in town for the Green Bay Packers/Tennessee Titans game. Jon is a huge Packers fan.    Jon - My Green Bay Packers got our butts kicked.

Catalina and Jon Galvin - [On how their first trip to Nashville] Catalina - Well, when we used to live up in Connecticut, our favorite bartender at our favorite neighborhood bar - The Tipping Chair - I can’t remember if her family was from Nashville, or she had some sort of tie to the city - she told us we’d love it. So the first time we were here, we were just visiting - we came in town for the Green Bay Packers/Tennessee Titans game. Jon is a huge Packers fan.

Jon - My Green Bay Packers got our butts kicked.

Paul McDonald  - [On re-entering the Nashville songwriting scene]  I hit up a lot of my old buddies, so I wrote with some of the biggest country songwriters, pop writers, all the way to my next door neighbor who didn’t even have a PRO set up, like “BMI? ASCAP? What is that?” and I was just like “Dude, who cares, let’s write a song.” That was all mostly just to get this stuff out. Figuring it out and finding the right people you want to work with is important - in songwriting and in life - so I experimented and tried writing with a whole lot of folks. I found a lot of amazing people. It’s like dating. You find you date a handful of people, and a lot of them didn’t work out, [but] you always learn something from it, and I feel like I’ve done so many where I’ve gotten myself to find people I really enjoy writing with.

Paul McDonald - [On re-entering the Nashville songwriting scene] I hit up a lot of my old buddies, so I wrote with some of the biggest country songwriters, pop writers, all the way to my next door neighbor who didn’t even have a PRO set up, like “BMI? ASCAP? What is that?” and I was just like “Dude, who cares, let’s write a song.” That was all mostly just to get this stuff out. Figuring it out and finding the right people you want to work with is important - in songwriting and in life - so I experimented and tried writing with a whole lot of folks. I found a lot of amazing people. It’s like dating. You find you date a handful of people, and a lot of them didn’t work out, [but] you always learn something from it, and I feel like I’ve done so many where I’ve gotten myself to find people I really enjoy writing with.

Noah Gurley (Summer Palace)  - [On contentment]  I’m content with the way that things are going for me. I just focus on the music. If people like it, they’ll gravitate towards it. That’s good enough for me. I’ve got so much stuff on my computer that nobody’s ever seen or heard or will ever hear, and it’s all just for my own enjoyment.

Noah Gurley (Summer Palace) - [On contentment] I’m content with the way that things are going for me. I just focus on the music. If people like it, they’ll gravitate towards it. That’s good enough for me. I’ve got so much stuff on my computer that nobody’s ever seen or heard or will ever hear, and it’s all just for my own enjoyment.

EZA  - [On the beauty and terror of music]  I’ve just never felt like music was more of a burden than it was as a blessing. So because I’ve always leaned on that side of “It’s still worth it! I still love it.” I’m willing to figure out what that means. It’s really scary, but I love it.

EZA - [On the beauty and terror of music] I’ve just never felt like music was more of a burden than it was as a blessing. So because I’ve always leaned on that side of “It’s still worth it! I still love it.” I’m willing to figure out what that means. It’s really scary, but I love it.

Daniel Garnder (Pumpkinseed)  - [On writing and recording like a comedian]  Exactly. And that’s what we do. Live, if something happens live, like if we make a mistake but it sounds good, we’ll try it at the next show. We do that for a year, go record it…. It’s like the comedian, you build that hour, and then you record the special, and the last thing you want to do is see something you’ve already seen a month ago. For better or for worse, that’s kind of how our albums have come.

Daniel Garnder (Pumpkinseed) - [On writing and recording like a comedian] Exactly. And that’s what we do. Live, if something happens live, like if we make a mistake but it sounds good, we’ll try it at the next show. We do that for a year, go record it…. It’s like the comedian, you build that hour, and then you record the special, and the last thing you want to do is see something you’ve already seen a month ago. For better or for worse, that’s kind of how our albums have come.

Reuben Bidez  - [On how he learned guitar]  I’d be hanging out or working with my dad, and then go take a break next door. But then the owner took a liking to me, and asked if I wanted to work there, but I told him I didn’t know how to play guitar. He said “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that.” Then I was like “I don’t have a guitar,” and he just said “We’ll take care of that.” So I start working at this music store, and it’s funny, because I considered myself to be an expert on harmonicas - my dad played harmonica, I played harmonica, which is a weird instrument to have as your first instrument. But the owner had a little harmonica display, and I told him “You’re missing lots of keys. You need this and this.” And I think that’s where he started to take notice of me.

Reuben Bidez - [On how he learned guitar] I’d be hanging out or working with my dad, and then go take a break next door. But then the owner took a liking to me, and asked if I wanted to work there, but I told him I didn’t know how to play guitar. He said “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that.” Then I was like “I don’t have a guitar,” and he just said “We’ll take care of that.” So I start working at this music store, and it’s funny, because I considered myself to be an expert on harmonicas - my dad played harmonica, I played harmonica, which is a weird instrument to have as your first instrument. But the owner had a little harmonica display, and I told him “You’re missing lots of keys. You need this and this.” And I think that’s where he started to take notice of me.

The Wandering Hearts  - [On their Ryman Debut]  Tim - In a typically British, self-deprecating way, as well - I was just thinking the Ryman is way above where we are in our career - not that we don’t deserve it, but so many people do what we do and don’t ever get to that stage. So I just struggled to imagine what it would be like, because I thought it was so far away.    AJ - And all of the people that we were playing on that same bill with - they released the other artists and you see John Prine, Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, and you start freaking out. So that was a bit scary, too.    Chess - And it was this weird thing, at The Ryman, when we got there, we were terrified. When we did the soundcheck, it was like instantly, the tension and everything just diffused, and suddenly we were in this weird calm. And we were singing during soundcheck, and it was like “Actually, it doesn’t matter if things go wrong now, if monitors don’t work, whatever might happen, we can just use this room.” The sounds that come back at you in that room, they were like nothing I had ever experienced. That was an instant, “Oh this is going to be fine. We’ve got this.”    Tara - And everyone was so lovely.

The Wandering Hearts - [On their Ryman Debut] Tim - In a typically British, self-deprecating way, as well - I was just thinking the Ryman is way above where we are in our career - not that we don’t deserve it, but so many people do what we do and don’t ever get to that stage. So I just struggled to imagine what it would be like, because I thought it was so far away.

AJ - And all of the people that we were playing on that same bill with - they released the other artists and you see John Prine, Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, and you start freaking out. So that was a bit scary, too.

Chess - And it was this weird thing, at The Ryman, when we got there, we were terrified. When we did the soundcheck, it was like instantly, the tension and everything just diffused, and suddenly we were in this weird calm. And we were singing during soundcheck, and it was like “Actually, it doesn’t matter if things go wrong now, if monitors don’t work, whatever might happen, we can just use this room.” The sounds that come back at you in that room, they were like nothing I had ever experienced. That was an instant, “Oh this is going to be fine. We’ve got this.”

Tara - And everyone was so lovely.

Stephcynie  - [On Learning as an Independent Artist]  for me, it was “Okay, people actually believe in me. Cool.” So I learned from that whole process of taking my time and not having to rush, and knowing it’s really important to learn anticipation and all of that, because when I finished it, I was just like “It’s done! I want to put it all out!” So I learned from that, and now this one is a whole different approach. I’m self-funded on this one, I’m just going to treat myself like a business, and business owners invest in themselves.

Stephcynie - [On Learning as an Independent Artist] for me, it was “Okay, people actually believe in me. Cool.” So I learned from that whole process of taking my time and not having to rush, and knowing it’s really important to learn anticipation and all of that, because when I finished it, I was just like “It’s done! I want to put it all out!” So I learned from that, and now this one is a whole different approach. I’m self-funded on this one, I’m just going to treat myself like a business, and business owners invest in themselves.

Alec Koukol (Safair Room)  - [On Highlighting Anxiety]  Anxiety. [It’s] stuff that’s really interesting and stuff that I’m still dealing with. They’re ideas that make me stop and think, “Wait. Other people are dealing with this too.” So why not honor that mindset and that struggle to continue to bring it to light.

Alec Koukol (Safair Room) - [On Highlighting Anxiety] Anxiety. [It’s] stuff that’s really interesting and stuff that I’m still dealing with. They’re ideas that make me stop and think, “Wait. Other people are dealing with this too.” So why not honor that mindset and that struggle to continue to bring it to light.

Rod Picott  - [On shelving and then returning to his song, “Coal”]  So “Coal” was a song I wrote with a guy named Bob Ray, who I barely know at all. He reached out and asked if I wanted to write with him, and I wrote with him one day, and it didn’t click, but it didn’t not click. It kind of felt like I wasn’t sure if I had something or not. It kind of sat there, I kind of moved on and forgot about it, but then…. It was interesting, during the election, they started talking about coal. And they talked about that region a lot.

Rod Picott - [On shelving and then returning to his song, “Coal”] So “Coal” was a song I wrote with a guy named Bob Ray, who I barely know at all. He reached out and asked if I wanted to write with him, and I wrote with him one day, and it didn’t click, but it didn’t not click. It kind of felt like I wasn’t sure if I had something or not. It kind of sat there, I kind of moved on and forgot about it, but then…. It was interesting, during the election, they started talking about coal. And they talked about that region a lot.

Meaux  - [On the work life of an entertainer]  I’d say I’m an entertainer, for sure. It’s where I thrive. I think since I have a couple different talents, I’ve kind of - especially moving here - I just gig. The way I’ve always been is “Whatever you need, I’ll do it. I got you.” I’ll make it work, and if I can’t physically make it myself, I’ll find somebody else to.

Meaux - [On the work life of an entertainer] I’d say I’m an entertainer, for sure. It’s where I thrive. I think since I have a couple different talents, I’ve kind of - especially moving here - I just gig. The way I’ve always been is “Whatever you need, I’ll do it. I got you.” I’ll make it work, and if I can’t physically make it myself, I’ll find somebody else to.

Guthrie Brown  - [On what propelled him to move to Nashville]  I was actually working on a song for this ski movie, with my brother. It was a cover of “Midnight Rider.” My brother is best friends with a bunch of professional skiers, so [the cover was] for his segment in the movie. We went down there, it was awesome. I was supposed to go to music school in Minnesota, so I was just down there hanging. Then at the last second, I decided I wanted to go to Nashville.

Guthrie Brown - [On what propelled him to move to Nashville] I was actually working on a song for this ski movie, with my brother. It was a cover of “Midnight Rider.” My brother is best friends with a bunch of professional skiers, so [the cover was] for his segment in the movie. We went down there, it was awesome. I was supposed to go to music school in Minnesota, so I was just down there hanging. Then at the last second, I decided I wanted to go to Nashville.

Jackson Bruck  - [On Needing vs. Wanting to create music]  I’ll never forget - I had a guy at Guitar Center tell me - he was the manager or something…. I walked in one day to buy something, and he told me not to do music unless I didn’t have a choice. He said if you have a choice don’t do it, but if you have to do it, do it. And I was like “I have to do it.” I think for me, it just depends. It’s all about what people are going into music for. About what they’re trying to do. If you’re walking into music trying to be a millionaire, you probably need to find a different career path.

Jackson Bruck - [On Needing vs. Wanting to create music] I’ll never forget - I had a guy at Guitar Center tell me - he was the manager or something…. I walked in one day to buy something, and he told me not to do music unless I didn’t have a choice. He said if you have a choice don’t do it, but if you have to do it, do it. And I was like “I have to do it.” I think for me, it just depends. It’s all about what people are going into music for. About what they’re trying to do. If you’re walking into music trying to be a millionaire, you probably need to find a different career path.

Trevor James Tillery  - [On Writing]  With technology, you can be with somebody staring a screen right next to them and you’re practically not together. It’s also probably the most collaborative project I’ve ever done. I did a lot of co-writes on the record, and I also wrote a lot alone. So it’s a nice balance…. I wanted to grow as a writer, because I feel like that’s how you grow, is to see how people work. It was fun, so now I feel like I can take all that and see what I can do next.

Trevor James Tillery - [On Writing] With technology, you can be with somebody staring a screen right next to them and you’re practically not together. It’s also probably the most collaborative project I’ve ever done. I did a lot of co-writes on the record, and I also wrote a lot alone. So it’s a nice balance…. I wanted to grow as a writer, because I feel like that’s how you grow, is to see how people work. It was fun, so now I feel like I can take all that and see what I can do next.

JP Harris  - [On Delayed Gratification]  I kind of laughingly get miffed about being called a “new” artist by certain publications, but I don’t give a shit. People know I’ve been around. People can say that about anyone. When Jason Isbell’s Southeastern came out, people were like “Where’d this Johnny come lately turn up?” and it’s like “Are you fucking kidding me? You didn’t know he was [The Drive By Truckers’] guitar player, or that he had his own band? He’s been touring professionally for twenty god damned years!” But until you get a broader audience, people just don’t know that you existed before that. It always feels really contrived when people try to paint a convincing backstory to sell a recent release.

JP Harris - [On Delayed Gratification] I kind of laughingly get miffed about being called a “new” artist by certain publications, but I don’t give a shit. People know I’ve been around. People can say that about anyone. When Jason Isbell’s Southeastern came out, people were like “Where’d this Johnny come lately turn up?” and it’s like “Are you fucking kidding me? You didn’t know he was [The Drive By Truckers’] guitar player, or that he had his own band? He’s been touring professionally for twenty god damned years!” But until you get a broader audience, people just don’t know that you existed before that. It always feels really contrived when people try to paint a convincing backstory to sell a recent release.

Monica Moser  - [On Sharing Her Songwriting for the first time]  I think the first thing I shared was at a coffeehouse at my school, and after I sang my song, teachers were asking me what it was about. Then I realized I didn’t like people asking me about that, and I retreated. The first thing I shared - one of my best friends, she was diagnosed with cancer when she was sixteen. It was stage four, really scary. She’s alive now and doing great.

Monica Moser - [On Sharing Her Songwriting for the first time] I think the first thing I shared was at a coffeehouse at my school, and after I sang my song, teachers were asking me what it was about. Then I realized I didn’t like people asking me about that, and I retreated. The first thing I shared - one of my best friends, she was diagnosed with cancer when she was sixteen. It was stage four, really scary. She’s alive now and doing great.

Lauren Morrow  - [On Moving to Nashville]  I feel like we met so many kind people [in Nashville] who were like “Hey! You don’t live here? Why don’t you move here?” Just really, really cool people. It changed everything. We went to bed that night at Eileen’s house, and we were like “Should we move here?”

Lauren Morrow - [On Moving to Nashville] I feel like we met so many kind people [in Nashville] who were like “Hey! You don’t live here? Why don’t you move here?” Just really, really cool people. It changed everything. We went to bed that night at Eileen’s house, and we were like “Should we move here?”

Alexander Wren  - [On the “Unknown”]  As weird as this sounds, I think we as people are drawn to the unknown. Just the weird unknown stuff… So I think when you over analyze things and tie everything up in a bow, the life can almost be sucked out of it.

Alexander Wren - [On the “Unknown”] As weird as this sounds, I think we as people are drawn to the unknown. Just the weird unknown stuff… So I think when you over analyze things and tie everything up in a bow, the life can almost be sucked out of it.

Diamond Carter  - [On Committing to Producing]  It takes a lot of time to do, but I don’t fucking do anything else. Even if I’m going out socially, it’s related to this shit.

Diamond Carter - [On Committing to Producing] It takes a lot of time to do, but I don’t fucking do anything else. Even if I’m going out socially, it’s related to this shit.

Abby Clark (Sister Kit) -  [On Balancing Creative Output]  In talking to friends who are involved in both art and music, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re sort of working on both at the same time, like they get ideas from the other. But I don’t know if my mind works that way. In my experience, if I’m working on music, it’s just music. It comes from the same place, but the way that I approach it is very separate. It’s kind of nice, because when I get tired of one thing, I shut it off and go to the next thing. Then I’m never tired, creatively.

Abby Clark (Sister Kit) - [On Balancing Creative Output] In talking to friends who are involved in both art and music, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re sort of working on both at the same time, like they get ideas from the other. But I don’t know if my mind works that way. In my experience, if I’m working on music, it’s just music. It comes from the same place, but the way that I approach it is very separate. It’s kind of nice, because when I get tired of one thing, I shut it off and go to the next thing. Then I’m never tired, creatively.

Lincoln Parish  - [On his songwriting process]  I kind of have a window of opportunity with songs. You have to have some kind of momentum in the first hour and a half, and if it doesn’t happen in that time, I kind of just check out.

Lincoln Parish - [On his songwriting process] I kind of have a window of opportunity with songs. You have to have some kind of momentum in the first hour and a half, and if it doesn’t happen in that time, I kind of just check out.

Lindsey Patkos -  [On Support in Nashville]  Living in a place like Nashville - I’ve met people at this coffeeshop that are like “Hey! Let me help you get this job!” or “You’re awesome. Let’s connect.” We all celebrate each other and work together. I love that feeling. Even other photographers in town, it’s never a competition or anyone. We all help each other.

Lindsey Patkos - [On Support in Nashville] Living in a place like Nashville - I’ve met people at this coffeeshop that are like “Hey! Let me help you get this job!” or “You’re awesome. Let’s connect.” We all celebrate each other and work together. I love that feeling. Even other photographers in town, it’s never a competition or anyone. We all help each other.