C2C Interview : A 15 Min Chat With Brian Kelley

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It was great to get the chance to ask Brian Kelley more about the next chapter of his musical journey ahead of his appearances on the main stage at C2C in Glasgow, London and Belfast this year. My interview with the Big Machine Label artist coincided with the release of his latest single “Kiss My Boots” and the announcement that his first album as a truly solo artist, “Tennessee Truth”, will be available on 10th May. Exciting times ahead for the diamond-selling superstar, who was of course first known as the Florida half of the Grammy-nominated Florida Georgia Line, and we had plenty to chat about! 

LH Thanks for your time today, Brian, and welcome back to London! It’s a city that I know both you and your wife, Brittney, are no strangers to ….. is there anything in particular you look forwards to each time you return?

BK I love it here! Obviously London is so rich in history, the buildings and architecture, everything that has happened here, it’s incredible just to gain knowledge. And the food scene and pubs are great! I think people make a place, and there are some great people here ……. mix all those together and add on getting to play music and share some new songs that aren’t out yet, live these songs out with fans …… it just feels great and humbling. 

LH You have a busy C2C weekend ahead for sure !

BK I’m excited to see the reaction to the new music and to build a fanbase ….. I’m a big dreamer and I’m excited to see what we can make happen.  I work really hard and I have a great team around me who works just as hard, there’s great opportunity here and over time I look forwards coming back and building, growing something that’s real, with people who feel a connection to my music. It’s a bigger picture for me. 

LH It’s particularly exciting to talk to you on the day your new single is released! I just love all the attitude “Kiss My Boots” encompasses…

BK I appreciate that! 

LH And it strikes me as very relatable to anyone who’s moving on from being hurt or wronged . I’m not going to speculate on what inspired it, but was it a therapeutic song for you to write?

BK 100% yes! Very therapeutic, a lot of healing. I wrote it about a year ago so even having it underground in a sense for that time has been healing, knowing that I have that and I can just play the demo to myself. But you know what, I’m just grateful that I’ve always healed through songwriting, had that outlet throughout all the bad and confusing times, so this is no different. I agree with what you said, I love that it means so much to me, it’s going to radio and I think it is going to have a life of its own beyond what it means to me. So many people have felt these feelings, have dealt with betrayal and somebody doing them wrong. I’ve already seen a couple of comments this morning ….. people saying “I can’t believe Brian knows exactly what I’m going through“ ….. that’s what it’s for and I’m really grateful that people are connecting. This is just me pouring my heart out in a song just like Taylor Swift, or Hank Junior, so many artists have always done. I’m staying true to myself. I think there’s power to that . 

LH And there’s an accompanying video out in a few hours too which I have yet to see ….. do you enjoy that part of the creative process? 

BK Oh yes! This was kind of my brainchild and Brittney helped make it make sense. We worked with one of my best buddies, Ben Christensen, I saw the beginning of video and exactly where I wanted to shoot it. Once we knew where we wanted it to go it was about logistics. Brittney has a family farm in Georgia and it was a great setting for what we were trying to accomplish. I’m really proud of it. I felt that with this song being written and released there’s a sense of freedom and moving on, and with that comes a jolt back to myself creatively, and that’s where the video idea stemmed from. And I love how there’s some metaphors in the video, it’s definitely open to interpretation! The song is one thing, the video is another, and that’s what I love about art. It was fun to shoot it but also a release of a lot of feelings as I shot some of the scenes which I didn’t expect to happen. 

LH And of course the single follows on from your recently released EP and related singles, all of which have been made since your return to Big Machine (congratulations on that deal

BK Thank you so much , I’m happy to be with them 

LH And you’re working with the amazing Dann Huff as you move on to the next stage of your career, as a truly solo artist, does he really “get” you? 

BK He really does! What I really love about Dann is that his talents are so broad, he’s a legendary and incredible guitar player and producer, and the artists he’s worked with are so different and have their own unique sound but he’s really able to help capture the sonic branding of each one and elevate them. It’s kind of wild! That’s why I asked if he’d work with me and he was nice enough to say yes. It was love from the first time I played him demos,  it was “holy smoke, that vocal needs to be cranked in the mix, I know what you’re going for” and we just had a blast . The record was made over a long period just because of schedules, we got together in the studio with the musicians then I’d record vocals and he and I would tweak stuff at his house but every time it was easy, like it was out tenth record. He’s just so damn creative. One other reason I wanted to work with him is that every other artist he’s worked with he captures such a great vocal ……for this project, knowing that sonically it’s different from “Sunshine State of Mind”, it’s going to need a little bit different vocal because of the music and songs. The songs dictate the vocal ….. I’m always led by “what does this song need out of me? How can I shape this vocal around the song?” I knew this record was going to require more out of me, I’ve been pushing myself and working on my voice. I grew up playing baseball and I’m a competitive person with myself, so Dannwas just an obvious choice for me. He’s a bona fide country hit maker and that’s what I wanted!

LH I was going to ask how the album was progressing, but just today it’s been announced that there’s a release date of May 10th so it’s obviously all done and dusted! Twelve tracks, some of which we’ve heard already, but of the remainder which are you most excited for us to hear? 

BK There’s one song “Going Places” that after we’d recorded it, and it got mixed and mastered,  just feels good! I love the instrumentation, and my vocal on it, it’s a song I didn’t write but I just love the song. I didn’t overthink it, my A&R girl and my buddies had sent it to me and I found myself over the next couple of weeks just singing it in my head and it was “right, I’m cutting that”. I’m not saying it’s going to be a massive radio single and go to number one on the charts at all but I do think it’s got this thing about it and could do something. You know, you look at a project and think “ these are probably going to be the singles” but also “there’s a couple that may do something a little unexpected, that people will just turn into their own thing” and I think that’s one of them.  Although I may be totally wrong as I don’t know everything!! Then there’s “Barefeet or Boots”, I just love that and can’t wait to play it live, I can just see when I’m up on stage people swaying . Like “Doin’ Nothin“, it’s live oriented, and I love my vocal and instrumentation on that one, it sounds like a big party but it’s about being out in the country and going with the flow. “Ten o’clock On The Dock” sounds like it could have been in a way on my first record, I did that on purpose to let everybody know it’s ALL me, there’s no departure, I’m just sharing more of who I am. So it was important to acknowledge “Sunshine State of Mind” a little bit. 

LH I gather you’ve really been throwing yourself into songwriting, with this and future projects in mind, hooking up with people you’ve never written with before and being open to all kinds of stuff…

BK Yeah, yeah! The writing for this record was way different to “Sunshine State of Mind”, that was written during Covid with a pretty small circle of writers. This record, and the ones that didn’t get recorded (I’ve a ton of songs from this writing cycle) …. I’m just grateful, I felt more embraced by the Nashville songwriting community than ever, and I can’t thank all the writers and publishers enough ….. even if I didn’t record the song we got, I’m grateful for people spending time, stepping in the room, being excited and helping me push this forward. I’m looking forward to doing that again, I’ve told my team I’ll write with anyone they think I should. 

LH And of course you’ve recently collaborated with Flo Rida haven’t you, I mean, where did that come from?!

BK I know! I could have sat and over-thought that, it obviously sounds nothing like anything I’ve ever put out, but I just care about creating stuff that I love.  I love Flo Rida, it’s two Florida boys on a track together, and just like I’ve always done I just let creativity and inspiration lead. The song wasn’t even finished, it just had a start to it but when I heard the track and the chorus they had done I was already writing my verse! I’m just really proud of it, me and Blake Pendergrass wrote my verse, he came over and we drank 3 beers in 30 minutes and wrote that second verse, the next day I went and got my vocals all over it. I’ve got so much respect for Flo Rida, he’s had so many hits and such a big reach of fans. 

LH Ok, I need to wrap this up, so just quickly will we hear some of your new songs at C2C?

BK I’m going to play some unreleased songs, yes ma’am ! 

LH And will you be coming back to tour the album?

BK I hope so! I imagine. Yes. Yes ! I don’t know what venues I can do here, but I’m committed to coming back and building. 

LH Brilliant, I’ll look forwards to that! Have a great weekend at the various C2C shows and once again, thanks for your time. 

BK I really appreciate everything. 

Listen to “ Kiss My Boots” here https://briankelley.lnk.to/KissMyBoots

Pre Order/Pre Save “ Tennessee Truth “ here https://briankelley.lnk.to/TennesseeTruth

More artist information at https://www.officialbriankelley.com/

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