With Roger Sharman
I sat down with Stacey Antonel (AKA Ginger Cowgirl) before her show at Westfield House in Ealing last Thursday, we had a lot of fun putting the interview together. Hopefully this will give you all an insight into the wonderfully effervescent, warm, and funny world of the Ginger Cowgirl.
CL: Hey Stacey, the Ginger Cowgirl. I’m Roger from Country Lowdown. Welcome to the UK. How are you?
GC: Hey, thank you, I’m good, a little tired and a little hungover, but I’m good.
CL: So you’ve been having a good time since you got here?
GC: I have, yes. I’ve been in Germany for the past week.
CL: You had a show over there? I think you were playing at a music festival?
GC: I played a country music festival in Berlin, which was an interesting experience.
CL: Yeah I can imagine actually (laughter)
GC: The Germans don’t see country music the way we do. Anything American is classed as country.
CL: Were there lots of people wearing leather shorts there?
GC: Yeah leather boots and pioneer women wear and all sorts of American costumes. They’re very enthusiastic line dancers.
CL: Well I guess it’s good that they know how to. So is it your first time in the UK?
GC: It’s my first time playing here. I lived in Scotland for a year but yeah my first time playing.
CL: Is it your first time playing in Europe too?
CL: So how have you found it so far, both here and in Germany?
GC: It’s been awesome, everyone in the UK has been really been really supportive and showed up. I don’t know how and why they showed up. I guess in America there’s this myth that people in the UK will show in droves for live music and I guess it’s kind of true.
CL: I guess so. I think Country is pretty big over here right now.
GC: That’s true.
CL: It’s been growing and growing in the last few years. We have the big country music festival, C2C coming up in March, which is basically three days of Country Superstars coming over here to play.
GC: Like big Superstars?
CL: Yes big stars, they’ve got the likes of Eric Church, Luke Combs and Darius Rucker coming to headline.
GC: So it’s more mainstream Country than Americana?
CL: We do have Americana acts playing like Lyle Lovett played there last year and Tanya Tucker is playing this year as well.
GC: Ohh nice.
CL: Yeah it will be good, not that I’m going (laughter). Well it’s my birthday that weekend so I’m out of the country. Anyway I read that you started playing Piano at the age of seven.
GC: I did yes, I started playing classical piano from seven years old until the age of eighteen. Then I quit music for ten years. Then I got back into it but not with the piano. I never play piano anymore which is a shame.
CL: Obviously you play the guitar, do you play any other instruments?
GC: I started learning guitar out of necessity when I got to Nashville two years ago, so now I just spend my time on that. I’m still not a good player, by any stretch, I never practice. I just use it solely for composition of songs.
CL: Why don’t you play the piano anymore?
GC: I use it now and again as a tool but I don’t bust out Mozart or Bach so much anymore.
CL: But you used to?
CL: So you’re an incredibly talented young lady.
GC: I was (laughter)!
CL: You got into singing in quite an interesting way I believe?
GC: Yes, it’s very random that my life has taken this kind of trajectory. I moved to Argentina in 2010 with my best friend and I looked on Craig’s List, just looking for any sort of job, and pretty much any sort of job for American’s in Argentina are for speaking or teaching English. So I saw on Craig’s List that there was an ad for a jingle singer, so I tried for this and I got it, so I sang jingles for MTV: Sixteen and pregnant, they only air in Latin-America but it was still exciting.
CL: How long did you do that for?
GC: Just a year, I was just in South America for a year until I moved back to California.
CL: You are originally from California?
GC: San Diego
CL: So you lived in Argentina, California, and Scotland anywhere else?
GC: Other than Nashville no that’s pretty much it, yeah.
CL: That’s pretty random (laughter)
GC: Yeah it is random! (More laughs)
CL: How did you get from this to where you are now?
GC: You know, I just decided that I wanted to come here even though I know that it would probably be a losing proposition financially, but I had the feeling that I just wanted to get out and experience it and somehow, there’s all these amazing, like your one of them. I don’t know who you are, what you do or who you write for, but there’s this whole network of people who just really like Americana music and somehow I got reviewed in Country Music people magazine and then I reached out to Chris (Smith) to see if he could book some shows for me and that’s why I’m at this particular venue.
CL: They tried to poach me, I asked how much they paid and they said nothing, so I said I’ll stick I’ll stick with Country Lowdown.
GC: Ohh okay.
CL: Sorry, I should have said that’s who I write for.
GC: Ohhhhhh I see
CL: I finally put some business cards in my wallet so here you go. I’ve had them for ages but I always leave them at home, but I remembered for today.
GC: I follow that site on Facebook!
CL: So that’s where this interview is going to be appearing.
GC: I’ll try to sound smarter.
CL: Ohh, it’s quite ok, you sound smarter than me anyway (both of us laughing our heads off). So you’ve released your first EP, The ‘Ginger Cowgirl’ EP, which has quite a mixed sound to it, you’ve got some Honky Tonk, a bit of Ameripolitan, and a bit of Jazz thrown in and a bit of Soul as well, this formula seems to be working for you, are you going to continue on in a similar vein or are you going to concentrate on one particular style?
GC: You know, honestly I don’t think it’s working very well for me.
CL: Oh ok (Both of us having a good laugh again!)
GC: From a Marketing perspective, I feel that someone like Kelsey Waldon, has a very specific thing that she does so it maybe advantageous for me to pick one thing, but I don’t really know how to do that. I’m going to be recording my first full length album in April or May, and that’s going to be my main challenge. I’m going to bring the thirty songs that I’ve written and craft a sound from those. I like being diverse. For so many years I was a singer at weddings and corporate events and I had to sing four hour background gigs, so I just got accustomed to singing different styles and I enjoyed it.
CL: What do you listen to?
GC: What do I listen to, that’s such a hard question, lately all I’ve listened to is Lily Mae’s album, I don’t know if you’ve heard it but I love that album and for a while I was exclusively listening to Billie Eilish and then for a while I was listening to Kelsey Waldon. My favourite singer is Otis Redding but my style is not reflective of that. I like what I like but what I write just kind of comes out of me. Lately I’ve been working on a lot of Jazz stuff so can you detect my confusion?
CL: There’s elements of Jazz in the Ameripolitan sound, there’s hints of Jazz, obviously Country and there’s hints of Rock ‘n’ Roll as well.
GC: That’s kind of like a new genre for me, I just found out about it recently, so how does it differ from Americana, which I know means nothing and everything at the same time?
CL: Well I think the term came from Dale Watson, who is the King of Ameripolitan, I think he came up with the term. But I don’t really buy into that whole genre thing, it’s Country. It seems to me that Country these days, real Country is called Americana.
CL: Whereas Country is more of the more mainstream, top 40 chart stuff. But I know which camp I’m in. I don’t know how long the term has been about for to be honest.
You have an album coming up then?
GC: My goal is to release it in October, which is away off, I’ve never paid for Radio play or publicity, the EP was my first effort and I didn’t do it then.
CL: ‘Douchebag Benny’ – what a great name for a song, and what a great song too
GC: (laughing) Thank you. Every word is true!!!
CL: Is there an interesting story behind it?
GC: Well he’s an upright Bass player and he lives in San Diego.
CL: So you already said that your Hometown is San Diego so I’ m putting two and two together and coming up with four (both laughing). So he’s an ex-boyfriend then?
GC: Boyfriend is a strong word. We were casually dating. I feel like a lot of people, a lot of guys don’t think that they’re assholes but they really are. That’s the story of Ben (more laughter).
CL: That seems short-lived then (yet more laughter from both of us)?
GC: I mean he’s a nice person, he unfriended me after I released the song so imagine that he’s not very happy with me, but that’s ok.
CL: I wouldn’t unfriend you if you wrote a song about me (more laughs).
GC: I’m not trying to be Taylor Swift or whoever because I’m not her but …
CL: of course not!
GC: I would like to write songs that are not about men but it’s just so much easier to write songs about love even though I’m single and have been forever, somehow.
CL: You’re obviously too busy!
GC: Well I hung out with my friend in Munich for the past two days and he has two children and you know I really think that I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to have children. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
CL: How old are you if you don’t mind me asking.
GC: I’m thirty six, so my time is now.
CL: Your time is now. But it is for some people and it’s not for others, you have your music career to think about now, so that will keep you busy and visiting all the corners of the world. So where else have you played other than Europe?
GC: Nashville is really conveniently located for touring. California, North Carolina, South Carolina, the whole South East region is really accessible from Nashville, it’s nice to build up little pockets of fans although I’m not really sure how useful that is ultimately.
CL: It’s always good having fans, someone’s got to buy the music. Someone’s got to feed you.
You’ve been in Nashville for two years now…
GC: A little over two years, yes.
CL: You haven’t had any bar jobs there have you?
GC: I have not, no.
CL: That’s unusual everyone seems to go to Nashville and get a bar job and then try and get into music.
GC: You know I probably should have become a bartender, I’d make a lot more money at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I tried playing down on Broadway for a few weeks but I just hated it so much, so I quit.
CL: What’s been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
GC: Oh gosh ….
CL In your short career so far.
GC: In my short Career so far, well this is very old news but in 2013 I won $10,000 in a singing competition, which is long before Ginger Cowgirl existed in its current form. That was pretty great, and I just feel like I didn’t really know what to expect with singing this EP, and in general I feel like it’s been well received.
CL: It’s been very well received
GC: Which makes me happy. I also feel excited for the future, I still feel like a baby in terms of, even though I’ve been singing for a long time but I’ve not been an Artist for a long time so I feel like I’m still finding my place and it feels like the only way to go is up, well maybe not up but forward.
CL: Well you have to go up when you go home. How much longer are you here for?
GC: We’re leaving on Tuesday, so we’re doing Scarborough, Edinburgh and then back home.
CL: You’ve still got some miles to do then.
GC: We rented a car. I don’t drive stick shift so my guitarist is driving.
CL: This is your regular guitarist?
GC: He is from California so he is my regular guitarist in San Diego, not in Nashville of course. He’s also a dear friend, He got a free trip to Europe out of the deal so he came along.
CL: I understand that you are doing two sets tonight?
GC: Yeah, I haven’t made a setlist either, I probably should have done that before I talked to you.
CL: Probably, I have a pen a paper here if you need it.
GC: I have a terrible habit, screw the setlist, let’s do this other song that the band has never heard and they don’t know how to play.
CL: What’s next for you?
GC: The shows, obviously the album.
CL: More touring I guess? Do you enjoy the touring?
GC: I do, I love playing live, and I’ve always been a live artist, a live singer. I hate being in the studio. It scares me to play original music live, I just feel very insecure about it so I tend to default to covers because I’m afraid.
CL: But I’m sure everyone will love it. I’m sure you’ve had great receptions so far throughout the tour?
GC: Yeah, it’s been really nice that people have listened and appreciated it, which is not always the case in a lot of places.
CL: Thank you very much.