Kelsea Ballerini is fast becoming Country Musics sweetheart and one of their most treasured singer/songwriters. Taking the music industry by storm with her debut album The First Time, released in 2015, Kelsea has also won and been nominated for various awards including a nod from the Grammys with a nomination in the Best New Artist category. Kelsea has formed a massive fan base here in the UK and came over for her first ever UK show on May 11th. I caught up with Kelsea a couple of days before to discuss her UK fan base, her music and many other things.
Kelsea was a delight to speak with – so humble and so funny and it was like having a girly chat with a pal.
Hello Kelsea, how are you?
Hi, I am good thanks, how are you? Thank you for hanging out for a little bit
Happy to – and thank you for doing this interview. Welcome to the UK!
Thank you. It’s my first time being here; I got in yesterday. So it’s like I am just now getting acquainted.
You must be pretty tired then; any jet lag?
Yep, yep – I slept past my alarm this morning!
Oh no, haha! We are so incredibly excited that you are coming over to play your first ever UK show. How does it feel to finally come over here – and did you expect it to be a sell out show, let alone sell out in an hour?
It’s crazy. I kind of get nervous going to new places, because I am very aware that no one really knows my music. So when it sold out I was like ‘Wait, how do they know me? How do they know this music?’ It was really cool to know that my music has spilled over here before we have even got to putting it out officially.
Were you aware of the Impact your music has had on the UK Country fanbase?
Nooo, but it’s cool. I have been on social media a lot in the last few days, seeing so many people tweeting me about being here – people have been just so sweet.
Yes, my twitter feed blew up, as soon as you announced that you were playing here. The fans have gone crazy and everyone has been so excited ever since – and this week, it’s all people have spoken about; it’s so lovely to see.
You are going on the world tour with Lady Antebellum, which is so exciting – and will make a return visit to the UK later this year. Other than performing, what are you looking forward to the most about their tour?
Obviously, they are iconic in Country music now and I love their music. I have their new record – they sent it to me early – and it’s incredible. More than that, we are friends and it’s such a treat to be able to tour with your friends because there’s so much time that you spend not on stage. It’s really important to be able to hop on Hilary’s bus and have a girls’ day and be able to have quality time with people you are on tour with – that’s going to be a real treat.
Yes, it does look like Hilary is happy to have another gal on tour. I have been looking at some of the videos and I love the one of Hilary singing Peter Pan – it’s so funny, I don’t know how you managed to keep a straight face.
Oh, my goodness, we cracked up making that video, it was so fun.
Yeah Boy is the current single, which we love! How do you decide on what single to release and what made you decide on Yeah Boy?
Well, Yeah Boy in the States is the last single from my debut record. I feel like the whole heartbeat of my record The First Time is very young and flirty and you know, ‘confident girl’. The next record I have been working on there isn’t really anything quite like that and so I really wanted to round out the first record with Yeah Boy, to make sure we ended that note.
I love the video as well. Was the dance routine hard?
Oh yeah, gosh! I grew up dancing for ten years and then I got really long and lanky and lost all of my co-ordination, which isn’t really fun, but we really wanted to end on that fun note and we wanted the video to mirror that, too.
When you write a new song, who is usually the first person’s opinion you ask for?
Usually I play it for my fiancée (Morgan Evans), because he is a musician too and he obviously has a really good ear for that kind of stuff. Then I will send it to my producer, who also writes with me a lot – so when he likes a song that he is not a writer on, I know it’s a good song.
How did it feel to be nominated for a Grammy – and where were you when you found out?
Ha! I was at home and I just woke up to my phone blowing up and I knew that it was either good news or bad news, I like the Grammys, as they are obviously the pinnacle of award shows for music and are voted on by the industry and your peers. To know that level of people listened to my record and have seen what I have done and thought it was valued like that, goodness gracious! It’s just such a huge confidence booster to know that you are doing something right and that your music is valued by music lovers.
My goodness, it’s just incredible and very well deserved. Some musicians take years to get that nod, so to receive it so early on in your career is an amazing achievement and, like I said, very well deserved.
So I have to ask about performing with Shania at Stagecoach Festival – not something that many people get to do. Were you nervous ?
It was just about the coolest thing that I have ever done. I was nervous but I feel like there are so many moments that I am not present in, because of my nerves, and I don’t really remember the actual moment of what I am doing. It was so important to me to be present in that performance, because I knew that it was going to be like such a special memory for me and so, man, I didn’t even think about the fact that there were 20,000 people there. I was just like ‘Holy **** – Shania Twain!’ Haha, it was one of those moments that I was so zoned in on being on stage with an icon and someone who is the trail blazer for artists like me.
I can only imagine how you felt. As if that wasn’t exciting enough you got to present Britney Spears with an award and also pay tribute to her by singing Oops, I Did It Again at the Radio Disney Awards. How did that feel?
That was all like in the space of four hours of each other, too. Ha, it was crazy! I mean Britney and Shania – those are two of the women that I grew up watching and wanted to be like. To be able to sing with them and honour them is a huge treat.
Everybody raved about it, the UK especially, because we love Britney and Shania over here; it was the perfect match really.
Your album The First Time has been out for a while now and we love it! So tell us about The First Time and what it means to you?
I think that album is like my introduction; I feel that it’s like my bio. It talks about love and the first time I had a heartbreak, my parents splitting up and being young and naïve. It talks about all those things that I was when I put that record out and I feel that it really captured a “Hello” from me.
What can we expect from the new album? You already said there won’t be anything like Yeah Boy on it?
The next record I have been working on is like the next step of who I am and will have more of a mature feel.
Will the song High School be on there? I wanted to ask about that song and the story behind it.
It is, ha! Oh, thank you for knowing it. It’s done, it’s on the record and I am so excited. I wrote High School by myself which kind of makes it like my baby on the record. It’s about when you’re in high school and everything is ahead of you, right? Some people leave the small town and chase their dreams and find their ambitions and then some people don’t. It’s the story of me, and someone who didn’t. It’s very personal but gosh, I am so proud of that song. Thank you for liking it and bringing it up.
Oh, of course! We are so excited for the new album and to have High School on it is even more exciting.
You just wrapped up The Home Team Tour with Thomas Rhett. What was the most memorable thing for you during that tour? Why did you dress up as carrots?
Hahaha! Well, haha, that was probably the most memorable thing. Our encore every night, Ryan Hurd, Russell Dickerson and myself would come out on stage and sing 24 Carrots. So, ha, our end of tour prank was to get 24 carrot suits and rush on stage dressed as carrots during that song. Everyone lost it, haha!
How on earth did you find 24 carrot suits?
Haha! Actually Ryan Hurd did. He went online and ordered them all for us.
Haha, I would have loved to have been the person who received that order and be like ‘Whaaat? Who wants 24 carrot suits – and why??’
Ha, I know right?
You and Thomas Rhett will be working together again as you’re going to be hosting CMA Festival; that must be exciting?
I am excited. We kind of stumbled into hosting it. I like it, I feel like you get to be more involved in whatever it is that you are hosting. For CMA Fest, last year I didn’t even get round to watching the shows, because I was running around like crazy, so it’s really cool this year to be able to watch it and see the show every night, as well as perform.
Peter Pan, which we love and is an extremely personal song to you, has received a lot of success and the video is really fun. I really love the video and have to say I always love the dresses that you wear. How was it to shoot that, because you had a plane flying pretty close over you, which looked really scary? You wore amazing outfits – and I have to ask, were they tricky to get in place for the wind effect?
Haha, yes all of it! It was fun; it was a challenge. We really wanted the video to be regal, epic and cinematic because that is kind of how the song sounds. So it involved acting, which is really hard for me and not my thing – which I learned, ha! But it was really fun to learn how to drive a stick shift that day, have a plane fly super close to my head and just kind of do stuff that none of the other songs we put out called for. The dresses were definitely a big part of the video that I, as the girly girl, enjoyed. It was so windy that the blue dress, which had the train on it, went and caught the wind like an actual parachute. So all the slo-mo scenes that you see, where it looks like I am walking like Beyonce – nope! Just tripping, ha just tripping in slo-mo!
Well it’s good practice for your wedding, haha – for which congratulations by the way, on your engagement!
Haha, yes, good practice!
So tell us something about you not many will know. Do you have a hidden talent other than music? Can you backflip, or something like that – but then you said you lost your co ordination, so I guess backflipping is out the window, ha!
Haha, backflips out the window! No, I really am probably the most boring person in the world. If I am not doing music then I’m at home, with my dog watching Netflix.
That’s the perfect life.
Isn’t it? Haha!
Who in Country Music are you listening to right now and who should we be listening to?
Ooooh , obviously Maren Morris is killing it. That whole record is incredible – her song Once, is my favourite song right now. Stapleton just put out a record and has a song on it called a Either Way – that song makes me want to quit my job, it’s so good. Who else am I loving right now? Outside of Country, Troye Sivan and Alessia Cara I am obsessed with; those are probably the singers I am most excited about.
Finally, are you all prepared for Thursday’s show? Are you excited and have you listened to the support act Catherine McGrath yet?
Yes and I have, I have. It’s going to be so fun for me to just like get to know the music scene over here. I am so unfamiliar with it here but I am really excited to get acquainted with it.
You will have a great night, because everyone will know every word to every song. If you perform your unreleased songs including High School, I can guarantee they will know all the words to those too.
Do you think so?
Oh yes, believe me, we are fanatics. We hear it once, we know the words.
You know what? I wasn’t going to play High School, but now I will. Haha! I totally will play it now, yay!
Good! Well, I will see you tonight at your showcase.
Oh yeah, see you there!
I am so excited, as it will be my first time seeing you.
It will be my first time playing in the UK.
I am so glad to be a part of that. Thank you so much for talking to me today. Congratulations on all your successes – and have a blast on Thursday.
Thank you, I will see you later, thank you for your time, I appreciate it.
The First Time by Kelsea Ballerini