Interview: Carly Pearce

You probably think you know everything about Carly Pearce. You probably know she’s been one of the most successful female country music stars on the planet this year. You also probably know she won a CMA with Lee Brice for I Hope You’re Happy Now. You probably know she’s had more than her fair share of personal ups and downs this year. But one thing you might not know is that Carly Pearce has an awesome laugh. It’s not a mere chuckle, snort, or giggle, it is, in fact, a near-whistle-register explosive outburst of mirth, surely deserving of its own Twitter profile. It is quite brilliant to behold, as I found out during a recent Zoom interview with Carly about how her 2020 was going so far. We talked about a whole lot of stuff, so the laugh wasn’t the only brilliant bit, but it certainly was one of the highlights!

Hi Carly, how are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m okay! I think I’ve almost got the hang of this Zoom business!

Trust me, I know! (she laughs!).

Tell me about your single, Next Girl. I love what you said about being inspired to write the song during lockdown by listening to all those great nineties country music women.

You know, a lot has happened to me. Obviously, a lot has happened to everybody, but yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of when my producer busbee passed away, and I kind of didn’t know what music looked like without him. I had only worked with him on like a major scale, and had to make a decision when quarantine happened, where do I go next? And what I felt like he did so well, kind of almost like as a send-off, was what he did with I Hope You’re Happy Now, as far as really creating that nineties throwback sound in my music, and I wanted to lean into that, because that’s who I moved to town to be. That’s the kind of music, like Patty Loveless, and Trisha, and Faith, and the Chicks, and Lee Ann Womack, that was the era of country that I loved. So I wanted to make sure that whatever we came with next really matched that, and was the right follow-up, and I didn’t feel like we had it, and that was a really hard realisation for me. But I just dove back into that music that I loved, and had a couple of Zoom writes, as we do in 2020, with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, who are no strangers to hit songs.

What was so interesting was that immediately we all bonded over that nineties country sound, and I didn’t have that with busbee. He was a pop producer from California. We just started writing and Next Girl was the second song that we wrote together, and immediately it reminded me of Blame it On Your Heart, Patty Loveless, and I just knew that that was the song that I wanted to put out. Lyrically, to me, it’s just one of those anthems that says a lot for women, but also feels so good, so you feel empowered, even though it’s kind of like a sad subject, if you really think about the lyric.

Talking of Shane and Josh, are they also producing your new material as well as co-writing? They’re so good at everything, it’s annoying!

I know! They’re really talented. And what’s so cool is, they don’t produce very many artists. They told me that they got the same feeling when we wrote together that they got with Kacey Musgraves when they started working with her. For me, I’m such a fan of what they do, but also, they’re only producing Midland and Old Dominion, so it just felt really special. I felt so understood, and felt like I walked straight into the next phase for myself when, right before that, I literally was crying, not sure what was going to happen to me, because I didn’t know what music looked like without busbee.

What can you tell us about the new material that you’re writing?

Umm… (long, thoughtful pause). We are working on a project. I don’t know if it’s going to be a full record. I don’t know if it’s going to be an EP. I can tell you that there’s been a lot that’s gone on in my personal life, on a lot of different levels, and I’ve always been the girl that writes about it.

Show Me Around is a song about busbee that I actually debuted on the Grand Ole Opry back in May during a livestream. We recorded a version of that.

Obviously a lot of songs that Shane, Josh, and I have written. I’m really excited about it. I think that you’ll hear a lot more of the country sound. I’m really leaning into that, going back to the rootsier side of things. It’s raw and real. I mean, I know I say this every go around, but this really, probably, is the most honest music that I’ve ever written.

One thing that I’ve noticed about you is that you’re always praising and promoting other female artists in your interviews, as well as covering their songs on stage. Why is it so important to you to support your fellow female artists in country music?

I love female artists. That’s what made me want to move to Nashville. I had a few female artists in the beginning of my career really champion me: Reba, Kelsea, Maren, Cam. And I feel like it’s kind of my duty to not only honour the ladies that made me want to move to Nashville, but also honour the ladies that helped me. And then also honour ladies that I feel like are coming up behind me, that I can now kind of almost return the favour for, and really champion.

Last question. You played the main stage at Country to Country in 2019. You seemed to be really moved by the response you received from the fans over here.

I was always told that the UK really loved songwriting and loved artists. They bought into artists, not just singles, I guess, like radio songs, kind of like America does. And I felt like that crowd, you know, this is pre-I Hope You’re Happy Now, but I just felt like they knew every word to every song. They were such fans of me as an artist. I felt like they knew so much about my music. And that was just moving. I have plans of coming back, and I totally do once all of this is over, but I really, really had a great first experience.

By Maura Sutton

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