It is always exciting to speak to a songwriter as they are so interesting. In country music the writers are loved and respected as much as the artists themselves and if they are both artist and songwriter well then it makes for an even more interesting chat.
I was very much looking forward to speaking with Shy Carter. Shy is a songwriter whom has written for and with many well established artists such as Sugarland (Stuck Like Glue), Billy Currington (We Are Tonight), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Speak to a Girl) as well as non country artists such as Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. Shy has also collaborated with the likes of Keith Urban, Cole Swindell and our very own Aston Merrygold as well as putting out his own music which includes the more recent Album/EP The Rest of Us.
Shy offers the country music world something different and something very refreshing. A first class songwriter, Shy also has a sensational voice which is very pleasing to the ears.
Shy was wonderful to talk with and patient. My one year old would not go to sleep so the zoom chat had to be switched to audio so that I could comfort my son at the same time.
“Hi little baby” Shy greeted! “I have a little one so I understand. God bless you little baby!My daughter was the same age as yours during covid and I had no babysitter. Everyone was on lockdown and I had this little baby on my lap during meetings and writing songs so I know haha”
It is hard isn’t it but also wonderful! How are you anyway Shy?
Yeah I have been great man, thank god! Everybody’s been good, the kids are doing good!
How has your week been?
I am doing a lot of moving right now, I am in the process of moving right now.
Oh well good luck! I know that can be very stressful!
We are so excited that you are coming over for C2C, what made you decide to come this year?
I have always wanted to come and I don’t know why I haven’t come yet but I am glad to come this year!
It’s going to be so exciting and equally emotional! You will be starting off with the CMA songwriters show which is one of the fans highlights. What can we expect from that show because obviously you have songs you have written for other artists but you also have your own music. I can tell you as a fan myself, we will all be keen to hear both.
Well I am thinking that’s a good plan, I better do both. Gonna make you all smile baby! Haha
Please play The Rest of Us!
Aww of course, thank you!
We are a listening audience so we will be happy with whatever you play but I know Stuck Like Glue will be a popular choice.
Yeah man, we will see how the crowd is moving and I might pull out something amazing!
We cannot wait! Was it always singing and songwriting that you wanted to pursue or did you have any other career plans at any point?
This was always what I wanted to do. I played sports when I was younger and I wanted to play sports too but I figured I was better at music haha. I put a lot of time into music and guess I had a natural knack for it. My dad plays guitar and sings and I just love music so much and it does something to me when I create a song and listen to it. I just got addicted to it
Was it hard to get recognised by the industry at first? Or were you lucky to have it run smoothly?
It was very difficult haha! It was a long long journey. I was running into “this” person that said they could help me and “that” person that said the same thing. Managers, contracts and all this stuff. I got caught up in crazy deals but hey! I made it! I got through the “outer circle” which was even more crazy. People say that they can help you and you get caught up in that. Now that I’m in the industry I have some good connections and some good people around me so it’s really a blessing but its been hard to get through this industry.
I can imagine.
You have written songs for other artists as well as releasing your own music. How do you decide what songs to keep for yourself and which ones you are going to give away?
Sometimes my management or my label or me will all have different opinions. Somebody might want to give a song to this person so a lot of the times it gets caught up in those discussions back and forth but most of the time with the songs that I have had out and have been successful it was pretty smooth. Billy Currington, when he came by the studio, we wrote a song together and then I know the song is going to be for him. If I go write a song with Charlie Puth then I know that song is going to be for him. I go to a Tim McGraw camp, a writing camp then I know that song will be for him. I like to do that! Kane Brown songs, I wrote a lot of those with him. I write a lot with other artists so I kind of know that’s what it is going to be. When I write on my own, I try to write for my own project especially these days.
I noticed that you worked with our very own Aston Merrygold (Formerly part of JLS) how did that come to be?
Oh yeah, that’s my guy right there, he is awesome! Such an awesome dude, he has a great spirit and is very talented. I had this song ‘Precious’ that I had for a while. So many people wanted to record it and that was one of those songs that I wouldn’t let anyone sing (laughs) it was just special to me. Eventually his manager Craig, he really pushed for it and he made me feel really comfortable and comfortable with everything he did for me. When I met Aston and we recorded the first demo, I knew that he was a good person that I could share a song with. I got to come out there (UK) and do some shows with him in London and some of the surrounding cities. I got to come out there and record with him. I got to come out to London like twice. It’s always good to have a reason to come out there!
Definitely! Aston of course isn’t Country music but your music is varied anyway so what made you create country music as well as the R&B side of your music?
Yeah, I just fell in love with the way they record their songs, the way they write their songs, all the instruments, the air. You can feel the air in the instruments like breezing through and it isn’t all compressed. It’s totally different to like pop music. I felt like I could just really appreciate a song and I really love R&B music and I saw that they were really similar – R&B music and country music. I felt that country music was even more of a genre at this point where I could write a beautiful song from the heart that touches and is wholesome.
Tell us about your album The Rest of Us. Was that a long process to complete? Are you a perfectionist when it comes to making an album/ep? In terms of how it is produced, the track listing etc?
Yeah yeah I am pretty much a perfectionist when it comes to this music but I have tried to stop doing that because it’s hard to get to the finish line when you’re a perfectionist haha. I have heard so many things throughout my journey and one of the things is that you will never be done with a song. You will always feel like there is something else that you want to do. But you have just got to know when to not be so precious about it. That’s what I am trying to do. I think that maybe the listeners aren’t paying attention to all these minute details that I am thinking about. So yeah, it took a while to make (the album ) because of covid, that was the main reason. I had written so many songs and these were the ones that I felt went together on the project and were a good introduction to my flavour of country music. There are some special songs on there to me. Mainly ‘The Rest of Us’, ‘Hard’, ‘Good Love’ and ‘Hurry’ too because I got a groove. I recorded that song (Hurry) into a tape machine. I just tried to give it a real organic feel. I like using a double bass and giving it a more funky feel.
What I have noticed with the album is that it has a 90’s R&B twist, was that intentional or am I hearing something that isn’t there?
Well I am sure it is there. It wasn’t really intentional but it’s the music that I grew up on and that I love. There were some great songs in that time with great production and it’s kind of nostalgic to me.
Going back to songs that you wrote with other people – Stuck Like Glue for example is such a unique song, possibly more so because of the way Jennifer (Nettles) sings it. What was the writing session for that like? Jennifer is such a character and Kristian Bush seems so layed back.
Yeah haha! I actually met them after. We kind of wrote the song in two different places. I started the song with a guy named Kevin Griffin in L.A. I had just gotten to L.A and I had only been there for a month and we just started writing a song and I didn’t really like the way the drums were on the computer so I just grabbed this guitar and started beating on this guitar and making sounds with my mouth and just trying to make a groove to write the song to and then that became the whole groove that you hear (sings) (can be heard at the songs intro and throughout in the background) and it was just a nice and different flava.
As we had written the chorus and verses and stuff he (Kevin) said that this would be great for Sugarland and haha I was like “that’s amazing but how are we going to get it to them?” And he (Kevin) was in a band called Better Than Ezra. Kevin was the lead singer and his drummer was playing drums for Sugarland and Kevin sent it right over to the drummer and he played it for Sugarland and they loved it! They made it the first single of that album (The Incredible Machine) they put their wild bridge on there where she (Jennifer Nettles) started snapping off haha and talking about a spoonful of sugar and all that! It took it to the top man it was like a breakthrough thing!
Yeah and it did well over here in the UK too which is always amazing.
Yeah that was awesome!
Have any of the songs you have written for other artists, when recorded by them sounded completely different from original take that you wrote?
Well Stuck Like Glue sounds different because her (Nettles) voice is a lot different from mine haha. That song was actually more smooth and soulful but they made it really exciting you know? The rest of the songs, I think they are pretty close, they don’t sound different. A lot these artists, they really stick to the spirit of the song which I really appreciate.
Please play your original version on Stuck Like Glue at C2C because we would love to hear it.
For sure I will.
Who has surprised you the most in the writing room?
Billy Currington always surprises me.
Yeah because he has always been a great singer that doesn’t necessarily write all of his songs. A lot of his songs are what somebody else wrote which is great because they are great songs but every time I have been in the studio with him he just spits out this amazing stuff and I’m just like “dang, you are an incredible writer man, it just comes so naturally”.
For somebody who doesn’t write their own stuff that often, he really surprises me. Also Craig Wiseman, he is just a genius man. Every time I get to write with him I am just amazed. Many others too.
Are there any UK writers/artists that you want to work with?
I love Amy Wadge and I have gotten to write with her down here in Nashville a few times and I’m really trying get together with her when I am that way. She’s out in Wales or somewhere.
Yes I noticed on your London announcement Instagram post that she commented on meeting up.
She said that? I need to get on there and check that out, that’s what I’m talking about haha.
I have always been curious about something and perhaps it’s an obvious thing that I have just missed but when for example you look at the CD inlay and look at a songs writing credits, is there a particular order that they go in? As sometimes I will see the singers name first and sometimes last and so on and I wondered if it had a particular order of whom contributed the most and so on or is it just completely random?
Nah it’s just random. That would be kind of funny though.
Yeah it would “out” a lot of people who don’t truly contribute.
That’s one thing I love about Nashville and country music. If there are four people in the room writing then that song will get split four ways. A lot of times that is just the end of it. When an artist cuts it that’s it.
But in pop music and some other genres, you start a song with a couple of people and then somebody else at the record label gets a hold of it and says they want this person to write and the artist to write and then you have like 9 writers on the song and you’re trying to figure out who gets what percentage and you only did this much so you should only get this and that gets stressful. But I like the way they do it in Nashville.
Yes so do I. You’ve pretty much answered my next question about how you feel when an artist gets songwriting credits on a song for adding something like harmonies or just because it’s maybe in their contract to always be a writer on all songs they cut.
Right! That’s frustrating! I have dealt with that and at some point you have got to choose your battles and sometimes I say “hey I’m not doing that”. I feel like my song is strong enough and I will walk away from it if I have to. Sometimes I say you know what? I might need this opportunity right here so I have to suck it up hahaha.
I understand that completely. But that’s why I love country music so much because they are all about their songwriters and fans love the songwriters as much as the artists.
It’s so cool and it is so refreshing that you can do that. Producers too. It really is something special that happens in Nashville!
Thank you so much for talking to me today Shy and we cannot wait to see you at C2C!
Thank you so much, I hope I get to see you too and blessings to you and your family!
Stream/Purchase The Rest of Us here