Country 2 Country Festival (C2C)

Interview: Pillbox Patti Talks Album ‘Florida’, How her Difficult Childhood Inspired the Album, Healing With Her Parents and More!

Photo Credit: Ruby Gaunt

Pillbox Patti, otherwise known as Nicolette Hayford is a very well established songwriter in the US and even if you aren’t familiar with her name, you definitely will be with her work.

Credits on songs such as A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega, One Night Standards with Ashley McBryde, she has also had hits cut by Lainey Wilson, Steve Moakler, William Michael Morgan, Chrissy Metz, Meghan Patrick, Kylie Morgan, Little Big Town, Robert Counts, and more! She is also part of Ashley McBryde’s Lindeville.

Nicolette has recently released her debut album Florida as her alter ego and artist name Pillbox Patti! An album based on where she grew up which she refers to as “Trashy and the rough area”.

Florida is based around her hometown, her childhood and is somewhat of a love letter to the town despite some bad experiences.

We caught up with Pillbox Patti at C2C Festival to discuss being in the UK for the first time, the album and the inspiration behind it. We also spoke of how and the album was written, women in country music and much more!

Hi, How are you?

I am good thanks!

How long have you been here?

We got here Wednesday night. We explored on Thursday, I took a very long nap on Friday. This is my first day here at C2C.

And you have just finished playing your first set haven’t you?


How did that go?

Really good. It was awesome! The energy was so good and people knew some of the songs. The fans were really food and I took a lot of pictures and signed things, a lot of hugs so it was great.

We love the music here so I am sure friends have told you how were are Album lovers and very attentive.

They have!

You said fans were singing along so what song had the best response do you think?

I think Young and Stupid. I actually had a really good response to Eat Pray Drugs. Which was funny and Suwannee.

Did you play 25 MPH?

I didn’t!

That is such a stunning song, I love a good ballad. Please tell me a bit about that song!

That song is sort of a love song to this really small town that I grew up in that isn’t that sharp, the side that I grew up on. There’s a lot of drugs, a lot of violence, a lot of poverty and I had some of the best times and some of the worst times of my life there. I really learned a lot about myself and grew up a lot! In some ways too fast! I miss it and I love it and I owe a lot of who I am and my songwriting to it so that song is really a love song to that town.

We are so happy to have you here as an artist and as a songwriter because we all know who you are here! I was just watching Amanda Shires at The Bluebird Session and she was talking about how country radio would play 25 men before playing a woman and we just don’t understand that mind set here. We love our female artists, heck most of us prefer the female artist haha!

I love it!!!!

Yeah and when I listen to songs like 25 MPH and I hear what Amanda says it makes me a bit sad! I remember talking to Ruston Kelley and he was saying Radio DJ’s will say that women don’t want to hear women and they don’t want to hear ballads and they don’t want to hear about your stories and I’m like “er don’t insult my intelligence, I like to hear real stories, not everyone wants to hear about trucks and beer all day long”.

Right? I appreciate that so much and it is very different and much harder to get those spots especially on radio. As a woman I definitely feel the love over here like big time.


The Festival line ups in the US, where are the women?

I know. It’s sad and it’s offensive and it’s really unfortunate for the listener because you’re really saying that you’re deciding what the listener wants and it’s a very rude and a presumptuous thing to do. People are way more into a lyric and a real story and an emotion than I think we give them credit for.

We ladies and girls for that matter need songs that we can relate to. I want to hear songs about mum struggles, heck I wanna hear about breastfeeding but that will just be seen as offensive probably.

Yeah!!! Absolutely!!! No kidding like be honest!! Songwriters we learn, write what you know and that’s what we women do really well. We write what we know and it’s like give us an inch so we can take 20 miles, please!

How long was the writing process for the album Florida?

I knew it was time for me to write the songs that were my truth and from where I came from that sonically represented what I was listening to at the time. I wrote that on two separate writing retreats. I really like to get out of Nashville and the grind of writing, well it’s not wrong and it works for a lot of people but to me, I don’t want to tell a song when I have from 11 till 2 to write it. So it’s a little stifling creatively for me and I did that a lot as a songwriter so, when I was writing for myself, we went to a lake house. Connie Harrington who is a brilliant songwriter, we went to her lake house and wrote half the record and then I got an air b&b by a lake at a different part of Tennessee to write the second half. We really wrote it all for like 16 hours a day in this little round table and just poured it out.

Photo Credit: Ruby Gaunt

That sounds amazing and therapeutic. A question I often ask is what happens when you have writers block or you and the co writers don’t know each other yet and you have to build that trust and get in that vibe, that zone!

For me, I chose the people that I was writing with and I took them with me and that is why I did it that way. There were people yelling lines from the bathroom, people yelling lines from the kitchen. There are no rules, where as sometimes when you are writing for other people you are working with people you don’t know. Sometimes you get lucky and you feel comfortable and something spills out of you but I had a lot of very personal things to say so I wanted people that I trusted and felt comfortable with. People who kind of held my hand through some of the things that were difficult.

What song of yours is your parents favourite?

My mum loves Eat Pray Drugs haha

That’s funny!

So funny! My dad, he really loves 25 MPH Town

That’s nice. Are they honest about hearing songs too?

Yeah I mean some of this, I had a not real pretty upbringing and my parents went through a lot of things. What’s amazing about them is that they allow me to talk about those things and are not offended. Because this is about celebrating “hey, I didn’t have the best childhood”. I think people forget that parents are people and sometimes they go through things. Sometimes people aren’t the best parents at the time you know? This album allowed us to celebrate it and be like “it’s ok because look at what we are making from it” and that’s been healing for not just me but for my parents too.

That’s good. I love hearing stories that families can heal, because it isn’t easy!

It took a long time for us to get there. I think that making this record helped that along because at first, my dad in particular was like “what will they think?” And I was like “you did the best you could”. That’s all you can do! We have to forgive! How everything goes is how it’s supposed to go. You’ve got to have some grace there. Life is hard, none of us asked to be here and then we’re like birthed out and have to figure it out I mean it’s difficult haha!

That’s the beauty of music though, it’s a healer.

Yeah! That’s what it is about!

I have to ask about your boots. They are amazing!!!

Thank you and they are very cheap!


Yeah I got them on Amazon and I think they were like $40

No way!!! They don’t look it!


You could have told me they were Gucci and I would have believed you.

See? I love that!


I am all about a bargain!

You can be like these are my Gucci *ahem* Amazon boots.

My Guccci amazoon boots. Check it out $40 haha

Brilliant! Thanks so much for today, I appreciate it!

Thank you, I appreciate your time!

Please come back!! Once you have played the UK you have kind of signed an invisible contract with the fans to be a regular here!

Oh, I will! I love that haha!

And bring your female friends, let’s get this festival more female heavy!


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