"To be honest I could not sing 'God Made Girls' another day in my life and I think I'd be OK. But I love that song" In conversation with Raelynn
It's not been too long between bouts of recorded output for Raelynn. After her 2017 record, WildHorse, the Texan singer-songwriter returned a year later with the party songs 'Tailgate' and 'Rowdy'. We wanted to know what has changed with her and how she's approaching songwriting for the new project. So I met her in a fancy room at the O2 Arena where, after discussing the difference between American public toilets and toilet paper, we sat down for a chat.
Hey Raelynn, so let's talk about songwriting first. You do your own stuff, and you co-write. Which do you prefer?
I do a little bit on my own. I love to be with people so I really enjoy the creative process with other songwriters. I think it's being in the room and working on a project and the vibes you get, the energy is what I crave and that's why sometimes it's hard for me to write by myself. I will do it once a year. I will write a full song by myself because I just have to prove to myself that I can do that. But I really enjoy writing with people.
So do you have like a set group of people that you go to or do you like trying out new people?
I love trying out new people but I definitely have a go-to for certain things, like if I have a particular song idea and I have a way that I view this song in my head. There's for sure a plan of attack when it comes to the songwriters that I would ask to come into the room to write because I know that their vibe and what they do will work really great for that.
And so do you often have an idea for a song when you go into the room with people, or do you just see what happens?
Sometimes I have ideas, sometimes I walk in and I'm like what the hell am I going to write today. I need a God-given idea and actually. I figured that most of the time I don't come in with an idea, that's when I write the best songs because I'm really open, my heart's open to write anything and I think that's when you write the best material, when you're not too structured. I think that's when I work the best.
Which songs surprised you the most because you didn't know it was going to happen. or you didn't think it was going to turn out the way that it did?
I'm trying to think. 'Rowdy' was one where I had the title but it was a song that just came together and it's one of my favorite songs to perform live right now, it's just so much fun. But that was one that I had the title on my phone but didn't know what it really was that I wanted it to be about.
Is that how it works sometimes, you just have really cool title?
Yeah. I'd like to look at that like that's my kind of thing. Sometimes a title will speak to me. I'm like, oh if I was a listener I'd be like, what is that about. Or I'd want to listen to that. I think that's really important when it comes to material because if something looks enticing that's what you want. You want that part of your record.
So you released a couple of singles in the last year, they sound a bit different from the record. Do you think where you're going is changing bit from where you were a few years ago?
I think it's really important to grow. I'm always changing, I'm always becoming a better songwriter and a better singer the more I do it. I think it's really important to take that energy and capitalize on it. I love Wild Horse so much and there are so many parts of it that are so cool. But with this next record I definitely want it to have the elements that Wild Horse had, but this record is just so different and cool and I've never heard of anything like it. That's why I'm excited for the fans to hear it, it's still quirky, it's still different, but it's got this vibe... I just... I've changed a lot in the last couple of years. I wrote a lot of Wild Horse when I was between 18 and 20. I'm almost 25 and there's a lot of life that happens in between, especially for a girl.
I've been married for three years, I've just gone through some real life stuff. And that's what this record shows but also it's just like I'm in this place of having so much fun with my music and I love to have a good time on stage. I love having a high energy show and I remember when I was figuring out what I wanted to do for this record, I just wanted to write songs that make me want to party my ass off when I'm on stage, just like have so much fun. Those are the kinda songs I want to have but then I also want to write another 'Love Triangle' or the songs that people really feel. It's about having dynamics and this record for sure have that.
The two singles are different in the sense that they're a bit more like that, party songs I guess. Because some of the stuff in the first record was quite serious and personal. So that was a conscious thing to do then to make it more up tempo?
Yes, and I think a good mix is important. I mean I sing these songs live all the time and the fans really are the ones that were like "When are you going to release these, when are you going to release these", and so you just gotta give them what they want. This next batch is going to be fun. One of my favorite songs is this song I wrote a couple of years ago, the hook of it is "breaking up with you is like taking my bra off" and I love that song so much because taking your bra is one of the best feelings in the whole wide world when you're a woman and the fans have been going crazy for that song for two years, so I'm definitely releasing that this year which I'm so excited about doing.
And when you're performing live, how do you find performing your more emotional songs, things like 'Love Triangle'?
It hits me different every time, sometimes I can get through it fine, but then there will be a night where I connect with a fan with my eyes and she's bawling her eyes out and I'm bawling onstage. It's funny because I wrote that song like four years ago five years ago when I was 19, and the fact that it can still take an emotional toll on me just lets me know that I'm still able to be vulnerable on stage which is awesome because I never want to become a robot. I never want to be singing without emotion, I always want to have that emotion attached to what I do. And so I love those moments because it shows me that a song that I've been singing for five years, could literally sing in my sleep, still affects fans and me.
I always wonder how bands like U2 who've been playing the same songs for 30 years, get up on stage and keep playing the same stuff. I saw you on the BBC Radio 2 stage (at C2C 2019), where you're closer to the crowd.
To be honest I could not sing 'God Made Girls' another day in my life and I think I'd be OK. But it's the song that made me and so I love that song. It's my breakthrough song. It was such a great hit for me and fans love it. It's their favorite, so why wouldn't I want to give them what they want when they've supported me this whole time. And yeah sometimes you get a little bored but you just jazz them up a little differently and play them a little differently, so that way I can still get excited about singing them.
And I guess that's the flip side, if you know people really love a song why wouldn't you want to play it?
That's what they want to hear, and that's what I'm like when I'm a fan and I go to a show, what are the songs I want to hear and the ones that are hits and the ones that have done really well. And of course we love the new stuff. But it's important to remember that.
Wild subject change now, I've been reading you've got diabetes. You've got a high energy job and you're travelling a lot so I wondered how you manage with it?
For me, it's my team and being aware of my diabetes. My main thing when I give advice to anybody is you just keep the people around you 24/7 informed on your levels and on how you feel. Because there are many times where my sugar has gone low and I've needed a bar or sugar or some something to get it up. And what if I didn't tell the people around me and they didn't know, and you have to be prepared for those situations. When I was younger I was always super scared of what somebody would think knowing that I have a type 1 diabetes all that stuff. But at the end of the day we all go through things and it's important to keep going forward because you never want something that could be avoided. So my biggest thing is just keeping a positive attitude, and it's hard sometimes when my sugar spikes and gets really high I get a headache. I mean, I've been on stage one time and right when I got offstage I had to throw up because my sugar had spiked really high. But you just get through it. And that doesn't happen all the time, it doesn't, that's happened once in the last five or six years. But it's just about being sure and being aware of how you feel 24/7 and just keeping on your diet and knowing we're watching this 24/7.
The last thing I wanted to ask you about is your hometown, because you're from near Houston originally, right? So what's your hometown like?
Baytown is close to Houston. It's a lot of chemical plants like like Exxon Mobil, all the main gas stations, all their chemical plants are in Baytown which means there's a very interesting smell in my hometown. I love it though. It's definitely a booming town, we have almost 90 thousand people that live in our town now. When I was younger it was like 60. It's grown so much but it's because of all the jobs down there. There used to be nothing to eat there, but now there's so many nice restaurants and stuff and so many great places to go. I love Baytown because it's just a different type of country. It's like more of this swaggy... I always call it ghetto country. It's like they're country people but they have so much swag going man, that's part of why my music is the way it is is because of the people that I was around 24/7 growing up.
To find out more about Raelynn you can visit her website or check out her social media. She's touring the UK in late May supporting Maren Morris on a number of dates. Check her website for dates and tickets.