"That's the beauty of Nashville, you're surrounded by very talented people who make you sound pretty dang good" In conversation with Abby Anderson
Part of the new breed of artists coming out of Nashville Abby Anderson's bubbly, country-pop is a reflection of her personality. On the back of her first hit single, 'Make Him Wait', we met up with the infectiously chipper Texan at C2C in London earlier this year to talk about her music, and how she got to where she is.
So, has the UK been what you expected it to be? Do you hear much about it back home?
Oh yeah, my agent Lizzy was telling me a little bit about what the fans are like here, so I definitely had it hyped up in my mind and then I got here and I realized that I didn't hype it up enough! I just had no idea that... I'm just very thankful people love country music so much here.
How was playing on the Spotlight stage in the O2 Arena?
I was so nervous. You know what was funny is, I've let it go by too fast. I wish I let myself slow down and really take it in more. But I mean I'm gonna tell you right now Max, I can get used to playing arenas so I definitely can get used to that. [laughs] Yeah it was awesome.
So I guess this is quite a blur for you because it's like three days...
Yeah, I realise now that this is kind of the UK's equivalent of CMA Festival, y'all are keeping me busy. This is fun. I love it.
So do you get much chance to stop and think when you do stuff like this or is it kind of soundcheck, play, interviews, play...
No one's ever asked me that before. I don't know. I guess I mean alone time is really important to me because I'm on all the time, you don't think it's second nature. And I always try to centre myself a little bit before a show. Because it's very easy to feel like you're walking on air and kind of in the clouds when everybody's telling you how great you are, and giving you compliments, which is awesome. But it's really easy to drink your own Kool-Aid if you will, so I always try to make it a point to make sure that it's kind of like "humble yourself, come back to Earth Abby" because that's when I put on my best show.
And how do you do that. Is it some specific things?
Usually I just say a little prayer and just ask God to let me use my light how he would like me to. And then I just tap on the side of my left hand and just count backwards from 50 real slow, take a deep breath, and that always kind of centres me. Yeah I know it's weird, a little hippie, but...
You're from Texas originally, what's your hometown like?
My hometown is very suburban. I'm a city girl, but I grew up going back and forth between the city and the country where all my cousins and aunts and uncles lived, so I had the best of both worlds. I came from the biggest loving family full of music and there was always something to do in the Anderson house.
You've always been around music then?
Yes. I was playing piano when I was five.
I read that you didn't really enjoy piano lessons.
Oh goodness, I really didn't! My parents put all of us kids in classical piano lessons and I just hated it, Max. I think I just hated someone telling me what to do and how to practice, read notes. I learned pretty quickly I could never work for somebody, so the artist thing kinda works. [laughs] Well yeah. I hated it and then my mom showed me a video of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin and that changed my life. That's when I realized, OK this is more than just playing, I can perform and do this.
In terms of controlling stuff, you write your own songs and worked on the production of your E.P. as well right. Is it important to you that you do all of those things?
Really no. I strongly believe best song wins, which means I'm constantly listening to music by other songwriters. I'm not going to write the best song every day, but every day there are hit songwriters writing amazing songs that I feel it's my responsibility as a singer to make sure they get heard.
And so when you are writing you how do you approach it? Do you mostly co-write? Does it start off with you and you take it to other people?
So it's a little bit of both of that actually. Some days I'll be super emotional and just need to get all of it out on paper. I'll be writing something by myself and taking into my write the next day, the other days I just I walk into a write and I've no idea what we're going to write about, but let's just make something fun something we love. That's the beauty of Nashville, you're surrounded by very talented people who make you sound pretty dang good.
Do you have people now that you know you want to work with on particular types of song?
Yeah absolutely. Josh Kerr is my producer now, and he's my go-to guy. Every time we write together. It's a song I love. I wrote 'Make him wait' with him and Tom Douglas and, we met and just hit the ground running, all this new music is with him.
Are you currently making a full length record?
That's the thing., we've got 12, 13 songs mastered, ready to go. It'll be interesting to see how I release them. That's the part I don't know yet. I just think this world is so exciting now and I'd rather release songs more often and more frequently than just an album every two years. I'm creating too much to just sit around for two years and just do an album, I'd rather release a song every month, that's how my brain works.
It's interesting how it's changing, because there are acts who release stuff regularly...
I love it, releasing EPs or even just seven songs at a time just little mini projects...
Even Ariana Grande has recently released two albums in six months. You know people are almost forgetting that one every other year cycle. So how does the writing/recording cycle work for you?
I write every chance I get. When it comes to recording you record in chunks. It's a budget thing, it's way smarter that way. And I'm all about saving money! [laughs] So we'll write songs and then kind of when we're ready to make some new music go through the songs, which ones do we love, which ones do we not love, so on.
Have you been surprised by the reaction any of your songs have gotten in the UK?
Yeah, 'Dance Away My Broken Heart'. [Ed - Abby covered the song in her sets at C2C] I mean I didn't write on that song it was Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett, and I love that song. But I didn't know people knew it so well, so that one and 'Make Him Wait'. Which, the other night I was playing the Indigo afterparty, and I left that song out of my set, cause it's an after party I want to keep it up-tempo and fun, and I was leaving the stage and people were chanting 'make him wait, make him wait', and I'm like, I'm so sorry, I didn't know, I didn't know! [laughs]
I was actually reading a mini-review of that afterparty and in that they said they couldn't believe you didn't play 'Make Him Wait'...
Shut up! [laughs]It's a good lesson learned.
Were there any of the songs that you've recorded or written that were quite difficult to get out. So, you were happy with them but you couldn't get other people feeling it?
That's a great question. Like from the EP?
OK. So 'Naked Truth'. Actually was production-wise. We got thrown for a loop because we could not find a producer who would want to do it. Couldn't find anybvody! Like we played through the song and tehy're "like I don't get it, I don't want to produce that" And I'm like well golly, I love this song I need someone to produce it. So I produced it. I'm like if no-one else is going to I'll do it. So I did it and I'm happy with it. Yeah, that that kind of got to me for a little bit, no one wanted to produce my song and I thought it was great.
Ironic really as it's such a great song though. So you moved to Nashville a few years ago...
Yeah, when I was 17. 17 Max! [Ed - Abby is 22 now, it was her birthday on the day of this interview!]
How did you find Nashville, coming in from Texas?
My mom's really big into music and so when I told her when I was six years old I want to be country music star when I grow up, she always told me well you need to think about Nashville as that's where the music's made. That's where everybody lives. So I always knew I need to end up there because of my mom.
Do you think it's more difficult to break through there, because even the girl serving you in the supermarket wants to be a writer or artist. Does that make it tougher?
I lucked out. I really believe in luck and timing is everything. I mean you could throw a penny on any corner in Nashville and a girl prettier than me, who can sing better than me, who can write better than me, can pick it up. And for some reason God let me pick up a penny you know and I'm thankful that he let me.
Was there a moment when you thought, hey maybe this can be a thing?
You know what, it's probably my Opry debut. I got a standing ovation. I mean I knew I was going to do music before then but I don't think I realized just how big I could go maybe. And I got a standing ovation after my songs and that's a moment I'll always remember, it's just some good affirmation.
What's so special about the Opry?
Oh it's church. It's just the history of it all. My heroes played there. It is an honor. Every time you even get to walk through the Opry doors especially for me, I mean I watched the Opry videos religiously growing up just dreaming, I'm like "oh I'm going to be there one day" and I'm gonna do this one day and then you actually do it!
To find out more about Abby you should visit her website. She's is also amazing at social media, so definitely follow her socials, especially Instagram.