"I would sing Annie songs all day every day. I was obsessed with that musical" We chat with Betsy Phillips
Omaha native Betsy Phillips traded in the harsh winters for the musical destination that's Nashville. With her new EP now available, she found time to answer a bunch of our questions, on that EP, Like We're Talking, and about who Betsy is.
Hey Betsy, hope you’re doing real well.
I’m doing great, thanks!
Where are you right now? And what have you been up to today?
I’m just starting my day at home. Drinking tea and running through songs for some shows I have coming up!
Introduce yourself to our lovely readers, in case they don’t know you.
I’m Betsy Phillips. I’m a singer/songwriter based in Nashville, originally from Omaha, Nebraska.
Tell us a bit about you, what’s your first memory of playing music?
I loved singing as a kid. I would sing Annie songs all day every day. I was obsessed with that musical.
Your new EP is called Like We’re Talking, what can you tell us about it?
Like We’re Talking has five songs that I recorded with Dan Knobler last spring. It will be out May 3rd and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. [Ed - obviously Betsy answered these questions ahead of her EP release.]
Which song on it do you really want people to hear? And why?
I’m really excited for people to hear 'Seeds'. I think melodically it’s one of the more interesting songs I’ve written, but also because of the message of hope it has.
What can you tell me about ‘We Don’t Stay’?
I spent seven years of my childhood in a really small town in northern Nebraska. We lived in a tiny white house and made so many memories there. My sister and I still drive past the house when we’re visiting family up north, and at some point I realized just the act of driving past it is part of the story. I’m glad Natalie Schlabs could chip away at this one with me.
What’s your approach to writing (and choosing) songs to record?
The writing process can come with a lot of trial and error for me. I try to sit down and write almost daily. Ultimately, I just want to make music that I want to hear.
Can you describe the recording of the album for me, what was your process? And what was the studio like you recorded in? Did you personalise the space at all?
We recorded at Goosehead Palace which is Dan Knoblers studio in Nashville. It’s a gorgeous spot! We live recorded all the songs in two days in May 2018. We had Anthony da Costa on electric guitar and Ethan Jodziewicz on bass. I was so nervous to record live, but it was a blast!
I love hearing about American towns so I wanted to ask what your hometown is like? Nebraska always seems so wild to someone from the UK!
Well, Omaha is pretty “normal.” More than one high school. More than one movie theater. I actually loved the choir program at my high school in Omaha so I’m happy to have spent those years somewhere a little bigger. The town I mentioned before is incredibly small, though! Only about 1300 people. Two grocery stores. One stop sign. It was such a blast to live there as a kid. We had so much freedom to ride our bikes, climb trees, and anything else kids do when they’re bored. All without a whole lot of parent supervision. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
You live in Nashville now, how come?
I moved here for music and have stayed for music. I’ve been here seven years now and love it. The short winters are nothing compared to Nebraska, so I think I’ll stick around for while.
Where’s the best place to see live music in Nashville?
There are so many good places to see local music, but The Ryman is my favorite for bigger shows!
How would you describe Nashville to people who’ve never been?
Everyone plays, everyone sings. Mostly. What I mean is, most everyone here has some kind of musical interest or are pursuing it heavily. It’s an inspiring place.
What else is coming up for you in 2019?
I plan to tour and put out even more music!
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
Inequality definitely exists. For me, I’m mainly trying to challenge the perception that I have of myself. The guys that played on my record are such good people and are definitely supporters of women in the industry, but they were all guys. I was the only female to help create my record other than Natalie Schlabs that wrote on 'We Don’t Stay'. That’s a crazy thought. I couldn’t be prouder of what we made and the people I made it with, but hiring more women is definitely a goal of mine the future.
Have you felt a change at all over the last couple of years?
Awareness is a great first step and I have definitely felt that shift, especially with guys my age.
Who (or what) inspires you?
Right now this spring weather! I feel like a new person spending so much time outside.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Speaking of talented women in the industry...I’m pretty excited about Molly Tuttle’s new album.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
If I were you, I would ask me what song I wish I’d written. My answer would be 'I Can’t Make You Love Me'. That chorus melody alone is devastating.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Sorry to end this on a disappointing note, but I’m not much of a coffee drinker. I’ll take an iced chai with almond milk, please!
To find out more about Betsy you should visit her website. You can also check her out on social media.
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