Introduced by her wonderful debut album, Yesterday & Me, we originally tried to speak to Kayla Ray for our Women in country & Americana month in 2018. That didn’t happen, but happily we had the chance to ask her a few questions for the 2019 edition. So, without further ado, here’s Kayla.
Hey Kayla, how’re you doing today?
I am making it just fine I’d say. Thanks!
Where are you right now?
Well, I’m sipping on some whiskey and waiting on my friend Tana in a truck stop parking lot. I happened upon a night off and we are going to go do some backroading I believe. No drinking and driving… don’t worry!
What have you been up to today?
Every bit of 5ft 2in last I checked… Just kidding! That was one of my Granny’s jokes.
I’ve been taking it easy, it’s been a long month and I’m happy to have a little downtime. Just not too much downtime…
Please introduce yourself to anyone not familiar with you or your music.
I believe in what country music used to be. I make no apologies or concessions for my lack of empathy for those who chose to delude the craft. I certainly am no master and have lots to learn but, my intentions to create truthful country music are pure.
What can you tell us about your record, Yesterday & Me, in two sentences?
This is an album of reflection, triumph and transparency.
How did you go about writing and choosing which songs to record?
It’s all trial by fire really.
You worked for Jason Eady a few years ago, now he “works” for you; how’s that relationship evolved?
Oh make no mistake, I still consider Jason Eady as my first “bossman”. I look up to him and his craft immensely. He certainly did me a favor by overseeing my albums, not the other way around.
You open the record with a cracker, ‘Rockport’; what can you tell us about that track?
My friend Jon Dew’s wrote that one. It’s the first song he ever wrote. I found it to be stellar. It’s the only cover on the album aside from the Whitley tune, ‘Once a Week Cheaters’.
‘Camel Blues’ is one of those clever word switching songs, can you tell us what that song’s about?
Ha! Well, it’s pretty literal. I fell in love with a man who played the Telecaster like you never heard. He was tall and slick and I somewhat foolishly, fell for his every word. I met the challenge with fire and intensity and together we were a force to be reckoned with as well as incredibly toxic for one another. It is a chapter I look back on with mixed emotion today. While I know there is no hope for us romantically I can’t help but know there are things we both wish we would have handled with more maturity. ‘Camel Blues’ is a reflection of the cyclical patterns of toxic relationships of that nature.
‘Pills’ is an upbeat number, but its subject matter is more serious, where did that song come from?
That song came from the depths of my noggin. Ha! I was writing about the things around me in a way I felt would get my message across without the heavy weight of minor chords and overbearing sadness that I all too often turn to when writing.
Where did you record the record? And how would you describe that space?
I recorded the album with Pat Manske in Dripping Springs, Texas, at the Zone. It is a beautiful, well-equipped room with a comforting vibe as well as an energy of free thought and creation.
What’s the reality of being an independent artist? Does your music sustain you financially?
The reality is something like that if a circuit-riding rodeo clown I can imagine… I’m gone a lot… a lot…. it is hard to maintain friendships and family relationships but, I strive to do so when I can. On the other hand, it is exciting and invigorating. Meeting new people, and having to sing my way out of a new corner every night is something I outright love and wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
As far as financial means, I can sustain on very little so, every day I wake up I count as a win.
It might seem a stupid question, but what’s the best thing that people can do to support you and your music?
Hmmm, I would say, come to shows! Buy the album, tell your friends… the basics… But most importantly support music that provokes thought. No matter who creates it. We are all in this fight together.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
I try my best to ignore any quote hurdles, keep my head down and work hard. Some women use this as a soapbox topic and while it is an issue, I find my time better spent working on my craft.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
That’s hard to say. Probably when I spoke to Crystal Gayle backstage at the Grand Ole Opry last year.
You’re from Waco originally, what’s the best thing about the town?
It’s consistency for a long time not much changed. There are new waves of commerce coming in now but at heart, it’s still Waco.
Is coming to the UK in your plans?
I would love to! I am hoping to make this happen in 2019!
If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be? ‘Diana Jones’ by Jonathan Byrd. Hands down.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Oooo that’s a hard one. I’m thrilled you asked any questions at all to be honest!! I’m really proud to be a part of this piece!
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
However it’s poured as close and as often as it’s available! Ha!