We were lucky enough to be front and centre during the press conferences at the recent C2C Festival in London. Kacey Musgraves stopped by to talk about her love for the UK, her famous cover songs, country radio, ‘Late To The Party’, staying true to herself, ‘Dime Store Cowgirl’, and her progress on her next record. You can read what went down below.
Sounds Like Nashville: Everyone [I talk to here] brings up your name, and they say [they like it] because it’s authentic. I feel like that’s gotta be the best compliment.
Kacey: Yeah, that is the best compliment! You just wanna be yourself. I just feel lucky that I’ve gotten to make music that makes me happy from day one, it wasn’t anyone else’s agenda or anything else like that. It was just music that made me feel good and songs that came from a real place. It’s really cool that people can connect with that, and see it as what it is, and that it’s really coming from me.
RW Publicity: It’s easy to be yourself.
Kacey: Yeah, well if you’re yourself from the beginning then there’s a freedom with that, because then you’re never owing anyone else anything, other than what you wanna do.
Think Country: You and your band always do fantastic cover songs that fit you guys perfectly, and you very rarely hear other bands playing those same songs. What goes into your thought process when you’re picking those songs?
Kacey: That’s a good question. We have a lot of fun coming up with different covers. Usually I feel like we just reach back and pick a song that was massive in its own way, but probably not attached to country music at all. And that’s what makes it fun and unexpected, because I feel like we could very easily just pick an old country song, and I love singing old country songs, but we like doing things that are a bit more unexpected. We’ve taken ‘Scrubs’ by TLC, or ‘Crazy’ Gnarls Barkley, and just kinda made them our own. It’s really a fun challenge to figure out “Okay, so how do I take this song and put it into my western world.” So it’s always a really fun challenge for me, it’s like a puzzle piece. The band gets into it, so we’re always kinda thinking of “What can we do next? Is it gonna be Daft Punk, or is it gonna be Beyonce? What is it gonna be?”
German Public Radio: How do you feel about all these radio programmers in America, don’t you just wanna shake them, say “This is the most precious artist in country music right now!”
Kacey: (laughs) Well, you know what, to each their own. I just hope that we can eventually come to a day in country music where there’s room for everyone. And until then, I’m just gonna keep doing my thing, and it’s really cool that we can come over here and have amazing shows, and get to sell out the Royal Albert Hall… and just do all these bucket list things that I never thought would be able to happen. I’m just enjoying what’s going on, I’m just trying to stay present and love it. Just keep writing and being creative, and just kinda stay in my own little corner like I have been doing since day one.
Chris Country Radio: Your lyrics have always had this mix of honesty, in places a little bit of cynicism as well…
Kacey: Me? Never. (laughter)
Chris Country Radio: There’s one song on ‘Pageant Material’ that when I heard it I thought immediately, “This is an unashamed love song, and is actually really beautiful,” and that’s ‘Late To The Party’. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that song and how it came about, because there’s less cynicism going on there.
Kacey: Ha! Yeah, yeah. Well that one, it was a must-have for ‘Pageant Material’. I just really really really love that song so much. I wrote it with Brandy Clark and Josh Osborne. I had the title ‘Late To The Party’ but I didn’t know really what I wanted to do with it, or what the idea of the song would be. What angle it would come from, or whatever. And then Josh – he’s brilliant – he started playing this groove, and he said, “Hey what about – I’m never late to the party if I’m late to the party with you.” And it just totally flipped the phrase around, I had never even thought of it that way. It made it really really sweet, and I just really love the sentiment, and I feel like that’s something that I can definitely relate to. Maybe there’s an event you’re going to or it’s a party, and you’re kinda just stuck in your own world with the person that you’re with… I’m picking out my shoes, and my friends are texting like “Where are you?” and we’re like “Just say that we’re almost there! We’re on the way.” That’s a world that I really love thinking about, and I like that song, the vibe. The slap groove of the song – it reminds me of an era of country that I really admire, which is kinda like a Ronnie Milsap kind of feel. That one was really important to have on the record, and it’s one of my favourites to play every night.
RW Publicity: And that is gonna be the next UK radio single. It is one of your favourites on the whole record.
Kacey: It is! I’ve been like, dying for it to be a single, because it is very rare for me to have an actual love song! So we should embrace the moment. (laughter) It just makes me feel good, and it’s sweet. There’s a lot of visuals that go on with confetti… it’s just a fun, pretty song to me.
For The Country Record: ‘Pageant Material’ has a very clear style and theme throughout, and obviously you’ve carried it through into the tour. Have you started working on your next record yet, started writing at all, and if so is there a theme that’s beginning to emerge?
Kacey: Um… I haven’t actually started working. I mean, maybe subconsciously I’m always working on something, just by logging my ideas away. But on tour it’s really hard to be creative. And the way that I tour is I’m out every weekend, then I’m back for a few days during the week, so I’m never anywhere long enough to really latch onto any one mindset. I’m out on the road just long enough to get used to it and then I’m back home again. Then I’m back home, and I’m used to it, I’m loving it, then I have to go back out on the road again. So I really have to reserve time to write and be creative, and so I’m taking some time off in May to write. I don’t really have a direction, which is really fun. I don’t know where it will go. I have all these ideas and I’m finally gonna get a chance to flesh ‘em out. Keep me in your prayers!
For The Country Record: Tonight on the line-up you’ve got all sorts of badass artists like Stapleton and Andrew Combs, and Eric Church. And obviously you’re badass in your own special way! (laughter) How do you think that that’s gonna mesh all together?
Kacey: Um, just as in one big show, you mean? Well I think it’s cool that a bunch of different parts of country music are represented here at C2C, and I’m proud to be the only female on the line-up tonight. I’m a fan of everyone on the line-up; Andrew Combs especially, he opened up some shows for us recently, and I just really think his record is an instant classic. It kinda gives me a Glen Campbell or a Jim Croce kind of vibe. It’s a record that I can dig and so can my parents. You know what I mean? It’s really, it’s really great. And obviously Chris and Eric. And it’s just cool to see all different kinds of fans coming out, and just really enthusiastic about it. It was just really funny, cause last night we played in Glasgow, and we have our pink suits with lights, and the glitter and sparkles, and I did ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ from Mary Poppins. And then Eric’s on, and it’s like skulls and weed and black! (laughter) Total 180. But I think that’s what’s kinda cool about it. You can’t come to one show and see all of this. So it’s pretty cool, it’s like a mini festival in one.
German Public Radio: Is there a culture clash at all between the Americans bringing the country music and the lifestyle to the UK?
Kacey: Mmm, I don’t – I haven’t really experienced any kind of culture clash at all. I think it’s always really interesting, coming over here the audiences really clearly love lyricists and songwriters, words and wordplay… I just really appreciate that about the audiences here. They always seem to really listen. That means a lot to me, because you can easily get a crowd that talks over what you’re doing and it’s kinda tiring, you know? It’s really cool over here that people are really into that, and it’s really awesome that country music’s having a little boom. It’s really cool, I like it! Whenever some of the songs were on the table, being talked about as singles, like ‘Dime Store Cowgirl’ or ‘This Town’ or whatever. They’re very Americana things that are very intrinsic to small towns, and you would kind of only really understand them if you were from a small town, I feel like in America. So I asked him, I was like “How’s this gonna work? Are they gonna get it? Is this gonna be a good choice?” And he said that “Yeah, it’s almost like a nostalgic thing.” Right?
RW Publicity: Absolutely. And the story – everyone loves that story, maybe tell it quickly – about how on Earth you came up with ‘Dime Store Cowgirl’, because that wasn’t said to you in a polite way, was it?
Kacey: No. So ‘Dime Store Cowgirl’ has always been in the back of my mind a little bit, this phrase, and also “What does it really mean?” It was said to me when I was about 11 or 12. I grew up singing down in Texas at these little tiny oprys and little places. I’ll never forget this grown woman coming up to me. I grew up singing really traditional western swing and country music, so I always had the ten gallon hat and the fringe, kinda like what I’m doing, I guess nothing’s changed! But that’s what I grew up doing. I was rockin’ my cowboy hat, I had it tipped back, and I was about to go on stage and this woman came up to me, she said “Honey, you really shouldn’t wear your hat like that, cause it just makes you look like some dime store cowgirl, okay!” And I was just like “Lady, what? I’m 12, I don’t know what that means.” But it always stuck with me, and I’ll never forget her coming up and saying that, and so I just had that “dime store cowgirl” saved in my phone as a title. Like “This has to be used somewhere.”
Sounds Like Nashville: At shows back home people are texting and tweeting and everything, but they don’t do that here! It’s so crazy, like he was saying someone got upset with him for standing up, like they’re really into the music. Can you just talk about how refreshing it is to you?
Kacey: The shows here, it’s super refreshing and almost a little intimidating because of how into your lyrics and listening they are. Sometimes we’ll have shows and they’re just so polite, and they’re just watching every little thing, and it’s hard not to interpret that as “They’re not really into it,” or “They’re not really energetic” but it’s quite the opposite. They’re really listening and it’s really polite, and they’re giving you their full attention. It’s really refreshing. Even with the media here it’s really fun, because I feel like we have really good banter, intelligent questions, they love to ask about the songs, the origin of the songs, the musicians and things that really matter to me to talk about. It’s always really fun to come over here and play and work and everything. I’m really excited, we just played Royal Albert Hall and that was really mind-blowing because it was sold out. You know that room, I’m sure most of you have been in there, and I didn’t know what to expect but I walked in and I felt like I was inside of a cake! (laughter) It’s really pretty! I was really blown away by the fact that it was sold out, and our London crowds have been our best, like hands down. My family came over from Texas, it was a big to-do, it was a big deal, we filmed it, and so we’re gonna be releasing the footage soon. Somewhere! So be looking for it.