2015 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for Logan Brill. She has been making waves with critics and crowds alike with her numerous live performances, including stops at MerleFest and Stagecoach. This past June she released her new record, Shuteye, and made her Grand Ole Opry debut in May. We caught up with Logan while she was in NYC to talk about the Opry, success and more.
We had the chance to speak back in May prior to your first Opry performance. Being that playing the Opry is such a revered experience, do you remember it or was it one of those moments when you are so excited that you cannot recall it afterwards?
That’s actually it. You’re the first person who said it in that way. It was totally a blur! I was so amped about the performance the whole day, I had a lot of friends in town for it so we hung out all day, but once I actually played my two songs and walked off the stage I was like “I don’t remember what I said, played or any of the moments from it,” which is really unfortunate.
Personally, it was such an emotional night for me-both to play the Opry and to have my family and friends there. We will be back at the Opry in July and are on track to play a couple times each months for the next couple of months. My goal next time is to be in the zone and be able to walk off the stage and remember all that happened (laughing).
Sounds like a plan! Do you recall who introduced you or how receptive the audience was?
Jon Conlee introduced me and came back after my set and talked with me for a little while. He signed a little note for me and we took a photo. It was so cool to have someone who has been in the business for so long and who is so well respected spend the time with me.
The Opry has a built in crowd; they don’t necessarily come to see an artist, they come because it’s the Opry, but I felt like everyone was engaged and I think that people had the same feeling sitting in those seats as I did standing on that stage.
In addition to playing the Opry, your new album Shuteye was released to critical acclaim. Have you been happy with the reception?
I am really happy with it. I worked on the record for so long and to finally release it into the world was a scary thing, but so far it has been getting a good reception. Even though it is a slight departure in my sound, I think the people who liked the first record like the new one and I have gotten new fans as well, so its’ been really good.
You co-wrote two of the songs on the album and others were written by some stellar songwriters like Chris Stapleton, Natalie Hemby and Mando Saenz. How did you come to have those songs on the record?
I got them mostly through word of mouth. Mando has the same publisher, Carnival, and they wanted a female voice on the demo [of “Woman On Your Mind”], so I sang on it and really loved the song. As far as the rest of the songs, I just knew where to look. I love Chris and Natalie; they are both brilliant. I was able listen through catalogs to find something that spoke to me, like “The Bees.” I heard that song and was like “seriously, I want to do that!” It was really an organic process listening through, trying a song with acoustic guitar and setting up the vocals before we tried it with the full band.
One specific track I wanted to touch on is “Where Rainbows Never Die.” That song really is an emotional one. How did you choose it and why?
I love The SteelDrivers and Devon Dawson originally pointed the song out to me. Months later I was looking for songs and listening to The Steel Drivers and remembered how awesome the song is. I learned it on the guitar, called Matthew [her producer] and suggested we try it and see what happens. I had strep throat when we recorded it and even though I was sick, it felt like it turned out right. I love the message in it and the lyrics are really poignant.
Another song with poignant lyrics is “Tupelo,” which is one of the songs you wrote. What is the story behind that song?
My step-dad is from Mississippi and I spent time in Laurel. I love the word tupelo and am a huge Van Morrison fan, so I thought if he thinks the honey is sweet here maybe I should write a song about it (laughing). I never lived there and it is not a place I know well, but I love the name and to me, it represented going home and what you can experience there.
The record ends on another emotional note with “I Wish You Loved Me,” which always seems to make me tear up when I listen. Was it intentional to close the record with that song?
It was. I originally wanted that one as a sort of breath in the middle of record because it’s such a stripped down and emotional moment, but at the end of the day it felt like “Shuteye” and “I Wish You Loved Me” were the right bookends for the record. “Shuteye” is a good marker for the departure I took from my first record. Its rootsy, gritty feel is a bit different for me, so I wanted to kick it off with that, saying this represents what I am doing now. And then, I wanted to end the record with an honest moment and “I Wish You Loved Me” just felt really honest. It ends with no music at all, just one final word that says something to listener.
It’s the perfect closing track.
You mentioned “Shuteye.” Was that song ever released as a single and will you be releasing a single to country radio?
No it wasn’t. It was kind of like the unofficial official single. In Nashville, things have evolved in so many ways over the past decade and it is hard to not be aware of what’s going on the radio side of things. I moved in a direction that fits with that, but is it quite conventional? No, but it is how I like to do things. I am never going to be the artist who sings about tailgates and beer. I like that type of music, but it’s just not me or my style. I know I don’t necessarily sound like a lot of what’s on the radio currently, but I hope radio and I can cross paths at some point. We are working on getting some plays at Lightning 100 in Nashville and on XM radio, so hopefully we will get some spins.
Do you think in this day and age one can sustain a career if you are not played on terrestrial country radio?
It’s hard to say. I think with commercial country everyone says you really can’t have a presence if you are not on the radio. There are definitely a lot of people who are content with the level they’re at not being on radio. I feel like Will Hoge is a great example of that. He is very successful with songwriting, gets play on the local stations in Nashville and has a following of people who really appreciate what he does. Josh Turner, who I tour with a lot, is another example. He plays 1500-2000 seat theatres that are sold out, with loyal listeners who really want to hear him sing.
I would love to be able to do this so long as I can share my music with an audience and live comfortably whether that means playing arenas and being on #1 on country radio or being on alternative radio with a very loyal fan base, which could make sense for me as well. It just depends on where my music falls, what personally makes you happy and how you define success.
That’s really well said.
There has been much talk of females on the radio, especially with “Saladgate.” Do you have any opinion on it?
It was interesting because all of that happened right after the record came out. I think country radio for sure is dominated by the males, but in the 90’s it was dominated by females. We had Reba, Martina, The Judds and The Dixie Chicks. There seems to be an ebb and flow, but I will say a salad gets pretty boring if it’s just lettuce, tomatoes add that pop of color that make a salad much more interesting. I think though that the entire thing perpetuated some really interesting conversations that will hopefully lead to changes as far as country radio goes, so we’ll see.
I’m not psychic, but I think women are in a very unique position right now. For me, it felt like a challenge when they said nobody wanted to hear females on the radio. Women are in the position to use some leverage and come out and say things more a little bit more boldly, be influential and shake things up a bit more than what’s on the radio right now. It’s definitely an interesting time to be a female in country music.
Absolutely and a busy one, for you at least. From looking at your website, your touring schedule looks pretty full for the summer!
I am like constantly on tour! I’ll play any show I can. I love being on tour, it’s just so much fun. We’ll be playing the Opry twice a month which is awesome and other venues in Nashville and just continuing to move forward.
You have supported so many different artists, is there anyone you would want to pair up with in the future?
I’ve always thought about pairing up with Little Big Town. I love what they do, they are almost like a throwback Fleetwood Mac with a tight four part harmony. I respect their music and love their live show. Little Big Town is at the top of the list then there’s Eric Paslay, Charlie Worsham and Brett Eldredge all who are doing some rally amazing things. Of course, I am looking forward to playing with Lee Brice and I always love to play with Josh Turner.
Being that you are constantly on tour, what is a typical tour day like for you?
I don’t think I even realize how early the day starts! I get up, have some hotel breakfast, then head over to the venue by 2pm to sound-check and meet everyone. It’s really important for me to be at the venue, spend time with the band and get into the right mindset…..and drink Makers and listen to Van Morrison (laughing)! We are very hands on right now. We drive ourselves, set up, take down and sell merch and after the show we hang out with the people who have come to show, which is always fun. It's a lot of work, but it's all good!
For more information visit her official website
Find her on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram
Purchase Shuteye here