In the year since releasing her debut album Walking Wires, Logan Brill has proven herself to be one of the most exciting emerging artists today. With a stunning voice, Brill brings a grit and authenticity mixing blues, country, rock and Americana into a sound she can claim as her own. Praised by outlets such as Billboard, Pollstar, and CMA Close Up Magazine, Brill has already had many firsts in 2015 and there will surely be more to come as she releases her new album, SHUTEYE, later this summer. In anticipation of her performance at Midtown Live in NYC, Brill graciously took the time to talk about her whirlwind couple of years, her new record and more.
So for those who might be new to your music, can you give us a little back story? Was music something that you knew you wanted to do from an early age?
Yeah, music was definitely a big part of my life growing up in Knoxville. My parents always played music in the house; we were the family that sat around the living room or the camp fire with guitars. I grew up knowing music was a big part of what brought me joy and what brought my family together. As I got older and performed out, which I did from a young age, I realized how much I loved it. The seed was definitely planted very young for me.
You graduated from Belmont, but took an unconventional major there.
Yes, I did. I spent two years in their commercial voice program, which I loved. It was a great program where all of the professors were, currently or in the past, in the business, but two years in I decided to go in a different direction. I decided to pursue music outside of school and change my major to something totally random. I chose French, which lemme tell ya, I use every day (laughing)! So I studied French in school and spent all of my time out of school pursuing, playing and writing music.
All of that time spent focusing on music really helped you hone in on a sound that sets you apart from the pack. You successfully mix the blues, country, rock and Americana.
My sound definitely comes from the influences I had growing up and then those I had after moving to Nashville and becoming more plugged into the country scene. I grew up listening to not only the blues, but also Emmylou Harris, The Band and Gram Parsons as well as Bonnie Raitt. Then I also loved Buddy Guy, and Van Morrison. Listening to all of those artists helped my sound become what it is.
Over the past two years, you have opened for Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Todd Snider, Willie Nelson, & more. In addition you performed at Merlefest, and Stagecoach. That’s more than what some other artists get to do in a lifetime!
It’s honestly been crazy! Over the past two years I have played coffee shops to arenas and I am just so fortunate to have done all of it. It has been a whirlwind of two years. Having been able to tour and open for Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and even more commercial artists like The Band Perry and Josh Turner have been great experiences. It’s just incredible to share the stage in different settings with people I respect. We got back from Stagecoach about a week ago and my head is still spinning from it! It was such a high energy time; then we played Merlefest and experienced the Americana and Bluegrass side. It has been interesting to see how the music goes over in different settings. To be able to play such different festivals has really helped me grow as an artist, learn to be versatile and hone my sound.
Having spent time with these seasoned artists, have any of them offered you any advice on either record making or touring?
As far as tour life, they all have given me little tidbits of advice, like bring a pillow for the car (laughing). For me though, it’s been great just observing how they get ready for a show. Half of them sit in the green room watching You Tube videos, but a lot have a little pre-show ritual which is what we do. Before a show, me and the guys get together, listen to music and have a shot of whiskey, Makers. It helps us get going for the show.
Your sophomore album, Shuteye, is due to be released this year. What can you tell us about it?
The album is done, but we are not sure when it will be released, most likely sometime in the summer. Shuteye is an evolution for me musically. It was very exciting to go back in the studio and do a second record after having one under the belt. I was learning a lot on the first. I had never been in the studio before and I spent a lot of time trying things out.
The last two years have really been influential on my decisions and on my record making. This record definitely moves a lot more and is such a blast to play live. I’ve been able to play a lot of the new stuff and it has gone over really well. The band loves it as does the audience!
As for songwriting, I did not write all of the songs on the record. Honestly, when I first moved to Nashville, I was going to try and write every single song on every single album, but once I got here and realized there were so many incredibly talented songwriters who are not artists and don’t have the opportunity to sing their songs, I changed my opinion. I wanted to look to other songwriters outside of myself for this record.
Both David Nail and Charlie Worsham, two of the most under-appreciated artists around, sing on the record. How did you connect with them?
They are both such incredible artists and I am so, so excited to have them on the record. Going into it, I actually had them in mind for the songs because I knew the songs would fit their styles. The song Charlie is singing on is more of a classic country heartbreak ballad, while the song David sings on really gives him the opportunity to use his incredible voice. It’s been really awesome to have them be a part of the record. I am just so thrilled they agreed to do it!
Why did you decide on Shuteye for the album title?
We always thought that "Shuteye" would be a single, but honestly, I really like the word. When I first saw the name of the song, I was curious, like “Shuteye is such a weird word, I wonder what that song sounds like.” I thought it would catch people’s attention on the front of a record.
In addition to those amazing experiences we mentioned, you are making your Opry debut May 16th. Have you decided what you are going to play?
Honestly, no! I am not the type of person who makes lists ahead of time. Two days before a show, the guys in my band are texting me asking what we are playing! I’m off the cuff and probably won’t decide until the day of the performance. What I play is usually based on what I’m feeling and what I feel like singing that day.
Playing the Opry is going to be a great experience. I am so excited to be able to play on that legendary stage where the musicians who have influenced me have stood. It’s a bucket list item that I totally did not expect to be able to cross off this soon.
With all that you have accomplished, is there anything specific that you would want to do this year?
Honestly, I feel like my head is still spinning from Stagecoach, Merlefest and the Opry, but I guess I really just want to continue to grow an audience. I love playing shows, so I think in the future it would great to headline my own show and bring a crowd out. Every artist wants to have that moment on stage. I feel so fortunate to have had so many opening dates, but I feel like I have learned a lot and am ready to go out and hit the ground running.
Finally, is there any recent release that you cannot stop listening to and would recommend?
I love the new Will Hoge record, which just came out and I am very much anticipating Chris Stapleton’s album. He’s been a songwriter forever and now he is doing his thing. Both of those guys are great, check them out.
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Logan Brill plays Midtown Live Thursday May 7th
Time: Doors 7pm/Show 8pm