The Artists Call The Shots: A Conversation with Brit Taylor

By Brent Thompson

Photo courtesy of the artist

Brit Taylor’s notion to take one step back in order to take two steps forward in the music industry paid off. Quitting her publishing deal in 2018, Taylor started a cleaning business and used the money she earned to self-release her 2020 debut album, Real Me. For her follow-up, the recently-released Kentucky Blue (Cut A Shine Records/Thirty Tigers), Taylor enlisted the aid of producers David Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine, Del McCoury Band) andĀ  singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson. The result is a 10-track collection that will appeal to fans of Simpson, Margo Price and Tyler Childers. On Friday, February 24, Taylor will perform at Dave’s Pub. Recently, she spoke with us by phone from her Nashville area home.

Southern Stages: Brit, thanks for your time. We are enjoying Kentucky Blue. Are the songs on the album newer compositions, older ones or a mixture of both?

Brit Taylor: They were all written from 2018 to now. “Cabin in the Woods” was the oldest song. They were all written after or during the making of Real Me.

Southern Stages: The album has an incredible production team in David Ferguson and Sturgill Simpson. If you will, talk about the experience of working with them.

Taylor: It’s been a dream come true. I remember the first person that ever told me about Sturgill was a songwriter named Stephanie Smith. we were sitting in a writing room and Stephanie said, “Have you heard of this Sturgill Simpson guy?” I said, “No, but with a name like Sturgill he has to be from East Kentucky [laughs]” That day I went down the rabbit hole and listened to all of Sturgill’s music and got to know him as an artist. It’s just strange that I would remember a moment like that.

Southern Stages: Was David or Sturgill your initial contact regarding the project?

Taylor: I had a meeting with a producer that I didn’t want to make a record with one day and I was getting frustrated. David Ferguson popped in my head – he’d been a friend and mentor since 2018. I texted him and said, “What about me and you make a record together?” He texted me back immediately and said, “What about me and Sturgill doing it?” I thought I was going to wreck off the highway. Sturgill listened to the material and they asked me to send them 30 songs and they scheduled the session that day. It was [recorded in] three days of tracking and I did one day of vocals.

Southern Stages: It must have been nice to record it quickly and maintain the spontaneity.

Taylor: I think there are so many different ways to make music and I don’t think any of them are wrong – it’s whatever fits in the moment. I like it when it goes quick because there’s still human error and there’s a realness when you make a record that quick that I really like.

Southern Stages: Your career timing seems good as fellow artistsĀ  with traditional sounds like Sturgill, Margo Price and Tyler Childers are all having success.

Taylor: I think so. I think there are so many ways to find new music and I’m excited that the stuff I grew up on is making its way back around.

Southern Stages: Continuing your point about the ways to find new music, how do you view the current climate? Some artists say it’s a great time to reach listeners through modern outlets such as Spotify, Youtube and satellite radio. Others say the current climate makes it difficult to be found among the crowd.

Taylor: I think both of those things are really true, but you can’t focus on the bad. There are too many things that will tear you down as an artist and you just can’t focus on that. To me, the music industry right now is like the wild west – anything goes and the artists call the shots. The artists have more power than they’ve ever had. If this was the ’90s or ’80s, somebody like Tyler or Sturgill would’ve had to have a record deal to do what they did. We didn’t have Thirty Tigers, social media and Spotify. Your only option was getting a record deal and going to commercial radio. If you didn’t fit the box, it just wasn’t going to happen. Now, we have the power to say, “I don’t need your label or your resources – I’ll just do it on my own.” That’s really empowering. Is it easy? No! It would be easier to have all the money and promotion, but if it’s not there it’s not there. It’s more of a grind but at least it’s a possibility.

Brit Taylor will perform at Dave’s Pub on Friday, February 24. Admission is free. Dave’s Pub is located at 1128 20th Street South.