Caleb Lee Hutchinson Hopes Fans Will ‘Better Understand’ Him Through His New Album, ‘Southern Galactic’
“I hope this album serves as its own little place in country music that’s not like anything else,” Hutchinson shares of the project.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson; Photo by Sam Aldrich
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, American Idol’s Season 16 runner-up, is set to release his highly anticipated album “Southern Galactic” on October 27.
The 12-track project showcases Hutchinson’s honest songwriting and his expressive storytelling, while also highlighting his ability to merge the twang of classic western riffs, indie garage rock, and quintessential 80’s electronica.
Produced by Titanic Sinclair, “Southern Galactic” represents the present moment that Hutchinson finds himself in these days.
“This album is me and where I’m at now, which is different from where I’ve been in the past. I’m very excited to share it with people, and maybe through this album, they’ll better understand me. I hope this album serves as its own little place in country music that’s not like anything else. Hopefully, people will appreciate it for that,” Hutchinson said.
Country Now recently caught up with Caleb Lee Hutchinson to chat about the release of his newest album. Keep reading to learn more.
Where did the title of your new album, Southern Galactic, come from?
It’s kind of funny. We didn’t have the title in mind before we started recording or anything like that. It came about after we recorded all of the songs. It was sort of how we described how the whole thing sounded. I was showing it to my managers once I got back to Nashville and they were like ‘this is southern galactic.’ I was like ‘that’s mine now and I’m taking that.’
What does “Southern Galactic” mean to you sonically?
I think it’s sort of country music still trying to be country and honoring its roots, while also trying to be a little forward-thinking. It’s kind of pushing the boundaries a little bit. I think my favorite country artists did that kind of stuff historically. Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., and Willie Nelson, they all sort of found their own brand of country. It was still very country but still very them. It also wasn’t like anything that anybody else was doing at the time. This is just me trying to have my own little part of that for myself.
What makes this collection different from the other projects you’ve released?
I think the biggest thing is that I’ve grown up a lot over these past few years. I’ve been in Nashville for over five years now and I’ve gotten to a better place personally, which has allowed me to write what I feel is better music. I also owe a lot to Titanic Sinclair (Corey Mixter) who produced the record. He is one of my favorite artists, songwriters, producers, and creatives of all time. I’ve been a fan of that dude since I was like 13, so over 10 years now. Getting to work with him made me feel like this album was put in a whole other place from the stuff that I’ve done previously. I’m very, very proud of everything that I have done previously, it’s just that this is such a star difference and I owe a lot of that to him. I think I’m just in a better place and the songs are fun. Some of them are kind of sad, but for the most part, this album is 85% fun. That’s kind of new for me, so that’s been a fun process.
As a whole, what does this project mean to you?
I think this whole project kind of represents a real pivotal point in my life personally, professionally, and musically. I’m really doing something out of the box and something that I’m really proud of. I’m taking more risks with this album than I ever have before and it’s scary, but also exciting. I think this is a big leap in my life, but it was one that was well-needed.
As you mentioned earlier, this new project was produced by multi-genre artist and creator Titanic Sinclair. What was it like working with him and how did the two of you connect?
I’ve been following him for a long time and I think it was in 2021 that he dropped his album Texas Dream, which is kind of a country record. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, but none of his music has ever been country. He’s been all over the place sonically. He’s got pop music, rock music, and all kinds of stuff, but never country. We had never spoken before, but I just DM’d him on Instagram. I messaged him and said ‘Hey man, I’m a long-time fan and I do country music. It’s really cool to see you make country music out of a steel guitar and all this country music instrumentation in your stuff.’ He didn’t see it right away because he doesn’t use social media all that much, but maybe six months later or so, he hit me back. He said ‘Hey man, I’ve gotta be honest, I haven’t heard of you, but I looked through your Instagram, and I’ve listened to some of your stuff and I think it’s really good.’ I wrote back and obviously, I was very happy to hear that. We ended up writing a couple of songs together on Zoom and FaceTime. I’ve always had the dream of working with him, but he’s a busy guy and honestly way above my pay grade. At the beginning of this year, I had a bulk of these songs already written and I messaged him. At this point, we had struck up a pretty good friendship, so I sent him the songs. I said ‘Hey, I know this probably isn’t going to happen and it probably won’t work, but what would you think about working with me with these songs?’ I was really expecting him to give me a polite ‘I can’t do it,’ but he was gracious and generous and willing to be a part of it. He wanted to be a part of it which was really vital for me too. It made me feel incredible that someone that I looked up to on that scale was wanting and willing to work with me. It meant a lot to me personally.
Why did you decide to release the songs “Silverado” and “Good At Being Bad” ahead of any other songs?
I think “Silverado” has the DNA of the album in it. Going back to the question of ‘what is Southern Galactic?’ I think this track is what Southern Galactic sounds like. It’s old school, classic, country, and funky but it’s also new. I think “Silverado” encapsulates that the best. I think “Good At Being Bad” shows how you take that DNA and make it straight-up country. I felt like these two songs were the best introduction for the Southern Galactic album.
Even though you’re only 24 years old, you have a song on the album titled “Quarter Life Crisis.” Can you talk about the inspiration behind this song and how it relates to your life?
I’ll be 25 in March, but I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m making it to 100. Unless science and medical stuff advance that much by then. This is fine with me because I don’t think 100 needs to be the goal. I’ve been throwing around that phrase ‘quarter life crisis’ since I turned 20. I think that everyone in my age range can kind of relate to that, especially with social media. You’re constantly comparing yourself to everybody else. I know that when I was 15, I thought my life would be somewhere totally different at 25. I think that song was my brutal honesty and reflection. I wrote that one with Jessie Wilson and that was the first one I had ever written with her. I just had that idea for a really long time and I knew it needed its place on this album to be honest about this whole period of life.
How will you celebrate the release of this full-length album?
I think we are going to do something exciting, but I’ll be honest, it’ll probably be a nerve-racking day for me. As much as I want to have fun, and I’m sure I will, I’ll probably end the night by scrolling my phone obsessively and praying for validation.
Fans can keep up with Caleb Lee Hutchinson on Instagram.
I am a senior at Kansas State University, where I am majoring in Communication Studies. Throughout my time at college, I’ve had the opportunity to publish a few of my pieces in the University’s newspaper, The Collegian, and I’ve created my own website. I’ve previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter and I am currently interning for CountryNow, a Red Light Management owned publication. I’m very passionate about music and writing, so I hope to find myself in a career that incorporates both of these passions.