Country Next: Alli Walker

We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Alli Walker.


Lexi Liby

| Posted on

April 10, 2024


11:31 am

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Alli Walker; Photo Provided

Alli Walker, a Canadian native, discovered her passion for country music from a young age and has since pursued her dreams by making her way down to Nashville, Tennessee.

After dedicating years to honing her craft as an independent artist, Walker is ready to begin a new chapter in her career as a record deal signee. 

“I’ve been grinding for 15 years as an independent artist and beyond excited to add incredible team members and join forces with RECORDS Nashville,” Alli said in a release. “I’m thrilled to hit the ground running! I’m so grateful to collaborate with such a talented team that believes in me and my vision who can elevate my music to new heights and help me connect with a broader audience!”

Alli recently caught up with us to discuss her musical career, her record deal, her recent release, “I Like Big Trucks,” and more.  Read on to find out more about Alli in this exclusive Q&A below.

Alli Walker; Photo Provided
Alli Walker; Photo Provided

How did you begin a career in country music?

I began a career a very long time ago in country music. I actually hadn’t sung a note in my life until grade 12 in high school, when I randomly auditioned for my high school musical. The musical directors chose me as the lead role as Ariel in Footloose. Little did I know that that one opportunity was going to change the whole trajectory of my life. I loved country music and that’s all I listened to in high school and in junior high. I loved Taylor Swift and her songwriting. Once I realized that I loved singing and performing, I decided that I would do this as a career. I moved away when I was 19 to Toronto because I’m from Canada and it was the biggest city in Canada for the music business. I moved there and I slugged it out at the bars doing cover gigs for about 10 years. I had a lot of work to do and a lot of catching up to do, to develop and get my singing chops and performing chops up. I didn’t start putting out original music for basically 10 years. I just worked on my writing and played tons of shows and eventually, I ended up here.

What prompted your big move to Nashville?

I just spent five days driving here, 45 hours, 10 states, and I’m finally in Nashville. I am not settled yet though. I am in my manager’s basement with my husband and two dogs, so it’s pretty chaotic right now. This is definitely where I have to be. I’ve been coming to Nashville for 13 years and I knew I was going to move here, but I wanted it to be at the right time. I had to do so much developing and I did not want to do that in front of the Nashville eyes. I’m glad now is the time because it feels right. I had been independent for 15 years in September and I was banging my head against the wall. I had never had a manager. I’d never had a label. I’d never had a team. It was just me. Finally, I was like, I cannot do this forever by myself. There was a Canadian Country Music Awards that I went to and there were seminars there. I signed up to do this mentoring thing with this international mentor and he was a record label guy from Nashville. We hit it off and he saw how much I was struggling to do everything by myself. He ended up being my manager that day. That’s where I am staying right now. He happens to have a very incredible background here in Nashville, and it just happened to be the one champion that I had been waiting on for 15 years. He prompted me to move here. I had been coming down and staying here for months at a time, and we worked our butt off for five months. Then I ended up getting a record deal, a publishing deal, and hopefully a booking agent all in basically five months. 

You recently signed a record deal with RECORDS Nashville. What does their support mean to you?

Their support means that I don’t have to be 15 brains at once. I love doing video treatments, editing, graphic design, marketing, and all of that stuff, but it definitely comes to a point where I can’t do it by myself anymore. I only had my opinion to go off of. Having the perspective of industry people that know what works and what doesn’t work, is just so beneficial. The marketing that they can do and the connections that they have that I don’t have are amazing. There’s just so many pieces of the pie that they are able to facilitate that I don’t have to do anymore, which is awesome. Their support and third-party validation are a big part of it too because I can’t send my own emails and be my own advocate forever. 

Alli Walker; Photo Provided
Alli Walker; Photo Provided

What will be the biggest transition for you as you walk away from being an independent artist?

Just giving up control. It’s so tough. I am a bit of a perfectionist and control freak. I’ve slowly over time been trying to trust other people. It started with my manager and I slowly kind of put stuff in his hands. You just have to trust that people might know more than you. Now I know what I am expecting and what I’m looking for. I know my standards as well. I know graphic design and I know video editing, so at least I can kind of say, ‘Hey, this is how I would do it. How would you make it better? Because you are the expert.’ 

Your combination of country music and bagpipes gained significant attention on TikTok. Can you share more about how this unique blend came about and the impact it’s had on your career?

It’s been really cool and really fun. I grew up playing the bagpipes, which is apparently, not normal, but it’s very normal where I grew up. I competed heavily at the Highland Games and went to North American Championships and Worlds in Scotland. When I moved away for music, I kind of gave it up because practicing and competing takes over every day of your life. I chose country music over bagpipes and I always knew that I wanted to put bagpipes in my music somehow, but I didn’t know how to do that without being totally nerdy or weird. So I was just in a writing session in Nashville a year ago and I had mentioned that I played bagpipes and the co-writer was like, what? We have to do a bagpipe song? I was like, okay, well how do we do that? We made a country music sea shanty bagpipe song. I ended up getting my Canadian friends to fiddle and tin whistle making it super authentic to me, which is Celtic, Scottish, and Irish. I popped it up on TikTok and it did really well, which was super fun. Now I do it in my live set and if people liked my songs before fine, but once I pull out that bagpipe live, people seem to really go crazy for it, which is awesome. It was hard to make it not a shtick either. I like to say it’s my flute to my Lizzo. I’ll pop it out every now and then. It’s fun to do a few little things in the middle of the set live and then I put it away.

Your latest single, “I Like Big Trucks,” puts a country spin on the iconic “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Could you talk about the inspiration behind this track and where the idea for this spin-off came about?

I am a big tomboy. I grew up loving trucks. My dad loved trucks and he was a Dodge Ram guy. So my vehicle now and my first vehicle ever was a Dodge Ram. I wanted to write a song about my truck because that’s country and that’s country music for you. But it was actually authentic to me. I was in the writing session and we were just writing songs about Rams and the co-writer was like, ‘This is really stupid. I don’t want to say it out loud, but what if instead of I like big butts it’s I like big trucks.’ Immediately I was like, ‘Oh my God, yes. That’s amazing.’ We ended up writing it and we were about to put it out. It obviously uses the iconic ‘I like big trucks and I cannot lie’ from Sir Mix-a-Lot, so we were like, let’s make sure that we can legally put this out. We ended up getting him to give us approval and he ended up being a songwriter on it. He wasn’t actually in the room, but let’s just say that he was.

YouTube video

In a recent Instagram post, you mentioned that if you hadn’t secured a record deal by the age of 30, you were contemplating quitting music. What alternate career path do you think you would have pursued instead?

Well, it didn’t happen because I’m 33. I hit that milestone and I was like, ‘Oh no. Well, I’ve already put too much in now, so I’m not giving up.’ It definitely took way longer than anticipated, but I’m glad I didn’t give up.  Honestly though, if I had no interest in country music from the age of 18, I would’ve been a doctor or a lawyer or a police officer. As soon as I got that singing bug in me I was all in. I also love video, so I probably could’ve been a video director.

It has been said that you are preparing for global tour dates in 2024. What are you doing in preparation for that and what are you most looking forward to out on the road?

I am so looking forward to so many dates. I love performing live and I can’t say that I’ve always said that because I had a cover band for so many years and I absolutely hated it. I was playing at bars for three or four hours with nobody listening or drunk people just being dumb. It got to the point where I was like, ‘Is this really what performing is? Is this what I’m working for?’ That wasn’t what I wanted. Now that I’ve gotten the taste of a proper show where I get to play my original music to fans who are actually listening and know my music, I can see how artists want to do it and be on the road all the time. I’m really just starting to get a taste of what being on the road would be like and I love it. I love flying, I love being in the car, I love hotels, so I feel like I was made for this life.

You have an upcoming album in the works. What themes can fans expect from this album and what is the message that you want to send to listeners?

I have written about so many different things. I had a whole album that you probably can’t find online anymore about my mental health in my twenties and the struggles of just growing up and chasing this dream. Then in my last album, there were some drinking themes, but most of the themes were about my family and being away from them to sing. This time I want to just live in my fun era. A lot of these songs are rocking fun. I know I’m going to be on the road a lot in the future, so these are songs that me and my fans can rock out to. Before I loved Country, I loved Avril Lavigne and Sum41. It was a lot of rock and pop, so I am bringing a lot of those influences into my music coming up.

Do you have any goals for yourself for this year?

Oh my gosh, so many goals. I really want to play the Grand Ole Opry by the end of the year. That seems really ambitious, but I believe it’ll happen. I’m a big manifester. I had vision boards on my walls and I had Excel spreadsheets of all my goals. I would write books and books saying I will sign a record deal by this date. I think that is a big part of why I didn’t give up and why I am finally getting to check off some of these things. It’s been so cool and it’s worked out, so I’m going to keep doing that.

Fans can follow Alli Walker on Instagram.

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Lexi Liby

Written by

Lexi Liby

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kansas State University, earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and a certificate in social media. During my college years, I had the opportunity to publish a few pieces in my University’s newspaper, The Collegian, as well as create my own website. I’ve also previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter. Through these experiences I developed high-level skills in writing, digital media, content creation and media relations.