Chase Martin has proven that the road to success takes a certain level of guts. The emerging country singer/songwriter and talented musician, who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, didn’t always know how to sing or play the guitar. But, after finding out about a talent show in her area, she mustered up enough courage to learn the lyrics and chords to “Our Song” by Taylor Swift.
A high honor high school graduate, Martin, 22, decided to set aside college to pursue a lifelong career in music. Armed with a towering set of vocals and some stage experience, she moved to Nashville, where she got to work songwriting and built her presence on popular social media platforms like TikTok. Her talent and hard work led her to sign a contract with RECORDS Nashville Label, an imprint of Sony Music, and a worldwide publishing deal with Endurance Music Group.
Now, Martin is making a name for herself with her spirited debut single, “Levi Denim.” The sassy track, written by Abby Anderson, Matt Stell and Alison Veltz-Cruz, is all about showing off that confident side in a comfortable pair of blue jeans, rather than flaunting an outfit with a high price tag.
Martin caught up with Country Now to talk about her road to Nashville, latest single, and more.
Read on to learn more about Chase Martin in this exclusive Q&A.
How did you begin a career in country music?
It’s a funny story, nobody believes this is true, but I was in the fourth grade and there was a talent show at school. I signed up to sing and play the guitar, and I came home and I told my mom about it. She was like, ‘Chase, what’s your talent?’ I was like ‘I’m gonna sing and play the guitar,’ and she says, ‘Chase, I’ve never heard you sing a note in your life and you don’t own a guitar.’ I said, ‘Well you’re gonna need to buy me one.’ I was a sassy kid.
So, the talent show was in two weeks, and I didn’t have much time to learn but I ended up playing “Our Song” by Taylor Swift in that talent show after I kicked and screamed. I picked ten minutes beforehand to have stage fright, but once you got me up there you couldn’t get me off stage. So, from that moment on, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So that talent show led me to go to Charleston County School of the Arts. I graduated in eleventh grade. But, when I was in school, I played the flute and piccolo. I was a band nerd, so I didn’t get to sing there but I still followed through with music. Then, when I was 15 years old, I started playing in my hometown in bars and different restaurants that would let me have enough time to play a few songs or the three-hour gigs that every musician goes through at some point. From there, I started opening up for some national acts, and by age 17, I was like, ‘Man, I’m moving to Nashville!’ So, I guess that one thing led to another and I moved and I never looked back.
Aside from that talent show, what were your first gigs like?
Well, the whole band thing was hard because you have to find a group of people that work well together. In Nashville, you can just throw a rock out your window and hit an amazing guitar player. In Charleston, there’s a great music scene, but, of course, trying to get into it, and network, is weird because you don’t know who will fit with you and who is serious about it. So, I remember the very first gig I ever had, there was an open mic night on Tuesday nights. It was called “Southside Seventeen” and it was in the strip shopping center. You had to go to the open mic night and if you won the open mic night you would win the Friday night gig. So, I remember going to that open mic night and I won! So, I won the Friday night gig, and I was so excited about it. I remember as I was leaving, I got super, super sick and was not able to come through with that. But they ended up pushing it back to the next week and that was the very first paid gig that I ever had. I think I played that one acoustically, but as I started to play more at bars and everything, I put together a band and we, gosh, we were playing three or four nights a week every week.
I read that you graduated high school with an abnormally high GPA, and even turned down Ivy League schools. How did you juggle both school and music growing up?
I worked hard in school. That was kinda my life. My first dream was to be a neurologist. So, I wanted to come to Vanderbilt University in Nashville anyway. So the plan was always to move to Nashville. It was just that the conversation went a little differently with my mom when I was 17 and ready to come. I had a weirdly high GPA because I took all college courses during my last year in high school. Most people are like, ‘Oh, you can’t get above a 4.0,’ or whatever. But the way my school worked, if you took college courses you could get higher than that, so that’s why mine was so high, not because I got 110% in every class. But I worked hard in school. It wasn’t something that just came naturally to me. I was studying from the second I got home to the second I went to bed, especially once I started all the college courses, so it didn’t leave me much time for music. But it was funny because I can remember one gig that I had on a Wednesday night. It was at this motorcycle cigarette bar called the “Wolf Track,” and it was funny because the gig went on until 3:00 a.m. So, I was there playing until 3:00 a.m., and then I got up at 6:00 a.m. to go to school the next morning. So, a lot of the mornings were like that, I don’t even know really how I made it through school.
Did your parents support your decision to pursue music at first?
My mom tried to gravitate me toward college just because she’s very realistic. I’ve always been a pretty realistic person too, so it was a little out of the norm for me to be like, ‘Okay, see you later! I’m going to Nashville to pursue a dream that may or may not happen’ So, she pushed me toward college, especially because she knew that I worked so hard through school to be able to get these offers from multiple colleges. But I remember, I was 17 and right before I moved, we made a trip to Nashville and we were just like ‘Oh well, we will just play a bunch of open mic nights and everything like that.’ I remember my dad walked into an apartment complex and said, ‘Where can I sign?’ So, it was him that pushed the button on the whole thing. But yeah, it was a spontaneous thing. I didn’t think they were going to let me do it! My mom has always been crazy supportive of it too, she was just worried about me, so she wanted me to go to college.
You recently signed on with RECORDS Nashville. How has that been seeing your hard work pay off?
Oh gosh, yeah. So in Charleston, I used to play out a whole bunch, and of course, you know, people started to know who I was because I was always playing somewhere. So I started to become like this big fish in a small pond. But, when I moved to Nashville, I was like, ‘Oh I’m gonna rock this city, I’m gonna have a record deal within thirty days.’ Soon, I realized I was the smallest fish in the largest pond ever. So, it’s a very humbling experience. It takes you on quite the roller coaster, mentally and physically. And so, I think one thing that I learned is just patience and to just work. If you work hard for what you want, there’s nothing that you can’t attain. So signing this record deal was a dream come true, but at the same time it was one of those things that I had worked so hard to get there, that it was just like, ‘Oh my gosh is just like real?’ Everybody dreams of signing to Sony. So it’s quite the — I don’t know if it’s sunk into me yet! I signed back in May via Doc-Hub by the way because we were all in quarantine. I signed my record deal alone in my apartment and just did an e-signature on it. It’s funny how things work now.
Tell me about your debut single “Levi Denim.”
It’s one of those things where it’s just a fun, sassy song and I love to see women being comfortable with who they are and confident in who they are. So, I think that’s what the song is truly about, like not having to be dressed in some crazy outfit going out, just you and your Levi’s is the sexiest way that you can do it. And as I said, being confident in who you are. That’s something I have always tried to pride myself on is being true to who I am and not trying to cover it up at all. I’ve always wanted to come off as just fun and silly because that’s who I am, and so that is something I have always done on my social media accounts. So I feel like this song represents me well.
Who would you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
So, in country music Miranda Lambert is a huge one. I grew up singing her songs. I mean, the very first song I ever recorded in a studio was a cover song of “The House That Built Me.” That was in the seventh grade. I made a trip here and I recorded a few songs and that was just one that I always look back on. Every single time I hear that song it takes me back to that special place, so she has been a huge influence on me. So her in country music. As far as just outside the genre, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey have always been two ginormous influences for me. I think they are just insane at what they do, and they were just truly who they are and I respect that so much. I just love it. And, of course, I still have all my old school throwback country stars from Patsy Cline, to Lorretta Lynn, to Reba McEntire, to Dolly Parton.
Have you had to shift your creative process in terms of how you’re getting music out to fans now that we’ve been in quarantine?
Well, I think in some ways it’s been harder, and in some ways, it’s been easier. I think everybody when it first went down was super motivated to get out there and find different ways to get their music heard. Then, all of the sudden, we went through this rut like, ‘Are we ever gonna get out of this thing?’ Now, hopefully, we’re on the tail end of it with things starting to be figured out and everything. So you’re a lot more like, ‘Okay, I’m ready to roll again and try to find new ways to get my music out there.’ But I think more people are spending a lot more time on social media now. So it’s been a little easier to get more people to view these videos and photos and everything. One struggle for me – which is kind of a weird one – I’ve done some really difficult cover songs like with Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey and everything like that. So I feel like now that I’ve done those, a lot of my followers will be like, ‘Oh do this song or this song!’ And those are like the hardest songs ever and I’m just like ‘Oh, man.’ But they do push me. But, it’s just something I’ve just always loved — to push myself and challenge myself. But, I think that’s the most challenging thing now is just finding a song that’s gonna satisfy everybody because I feel like if I sing some random song they’re just gonna be like, ‘No.’
So, besides music, what kind of things are you doing to stay busy while in quarantine?
I like to be outdoors as much as possible, so I’ve been trying to find ways to do that and not be around too many people. I’ve gone far out of Nashville and just walked a whole bunch and tried to enjoy the scenery and the views. I like to do yoga a lot, I like to cook a lot. I’ve taken up baking. My family enjoys that too when they come to town because, of course, with me being a raw vegan, I don’t typically eat things that are cooked, so I mainly cook and bake for them. I’m not cooking raw vegan for them, they’d be like, ‘What the heck is this? I’m not eating this.’ So, I like it when they come into town, so I can bake them a whole bunch of random stuff.
What’s next for you?
I think what’s next is a whole bunch of new music and seeing how people respond to these upcoming songs. I hope they love them. I’m hoping things will start to get back to normal too. I know we’re living in such a crazy time and I don’t know what the definition of normal is anymore. I hope we can figure this out and get back to playing live shows because, at the end of the day, I think that live shows are about connecting with new people and enjoying coming together with everybody. I think that’s what everyone needs a little of right now. Hopefully, we can get back to that. I’d love to meet all of my sweet friends that I’ve met on social media. So, I’d love to just start moving!
Fans can keep up with Chase Martin on Instagram.