Country Next: Erin Kinsey

Erin Kinsey; Sara Kauss Photography 2020
Erin Kinsey; Sara Kauss Photography 2020
Erin Kinsey; Sara Kauss Photography 2020
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Erin Kinsey.

Erin Kinsey didn’t come from a musical family, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t born with the talent for becoming a promising country star. A gifted singer, songwriter, and musician, the rising artist from Rockwall, Texas, began pursuing music at 12-years-old. Armed with immense talent, she also plays several instruments including, guitar, piano, and banjo, to name a few.

Now at age 21, Kinsey is a force to be reckoned with, as she’s out with three songs including, the independently released “Drunk Too,” viral TikTok song, “Just Drive,” and her latest sassy track “Better On Me,” which combined reflect the many sides of her as an artist.

Before releasing her songs, Kinsey co-wrote the uplifting anthem for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, “PINK,” which was picked up as a collaboration song between Dolly Parton, Monica, Jordin Sparks, Rita Wilson, and Sara Evans. After sharing her first two tracks, Kinsey signed a joint deal with RECORDS and Sony Music Entertainment.

Kinsey recently caught up with Country Now to discuss her journey in country music, upcoming projects, tracks, and more.

Read on to find out more about Erin Kinsey in this exclusive Q&A below…

Erin Kinsey; Photo by Isabel Arvanites
Erin Kinsey; Photo by Isabel Arvanites

How did you begin a career in country music?

My parents were always big on finding your passion. So, I was in a lot of sports and clubs growing up. But, none of them clicked with me in the way that music did. I wouldn’t say that it was the road I was heading down until I was about 12-years-old. Even though that’s young, it’s also late because some people start when they’re three or four. But, I think when I realized that I loved music and couldn’t get enough of it and learned that people do it as a job, it clicked.

Do you come from a musical family?

No. I do not. My mom was a teacher, and my dad did finance. But, we always had music playing in the house growing up and in the car. So, it was a big part of my life. Even before I was going for this dream, I don’t think I realized how surrounded by the music I was until a few years later.

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

I do! I hope that song never sees the light of day. My mom sends it to me now and again. I feel like she’s reminding me that she has blackmail on me (laughs). But, it was called “Mean Girls.” It was about drama at school. I was 12-years-old, and getting that drama out in the only way I knew how. It was weird because when I first started writing, I was only writing about the experiences that happened to me. That’s all I knew to do. But, as the years went on, I started writing about things inspired by movies or things that I’d hope would happen one day. It’s been a full circle moment because very recently, I’ve come back to staying true to myself, and I feel that’s what clicked with the songs. These songs are also clicking better with the audience and have truly related to people because I’ve been more honest.

As someone who started so young, was it easy to maintain focus on music during your teen years, and how did you keep the drive to pursue music for 11 years?

When I figured out that I liked music and had a passion there, I surrounded myself with teachers for guitar and YouTube videos and lessons and all of those things. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was so obsessed with it. Whenever I would come home from school, I would write songs, play on the guitar and learn more things. So it was easy to stay focused, and I loved it. And I still do!

How have you grown since beginning your artist journey at age 12?

I think more recently, it’s staying true to myself. This is not unique to me, but in high school, I was caught up in who I thought I needed to be or who I thought people wanted me to be. I think, honestly, in the last year and a half, I got back to staying true to myself and sticking to my story. It’s funny because I used to do that all the time. But then, middle school and high school happen, and there’s a lot of roller coasters that come with those. But we all make it through.

In three words, how would you describe yourself as someone who stays true to who they are?

Hmmm…. I would say I’m pretty honest. I’m from Texas, so authentic Texas and pretty fun!

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I mean, there are so many influences from different genres and different periods. Growing up, I listened to a ton of country radio. So, anyone between 2005-2015 influenced me. We listened to a lot of Christian music in my mom’s car. Also, I’m a huge John Mayer and Taylor Swift fan. But, once I decided I loved music more than the average person and wanted to make my life surrounded by it, I couldn’t hear music in passing anymore. I wanted to learn how, why and what made those songs so amazing.

Erin Kinsey - Just Drive
Erin Kinsey – Just Drive

You moved to Nashville in 2018. What did you learn as an artist during the first few months of living in Nashville?

I tried to write with everybody that I could. I still do that. I love being in a room with people. I love meeting them, going to new places, and hearing people’s stories. I didn’t do the traditional college route. So, naturally, being thrown in with friends or a group was not the case for me. So, I feel like I was able to find that through co-writing and introductions from friends of friends. So, it was great.

You recently signed a deal with Records Nashville. Tell me about that experience and how you found out about that opportunity.

The record deal has been something that I thought was years, and years, and years away. The fact that it happened this year shocked me. It has been the most amazing experience. I think, with social media being out there, you’re so aware, and you know how record deals can go. There are a lot of positive and negative experiences. But with Records, they have taken the time to get to know me and make sure that I am getting my voice heard. I have had the absolute best experience so far! They are so supportive. It feels like turning an individual sport into a team sport, and it’s cool to hear all of the things they’ve done. We had a video shoot last week, and that video was finished eight days later, which is insane to me! I couldn’t do that without them, so it’s been incredible.

Tell me about your song “Just Drive.”

So, that’s one of those songs where every detail is true. I’m still dating my high school boyfriend. We’ve been together for over five years. We dated in a small town in Texas. When I moved out to pursue music, he graduated high school and decided to go to Belmont. I wrote “Just Drive” back in May of 2021. The idea was from reminiscing over high school. We were going on a date at The Melting Pot, and in high school, there is no better place you could be going. It does not exist! I was all dressed up and excited. But, I remember we were in our car on the way to Dallas, making the 45-minute drive, and thinking just how much fun I was having in the car with him. Even though I was excited to go to The Melting Pot, I was having the time of my life in the car with him, just driving around and listening to music. So, that song sparked from that, and the details in that song, are so close to me. I didn’t know if they would relate to people, but it ended up being those details that people hung onto. It was amazing on social media how I learned how many girls have white Toyotas or how many couples have driven down the same highway. It was fun, and it makes the world feel really small!

Congrats on releasing your music video for “Just Drive”! Can you share the concept behind that video?

Oh my gosh! It was insane. I’ve done videos over the years just for social media. But, I mean, there were cops there shutting down areas of the road because we were filming. There were actors, and we had the most amazing production team. It was so much fun and the most professional thing I’ve done by far. It was cool to be doing that. I think that a lot of people shoot music videos before their songs come out. But filming the video, and knowing how many people have already listened to the song and connected with it, was amazing because now this is a new piece of content for them to watch. It was exciting knowing that people would want to watch it.

You also recently released “Better On Me.” Can you tell me about that song?

I’m so excited! So two songs I had out, well, one is a heartbreak ballad, and “Just Drive” is an upbeat, fun-loving song. But “Better On Me” is this sassy side of an upbeat song. So, I feel like I have rounded things out with these three songs. So, no matter what you’re feeling, there will be a song there for people. I am just excited! So, I have a 16-year-old sister, and I’d be lying if I said that “Better On Me” was not partially sparked by my relationship with her because we share closets. There are clothes that we will borrow from one another. Sometimes they get swapped back, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they stay in my closet forever. That saying where I’m like, ‘Oh, that looks better on you.’ I use that as a “finders-keepers,” and I think she does too. So, it was fun to write that relationship perspective. So, yeah. It sparked from my sister.

You play various instruments. Do you incorporate your instrumentals into your music?

I play on some of my songs, but not all of them. “Drunk Too” is, basically, just me and the guitar, and we recorded it in a couple of hours. So, it’s cool to be able to put that on there. But aside from that, the reason I learned to play a few instruments is the theory on one can apply to many others. So, when I was 12, there would be times when I’d want to try something new and fresh. So I’d pick up a banjo or mandolin or go back to the piano, which I learned when I was like four. Transferring the knowledge that I learned from one instrument onto another was cool. I think there are also more things in my toolbox for writing songs. Knowing multiple instruments has helped me as a songwriter. I think there’s such a different feel on piano verses on a guitar. When I feel like I’m getting into a rut and writing similar things on one instrument, switching it up on something else helps me stay fresh and have new melodies and ideas from a different instrument.

Are there any other projects that you’d like to share with us?

I hope I’ll eventually do more stuff. Right now, I’m deep into the music stuff. But I got into cooking recently. I am no chef! I would not do well on any food network challenges or anything like that. But, I enjoy learning things. I got an air fryer last year for Christmas, and it’s as good as they say! It’s great! I also have a German Shepherd that I love a lot, so I try to do charity work with animal shelters and stuff like that. Those aren’t projects, but I have a big heart for dogs! I have so much coming out in the next six months, possibly a project, and more singles. Hopefully, I’ll be playing more shows. But, I think the best thing is if you follow me on Instagram, I post the latest and greatest.

Fans can keep up with Erin Kinsey on Instagram

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