Country Next: Joey Hendricks
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Joey Hendricks.
Joey Hendricks; Photo by David.Bradley
Joey Hendricks has put his pen to paper ever since he picked up the acoustic guitar in his small hometown of Anacortes, Washington. Drawn to the country music genre, he moved to Music City in 2017, where he signed an on-the-spot publishing deal with Parallel Entertainment. Although Hendricks was quick to make a name for himself in Nashville’s songwriting community, his talents as a performer stood out to others just as much. Realizing he had more to offer, he chose to branch out and step into the spotlight as a solo artist.
“From that moment on, the whole thing kind of shifted,” Hendricks explains in his bio of beginning his solo artist career. “I realized how fortunate I am because I wasn’t seeking it out. It really just happened organically.”
In July of 2020, Hendricks signed on with Sony Music Nashville and released his first musical offering, “Yours or Mine.” The heartfelt single, which he co-wrote with Daniel Ross (Jake Owen) and Michael Whitworth (Florida Georgia Line), finds Hendricks focusing on the beginning steps of a new relationship and wondering when and how to take them. In just a matter of months, “Yours or Mine” has proven to be a standout track, racking up more than 150,000 streams on digital streaming services.
The music video for “Yours or Mine” fittingly features Hendricks singing aloud while jamming on his acoustic guitar in various stylish atmospheres. With such success of his major-label debut single and the accompanying video, Hendricks, who has often been described by others as a “Nashville John Mayer,” shows no signs of slowing down. The singer-songwriter promises more music is on the way!
Country Now recently caught up with Hendricks to find out more about his transition from songwriter to solo artist, current music and upcoming projects.
Get to know more about Joey Hendricks in this exclusive Q&A.
How did you begin a career in music?
I grew up in a musical household. My mom was a nightclub singer, and I grew up watching her sing old standards and whatnot. My dad wasn’t into playing music, but he listened to lots of music, and that’s where I first became interested in rock ‘n’ roll, like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Queen. I got hit by the rock ‘n’ roll bug at an early age, but I still didn’t play music at that time. My brother started playing guitar and writing songs. Then, around the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, my dad bought me this How-To-Play Acoustic Guitar For Beginners book, and I ended up teaching myself a couple of chords. So that’s how it all started.
What drew you to the country music genre?
When I began playing guitar, I started listening to John Mayer. That was huge for me! Continuum came out, and then Born and Raised came out. Born and Raised was this country-tinged, folk record at the time. Also, I was really into Neil Young, and, to me, that just started shifting my songwriting. So, everything was geared more toward songwriting, and then I started getting into Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and all those guys. I fell in love with storytelling and the songwriting of country music. Then, Kacey Musgraves put out that Same Trailer Different Park record, and I remember that blew me away! Chris Stapleton was also getting big. So there was this whole thing where I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I need to move to Nashville.’ So, I found country music at a later age. But, I feel like what I do, and the songs that I write and sing, are my interpretation of the genre. I feel like the genre has expanded so much too. So it’s allowed for space for a lot of people right now.
When you moved to Nashville, how did you navigate the music scene?
I moved here in October of 2017, so I’ve been here for the last three years. Moving here was intense at first. I moved into Nashville blind because I didn’t know anybody here, and I didn’t have any connections. I remember saving up three thousand dollars and telling my parents that I was going to be moving to Nashville. They were like,’ Why don’t you visit first to see if you even like it there because you may not even like it.’ I was like,’ Well, if I end up spending my money to visit, then I might as well stay there.’ I ended up getting a Craigslist roommate and got super lucky because my roommate worked at a publishing company on Music Row. So I fell into his friend group, and he brought me around and introduced me to a lot of people, so that’s how I got my initial start, making friendships and building connections. Six months into living in Nashville, I started cold-emailing every publishing company in town because, initially, I moved to town to focus on songwriting and getting a publishing deal. No one responded to my emails except for one guy named Eric Hurt over at Black River Publishing. He told me to ‘feel free to send a couple of demos over.’ So I sent him a couple of demos, and he liked what he heard. That led to a meeting, which led to him saying that he thought I was super talented, but they weren’t looking to sign anyone at the time. So he passed my name to a guy named Tim Hunze, who worked at Parallel Entertainment. He brought me in, and I played him five songs. He offered me a publishing deal on-the-spot. So it was a whole whirlwind of like, ‘Holy crap! This is happening!’
Coming from a songwriting background, what kinds of changes have you had to make to transition onto the performance side?
I think I always wanted to be the artist, but I’ve never been the center-of-attention type of guy. So it was a struggle for me mentally to get into that mindset. But, once I started writing songs, it felt like me, and I felt like I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t put them out myself. So I think it was a transition that I had to adjust to, but it was worth it.
You recently signed on with Sony Music Nashville. What have you learned so far from that experience?
It’s been amazing! Margaret Tomlin is my A&R person. What happened was, Tim Hunze, my current publisher, signed me for the publishing deal, and he had a pitch meeting with her. He sent her a couple of songs, and she was like, ‘Is this kid trying to be an artist?’ Tim was like, ‘No, he wants to focus on the songwriting thing.’ So Margaret was like, ‘Let me take a meeting with him.’ So it was a split decision. We had a meeting, and she asked me if I was trying to do the artist thing. In my head, I was like, ‘If I say no, I’m going to lose out on the opportunity.’ So I was like, ‘Yea, I am. That’s why I came here.’ So I played that whole thing. But, being at Sony has been great so far! I’m surrounded by a great team of people who believe in me and let me have a lot of creative control as far as all of the songs that I choose to cut.
Speaking of cutting songs, how have you had to shift your creative process with getting music out during COVID-19?
As far as meetings and writing and all of that stuff, everything has transferred to Zoom, I’m sure, as it has for a lot of different fields of work. At first, it was a struggle. It wasn’t the most inspirational thing to be not with your friends, because half the magic of songwriting is being in the collaborative process and finding the magic in the room. But I’m adjusting. I think humans adapt pretty quickly, so it’s starting to shift over into our work, and we’re making some headway.
Can you share the inspiration behind your debut single “Yours or Mine?”
That was the first song I co-wrote with Michael Whitworth and my producer Daniel Ross, and they have since become some of my best friends and co-writers in town. And Daniel went on to produce the whole record. That song came about as the beginning stage of getting to know somebody and going back and forth of like, ‘Who’s going to be the first person to call it what it is?’ and just like the beginning stages of the relationship like, ‘Who’s going to be the first person to say that it’s an exclusive thing?’ I thought it was a relatable thing for me at the moment of being the new guy in Nashville on the scene. So the three of us wrote that song together, and I’m happy it was the first song that we put out for my artist project. I felt like it’s a great place to start the story, and there’s a lot more coming that’s also great. So I’m excited about it!
Can fans expect “Yours or Mine” to be featured on an EP?
Yea! So the goal is to put out an album, but with the way that things are going right now and how people consume music and how people release music, we’re going to be releasing one single at a time every seven to eight weeks until we have an EP. Then depending on how that goes, the goal is to put out a full-length album.
What can you tell us about other songs on the upcoming EP?
The project as a whole feels like me. It feels real. It feels authentic. It feels like somebody who grew up on so many different influences, whether that’s pop, rock ‘n’ roll, country, or whatever. I’m such a music fan, and I think a lot of those influences and styles can be heard in the whole project.
Aside from your original work, you recently covered Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s duet song ‘Exile’ with Savana Santos. Can you tell me about that, and can we expect to see more of that in the future?
I’m sure I’ll be putting out more cover songs. Savana is in the band Avenue Beat, and they’re exploding right now! They were the first friends I made here in Nashville. My roommate was good friends with them and introduced me to them. We all became friends, and I had a creative connection with them. So when Taylor Swift put out her new album and her duet with Bon Iver, Savana and I were like, Yep, let’s do that!’ So it was super fun!
What’s next for you?
I think that’s about it. I’m just excited to get more music out to the fans, and hopefully, they will like it!
Fans can keep up with Joey Hendricks on Instagram.
Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.