Country Next: Jordan Harvey
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Jordan Harvey.
Jordan Harvey; Photo by Catherine Powell
Jordan Harvey may hail from Scotland, but he’s country through and through. The rising talent grew up in a rural, blue-collar town, listening to songs by artists like Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers. After moving to Nashville, the former soccer player got the ball rolling by playing on Lower Broadway’s famous strip.
Eventually, Harvey’s hard work paid off, earning him a spot in the group King Calaway, which led to gigs with country icon Garth Brooks and slots on national TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and more.
Now, Harvey is stepping out on his own to pursue a solo career. And he’s doing that with his brand new EP, It Is What It Is, out via BBR Music Group / Broken Bow Records. Co-written entirely by Harvey, the five-track project is a labor of love that came to fruition over two years.
Ahead of the project’s release, fans were given tracks – “Alabama Girl” and “I Will.” Rounding out the songs on the EP is “Overnight,” “Thing About Change,” and “Along For The Ride,” the latter of which offers Keith Urban vibes.
“I walked into the head of my label. I said, ‘I have to play this song. It’s what’s missing on the EP. It’s what I need.’ They said, ‘Absolutely. Get in the studio.’ So we cut that about two-three months ago,” Harvey says of the latter of the three tracks. “So we had to put it on the record, and I was like, ‘It’s so lively and so energetic.’ That’s the one thing that I would say describes me as a person, very lively and energetic.”
Harvey recently caught up with Country Now to talk about his move from Scotland to Nashville, his stint in King Calaway, his new It Is What It Is EP, produced by Kevin Bard and Jason Massey, and more.
Read on to find out more about Jordan Harvey in this exclusive Q&A below.
What drew you to the country music genre?
I grew up in a little rural town in Scotland called Queensferry. It has about 6,000 people. Every Saturday morning, I would go to my Grandpa’s garage, and my dad was there with one of his mechanics. That is what I like about cars and country music because my dad would spin Johnny Cash records like his first live album, Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. I immediately fell in love with the sound of his voice. Because I was so young, I did not know what I was listening to, but I just loved it. I dove into his whole catalog. Then, my mom would sing Kenny Rogers songs to me. On weekends, I would go to record stores because we didn’t have country radio in our cars as you guys have here. If you loved country music, you would have to source it. So, I would go to record stores on the weekend and go to the country section. I remember being like six when I saw a George Strait record. I was like, ‘Dad. I love this guy’s hat. Can I get this one?’ So, I got that on vinyl. I would keep buying vinyl of people I thought looked so cool when I was young. Now, I am grateful that I have those records.
Did you always want to pursue a career in country music, being from Scotland?
I played soccer right until I was about 15. I did that professionally until I got injured. My cousin passed away roughly around the same time in a car accident. He was a drummer. So I was like, ‘Well. I’m not doing soccer anymore.’ I knew I needed to find a different avenue, but I never wanted to do an office job. Music has always been a large part of my life. My cousin played drums, and I thought, ‘If my cousin played drums, then I’ll play drums.’ So I did that for the next ten years of my life. I moved to London, studied drums, and was a dedicated session musician. I played at several bars and toured around the UK and Europe. I was in a band where we had an independent deal. Then I did this television show right after graduating from University when I was about 24. I got a call from the BBC, and I went on this show and placed. Right after finishing the show, I went home. I realized that I couldn’t keep coming home and then leaving home. My dad was like, ‘Look. I think you should go to Nashville.’ He’s a man of few words. So, I looked at my dad and said, ‘Well. With what money should I move to Nashville? I have absolutely no money.’ I managed to scrape some money together from playing live gigs and bars. Then, I jumped on a flight from London to New York, hung out with a buddy, and came down to Nashville.
What was it like navigating the scene in Nashville?
I just hustled. I’d hang out in the honky tonks because I thought that’s what you did. I met a couple of people and started turning up at parties and meeting more people. At the first-ever party that I went to in Nashville, I met a guy named Chris Poole, who ended up working A&R at Broken Bow Records. Eventually, I met this guy who was in a band on Broadway. His drummer left because his girlfriend fell pregnant, and they moved back to North Carolina. So there was this drum seat available. So I auditioned for drums, and I got the gig. I did a bunch of honky tonks down Broadway for a year, and then I got a call to meet the guys in King Calaway. I met those guys. So that was like the last two years of my life. Here we are today.
How did you transition from being in King Calaway to marketing yourself as a solo artist?
There was no real decision by me or the boys for me to leave. The [World Health Crisis] had happened, and I was back in Scotland. I was writing a ton at the time, from March until August. I wrote well over 100 songs, which was crazy. I took the [quarantining], I said, well, I better get myself fit again because I had been touring so much with the boys, and I had gotten a little bit out of shape. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, ‘Let’s use this time, benefit from it, and push ourselves.’ But I wrote this whole catalog of music. I thought to myself, ‘You know. I absolutely love this.’ So, I had a conversation with the boys. They were like, ‘Well. We’re going to go into this different sound and direction.’ I was like, ‘Oh. I love that, but that’s not really what I’ve been working on.’ I’d been writing similar stuff to what we did in the first record. But I am a fan of those guys, and I love those guys. But we had this conversation, and it just became amicable. It was like, ‘Guys. Why don’t you do what you’re doing? I’ll do what I do and what inspires me.’ And it was all love and hugs. The cool thing about it is I am so grateful I was in that band. We still support each other.
Congratulations on your new EP, It Is What It Is. How does it feel to have a collection out for the fans?
The record has been in the works since 2020. A couple of songs on that record were written in my mom’s bedroom over Zoom of all places because it’s where I had the best Wi-Fi in Scotland while writing with Nashville writers. I love every song on the record, but “Overnight” and “I Will” hold a special place in my heart because I wrote them in Scotland. A lot of the backing vocals in “Overnight” and “I Will” are the same vocals I sang in Scotland, which is cool. They were the first two songs I wrote to start the blueprint for this record. So that helped me hone in on the sound that was going to be for this record. That’s where the process for this record began. I feel like these are all my stories – all unapologetically myself. This is everything that I’ve lived and been through. I’m grateful I got to work with amazing songwriters and producers in Nashville to pull this record together. I made this record with my friends.
What is the significance behind the title of the EP?
I called it It Is What It Is because I feel like when I started this process, I was in the Pandemic. We all were, and touching on what I said before, I was like, ‘I’m going to make the most of this situation.’ I’ve always lived by that statement too. If something good happens, like, if I win a bet, it’s like, ‘It is what it is,’ or if I lose, ‘it is what it is.’ I believe that’s a great motto to live by because you don’t let things weigh you down. It’s like, ‘Well. If I crashed my car, it wasn’t a bad one. It cost me a lot. Either I can get myself down about it, or I can go, ‘Hey. It is what it is. No one died, and no one got injured. We’re all going to be okay.’ So I think that all of these songs are what they are. They’re all stories I’ve lived. But I like the motto because it’s not heavy. I can be used in every scenario. There’s a song on this record for everyone, and I want to say, ‘Hey, this record is what it is, and I hope you can all relate to it.’
You co-wrote every song on the project. Was that intentional?
I will never shy away from an outside cut I didn’t write. The best songs to me will forever win. I cut an outside song that will not be on this record but will come out down the line. But, for this specific project, with me being a bit of an outlaw being from Scotland, I wanted to show the Nashville community, and show the songwriting community, and show the music community that I may be this whacky-haired kid from Scotland. But I sure know how to write a country song. I wanted to make sure that I’ve paid due diligence with this to country music. I wanted to show people that ‘Yes. I am here, and I have been here for six years.’ Regardless of everything, I want to prove that I can write a country song. That’s important in this day in age.
Have you played these songs live yet?
I have played them live a few times. I played a Vegas show late last year, which was a lot of fun, and a couple of private industry events. Next week, I’m playing Whiskey Jam on Thursday. Friday, I’m playing Vegas, and on Saturday, I’m playing in Vegas again. Then, next week, I’m in Indiana at The Hobart Art Theater. So there are a lot of opportunities coming here for me to get out and play. I’m currently on a radio tour. So I’m seeing all of the radio stations across North America, which is a lot of fun. But I will have a lot of opportunities to play these songs here, which is very exciting. That’s why we do this. I play music because I want to entertain people. I don’t play music for myself. I do it because I love seeing the smiles and the tears if a sad song hits the person, in the right way. I love seeing people feel when it comes to hearing music.
Is there one song from the EP that you enjoy playing live the most?
Yea, I would say, ‘Thing About Change.’ That song is one of the songs where, everything I play, I close my eyes because that song is a story from start to finish. You know, it’s like, ‘I never liked white picket fences / Closin’ in them open fields,’ You know, all that stuff is just so meaningful to me. Then when I met my girlfriend, who is now my fianceé, she changed everything. Every song I’ve written, I’ve loved them all dearly, but that song, in particular, is really special to me. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of energy. That song to me, every time I sing it, it’s weird because I feel like I’m not singing because it comes from the heart, and I know that sounds corny, but it’s the only song I can stand on stage and close my eyes and not even think I’m singing it.
What’s next for you?
I’m one of these people where I’m always thinking six steps ahead. So now that the EP’s out, it’s focus time. I’m so grateful to have this record out, but I want to work my butt off 24/7. I believe in these songs wholeheartedly, and in 2023, you can’t sit back and hope that it comes to you. You have to go and get it.
Fans can keep up with Jordan Harvey 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.