Growing up, singer-songwriter Peytan Porter viewed Nashville as the equivalent to Disney World for artists. In her mind, country singers are the princes and princesses, the famous batman tower is the castle and Music City a place where dreams come true. While putting together the pieces of her debut project, In My Head, Porter lived out her fairytale story, which most similarly relates to that of Alice In Wonderland. Available today, the collection is “colorful, trippy, a little distorted and delusional.”
Sitting down with Country Now, Porter opened up about the unexpected start to her journey, realizing her strengths as a songwriter and the makings behind her first body of work.
Kickstarting her career on TikTok wasn’t originally part of Porter’s plan, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to her.
“I really did not think that it was my vibe. I didn’t think that was the path for me,” she admitted.
She started posting songs on the popular social media platform and quickly saw an increase in views and likes. While exciting, this didn’t provide an instant feeling of accomplishment for the 24-year-old singer.
“When the first one kind of started blowing up, I thought I had ruined my career. I was terrified to the point where I was up all night, trying to talk myself out of deleting it because it was just not my plan. That’s not the song that I wanted to release, and I had this very specific vision for how I wanted to launch my career.”
Although the newfound popularity was daunting, TikTok gave her a new way to connect with fans and essentially give her music a test run without fully releasing it. “It’s definitely been a learning journey,” she told Country Now. “It’s a tool that I like love using, but don’t wanna always have to rely on for a career.”
As she continues to gain a fanbase and hone in on the presence she’s created for herself online, Porter hopes her contemporary country style will be clearly reflected throughout In My Head.
“Lyrically, it’s pretty potent. I think that there’s a lot of depth and a second layer to my songwriting,” Porter explained. “It’s pretty light and airy. There’s something ethereal to it, which I wanted to capture because I’m from the North Georgia mountains. I wanted there to be a little bit of breezy mountain air feeling to all of my stuff.”
In My Head embraces youthfulness combined with her Georgia roots through sounds that will “easily fit” into the people’s daily lives. Porter discovered early on in her childhood that songwriting was her outlet for expressing how she felt without having to actually say it. Being the middle child in the family, her musical talent doubled as a way to get a few moments of undivided attention at home.
“I would have all these deep thoughts and feelings, but not know how to pull people to sit and listen to me and have these conversations with me. But if I put it in a song, they would focus and they would pay attention. It was like I could get people to hear me,” she recalled. “So that is how I communicate with the world.”
It was always a dream, but she wasn’t sure if she would ever get the chance to really pursue her passions as an artist. “I had kind of tried to convince myself that I’d be okay with just being a songwriter,” she explained, adding that penning music is a way for her to “process life” and “connect with people.”
While writing her debut single, realization hit and she came to the conclusion that she wanted to be a singer as well as a songwriter.
“I always wanted to sing my own songs. It wasn’t until I wrote ‘Therapy,’ that was the first song that I was like, I don’t want anyone else recording this.”
Moving to Nashville in 2016 for school, Porter has continued to write songs that emulate her emotions as she experiences different stages of life. So far, she has stuck to writing what she knows best, and that doesn’t include love songs.
With In My Head, she channels another aspect of the classic fairytale story. Instead of love songs, she channels the girl who “experiences the world in a different way,” just as the character Alice does in the animated Disney movie.
“To think you can be a successful country singer, you kind of have to believe in magic. It’s not like a very rational way of thinking. So it was a pretty instinctive thing to go straight to Disney.”
In the classic film, Alice In Wonderland follows a girl who has gone through a “trippy distorted reality” that’s filled with color and unique creatures. This same creativity and imagery can be heard in the lyrics of Porter’s seven-track release.
“She doesn’t understand the norms of the life that she’s grown up in and she’s like, ‘well, if I had a world, this is how it would be,’” Porter explained. “Then she gets to experience the highs and lows of whatever realm she steps into and follows different trails.”
Three singles were released ahead of the full project including, “Why We Broke Up,’ “Therapy” and “First Stone.” With countless songs in her catalog, choosing just seven proved itself to be a challenge, but it all came together when the title track was written two days before the record got cut. For Porter, “In My Head” was the song that really “tied the bow” on the whole collection.
“That song’s got a little more teeth to it than all of the other ones and that’s a big part of my personality. I’m lighthearted and I’m a deep thinker and I’m a deep feeler, but I’ve also got a little bit of an attitude. I think that In My Head kind of captured the far end of that spectrum and it was a little bit of backbone that some of ’em didn’t have.”
On the other end of the spectrum is the opening track, “Why We Broke Up,” which gives fans a bit of toxicity and power right out of the gate.
“I wanted people to be drawn in with energy and then I can kind of take ’em on the journey from there, but that one felt the biggest and the most exciting.”
Listening to this project from top to bottom will serve the listener well as it showcases the real-life stories and all the thought that went into forming the tracklist. “We’ve kind of learned how to consume things at an individual pace, but I love a full body of work,” she shared.
“This first project feels like a glimpse into all of the parts of my personality. It feels like a handshake and kind of like a warm hug introduction, but I don’t by any means, think that it tells the whole story.”
From the perspective of someone going through life in their 20s, In My Head is just the start of Porter’s journey. She revealed to Country Now that more of her story will be released this fall through another project.
Peytan Porter’s next show is set to take place July 15 in Sharpsburg, KY in support of Lady A.