5 minutes with… Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini: “I really just wanted to show more of a vulnerable, honest part of me.”

The two-time Grammy Award-nominated songstress from Tennessee talks about her new single ‘Homecoming Queen?’, her forthcoming album and UK audiences

Kelsea Ballerini is one of the brightest lights within the country music scene, and after multiple Grammy nominations and hit records the singer-songwriter returned with her most honest release yet, Homecoming Queen?. The single is the first to be lifted off her upcoming third studio album which will be released in 2020.

The Tennessee songstress was in London promoting the track and recently performed at Hyde Park for the BBC Radio 2 Festival, so this felt like the perfect time to have a quick chat with the multi-talented star…

Hi, how are you? Congratulations on the release of Homecoming Queen?. How are you finding the response so far?

“I’m good, thank you. Thanks, it’s been out for like a week now so I feel like it’s real. It’s been good. Back in the States it was like the biggest radio day I’ve ever had so that’s always encouraging, especially with a personal ballad you’re kind of like, ‘Man, I hope this gets radio support,’ so that was super-encouraging and yeah, it feels good.”

Would you agree that this is your most honest record to date?

“Yeah, definitely. I think I’ve got to show – with the other singles I’ve put out – more of the fun, flirty side of me, when I was younger. And then the last record [Unapologetically] was more of the sassy, self-discovery side and I think with this one I really just wanted to show more of a vulnerable, honest part of me.”

So was it a conscious decision, or did it happen naturally?

“I think it happened naturally because I’m in a place in my life where I’m actively trying to figure out who I am. And I’ve had time to stay at home a little more and really work on my friendships and my marriage [to Morgan Evans] and go the therapy… I just have a lot of self-discovery time, so I think I’ve been really working on writing from that perspective.”

So, can we expect more honesty on the new album?

“Yeah, it’s funny because everyone is like, ‘Is this song [Homecoming Queen?] a reflection of what the album is going to be?’ and I’m like, ‘It’s not gonna be a depressing album!’ But yeah, I think even with the upbeat, fun and quirky songs – if you really look at the lyrics – there’s a lot more honesty in it, but it’s definitely not slow and sad.”

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What has the writing process been like for the album, so far?

“I’ve written a lot on the road. With the first two records, I wrote most of the songs in Nashville. With this record – between having writers come out on the road with me during the Keith Urban tour and the Kelly Clarkson tour – I wrote a bunch in L.A. And I did a bunch of writing retreats in different places where we were in a house and we’d just write from sunrise to sundown, and I think there’s been a lot more intentional time put in with some of my favourite songwriters this time.”

So, are there any collaborations on the new record?

“There’s two. I’ve never had a collaboration on my albums before and yeah I think that’s one of the things I’m really excited about – just being able to join forces with two different artists I love and respect, and make something I couldn’t have made without them.”

Is there a particular song on the LP that you’re most excited about sharing?

“It’s hard to say because obviously they’re all my children, but there’s a song on every album that I write myself, it’s kind of like my own personal songwriting tradition for my albums. I really love the honesty of The One for this record I wrote, so that’s probably the one I’m most excited about right now.”

You also recently performed at Hyde Park. What was that like?

“The weather has never been better, it was gorgeous, it was very hot. It was funny, I was expecting like 20,000 people which in my brain is like it can’t compute more than 20,000 people and then right before I went on they were like, ‘No, there’s actually like 47,000!’ And I was like, ‘Oh okay, casual, no pressure!’ But it was amazing. It was my fourth show ever in London, so to be able to like introduce myself to that many people was pretty special.”

How do you feel the British and American audiences differ?

“You know, I think here the shows that I’ve played – especially the first show I ever played here which was at a really small club – I noticed that I couldn’t tell the difference between the singles and the album cuts. I think that, to me, was the most refreshing and exciting thing: to know that people here dig into an album and they wanna know like the songs that aren’t on the radio, they want it all and I think that’s super exciting.”

Can we expect a full headline tour from you soon?

“Yeah, the record will come out in the spring and we’ll do a big ol’ tour to support that.”

How about C2C, can we expect to see you there next year?

“I don’t know yet, I’d love to but we haven’t planned on it yet.”

What else can we expect from you in 2019?

“We’re gonna put out a couple more songs this year and I go to Australia a couple of times, so a lot more international travel. But really, I’m gearing up for the record next year.”

Interview: Laura Klonowski

Kelsea’s latest single Homecoming Queen? is out now. For more info, visit kelseaballerini.com

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