5 minutes with… Payton Smith

Payton Smith. Photo: David McClister
Payton Smith. Photo: David McClister

Payton Smith: “I hope my songs just make you feel something…” Photo: David McClister

The teenage rising country sensation talks about his impressive self-titled debut EP, signing to Big Machine and working in Nashville

Aged just 19, Payton Smith plays guitar with the impressive dexterity of a seasoned pro and writes with a maturity way beyond his teenage years. The wonder-kid has recently shared his self-titled debut EP via Big Machine Records and the release goes a long way to showcase his exceptional talent. As he begins his promo trail for the four-track record, now felt like a perfect time to chat with the Louisiana native about his move to Nashville and plans for his bright future…

Congratulations on the release of your debut EP, how are you finding the response so far?

“The response has been amazing so far! This is my introduction to the world musically, so you never know how that is going to go. Even though all of our partners share great excitement about what we’ve created, it’s ultimately about how fans react to what they are experiencing. The good news is that we charted in the Top 20 on Apple Music the very first day! In addition to that, songs from this EP have been added to multiple playlists and fans seem to be reacting very positively.”

Can you talk us through the writing and recording process for the record?

“The writing on this EP dates back from 2017 all the way up to a month before we began the recording process… And I’m proud to say that I am a writer on each of the songs. Working with my label A&R rep Julian Raymond, my publisher Clay Bradley of Eclipse Music and my producer James Stroud, to sort out the songs was really gratifying because they all have such diverse knowledge. James has been a part of so many hit records, and I think that helped with my confidence to create without boundaries in the studio. We were fortunate to have the best session players in Nashville agree to play on these recordings so I’m even more humbled to have played guitar, banjo, electric guitar and mandolin on each song. Writing the songs and playing on the recordings really helped to capture my vision for this project.”

How has being signed to a label helped you with your musical output?

“Big Machine Records is the best label on the planet. Having the privilege of working alongside the team there is an amazing accomplishment for me. My appreciation for their belief in me and my music, and their excitement about wanting to help me get my music into the hands of listeners across the globe is hard to put into words. It is paramount to my career as an artist.”

Do you have a particular favourite song off the project?

“Wow, it’s really hard to pick just one because each of these reflect who I am as an artist in different ways. Whether that’s through specific lyrics, types of production, or my guitar work, my goal is to capture the energy of our live show and connect with the listener. I hope my songs just make you feel something.”

Payton Smith. Photo: David McClister

Payton: “Music represents a way for me to connect with people from all walks of life.” Photo: David McClister

What has been the main inspiration behind the tracks on your EP?

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“It all starts with my undying passion for music! My love of songwriting, my love for great melodies, and my love for performing live. Music represents a way for me to connect with people from all walks of life, in all areas of the world, and that is what I’m truly meant to do. I feel like this group of songs will help me relate to a wide audience.”

What are you hoping people take away from the songs?

“I hope listeners come away from hearing this EP with a true understanding of my passion for music. I hope they feel the love and energy put into writing the songs and creating the melodies. I hope they feel my desire to connect through pouring my heart and soul into every note. And I hope that each person experiences the same joy that I did creating this work.”

You’re currently making your music in Nashville, are there any artists out there who have taken you under their wing?

“I have had the opportunity to meet a number of amazing artists and it already feels like a community inspiring and encouraging me to stay true to the music I’m making.”

What made you want to release this project at this time?

“Releasing this EP has been a team effort and we just felt that this was the perfect time to introduce more audiences to my music. I’ve been so fortunate to play for Dwight Yoakam, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert crowds recently, so it’s cool to have something out there. Hopefully, people will want to check out again when they leave the show.”

Looking ahead can we expect a full-length album from you next year?

“I definitely believe more music will be coming to fans in 2020. We have so many more songs that I can’t wait to be heard.”

Do you have any plans for a tour in 2020?

“We are working on some cool stuff right now that I can’t talk about just yet. But it won’t be long… Stay tuned!”

What else can we expect from you this year?

“We’re currently out visiting radio stations across the US, playing songs and meeting listeners. I’ll keep getting to meet programmers at stations into next year, and it’s already been really fun. I’d love to have my Grand Ole Opry debut and a music video in 2020, plus we’re deciding which song for my first radio single.”

Interview: Laura Klonowski

The Payton Smith EP is out now. To find out more, visit paytonsmithmusic.com

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