Hi Brina, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! I’ve been pretty good given the circumstances. All of my recent shows in Nashville have been cancelled and I also recently lost my day job, so I’m riding out the pandemic in Illinois with my family until further notice. I’m grateful for my health and enjoying quality time with my dog, Pixie, and binge watching “Crikey, It’s the Irwins!” By the time I get back to Nashville, I’m going to know so many animal facts. Maybe I’ll write a song about koalas.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Rome”?
Rome is a very special song. It’s one of the first songs I’d ever written in Nashville and I feel like it’s come so far. It’s definitely become my personal anthem. I released it as a single in June last year (2019) and just recently released the music video for it on March 20th of this year. It’s been a long process (as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day hehe) and I’ve been holding on to this video for so long, so it feels amazing to finally have it out there for the world to see.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Rome was inspired by my experience moving to Nashville. After graduating college from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I realized that if I didn’t go after my real dream, which was in music, it would never come to fruition. I had never been to Nashville, or anywhere it Tennessee, I just knew it was Music City and where you go if you want to be among the best. So, I moved there without much of a plan in place, and I didn’t know anyone. My first couple of weeks were a complete disaster. The only job I was able to get was at an ice cream shop, and due to some dumb mistakes I made (like setting my alarm for PM instead of AM and locking my keys in my car and having to pay a lock smith to open the door) I got fired. So here I am all alone, no job, no friends, thinking how the heck am I going to make it here. I was second guessing everything, feeling really sad. I wasn’t even writing songs because I lacked the energy and motivation. Rome started off as some scattered poems I’d written just to get my feelings out. I had no one else to talk to who I felt would understand. The funny thing is, I’d already done the whole moving away thing, since I went out of state for college, but this was a completely different experience than that I wasn’t mentally prepared for. I always fall back on the saying “adulthood has no welcome week.” I’ll never forget how I felt when my mom and brother left after moving me in. I felt completely alone and like I was trespassing in someone else’s apartment. It was crazy.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
It was an amazing process! I started by securing the funding for my singles and the videos by taking out a personal loan. I then went to the YEP (Young Entertainment Professionals) Facebook group and asked for videographers. I got a ton of responses. I took the time to check out every single person, and by process of elimination finally settled on Joshua Lockhart. We met for coffee (I drank tea) and talked over some ideas. We actually had a big elaborate plan for the Rome video that was nothing like what it ended up being. I was recording two videos and we ultimately decided we wanted to put more money into the second one, so we simplified Rome to fit the photo shoot I had previously done for the single cover. In the end I think it worked out very nicely. I always love a good metaphor. This was my first time ever doing a music video, so Josh was really good at directing and helping me get the most out of myself on camera. It was very important to me that this video look professional. I didn’t want it to look amateur in any capacity. I’ve seen so many that just don’t look high quality. I want my work to be able to hold its own when compared to huge artists with labels. Josh did a really amazing job assuring that throughout the entire process and it’s why I picked him out of all those people.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process was interesting, because I never thought the early versions of Rome would ever actually turn into a song. It started out as random poems scribbled all over my notebook. I didn’t put a melody to it until I was feeling happier and more at home in Nashville. That’s why lyrically, it starts out so dark but ends with a positive spin, almost as if me two weeks in to Nashville had a cowrite with me a couple months in. It was a way of telling my former self “don’t give up, you’ll get through it!” I meet with a group of songwriters every Monday night (we call it song salon) to get feedback on my songs, and I brought Rome in before bringing it to the studio. All of my songs have been refined and revised through that editing process. Then the song was transformed by my wonderful producer Mike Anderson. He brought it to life with the instrumental track and was able to turn my abstract thoughts on how it should sound into cohesive music. I worked really hard to convey the emotion of the song in my voice, and Mike was great at coaching me toward my best takes. My favorite part of the recording process is adding harmonies and background vocals. I think those are the little details that can turn a song into something immersive and special.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
Nashville has played a major role in my music. If you listen to some of my pre-Nashville stuff, it’s a night and day difference. I always tell people living in Nashville is like living in Disneyland. It’s truly a magical place, especially for an artist. I can walk into a bar on a Tuesday night and hear an amazing original song playing by a super talented person at any given time. I’ve met so many amazing people of all different genres and have learned so much from them. I’ve had other writers give me feedback on my work that makes me consider things I’ve never even thought of. It’s also such a collaborative culture, and cowriting is huge. I’ve written songs with a lot of different artists and have learned from their processes. Working with my producer Mike Anderson has been amazing, and just being in the studio I’ve learned so much about how to build a song from the ground up. My favorite thing about Nashville though, is that it’s a town of believers. I love being in a place where big dreams aren’t just possible, they’re tangible. You see it happening all around you. There’s just something really inspiring about being surrounded by people who believe they can make it. And the thing about it is we’re not just dreamers, we’re doers. Everyone is so passionate, dedicated and hardworking, and when you’re in that environment it pushes you to be at your best too.
How does your love for musical theater actually influences your writing and work as a whole?
My writing is very narrative driven. My songs usually tell a story or have a deeper meaning, and I do that because frankly that is the kind of music that I enjoy listening to. I definitely think that stems from my experience in musical theatre. I’ve always felt most comfortable on a stage, like I can be my true self, because I feel like my emotions are so big. I think musical numbers help convey feelings that words alone cant. I’ve also always been a fan of spectacle (and there’s no shortage of that in musical theatre). I want to play stadium shows, and the more lights glitter and dance numbers involved, the better. I like to think musicals are enhanced representations of life, and I think that idea comes through consistently in my album art.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
I have one more video coming in June that I absolutely cannot wait to show the world. If you thought the Rome one was good, just wait! I also have a plan in place for an EP. That’s the next big project I want to tackle. I’ve written and refined so many songs this past year and a half, so I have plenty to choose from. I already have a name for it, at least two song that I want to be singles and music video ideas. Right now, I just need to raise the funds necessary to create and release it in a professional and effective way.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
The plan for the new music video is a release in June. That may change depending on how things go with the coronavirus. The EP I’m hoping to get working on ASAP, but I don’t have release date set at this time. I’d like it out by sometime next summer if not sooner.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’d love to tour and would like to go from Nashville to Illinois or from Nashville to Nebraska, working my way up to eventual stadiums. No set dates on that though, right now I’m social distancing.
What else is happening next in Brina Kay’s world?
When I go back to Nashville, I will not be leading the life I lived before this pandemic, and that is exiting to me. I had a very solid day job where I worked 9-5 every day for over a year and a half, and I learned a lot from that experience. It was a great job that would have been very hard to leave voluntarily. Now, I have this newfound sense of freedom. Instead of feeling uneasy about unemployment, I think this is a great opportunity for me to dive in to doing music full time, or find a day job that gets me one step closer to that goal. It’s another fresh page and another new adventure. Every day I’ll be setting new goals and working towards big things. I don’t expect to build an empire in a day, but I expect to do it nonetheless.