Category: kristy cox

Interview: Kristy Cox on her new album, Ricochet

KristyCoxPromo1.jpgAustralian bluegrass artist Kristy Cox makes her home in Nashville for most of the year, but she always returns for the Tamworth Country Music Festival. I had a chance to talk to her while she was home, and even though she was quite under the weather she told me all about her new album, Ricochet, and other things.

The album feels like it’s a progression – like it’s more emotional and heartfelt. Not that your previous work wasn’t! But it did sound like a progression. I’m curious why you chose that song title, ‘Ricochet’, to be the title of the album?

I don’t really know. When I first heard the title of the song I thought, That would make a really good album title. I just kind of stuck with it. I didn’t even look at any of the other songs or any other titles. It just felt right – it felt like the album needed to be called Ricochet. [I thought,] this song is great, the title is great, and it feels like it’s going to be the title track of the album. I just never moved off it. I guess it was just a gut feeling that it would be a good album title.

And it’s memorable. One-word titles are great because there’s less likelihood of anyone forgetting it.

And I’ve never had a one-word title before. I’ve also never called an album after a song – it’s always been a line in a song or something like that.

Continue reading “Interview: Kristy Cox on her new album, Ricochet”

Kristy Cox and Jerry Salley on tour – October/November

South Australian bluegrass singer-songwriter Kristy Cox now makes her home in Nashville, where she has worked with the esteemed artist Jerry Salley. The pair is touring many parts of Australia soon, and I spoke to Kristy about the tour, her life in Nashville and how she balances music and business. 

You are bringing this new show to Australia with Jerry Salley, and it’s different to what you’ve done before because if you were playing in Tamworth, for example, you have a band with you. How did you start to conceive of this you – because it’s a set show, you have stories, you have songs?
I’ve been working with Jerry Salley for about nine years – I’m getting old [laughs]. I started working with him when I recorded Breaking New Ground, and he’s just such an incredible songwriter and an incredible storyteller. An artist, singer, performer. Why he’s not a superstar I don’t know. He’s come back to Tamworth a couple of times with me and done the bluegrass shows but I really, really wanted to do a tour with him and show him Australia, where I come from, and more than just Sydney and Tamworth – I wanted to show him Victoria and South Australia, and right up the coast of Queensland and everywhere in between. And I really wanted to show the Australian audiences what the real Jerry Salley is about. You can hear his songs with Reba McEntire and other people singing them, but to see him do it and him tell you the stories behind how he wrote the songs and why he wrote the songs is really an eye-opener. And nobody ever leaves a Jerry Salley show without being completely gobsmacked at his talents. It was just one of those things where I wanted to bring him over and show a guy who’s influenced me so much in my music the place that I come from.
Did you work up to asking him – wondering, ‘Will he say no? What will it be?’ – or did it just come into your head one day and you asked?
I was trying to work out who to tour with in Australia and these days it’s hard to just go out and tour by yourself. And I had a new album and I knew I wanted to tour during that time of the year but I couldn’t think of who I wanted to tour with. There was a bunch of artists and we talked, and there’s so many people I’ve love to work with on the road, but schedules and everything didn’t work, and my husband said, ‘Hey, you should talk to Jerry and see if he’d like to go over and tour with you.’ And straightaway I said, ‘Yep, this is why none of the other ideas have worked – this is exactly what I’m meant to do.’ And I called Jerry and said, ‘Hey, would you like to go to Australia for five weeks and drive 4000 miles? It’ll be great fun, I promise!’ [Laughs] And he said, ‘Yes, I would love to.’ So it was good – it was literally just one phone call, and the next day the flights were booked and we started booking in the tour dates.
Are you doing that booking yourself?
I do most of it myself. It’s a big job.
So how do you choose? It’s one thing to say, ‘This is the town we’re going to’, but within that town there might be five pubs where you could play. Are you going to places you’ve been before?
Some of them I have, some of them are brand new. Some of them are places that Rebecca Lee Nye, who’s opening for us, suggested. Some of them I’d just really like to play in a place and I’d put it out on Facebook and say, ‘Hey, who’d like to hold a house concert?’ or ‘Who has a suggestion for somewhere to play here?’ We start in Victoria then head all the way up to Brisbane then down to Tamworth, then down across to Mildura, up to the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna on the border of the outback, down to Adelaide and then we send Jerry on his merry way.
And do you want to tour at that time of year because it’s warmer, for one thing, but also because it’s coming into Christmas and then you can be home around that time, to see your family?
I already had booked in the Cruisin’ Country in November and I knew that touring after that would be almost impossible with Christmas – December for touring is never really a good idea unless you’re doing a Christmas show. I knew I wanted to do quite an extensive tour – I think we’re doing 25 dates – so we’re starting a good five weeks before the Adelaide show, which is going to be a huge show. I’m really looking forward to that. And then I’ll do the cruise then I’ll go home and it will be five weeks of spending time with my family and letting them see Adelaide, my daughter, who they haven’t seen for a few months, and then go to Tamworth and head home [to Nashville]. So we’ll be home for four months and I’m excited.
Have you done Cruisin’ Country before?
I have not. I hope I don’t get boat sick [laughs]. It is something I’ve wanted to do, so when they asked me I said, ‘Yes!’
So the big Adelaide show is ‘Nashville Comes to Adelaide’. Catherine Britt’s on that and a few other artists – have you pulled that line-up together?
This will be the third year that we’ve run that show. My husband, Travis List, and I came up with the concept – it was ‘Nashville Comes to Gawler’ but it’s now Adelaide, we’ve moved venues into the city to be in a more central location. We both grew up in Adelaide and live in Nashville, and we wanted to give back to the country music community that gave us so much growing up, by bringing them a show that features artists who have either lived in Nashville, worked in Nashville, and give them the sounds of Broadway, basically – show them the music that we hear in Nashville. Bring them artists who might now tour in their area. I know it will be the first time in a while that a lot of the acts from that show have played in Adelaide, and Jerry’s never been to Adelaide. It’s a huge line-up – we haven’t had that many acts before, we’ve always had three acts and now we have six, so it’s going to be really good.
And you have Mike Carr, who’s going to perform as himself rather than as Buddy Goode.
He will be doing a little bit of Buddy Goode. He’s actually compering the night, so it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. We had Pete Denahy last year and the crowd really enjoyed having that comedy element to the start of the show. This year we thought Mike Carr would be perfect, so we contacted him and said, ‘Do Buddy Goode and Mike Carr feel like coming to Adelaide?’ He’s doing the Prairie Hotel with us the night before as well. I haven’t worked with Mike before, so I’m really looking forward to that.
You’re organising this tour … It sounds like you have an entrepreneurial or managerial side to you as well as the creative side. Do you find that they’re in balance – are you able to do as much creative work as you want or does that administration sometimes take over?
It definitely does. I have a law degree in my other life so I’m very much a control freak and I like to be very hands on with everything I do. Of course I’m a singer and an artist and a songwriter at the same time. I still play every day, I still sing every day, I still gig nearly every weekend and travel to festivals and play, but very much Monday to Friday, nine to five, my music hat comes on and my business hat comes on, and I think that’s really important for an artist. Not every artist has that business mindset, but if you don’t then you have to have to someone working with you who does, because they call it the music business for a reason: it is a business, and you have to have a business mentality to it. Unfortunately the songs and the talent and the music should be enough but it’s just not [laughs].
It’s great if you can do it yourself, particularly if you can find that balance.
I think the biggest challenge I have is sleeping and turning off. I don’t turn off very much. My husband is very much the same way – he’s very entrepreneurial – and we’re constantly thinking of tour ideas, show ideas. We love putting on shows – that’s one of the things that we’d love to do more of. We’d love to find different artists who, one, we want to work with but, two, we think would make a really great show, and put it on and take the risk and put it out there and see what happens. We’ve done quite a few at Tamworth – we’re doing four shows this next Tamworth, and it’s going to be the biggest we’ve ever done. Sometimes I think, Am I biting off more than I can chew? And the only way you know is if you get out there and give it a go.
Living in Nashville, I would think, supports you having those two sides to your life because it is Music City and very much an industry town. Has the city influenced you business wise as well as music wise?
Not as much, I don’t think. The industry thing, the size that it is here, allows me to spend my days not working a day job and working on my career. There’s plenty of work here and there’s plenty of things that inspire you. That’s the big thing, being in Nashville: every day I’m inspired to do more and I’m inspired to be better. Being surrounded by music constantly, I never get tired, I never get bored, and I’m constantly challenged. You can walk into any bar and the lady serving you a drink might be the best singer you’ve ever heard. So you’re constantly surrounded by people who challenge you to be better because you have to be. And I think that in Australia, that’s something that I needed – I needed to be challenged. I was getting way too comfortable working my nine-to-give day job and earning really good money, and I thought, If I don’t get out of here I can see myself going, ‘Well, this is just too easy to be a normal person who doesn’t make music’ – not that there’s anything wrong with that at all! But it just wasn’t for me. I needed to play music and I needed to be challenged, and Nashville gives me that outlet.
You obviously knew yourself well enough to know that if you got to 50 years of age and you hadn’t pursued that, you were going to be regretful.
Yes, definitely. And Trav and I say to each other all the time, ‘What’s the worst that could happen – we pack everything up and go home? We get jobs?’ It’s nice to still have Australia and we both still call it home, and we go back there four months of the year because we need some Aussie in our life. We need good coffee and pies and stuff, and we need some sense of humour and sarcasm. We miss that.
As you mentioned, you have a daughter – have you started her on an instrument yet?
Not yet, though. She does like to play my guitar, which kind of scares me because it’s worth a lot of money [laughs] but she kind of just strums it three or four times then stops and applauds herself – she hasn’t quite understood that that’s not quite the way it works. It’s very cute.
I presume she’ll be on the road with you.
Yes – my little girl has done eight international flights now and she’s very accustomed to travelling. I think her first flight she was six weeks old – we came back to America from Australia. Every gig I’ve done since I had her she’s either been with me at the show or in a hotel room behind the venue. She’s been everywhere and I think I have the opposite issue: she finds it really hard to stay home. She gets very bored very easily. She likes to be out and about and with people, socialising and listening to music. I’m raising a nice little honky tonk girl, I’ve noticed. She loves it. So she’ll be on the road the whole six weeks. I did have to be mindful booking in the gigs that we weren’t any further than about a seven-hour drive because she can’t handle the car for much longer than that. She’ll be at every show with a smile on her face – or asleep.
If someone’s reading this thinking, I don’t know about bluegrass – it’s not a genre I’ve ever been interested in, what would you say about bluegrass to entice someone to come to the shows?
Come to the show! [Laughs] Bluegrass is one of those things where I’m yet to see anybody who hasn’t enjoyed themselves at a show. The stories and the songs are incredible, and the energy of the music’s great. It’s like that with country music as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, ‘I don’t like country music but I really like you.’ That just tells me that they haven’t listened to any country music. Come to the show with open ears and an open mind and I promise you that you’ll walk out loving bluegrass music. Jerry Salley’s there – he’s the best! [laughs]

Kristy Cox and Jerry Salley on tour:
Thursday, 13th October 2016

Private House Concert – Bittern VIC

Friday, 14th October 2016Patchewollock Music Festival – Patchewollock – VIC
Saturday, 15th October 2016Kilmany Hall, Kilmany – VIC – 6pm
BOOKINGS: Phone Sue on 0409 954092
Sunday, 16th October 2016
Bluegrass with Jerry Salley with special guests Billy Bridge and Rebecca Lee Nye – AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Caravan Music Club- Oakleigh – VIC – 3pm
Monday, 17th October 2016
 Special guests Billy Bridge and Rebecca Lee Nye – 
Star Hotel- Yackandandah – VIC – 7pm
BOOKINGS: +61 2 6027 1493
Tuesday, 18th October 2016

Private Event – Canberra ACT
Thursday, 20th October 2016

RSM Club– Casino NSW – 7:30pm 
Friday, 21st – Sunday 23rd October, 2016
Dorrigo Bluegrass Festival
Dorrigo, NSW 
Tuesday, 25th October, 2016Plainlands Hotel, Plainland, QLD – 8pm
Thursday, 27th October, 2016The Pub, Tamworth, NSW – 8pm
Friday, 28th October, 2016
Bluegrass with Jerry Salley – AUSTRALIAN TOUR
The Abbey, Canberra, ACT – 8pm
Sunday, 30th October, 2016Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW – 2pm
Monday, 31st October, 2016
 Special guests Allan Caswell and Rebecca Lee Nye
Hotel Blue, Katoomba, NSW – 8pm
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016Goldmines Hotel – Bendigo, VIC
Thursday, November 3rd, 2016Mildura Victoria – Details TBA
Friday, November 4th, 2016
Nashville Comes to The Outback
Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, SA – 8pm
BOOKINGS: 1800 331 473
Saturday, November 5th, 2016
Nashville Comes to Adelaide
Norwood Town Hall – Norwood, SA – 8pm

Kristy Cox and Travis List on tour

Bluegrass singer-songwriter Kristy Cox and honkytonk artist Travis List have a few things in common – they’re both Australia, they both now live in Nashville and they’re touring Australia, together. Recently I spoke to Kristy after the first weekend of the tour, and there’s still time to catch them – the dates are all at the end of this post.

How do you and Travis List know each other and how did the idea for the tour come together initially?
Travis and I have known each other since I was eleven years old. We grew up in the same South Australian country music community. He went to Nashville nine years ago and I moved over a couple of years ago. We were just talking and said we should go back to Adelaide and put on a show in Adelaide – neither of us had played in Adelaide for a while. And that just kind of formed into a whole tour, which is pretty exciting. We just kept booking shows and it’s been going really well.
So you’ve had one gig already?
We’ve done one weekend and it was very successful and a whole lot of fun.
I’m intrigued by the idea of you both coming from the same SA country music community. So you grew up somewhat surrounded by country music?
Yes, the South Australian Council for Country Music – there’s a lot of festivals and talent quests and clubs and things over here that really encourage young up-and-coming musicians and singers, and that gives children a place to get on stage – they do a lot of walk-ups and things. They’re very encouraging of young people who want to be involved in the country music community.
That’s the first I’ve ever heard of the council – but you and Travis are proof that it works.
Jedd Hughes came through it. Jake Nickolai came through it. Back in the day Kasey Chambers and Beccy Cole. We’re all from South Australia.
Are there any other South Australians that you know of doing bluegrass in Nashville?

Kym Warner from the Green Cards. The Green Cards have been nominated for a couple of Grammys now. He’s probably one of Australia’s – well, he’s an expat now, he lives in Austin, Texas – one of the best mandolin players to ever come out of Australia. His father, Trev Warner, was one of the founding players of bluegrass in Australia and he still lives here, in Adelaide. Bluegrass music has a pretty heavy following here in Adelaide and a lot of pickers … It’s great. It’s just getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year.
So you’ve had that community growing up and now you’ve moved into a different kind of community in Nashville – I guess it’s good to have someone like Travis there, who’s familiar, to give you a sense of home or a sense of community.
I think there’s 300 Australians who live full-time in Nashville now, so that’s quite a lot, and that ranges across all different kinds of industries. Having Aussies over there is a great way when you’re feeling a little homesick. We had Christmas with Tommy Emmanuel and Rick Price, because they both live over there. Us Australians get together as much as we can. We did a Fourth of July Aussie-themed barbecue – we just made an excuse to cook some lamb chops on the barbie. We definitely stuck together, us Aussies over there.
Well, that’s nice! And apart from that it’s good for creative collaborations, such as the one you have now, with Travis.
Yes, it’s a great way to form new friendships and meet new people that we didn’t really meet or have a chance to get to know back here in Australia.
For this tour, have you put together a touring band and, if so, are you sharing it?
Yes, we’re sharing the same band. We’ve actually got Georgia Fall opening for us, for the tour, and James and Paul in that band are just the most fantastic musicians, and they’ve worked really hard to learn Travis and my material. So they open the show and do their country-rock thing that they’re good at, then I get on and we kind of move the stage around the little bit and I do my bluegrass thing, and then Travis obviously finishes the night with his honkytonk stuff. It’s a great way for the audience to get nice a taste of every element of country and bluegrass music all in one night. It’s working really, really well actually.
I was going to ask how you came to choose Georgia Fall but it sounds like a very cleverly thought-out way to get an opening band and a touring band at the same time.
We were actually going to take a different band and the guys in Georgia Fall said, ‘We would love to learn your material and play for you’. So especially with the bluegrass stuff they really rose to the challenge because it’s quite a different style of music. It’s worked out really well. We were planning on taking them anyway. I just think that they’re a great group of people and they’re definitely playing music for all the right reasons so they have similar values to us. We’re having a lot of fun on the road with them – it’s great.
Did you have to arrive a bit ahead of the tour in order to rehearse?
No, we did a bit of a run-through about three hours before our first show. True musician style! Well, Travis and I have been touring in Europe for five weeks and we had our first show [here] the day after we landed from London so there was no time for any rehearsals, unfortunately.
You launched your new album in Tamworth in January and it sounds like since then you’ve been pretty flat out.
Yes, I haven’t really stopped yet, I’m kind of looking forward to a bit of a break after this tour. I think I’ve got six weeks before Tamworth so I can have a bit of a holiday and spend some time with the family. I fly back to America and then come back to Australian again. It will be nice to stop. I think I’ve done six trips to America and two trips to Europe in the last eighteen months. So I’m ready to put my feet up a bit.
When I spoke to you last year you were telling me about your publishing deal and the amount of songwriting involved. It must be difficult to keep up with songwriting commitments let alone writing for your own album, if that’s separate, in the midst of all that travel.
To be honest, these last six months I haven’t done a whole lot of songwriting. I’ve been doing a lot of radio touring over in the US, promoting the new album and the label booked me in to do a brand-new album in March so I guess I’ll start writing for that once this tour’s over. But the writing side, unfortunately, has really been put on the backburner to give way to the touring and the promoting of the album. But that’s okay – can’t do everything.
And I guess it depends on how people write – some people need that vacuum. They need the time and the mental space in order for the ideas to come. Some people like to write on the road. But it seems like most people do need a little bit of brain space to create.
Yes. I’m definitely one of those people. [laughs]
And how’s your voice holding up in all of this? Because it’s a lot of work for a voice.
It’s fine – as long as I eat good vegetables and get a good night’s sleep, it’s no different to talking all day, really. I eat very healthy. I’m a bit of a caveman dieter – I eat vegies and meat. No bread, no pastas, no sauces. You’ve really got to keep up a healthy lifestyle in order to keep up with the demands of doing this kind of thing. It’s really important. If you don’t have good fuel it’s like running a car that needs diesel on petrol – it’s just not going to work.

Friday, 5th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Silverton Hotel- 5:00pm
12 Layard St, Silverton, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (08) 8088 5313
Sunday, 7th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm
Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia
BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Monday, 8th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List
Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm
Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia
BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Friday, 12th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Dubbo RSL- 8:00pm
Brisbane St, Dubbo New South Wales
Saturday, 13th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
The Abbey- 8:00pm
Federation Sq, O’hanlon Place, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Saturday, 19th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Rooty Hill RSL- 8:00pm
55 Sherbrooke St, Rooty Hill, New South Wales
Wednesday, 25th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Casino Golf Club- 7:o0pm
West St, Casino, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6662 1259
Thursday, 25th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Lismore Workers Club- 7:30pm
231 Keen St, Lismore, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6621 7401
Friday, 26th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Grafton District Services Club- 8:00pm
107 Mary St, Grafton, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6643 2895

Tamworth: the picks of the gigs

Make that my picks of the gigs … These are the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. [All dates given are January 2014.]

Jess Holland

21  – Tudor Hotel Front Bar,  5.30 p.m.
23  – Qurindi RSL, 6 p m.

24  – Tudor Hotel Back Bar, 12 p.m. 

Ashleigh Dallas
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 5 p.m.

Tori Darke
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 8 p.m.

21 – Tamworth Services Club, 9.30 p.m.

Brad Butcher
22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.

Katie Brianna

22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.

The McClymonts
22 – TRECC, 2 p.m.

Kristy Cox
22 – The Pub, 8 p.m.

Shane Nicholson
23 – The Family Hotel, 7 p.m.

Catherine Britt
23 – The Pub, 8.30 p.m.

Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes
24 – The Family Hotel, 12 p.m.

Audrey Auld
24 – North Tamworth Bowling Club, 2 p.m.

Karl Broadie and Katie Brianna
24 – Tamworth Tennis Club, 4.30 p.m.

Interview: Kristy Cox

Kristy Cox’s country music path started off in country pop but she is now firmly a bluegrass artist, as the following interview shows. Kristy’s switch to bluegrass has taken her to Nashville, where she is now based – but she’s coming home for one show at the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival on Wednesday 22 January at 8 p.m., at The Pub. Kristy was a real pleasure to interview – as you shall see.

I’ve been watching the TV series, Nashville, so now I keep thinking of it as this very racy town – I don’t know if you’ve seen that show, but it’s certainly gives a different perspective on the town.
It’s actually not that far from reality, like, once you move here and live here [laughter]. It’s not that far from reality and that’s scary [laughter].  They’ve done a really good job of it.
It seems like it’s a real industry town.
Definitely, definitely.  Everybody here is a singer, a writer, publicist, a journalist, yeah, everybody here is a somebody [laughter]. It’s the town of runaways, they call it, because there’s not many locals.  Not many people that are born in Nashville live in Nashville.
When you arrived there, how do you start to find your way in, considering it is a town where people come in not knowing other people?
I’m still trying to work that out myself [laughter]. It’s kind of scary, because you come from being in Australia  – you know I spent 17 years performing in Australia since I was 11 years old, and meet people as a kid and people that you knew through the people, and by the time you’ve got to doing what I was doing with my career in Australia, you kind of have a really good base of people around you and it’s a really good community in the bountry scene back home. But then I get here and it’s like I’m 11 years old again, I’m starting all over again, so it’s really interesting, I’m just really lucky that I’ve got a great producer, Jerry Sally – you just meet a lot of people, and I’ve got the record deal and the publishing deal, which are really kind of helping me set things up. I’ve got a bit more support around me than what a lot of people have when they move here, so I guess I’m lucky in that way.
And people make their own luck, because you don’t get those sorts of deals unless you’ve got the talent for them, and not just talent, I think, but professionalism.  A lot of people on the outside wouldn’t realise that talent only takes you so far.  If you’re going to another country and you’re getting a record deal, and you’re getting publishing deals because other people want to work with you. 
Yeah.  I come from a strong business background in Australia, I have a business degree, Bachelor of Business, and in my last job I ran 47 coffee houses … so I guess, from a business point of view, I know that it is just a business; it’s a business that works in the music industry. A lot of artists, they think that if you’ve got the talent, then that’s all that matters. But I’m working full time on music here and I’m singing an hour a day, I’m not singing all day every day, I’m emailing and making phone calls, and doing all that fun, exciting stuff [laughter]. I wish I was just singing.  One day, I might be able to just do that; that would be great.
Well except then your voice might wear out.
[Laughter] This is true.  See, there’s a hidden benefit to everything.
So when you’ve got a publishing deal like this, some people might think that just means that they’re taking care of the rights to your songs, but from my understanding, particularly in Nashville, a publishing deal means you’re writing a lot for other people?
Definitely. I wrote 46 songs over the summer, so 12 weeks that I was here for the summer, before I went home to Gympie, I wrote 46 songs. Bluegrass, basically, is what I do, but most of the time that I’m writing, I’m writing country pop songs that are definitely not for me.  Obviously some writing sessions that I lock in, especially coming up to recording a new album, I made sure that I had writing sessions in there with people that I wanted to write with for my albums.  But publishing deals here, you are required to write a certain number of full songs a year – so, say, if your total is 14, that means you need to write 14 full songs; so if you co-write with two people, that’s only counted as half a song, so that means you have to write 28 songs if they’re all co-writes, so if there’s three ways, obviously that’s only a third of a song.  So Nashville is a definite song factory, and if there was no such thing as a guitar, and no such thing as songwriting, there’d be still enough songs in this town to last 100 years, I reckon [laughter].
This is at odds, of course, with the idea of songwriters sitting around waiting for the muse to strike.  It sounds a bit like you get up in the morning and you go to work as a songwriter.
Yeah, pretty much.  And the great thing is, is the more you do it, the more – like, I never consider myself as a writer and when the publishing company came to me and said they wanted to sign me as a writer because they heard my song ‘Miles and Timezones’, I was, like, ‘Are you sure? Because I don’t really consider myself a songwriter.’ Then the more you get into it, just the smallest thing can trigger you, and you write it down, and it really is [that] you sit down and you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea, I’ve got this concept, if you’re keen on writing that’, and some days you’re writing songs that you would have absolutely nothing to do with, and they’re the fun ones, they’re the most challenging ones.  It’s an interesting – that’s something different from making coffee for me [laughter].
Or running coffee shops, as you did, but it’s still an enterprise, I guess, and I suppose, just to go back to what we were talking about with business. It is about relationships between people in a business context.  In order for you to make your songs work for other artists, you have to understand the whole chain of relationships through to that artist.  If you’re writing songs with someone else, you’ve got to understand how that relationship works with them. 
Pretty much.  So sometimes you’ll sit down and you’ll have an artist in mind who you want to write for, other times you sit down and you write a song and you go, that would be really good for this artist – and then you pitch, or you demo it and it gets pitched out with the 15,000 other songs the artist is listening to and maybe, in 15 years’ time, I might get a cut, that will be great [laughter].
Well, since you’ve mentioned you write for yourself, you write bluegrass-tinged-Country. Is bluegrass your first love?
Old-time country was my first love. I grew up listening to the likes of Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn – pretty much anything before 1980 was the kind of country that I grew up listening to, and that’s still the kind of music that I really love, and bluegrass is, these days, really heavily influenced from the skills and the melodies of that kind of country, so bluegrass has really progressed into what I do.  Contemporary bluegrass has progressed from traditional bluegrass, where it’s just great tunes and really simple melodies and great harmonies; it’s kind of progressed into almost acoustic country.  The more contemporary stuff is really country influenced.  I tried the country pop scene, and as much as I love to listen to it, it just really didn’t sit at home with me; I just was never truly happy performing country pop. And I got to know the Davidson Brothers quite well, and they introduced me to this thing called bluegrass. I’d heard a few bluegrass acts – Alison Krauss and that – but I’d never really sat and listened to it, and it’s definitely 90 per cent of the time the music playing in my car is bluegrass; I’m pretty heavily into it these days, I’m completely obsessed with it, it’s good [laughter].
[Laughter] It sounds like that’s almost an emotional response to bluegrass, as opposed to you as a musician picking it apart and thinking, I can see how this works for me. 
Yeah, bluegrass musicians, I would say, would have to be some of the most talented musicians on the planet.  I just don’t understand how they play that fast and the songs are just really well structured musically, and it’s a little bit above my head; I was never good at the serious side of music, but the lyrics and the harmonies and the vocal lines really drew me in, and I guess, coming from a traditional country background, I was like, this is the kind of music that I need to be doing now; I don’t want to be doing country pop where the melodies are quite catchy but don’t challenge me as a singer.  So I moved away from what the grind is, I suppose, what everybody else is doing; I kind of just naturally moved away from it because of where I come from and what I grew up listening to, basically.
I think though from a career point of view, it could have been a difficult decision, because bluegrass isn’t the most well-known sub-genre of country, and certainly, both here and in the United States, country pop or country rock predominate. So you could have been putting yourself into a strand that wasn’t going to get as much airplay or get as much fan attention – but that doesn’t seem to have been the case, so it was obviously the right decision?
Yeah. I was really nervous. My first bluegrass album, Breaking New Ground, it was … my title to my albums are always kind of summing up where I’m at in life, and Breaking New Ground, the first single from that, ‘That’s Where the Faith Comes In’, that song, the whole reason I believed in that first was because I was really scared, I was [thinking], Is this going to work?  Is the industry going to go, ‘What is she doing?  What is she doing?’[laughter] And not play me. Because this could go one of two ways: either I’ve completely destroyed my career, or I’m carving out a niche that nobody else is hitting in Australia, and I guess I’ve just been lucky. When you’re true to yourself and you’re 100 per cent happy with doing something yourself, and you’re positive about it, then I guess the power of positive energy, I guess, the other people kind of jump on board, and I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made; I’m making music that I want to make and that I love doing. With this album, I’m a little bit nervous, it’s happening all over again. This album is a lot more bluegrass than the last two, so it will be interesting to see how the Australian market takes it, but it should be good [laughter].
There are a couple of ways I could go from that, but since you mentioned that your songs reflect where you are in life, that’s a nice lead-in for me to ask you about your new single, ‘One Heartbreak Away’. So I was wondering if you could just talk a bit about the inspiration behind that song, or not inspiration, if that’s what it is, and also a bit about recording the album?
I guess it’s a song about love that could go wrong, or it could go right, and it just really depends on whether the guy wants to get his stuff together, basically [laughter]. It seems to be a common theme with my girlfriends these days, that they’re in relationships and they’re always ready to take that extra step a lot sooner than the other half, and sometimes it happens the other way around – the guys are the ones that want to take the step sooner. And I guess it’s just that time where I’m ready for you to put me first and if you’re not going to put me first, then I’m sorry, but I’m only one heartbreak away from leaving if it doesn’t go right.  It’s a catchy, up-tempo bluegrass song that sums up, pretty much musically, where the album is going, and it’s definitely the first ever song that I’ve released that is as bluegrass as this one, so I’m nervous to see how it goes, but I’m excited because I think it’s a strong song; I really enjoyed recording this one, so yeah, we’ll see how it goes.
And so the album is in the can, so to speak – it’s been recorded, it’s been mixed, it’s ready to go. Because you’re going to release the first copies of it in Tamworth?
The official album launch date is the 18th of February, but I’ve got exclusive copies that are going to be available for Tamworth, so the label over here is letting me bring the physical – they’ve pushed printing so that I have it for Tamworth, and so that I have it for my fans, and the industry back in Australia, because Australia is always going to be home for me, and the market back home is always going to be a priority in my mind. I haven’t moved to Nashville and recorded and found a deal over here to forget where I’ve come from; I’ve done it to widen my market and broaden my market, because bluegrass is so small in Australia … I was pretty pushy with [the label], I’m like, ‘We have to have this thing ready for Tamworth’, so it’s not going to be ready for worldwide release, so it won’t be on iTunes or anything until February, but I will have physical copies with me at my launch party in Tamworth.
And just in regards to that launch party, I’m curious about the logistics of putting that together, so how much time you allow to come back and rehearse with the band you’re going to play with, and how much time you give yourself in Tamworth when you’re there?
I fly home just before New Year’s, so I’m going straight to Adelaide to visit my family, because I won’t be home again to tour in Australia until August/September, so I’m going to go straight home and see my family for a few days, and then we’ll be up in Tamworth on the 13th of January.  So I’ve got nine days of running through songs and doing all of that with the band before the launch.  But the launch night is going to be a great time; we’re going to have an opening act, which I’m still narrowing down; I’ve got a few small bluegrass bands that are just starting out that are full of really great young singers, but I’m just trying to pick which one I want to put in there, and they’re going to open the night, and then I’ll do two full sets of mixing them up with songs from the new album and going through the last couple, so it will be good.  It will be just a lot of fun; I just want to have a good fun night.
I’m sure you will with that much preparation, that’s quite a few days’ rehearsal. I would imagine that you’re making sure that you’re rehearsing enough so that you can go to that night and relax?
Yes. It’s kind of nerve wracking, because my guitarist that I’ve always used in my band is going to be there, but my mandolin player isn’t coming to Tamworth this year, and my bass player is going to a holiday in Thailand, so I’ve had to put together a band of people that I’ve played with in the past and that I love working with, but I haven’t been on stage with as much.  So it’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s also going to be a lot of work for these poor guys that have to learn 25 new songs before Tamworth, so I feel sorry for them [laughter].
Oh, that’s nothing – I find with Tamworth, one of the interesting things is the amount of professional musicians, not necessarily even working as musicians, but certainly during Tamworth they do a huge number of gigs and the standard of playing is always so high that I think you can probably be confident that whoever you’ve got will know what they’re doing.
Yeah, yeah. There’s just so many good musos, I wasn’t even concerned when half my band couldn’t do the gig, because I was like, ‘Oh, no, there’s, like, a hundred other people that can play, they’re all so good [laughter].’
Given that you’ll be rehearsing for a lot of the time before your Tamworth gig, do you have time afterwards to run around and see other acts and see who’s new, see who’s changed?
Yes. We’ll probably only have maybe three or four rehearsals before the album launch, I mean, they’ve already got the material, so it’s just a matter of tying it together, the guys will learn the stuff before we get there.  So I’m going to be out and about. I’m doing the Country Music Cocktail event on the Sunday. I’ve got a bunch of PR stuff that I’m doing just before the launch, and I’m always out watching other music. I’m a big believer that you need to support the industry that you’re in, so I’m one of the first people to download most of the new albums on iTunes. I’ve got most of the albums that came out in the last 12 months, [they’re] on my phone.  So I try to get to as many shows and gigs as I can, support other artists with what they’re doing, and it feels good when it’s turned back around, like my last album launch, Kasey Chambers rocked up, and Aleyce Simmonds, and all of these artists were sitting there watching me, and it does feel good to know that you’ve got peers that support you and what you’re doing, and I really like to make sure that I get out and do the same.  So my diary will be full; I’ll be up from 8 o’clock every morning. I’ll make sure I catch at least one of the Bluegrass Breakfasts, and probably won’t get to bed ‘til 3.00 am, that’s the normal Tamworth drill.
It’s an extraordinary festival, but I guess, to an extent, maybe living in Nashville is like permanent Tamworth, because there’s so much music around all the time?
Yes, it’s still – you know, it’s funny, I always thought – I came to CMA Fest this year for the first time, which is obviously the big festival here in Nashville, and I thought, This is going to be huge.  Compared to Tamworth, it’s not a whole lot different, like at Tamworth, we really hold our own over there, and the amount of people we’ve got is fantastic. 
Kristy’s new single, ‘One Heartbreak Away’, is available now. See her at The Pub in Tamworth on 22 January at 8 p.m.