Erin Kinsey has always set her sights on country music as her end goal. The 21 year old Texas native knew from a young age that her passion lied in country music. “When I was growing up, I tried a lot of different things, but I didn’t really fall in love with music as a passion or a career option until I was like 12,” she told me during our interview. The bubbly Erin worked on her country music craft learning from icons like Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert, Kinsey took her craft seriously and worked to better herself in her teen years. By the time she graduated high school, Nashville was clearly inevitable. The sky is the limit for Kinsey going forward, from her bright personality to her ability to connect and inspire other young girls, Erin Kinsey is holding on to her country music reigns tight and not letting go!
Photo By Sara Kauss
Who were the big country music icons you had growing up?
Being from Texas, Miranda Lambert was a really big of one for me. I listened to just about everything she put out and obsessed is actually an understatement. She helped me realize that being a singer could be a job, it doesn't have to be just something you do in your bedroom. Obviously then like Taylor Swift helped to shape my songwriting. Letter on icons Keith Urban and Thomas Rhett came into the picture for me. I was raised on Garth Brooks and Eric Church, thanks to my dad. You're such a sponge when you're 11, you just try to find inspiration everywhere!
You moved to Nashville at 17! Now at 21 you are finding your stride! What do you think some of the advantages are of you starting your career so early?
I think the biggest thing is time. You don’t have to rush things, you are here for the long haul. I started pursuing this when I was probably like 13. I decided to quit the softball team, quit my swim team, all the little things you do when you're young and only do music. But the funny thing is, I didn’t release music until last year at the beginning 2021. After eight years of pursuing this country music dream, I didn't release a single song. Some would say that even releasing music at 21 is young. For me, I think that's the biggest advantage that I had is I got to just take my time, write songs that were so horrible and learn from that.
How have you grown since your first song?
The first song I ever wrote, I hope never, ever sees a lot of the day. Definitely the biggest things my parents will ever have of over me is that they have that song on both of their phones and they could just ruin my life like that.
I think one of the things that I pulled from that, that I still try to use today, is to make it personal. When I started, it came from me not knowing how to express something other than in a way I hadn't yet tried, which was writing a song. I was going through some girl drama at school, as you do when you're 11 and like the fifth grade. I just wrote a song about it.
I wrote songs about me, and what I knew. In my high school years, I started trying to write a lot about other people. I just felt like I hadn't lived a lot of life yet and tried to pull from other areas. I found that movies were better to pull from that, my friends were better to pull from. I just couldn't believe that I was so interesting that I should write songs about my life.
I think what I've come full circle around on, especially after releasing some music is we are so alike. Everybody, even though you're from different walks of life, in different parts of the world and parts of the country, everyone goes through things. The more I can be myself the better song, and the more I'm gonna connect with other people. For me, it has been really full circle
You moved to Nashville at such a young age! How have you navigated your career since you moved to town?
I was 17 when I moved. I decided to not go with the traditional college route, which luckily my parents were very supportive of that. I took some classes online, it didn't work out for me. I decided to fully to just go for the music thing. But because of that, I was not naturally surrounded by a lot of people my age. I think at 17 you're either, in your senior year of high school or you're in college doing the full experience. But I was trying to write songs and go to shows. I think it was a really interesting thing to navigate.
There was zero plan. It was just trying to write songs, trying to play and trying to meet people. I think one of the things that I love, and I know this is in other industries, but I've just really seen it shine in the country music industry, is just people trying to help. I don't know why, but there's been so many people over the years that have tried to introduce me to new people and get me new opportunities. People have helped me get on a stage or just get me in a room with people. I have no idea why people take the time out of their day to help me, but it's really just been so amazing to see a city, a group of people, just an industry, embrace artists like me.
Erin fill in the blank, “I love songwriting because…”
It has to be the storytelling aspect. It's crazy to learn where the song started from, because I feel that almost all the time, it starts from an honest place of not knowing how to get feeling out, just in regular words. Feelings can be so tough to explain! When you have music, instruments and a melody to help convey that it's so beautiful how people can just get their story out there. I think that's probably my favorite part of songwriting is the storytelling behind it.
What have you been most grateful for thus far?
That's a really great question. It's definitely something that I could go on and on about. I think something that has come to light, especially in the last year after starting to release music is my fans support. Music has fallen into the hands of a lot of fans who are just like me, they're girls across the country, across the world that are right in my age rage. It's really cool to think that a lot of the women that I'm talking, singing to and communicating with on social media are either girls in high school or can directly relate to my songs! I have made so many friends through the music I've posted. It's just been a really, really cool and something I never could have guessed would happened, but it's been absolutely amazing.
How would you describe your style of country music to a new fan?
My music is a lot of authentic, conversational lyrics. My songs mimic exactly how I would say it to you. I also really love guitar. My music is uplifting for the most part. Of course, I have my sad girl moments too. I love to put out things that you would jam out to the car or enhance your emotions wherever you are.
What was the most difficult part of writing your viral single “Just Drive”
A lot of the song came naturally. I listened to Paramore the whole way to the write. I remember walking wondering how to combine Paramore and country music. Even better, I drove my white Toyota on the way that day. My car appearance in the lyrics. It's one that's really personal to me. All the details of the song are personal.
Honestly, the toughest part of that song was naming it! We kept questioning whether to call it “Just Drive” or come up with something more cool. There was so twist, and it didn’t seem super creative. After and hour of trying so get more creative we ended up landing back on the name because honestly we were like, “well, we might as well just call it for what it is and it's just about driving”.
One of my favorite things have been learning how many people have white Toyotas. It has blown me away. How many people have a white Toyota sitting in their driveway has been a fool way to connect with my fans. The other response to it is I did put it out during the pandemic, so the success of the song has come in waves. The one thing I think a lot of people did just escape was just drive. It was something that I feel like a lot of people could relate to. I love that I was the song was able to come out when driving was such an escape for so many people.
How do you define country music?
I think the classic answer would be storytelling. I think it's the genre where there's the most full circle story to it. But for me at this point, I would say that country music can really be whatever you make it. I think the bounds are getting so wide within the genre. I honestly think that it's opened up a lot of people to country music who swore they would never like the genre. I think that's one of my favorite things about the industry right now is that there are not a lot of rules, isn’t that how art is supposed to be. to music, there's not supposed to be.
I get comments on my videos on TikTok saying “I hate country music, but you're making me like it.” Sometimes people haven't found their corner of country music yet.