Texas native Erin Kinsey was brought up on country radio. As the aspiring musician sat in the backseat of her father’s car – hitmakers like Keith Urban, Eric Church, Taylor Swift, and Miranda Lambert consumed the airwaves. Their approach to storytelling and how they incorporated unique musical elements into their melodies left an ever-lasting impact on the country hopeful.
At just 11-years-old, Kinsey caught the musical bug – leaving her curious to find the beauty within each instrument. It wasn’t long until the artist learned seven instruments, which has helped shape her contagious sound throughout the years.
“It’s kind of like tools in my toolbox,” shared the Nashville newcomer during an exclusive interview with Celeb Secrets Country. “As a songwriter, it’s been really cool to have places where I can shake things up – whether it’s writing a song on a piano or rhythmically. It’s been awesome to use those throughout the years and also be able to kind of figure out my sound. At least for now, I really just love my sound, and I feel like it’s so true to me,” she adds.
Kinsey packed her bags to chase her dream in music city with the fire burning within her and a clear vision. Upon arrival, Kinsey put pen to the paper and started working alongside talented songsmiths. Before she even had an original track on Spotify, she penned an empowering single that describes the weight of a breast cancer ribbon.
“We wrote “Pink” back in 2019. We honestly didn’t know what to do with the song. We were like, this is SO much bigger than me to release,” she revealed. Therefore, Kinsey and the other co-writers kept the uplifting anthem in their back pocket until someone special came knocking on their door. It wasn’t long until country music legend Dolly Parton and other trailblazers noticed that the moving melody was on the market.
“Dolly Parton had said yes to signing on “Pink,” and it was such a surreal moment,” says rising star full of enthusiasm. “I had people ask me, ‘was Dolly Parton on your bucket list for cuts’ and honestly no… because I would have never in a million years thought that could happen. The fact that it was pretty much my first cut, it was insane. I have my whole career ahead of me, and there have already been so many exciting moments.”
“Pink” was Kinsey’s launching pad to stardom, as the 21-year-old already scored a joint deal with RECORDS and Sony Music Entertainment. Although she already has impressive writing credits, she continued to move forward and record music of her very own. It was her TikTok viral track “Just Drive” that placed her on music radars nationwide.
“Erin is exactly the kind of young, fresh artist we’re looking for at RECORDS Nashville,” says Barry Weiss, Partner, and Co-Founder of RECORDS. “A great musician, accomplished songwriter beyond her years, super hard-working, and well versed in today’s required acumen on social media platforms. She’s totally home run and winner. We couldn’t be more excited to add this young Texan to the roster,” he concluded.
Kinsey is undoubtedly Nashville’s most promising rising star today and is expected to reach new heights in 2022. Celeb Secrets Country had the pleasure to chat with the budding songstress (virtually) to hear about her most recent release, “Better On Me,” her rapid rise to fame, and to hear more about her big plans for the New Year. Keep scrolling and read the full Q&A below to learn more about the one to watch.
Celeb Secrets Country: Who is Erin Kinsey? How would you describe yourself as a vocalist and your sound?
Erin Kinsey: “So, my sound has been something that I feel like I have really honed in on. Honestly, in the last six months, it’s been really exciting. I love the really honest lyrics, trying to be as true to myself as I can be. I like throwing in big electrics and big drums. I play a lot of electrics in my live shows, and I was also in the drumline at my high school for two years. It’s really fun to be able to use those parts of my story and throw that on every song I can while also keeping my country roots there.
Celeb Secrets Country: Do you believe playing several instruments has helped you as a vocalist or a storyteller?
Erin Kinsey: “100%, I think! It’s kind of like tools in my toolbox. Especially as a songwriter, it’s been really cool to have places where I can shake things up, whether writing a song on a piano or rhythmically. All the little things I have experienced have created who I am. It’s been cool to use those throughout the years and also be able to kind of figure out my sound. At least for now, I really just love my sound, and I feel like it’s so true to me. It’s been a really big win!”
Celeb Secrets Country: Do you see yourself wearing the producer hate in the future?
Erin Kinsey: “I love just really being in touch with the producer, just talking and helping. I am honestly not a huge tech person…So, I’m most nervous about that. I don’t know if I can learn how to use logic and pro tools as quickly as people can do it now. Josh Ronan produced “Just Drive” and also my latest single. It’s been really fun to just come up with ideas with him and try things out or even throw out some ideas that are just horrible.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Do you have any musical inspirations?
Erin Kinsey: “I grew up on country radio! So, anybody who was on the radio between 2015, when I started buying music on my own. Especially being from a small town in East Texas…pretty close to Dallas – Miranda Lambert was a huge influence. Being a young girl, Taylor Swift was always a big deal as well. I also have several male music inspirations – Eric Church is one of my dad’s favorites. So, I listened to him and Keith Urban. I think before you can drive, you just kind of listen to whatever is playing in the car.
Even John Mayer and contemporary Christian music played in my mom’s car. Just everything has really had an impact on me. So, I decided to pursue music what I was 12-years-old. I think once you decide that you love something or want to pursue something more than the average person does, it’s impossible to hear music the same. So, it’s been fantastic to see my music influences from when I was 13 have an impact on my music today.”
CSC: Who inspired you to pick up that guitar or encouraged you to play different instruments?
EK: “My parents were really big on figuring out what you love! So, when I was little, I tried every sport under the sun, and I was in every club. So, the only thing where I felt like the stars aligned was music. My mom put me in piano lessons when I was in preschool. I was either that or learning Spanish. So, I was in piano lessons and eventually switched over to guitar when I was 11.”
EK: “It has been insane, to say the least…I could never have guessed that I would have these things happening now. I thought all of those things were so many years away, but
for it to all kind of happen right at the ten-year mark has been crazy. As a musician, you are told so often that Nashville is a ten-year town, and I guess it really is.”
CSC: 2021, you got your big break, but you also had a hand in co-writing a lot of songs. Especially “Pink,” which was recorded by Dolly Parton.
EK: “So, the idea for the song was sparked from my manager, who was actually battling breast cancer, and she kept it really quiet. Everyone has a different way of coping, and hers was to make it seem like it didn’t exist. So, she reached a point where she had to go through radiation and everything. She just couldn’t pretend anymore. So, I remember she told me that she was in the middle of a battle and I was just about to go into a write with Victoria Shaw and Jodi Mar. II had written with Victoria for about a year, and it was my first write with Jodi. So, that information definitely shakes you up. So, I walked into the write with Victoria, and she knew that something was different and I was dealing with something kind of heavy.
We started talking about it, and it was one of those star-aligning moments. She had a title she had been saving for the perfect room, and it was the idea that someday “pink” would just be another color, and it wouldn’t have to represent the ribbons and breast cancer at all.
— Rita Wilson (@RitaWilson) October 22, 2020
So, we wrote a song, and we were really proud of it! We were excited, and I remember showing it to my manager, Amy, and I remember she started bawling. We honestly felt like we failed because the thing we kept saying over and over throughout the write was, ‘it needed it to be hopeful, happy, and encouraging.’ Cancer is such a tough battle, and
we didn’t want it to be something that brings somebody down. I remember that she said, ‘I can just imagine women hearing this in the waiting room and it being the hope that they needed.’
We wrote “Pink” back in 2019. We honestly didn’t know what to do with the song. We were like, this is SO much bigger than me to release. To be honest, I hadn’t even released music at that point. I mean, I didn’t even have a Spotify account yet. We just were going to wait for the right timing for it, and then COVID happened…I think two things happened during quarantine. We all had a little bit more time on our hands. So, we had the time to give “Pink” what it deserved and to figure out what to do with it. I think also there was a whole different kind of motivation to get the song out during a time when people were going through treatment without their families.”
CSC: What was going through your head when Dolly Parton picked up “Pink“?
EK: “A couple of weeks later, Dolly Parton had said yes to signing on “Pink,” and it was such a surreal moment. I had people ask me, ‘was Dolly Parton on your bucket list for cuts’ and honestly no… because I would have never in a million years thought that could happen. The fact that it was pretty much my first cut, it was insane. I have my whole career ahead of me, and there have already been so many exciting moments. It’s going to be really tough to do something more impactful and important than that song.”
CSC: Tell us about your radio-worthy hit “Just Drive“?
EK: “‘Just Drive‘ was a definitely different song! It was not a middle-of-the-road country…it had the rock elements, the big drums, and the big electrics. I didn’t know if people would like it, and I honestly thought that maybe it would be too weird. It was something that I had somebody ask me like, ‘how did you pick this song?’ and honestly, I don’t listen to a lot of my own music. I love listening to other people and being exposed to new music all the time. I listen to many playlists curated by other people just to get exposed to new music. But, for some reason, with ‘Just Drive,’ I kept pulling it up on my phone the day we got back the demo.
I texted my co-writers, and I remember saying, ‘guys…I think we might have done something because, for some reason, I keep putting this on’ and they had both been doing the same thing. The song is very personal to me, even though it’s fun.
The track is based on my boyfriend and me. We have been dating for five and a half years. So, we started dating my freshman year of high school in Rockwell, Texas. He lives in Nashville now, and he goes to Belmont University. It was Valentine’s Day or something like that in high school, and we went to the melting pot. I remember we were making the derive to Dallas about 45 minutes, and he had made a playlist. I recall just being in the car with him and thinking, I wish it were a longer drive because I am having so much fun!
It’s been cool to see this song relate with other girls. You can see all the backend and analytics on social media, and it is really my age and girls like me. It makes me really excited to go out and tour! I just know that I’m going to be making new friends and I’m going to be meeting people just like me.”
CSC: Now, you recently released “Better On Me” – tell us about this track, and would you say it was easy or hard to write?
EK: “It was easy when we got the right idea. So, I wrote “Better On Me” with the same people I penned “Just Drive” with. We were in the room, and it was actually the day “Just Drive” hit a million streams. So, we definitely felt some pressure to do the trick again. We were sitting in the room, we started to write, and we loved the chorus and the verses we had – which left us at 90% of the way home.
I remember listening to the song and asking Josh to stop it. I felt like we needed to write a sassier idea with it. I kind of made us make a 180 turn around, and once we had the right idea, it was a pretty easy song to write, but up until then, we were writing a whole different thing. So, now this will serve as my label debut!”
CSC: Could you walk us through the inspiration behind “Better On Me“?
EK: “It truly sparked from my relationship with my sister. I have a 16-year-old sister, and between the two of us, she is by far the fashionista. I mean… I buy clothes off of Amazon, and I wish I were kidding. However, my sister has the cutest clothes, and when I go home, I sometimes borrow stuff from her closet. I don’t exactly know how it happened, but at some point, I was wearing her clothes, and she was like, ‘that looks better on you than me. You should keep it!’
I was reminiscing on that statement, and it was funny to think about how many clothes we have switched out. Then also, with having a boyfriend of almost six years, I have a lot of his clothes as well. It has been fun kind to see the story unfold from other people’s point-of-view, but also from the breakup side of it….when you sadly have to give stuff back. I think that’s the great thing about music – is that no matter where the idea sparked from, you can create such a fun story from it. I am so excited to give girls an anthem that is going through it. There are a lot of times where clothes can symbolize a lot between a relationship or a friendship.”
CSC: Could we expect a music video for “Better On Me?”
EK: “I am still trying to figure everything out! I have no idea, but I hope so. I think it would be a fun video to shoot, and I hope to put out more music in the new year. I think it will be a whirlwind of six months.”
CSC: Since we are Celeb Secrets Country – do you have any behind-the-scenes secrets about your latest hit, “Better On Me,” or any hush-hush projects in the pipeline?
EK: “I wish I had more secrets to tell you, but I am just hanging on for dear life with the label. They are truly changing my life in the most exciting way.”