The buzz around Drake White has been pretty huge for a while now, amplified by his incredible performances at C2C: Country to Country back in March.
When it was announced that he was coming over to the UK with Kip Moore for Country Music Week, Country music fans went wild. That show sold out in minutes and White announced his first headline show for the day after at The Borderline, with tickets selling out instantly.
While he was over here for Country Music Week I sat down with Drake to talk about the fanbase he’s building here in the UK, discuss his passion for performing and to find out when we can expect new music.
The atmosphere last night was absolutely electric and people were talking about you in the pub for ages after. What was it like for you on stage?
Electric man! That place is kind of a bucket list…Shepherd’s Bush, a lot of my heroes have played there. It was monumental. I told the guys before we played, ’embrace this and let’s be in the moment for these fans. Let’s be locked in that moment’. We put our best foot out there every night but with a great venue and a great crowd it always intensifies and elevates the performance for sure. It felt electric for sure.
You are very passionate performer and I was exhausted by the end just watching you. When you’re on stage you just come alive. Where does that energy come from?
Ever since I was a kid when I heard music it was something that got me going and I was taught to express it. It’s wasn’t something where my family looked at me like, ‘what are you doing?’ I was always able to have the freedom to dance and kick and stomp and scream. That’s what music does. It’s not even really a show thing, it’s doing it because it’s exactly the way I feel. When you truly let it all go and you truly don’t give two shits about what else is going on, it’s a very freeing state to be in. That’s the state I strive to be in when I’m performing.
You were one of the most talked about artists after C2C this year. Were you aware of just how much of a buzz you’d generated?
Oh for sure. I’m always aware. I knew that we had a great opportunity over here because of the organicness of our music and what historically works over here. Once we played C2C after the song writers round I felt it. Definitely after our show we could really feel it. It was exciting and knowing that we were going to come back and continue to nurture it, continue to honour the seeds and hopefully bear some really good fruit one day. Now we’ve get a sold out show! You can definitely see that over here. You come and you can see the crowd, there’s crowds in front of you and maybe 100 people. The next time you can come and there’s 200 people. Next time you come there’s 600 people. That’s always a good sign you know (laughs).
Your headline show at The Borderline sold out in minutes. Do you prefer playing small intimate venues so you can better connect with fans or do you not really mind as long as you’re performing?
I think all artists are about connection, just like me and you sitting here talking. We’re three feet from each other and we’re looking at each other and we’re talking. That’s the same thing with crowds. If you’re close to them and you’re face-to-face with people, it’s easy to connect. You learn how to connect in these bigger venues and arenas and opening up in the stadiums and that kind of stuff. They’re just different animals. They’re totally different things. I love playing theaters and small clubs, I think every artist does, but the stadiums are pretty special.
Let’s talk about the album Spark. It’s been out for a little while now. How surprised or pleased have you been by the great reaction that it’s had?
I think I’m surprised every day. You surprise yourself because you don’t really realize and I’m my toughest critic. I’m pretty hard on myself. I just can’t wait to make the next one. You can’t really say it’s better than Spark, it’s just more experience. Spark affords you the right to make another record and this record will afford me the right to make another one. You just put your best foot forward. I think I’m surprised every day that I get to do this. I’ve had proper normal jobs, if you will, and by the way this is the hardest job I ever had. We work harder at this than anything we have ever done but it is my true passion and what I love to do. .
Once you’ve have the success that you’ve enjoyed with Spark, does that make following it up even more difficult?
No not really. For me it made it easier, if that makes sense? I know who I am, I know who my band is, I know that sound I’m chasing and I chase it daily. I feel like I’ll be chasing it when I pass away (laughs). I think with experience comes confidence. With education comes solitude and every day is an education. I’m learning every day, I’m trying to get better every day if that means creative tension and not being afraid of it or if that means writing or working out or vocal lessons, or trying to be a better husband or just writing through things or getting a vocal coach, that’s what I’m going to do because this is what I was put on this earth to do.
One of the things I love about the record is that it’s so different to everything else that’s out there. The lyrics are much more human and relatable and it’s not chasing any kind of tropes or cliches. Is it easy or is it difficult for you to lay your soul out there?
I don’t think there’s any choice. My personality… I don’t deal well with the fake. I get that you’ve got to be a politician sometimes and you’ve got to be diplomatic. You’ve got to go in and play the game but I just can’t put a face or a mask on and go out there and just do something. What kind of artist would I be if I did that? It would suck, I would suck (laughs) and so would the music (laughs). My favourite artista are the people who have already done it and it’s not a big deal. Music’s not that hard, you just got to go out there and put your guts on the table and let everybody see them, which is terribly hard but it’s also extremely rewarding when you can help somebody. When you realise the more you give to people the better life gets, when you realise that, then life becomes a little easier.
It must be gratifying when you hear stories from fans who have taken your songs made them very personal to their circumstances whether it’s for their wedding or to get through a hard time. How do you feel about when fans take your songs and own them?
It’s the greatest reward. It’s the greatest reward as a songwriter and as an artist for people to be living in your songs. These songs are living breathing organisms, they’re things and they move with people. They enter people’s brains and their psyche. When the words and the melodies and the lyrics enter, some people digest them differently and they relate them how they relate to them. That’s what music does and that’s why it’s so powerful. How they relate to them is specific and unique to them. Sometimes it’s weird hearing people come back and tell what they think you’re trying to decipher like there’s some massive code.
For Makin’ Me Look Good Again, I have a person who literally makes me look good when she’s standing beside me. But the act of looking good, just saying that is a lot deeper than if you look into it. Her making me look good is the way she loves me. It’s the way she she makes me act and how hold myself up upright with my shoulders back when I’m around her because I want to make her proud. I open the door for, I hold her hand to keep her out of danger’s way and that’s what makes you a better man. It makes you a better person so it makes you look good. Sorry to go down that rabbit hole but it’s a personal thing and it is hard to do. It’s hard as hell sometimes. That’s the responsibility you have as an artist, to put it out there and to be honest with your fans. It’s pretty much like taking your clothes off and walking into a room full of strangers (laughing) saying ‘here I am!’
You mentioned that you’re thinking about the next record. Where in that process are you.
A lot of the songs we’ve recorded. Five or six songs, half a dozen something like that and we’re going to be releasing new music to radio and to media very soon. We’re in the process and we’re right in the middle of it.
Drake White and The Big Fire’s album Spark is available now. Watch the video for Makin’ Me Look Good Again: