Over the past few months, Kaylee Rutland has juggled studying at Nashville’s Belmont University, alongside the creation of her new six-track EP.
Thankfully, things are about to calm down for the young artist, as she has just launched That Side of Me, and completes her courses next month.
Produced by three-time Grammy nominee and Rutland’s long-time producer and mentor, Jamie O’Neal, the release promises to show a more emotional and vulnerable side of the Texan singer-songwriter. So far, it’s been tracking well, with her song Pick Me Up surpassing more than 100,000 streams on Spotify, and placed second in the Country category of the music competition, Unsigned Only. She also had the opportunity to join RaeLynn on tour last year.
Kaylee, who is now based in Nashville, Tennessee, sat down with me to discuss the new project and what comes next.
How did the EP come together and what did you set out to achieve?
The whole writing process was very spread out. I wrote Trick Candle in Nashville about four years ago, and Crushin’ On You was written last summer.
I wanted it to show different sides of me. Some are sassier, some are break-up songs, and Trick Candle is a real story song. There’s such a variety of feelings put into these songs that I feel like I’ve emerged and re-emerged as an artist. My hope and goal of the EP is that when people listen to the songs, it will help reveal a different side of them as well, as it did for me.
What was it like working with your producer Jamie O’Neal, who you also co-wrote three songs on the EP with?
She’s such a great person to have in the studio, and her vocals are so incredible. She helps me feel confident about my voice and pulls the best out of my voice. When we start, we have a conversation and talk through it, and that’s how we get the song written. When I’m writing on my own, I start by going through lyrics I’ve written down and then look at a vibe to go with each lyric. I’m always writing, I do it on a daily basis.
How have you balanced study at Belmont University (completing a music business degree) and launching the new EP?
I had this project basically completed, and you don’t want to wait and lose that window (of opportunity). It was a challenge while I finished school, but I only have a little bit left and then classes will be done. I was taking some online classes over the summer. Scheduling is always tricky, but living in Nashville, it’s easier to set times for co-writing and recording.
Was Belmont always your first choice, purely because of the country music world?
I’ve always wanted to be in music, since I was eight, and my high school teacher mentioned the school because I loved country music. Before that, I had never heard of Belmont. I was then coming to write in Nashville, and the moment the plane touched down, I was in love. So, music’s half the reason I wanted to go there. Nashville’s this magical, surreal place to me. Once I got here, I met with so many writers who had been to Belmont. It’s one of the best decisions I have made, and now I will be able to fill my time with being an artist.
You’ve just released a country-fied version of Adele’s Rumor Has It. Tell us, how did that song and video come about?
A group of guys I play with in Texas were talking about new covers – we love making songs into country versions. The minute it came on, we knew there was something there; the whole song is a story.
Who were your country icons growing up and how did they inspire you?
Reba is my all-time favourite. Professionally, she’s done everything, singing, acting, business…I remember hearing her for the first time and thought, ‘this is the best music’.
I love Carrie Underwood, and Sara Evans’ Born To Fly, was the first country song I ever sang. That’s a huge part of what I love about country music. Everyone can relate to one another in music, when so much divides us.
Kaylee’s EP That Side of Me is available now. Watch the video for Rumor Has It below: