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Kelsea Ballerini interview

We caught up with the chart-topping Country star to talk C2C, her new single I Hate Love Songs and more.

Kelsea Ballerini
Credit: Sarah Barlow

Kelsea Ballerini has been doing the groundwork when it comes to connecting with her UK fans.

In 2017 she performed a headline show at Under the Bridge in London and she returned in October as main support for Lady Antebellum on their You Look Good World Tour. Next week she is back in the UK to perform at C2C: Country to Country 2018 where she’ll be appearing on the Main Stage.

I caught up with Kelsea recently to talk about her C2C performance, discuss her new single I Hate Love Songs, and to find out how she’s feeling about the amazing reaction her latest album Unapologetically has received.

I’m very excited that you’re coming over to London to perform as part of C2C! How are you feeling about it?

The same as you! I’m very excited. I’ve gotten to play in London twice now. I got to do the show at Under the Bridge, which I believe you were at?

Yes I reviewed that one. What a great show!

Yes! I did that and then I got to open for Lady Antebellum at The O2 so I feel like I’ve gotten to do a couple things there (in the UK) and every time it just feels better. I feel like the fans there are just excited all the time and that’s really something that would just make me want to hop on a plane at any point and get over there!

There’s a real buzz about you over here at the moment. People are really, really excited to see you at C2C. What can they expect from your main stage performance?

I get to open for Tim and Faith so that in itself is like a treat for me because I ‘ ve never gotten to see them perform before and I’m so excited. Basically it’s kind of in the middle of my headlining tour so I think what we’re we’re going to try to do is condense our headlining show down to 45 minutes and give people like a taste of what my headlining show looks like right, which is gonna be fun.

The headline tour kicked off recently in the US. How did you prepare for this tour?

It’s been way more hands on this tour, for me, than the last one. It’s just been really fun to be creative and figure out what are things that we can do to make a 2,000 seat round feel like an arena. It’s been everything from shooting video content to what the lighting is going to look like, to the staging to the tracks to the band, who are learning all these cool interludes . It’s been really fun!

You recently announced that you’ll be touring with Keith Urban for his Graffiti U tour, which is going to keep you busy for a lot of the year. What’s it like to be part of that?

It’s a big tour. It’s a very big tour. I’m so excited! I mean Keith Urban is in my bio! I literally remember the first Country song that ever really stopped me in my tracks was Stupid Boy, which is the reason that I decided to be a songwriter and pursue a career in country music. To be able to introduce myself his fans and then go out and watch him and learn from him, and not only see the show that he puts on, which I will absolutely know every word every song, but just to see how he interacts and how he puts the show together. I really think he’s the best in the business.

You shared a photo recently on Instagram where you met him years ago…

Yes! That was outside of the CMT awards. The thing that I most thankful for is my time of being a fan. I think that the times that I waited in line to meet an artist at a meet-and-greet or saved up to buy nosebleed seats, I think those are the things that really make me have perspective as a new artist. I’m really thankful for those times.

Your latest album Unapologetically is a real step forward for you and you can see your growth as an artist. How do you feel about how it’s been received?

I think it’s been good. I’mm really excited to tour it. I put out the record around the CMA Awards and then went away to get married so I’m excited to pick up where we left off and really tell the story through the tour. It’s amazing because my first single from that album just top five today (since this interview Legends has climbed to number one) and it feels like it’s really starting to get like the breath of life in it. Hopefully with the song being in the top five now, more people will get ears on the record. I love records and I think that’s how you really get to know an artist by listening to the whole record. I’m really excited for people to discover it.

 

One of my favourite songs on the record is I Hate Love Songs, which is your new single. Where did that song come from and what’s the story behind it?

I had written over 200 songs for this album and maybe in the last two weeks that I had to write, I went into the afternoon with Trevor Rosen from Old Dominion and Shane McAnally, who I’ve written a bunch of the songs on this record with. (When we started talking) they were like, ‘what do you mean, what do you not have? We feel like you have just about everything’ and I was like, ‘you know what guys? I really think I need another love song but I just I hate love songs’. As soon as it left my mouth we all kind of looked at each other and we’re like, ‘that’s it’. The first line of the song is, ‘I hate Shakespeare and Gosling’ and it’s just such a fun, quirky kind of Dr. Seuss rhyme kind of song. As soon as we wrote it we were like, ‘this is so fun’ but I actually didn’t think that it was going to make the record. I ended up playing at the Grand Ole Opry just so it would have a life and I’d never gotten a reaction like that at the Opry before. It was really reactive so I was like, ‘well I guess I need to take something off the album and put this on instead’ (laughs) so we did very last minute.

What I love about the album is that it shows so many different sides to you, more so than The First Time did. Did you consciously wants push your own boundaries sonically and lyrically?

Always yeah! The guys who produced it are the same two guys that produced my first record. I think the confidence that they have now after seeing the first record work, they probably did take more chances. I think not only am I a different songwriter and artist now than I was on my first album But I’m just a different person. I wrote my first album when I was 19 and I’m 24 now and I just think the life and the changes that happened in that time is just crazy. I think the reason I’m so proud of it is because, like when I listen to my album The First Time it reminds me exactly where I was when I was 19, and this one I hope in four years will remind me exactly where I’m at right now now at 24.

Congratulations on getting married recently. I met Morgan when he was in the U.K. last year and he played a show in London. How is married life treating you? Does it feel any different?

No (laughs). Everyone asks me that and the only thing I can say is that’s why we got married because we didn’t want it to feel different and it doesn’t, and that’s awesome. I think that’s the point of getting married because you love it so much how it is, that’s what you’re committing to.

I can relate. I got married a few years ago and I have the same questions and I’m like, ‘it’s pretty much the same’…

Yeah (laughs). It’s so awesome. We had a month and a half to just really enjoy being married and doing the holidays and going on a honeymoon and seeing his family in Australia. We had a lot of time to be together and now we’re both hitting the ground running again this year, which is awesome because we’re we’re just teammates you know?

When you’re over for C2C this will be your third time performing in the UK. Are there any plans, or are you hoping, to come over and do a more extensive headline tour?

Totally. I think I just need to know that I can. It’s only my third time now and I want to make sure that I do my groundwork and making sure that I sing the songs off my record for people and get in front of people so if ever do a little headlining tour people will show up (laughs).

People will definitely show up! I don’t think you need to worry about that…

Well I would love to one day, absolutely!

Kelsea Ballerini’s album Unapologetically is out now. She will be performing on the Main Stage at London’s The O2 Arena on Friday 9th March 2018 as part of C2C: Country to Country 2018.

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