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Interview: Danielle Bradbery on Never Have I Ever, UK fans and new music

The rising country star is currently working on her third album.

Danielle Bradbery
Credit: Peter Zavadil

Since she won The Voice back in 2013, Danielle Bradbery has become one of the hottest young stars in country music.

With a stunning vocal range and some serious songwriting chops to boot, she’s rapidly built up a loyal and dedicated group of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. She made her UK live debut at C2C: Country to Country in 2018 and has been back several times since, most recently as part of Introducing Nashville during Country Music Week in October 2019. Currently she’s working on her third album, the follow-up to 2017’s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.

I recently spoke to Danielle about the new record, her latest single Never Have I Ever (and its socially distanced video), what surprises her about UK fans, how her approach to her songwriting has changed, and working with Diplo and Zac Brown on the song Hometown.

Last time you spoke to us was when you were in the UK with Introducing Nashville last October. What have you been up to since then?

Oh, I’ve been pretty busy actually. Well as busy as you can be through everything that’s going on [laughs]. But I’ve just been taking time to myself and really figuring out what I wanna do next with my career, just creatively, and creatively with my music too. I’ve been trying to write as much as I can and listen to music, and see really what my next project is gonna sound like. So just a little bit of everything, along the lines that ever since we hit this lockdown [laughs] from this virus. It kinda hasn’t stopped, the creativity. We have been doing as much as we can over video, obviously over text and call, and everything like that. So I’ve been able to release a single recently and so things have been pretty good. We’re trying to all stay positive [laughs].

I wanted to ask you about your new song Never Have I Ever. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Yeah. I co-wrote that song here in Nashville with two writers, Laura Veltz and David Hodges. They’re two absolutely amazing writers. Laura actually had the title Never Have I Ever, and I was like, ‘yeah, that’s really cool, I don’t think I’ve heard a song like that before’. I think we all, or some people know, about the game Never Have I Ever, they’ll be familiar. So we started talking about everything – just relationships and what could go along with this title. And so we just kind of jumped into relationship stuff. I currently have a boyfriend, a new one from my last record, and he has been amazing and we kind of went off of that. Just finding somebody that you didn’t really expect to, and they’re making you feel all these things you’ve never felt before and all of the good butterflies and just making you feel you’ve never felt before. So we just kind of went off of that, ran with it, so I’m really excited to have a song like this.

You’ve also just released the video for the song which was filmed with social distancing measures. Was that a challenging experience compared to previous videos you’ve made?

Oh yeah. It was definitely night and day different [laughs]. Cause usually, if you can, we definitely have a lot of people on set for a music video. Cause the director needs a lot of help. They can’t do three things at once. But our situation. he was having to do three things at once! [laughs] So there’s about five people doing 20 people’s jobs, and so it was pretty difficult but they were troopers. And got it done.

We shot it in Austin, Texas, because at the time I was quarantining with my family in Houston, Texas, and that’s not a long drive. So we just kind of made it work. And everybody was very careful with masks and socially distancing ourselves as much as we can in that situation. So yeah, we ended up getting the video on a beautiful ranch and it turned out kind of a lot better than we were thinking. I’ll be honest, I was a little bit nervous to see what it was gonna look like. But the director was awesome and we made it work, so I’m pretty proud of us [laughs].

You’ve been over to the UK several times in the last couple of years pre-COVID. What is it that’s kept you coming back?

Oh man. There’s so many things that keep me coming back there! I love it so much. And I’m not just saying that cause you’re on the phone, I really genuinely love it. And the fans, they’re different. And obviously I love my fans everywhere, but there they’re so connected, and they’re wanting to know, they’re hanging on every word you’re saying and you’re singing. And for me as an artist I absolutely adore that. So just the fan interaction. They make me feel so welcome. I love shopping over there [laughs]. Everything. I love the atmosphere. So thank you for just making me feel welcome.

You mentioned earlier you’ve been doing a lot of songwriting recently. Do you feel your process and approach has changed at all since your last album? Or has it always been fairly consistent?

It’s changed a little bit, in the sense of how much I’ve been writing. I haven’t been writing as much as probably I’d like or just from everything going on. We haven’t been able to get that many writes, which is OK and understandable. But creativity-wise, in the room, I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable. Being more honest in the room and just finding different ways I can be, just to kind of spice it up a little bit. But the honesty has stayed the same, and nothing drastically has changed. I’ve just been challenging myself with different melodies, if that’s an option. Or yeah, just pushing myself a little bit each time I get in the room. So I guess that’s the only thing I can think of that’s been changing every time I do get in the room.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Oh yeah! [laughs] I get that a lot. I will say it is hard having something all the time, and there are writers and artists that do have something all the time. And I just bow down to those people because I haven’t gotten there yet [laughs]. And my mind is always going but I should learn how to write that down all the time, or put things in songs, and I think that’s what these other people are doing. But I do run into writer’s block. We’ll get in a room and I’m like, ‘I cannot think of anything right now!’ [laughs] And sometimes they’re feeling the same way, which helps me. But that’s definitely a thing I run into sometimes.

You recently collaborated with Diplo and Zac Brown on the song Hometown [on Diplo’s new album Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil]. What was it like to work with them?

Oh, man. That song was super fun to record. As soon as they asked me to do that, I mean I’m a huge fan of Diplo and what he has done in the past. And Zac Brown, I feel like everybody’s a huge fan of his. Just that whole situation – I hadn’t really done much with that side of the music industry, so I was super excited to get into that and see what it’s all about. I was in LA writing, and gearing up for Stagecoach actually. We had time to go record that vocal and I got to meet Diplo, Wes as you would call him [laughs] and a bunch of his producers. They’re all so incredible and super cool to hang out with. They made me feel very welcome. I was just a huge fan of that song when I first hard it. And so all that went pretty smoothly and just the experience. And then when they said Zac Brown was gonna be featuring on it that made me super excited. And then just everything after the fact that it’s been out has been really incredible, actually. I’ve been super excited to see how well it’s been doing and just being on that side of the music industry. It’s really cool. It’s cool to step out of country a little bit, but then that was his first technically country album. So I was really happy to be a part of that first project for him.

Who would be your dream collaboration – either as an artist or a songwriter?

Oh man. There’s so many people! [laughs] If I could say somebody I have in my head though, I always would have loved to do something with Ariana Grande. I’ve always said that and I just love her music and her voice. She kinda helps me challenge myself, singing to her songs cause she has such a powerful voice. So I’d love to do something with her one day. That’d be amazing.

Maybe putting it out into the universe will make it happen…

Yes, exactly!

How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

Oh man. I’ve been trying to just stay creative [laughs]. It’s kinda hard in this quarantine, especially as an artist. You’re constantly going, constantly doing stuff and then it just gets kinda put on hold. And I’m the type of person that can’t really sit still for long, I have to just keep doing stuff. So it’s been a little bit difficult [laughs]. But I’ve been trying to do things as much as I can to stay entertained and creative and really taking the time to stay creative with my music and maybe taking the time to find things that I never had before in this time, and really focus. So I guess that would be a highlight of all of this.

You’ve mentioned writing and working on new music. Are there any plans for an EP or another album sometime soon?

Yeah, for sure. We’re definitely headed towards working on a new project, whatever that will be. We’re searching for songs, we are writing songs and we have a couple under our belt as we speak for potential album or EP. So I’m really excited once we actually start building together a project but we are in the talks of that right now. I’m super excited. And as soon as we know we’ll definitely let y’all know! [laughs]

When all this is over and we can travel safely again, are you planning to come back to the UK?

Definitely. I don’t know when but I definitely am gonna make that happen [laughs].

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