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Interview: SixForty1 discuss new single Forget Those Heels, quarantine and their future plans

The rising duo are part of the Destination Country Introduces programme.

Credit: SixForty1

SixForty1 – Austin Gee and Brooks Hoffman – were announced as one of the artists taking part in the first-ever Destination Country Introduces programme.

The duo from Kentucky are now based in Nashville where they’ve been making waves with singles such as Plane Crazy and Somebody’s Gonna. They recently released new single Forget Those Heels, which is garnering them plenty of attention.

I caught up with the duo recently to talk about the new single, find out what they’ve been up to in quarantine and to discuss their future plans…

You guys are part of our first ever Destination Country Introduces programme. What was it like to be asked to be part of it and why did you say yes to us?

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Austin: It’s a crazy, cool opportunity for us. Me and Brooks are still a fairly new independent duo in the Country music scene and to be able to connect with people from another country, we never thought we’d do that. It was a no brainer when you guys asked us to be a part of this program. We’re excited for the future and what that holds. We’re just happy to be part of it.

Earlier this month you released your new track Forget Those Heels. Tell me a bit about the track and why you decided to release it as a single…

Brooks: Basically, we’ve been sitting on that track for a couple of years. Releasing music in Nashville is weird because you write so much. It’s easy to say, ‘I want to release a song right now’, but you’ve got to give it time and give some time to build a project. We gave that one enough time to finally be like, ‘this is a vibe that we need right now’. Labels and publishing companies around town were saying that it was a good sound for us. Fans liked it and family liked it. It’s one of those songs where it took a little bit to write. It took two or three writing sessions to get it done so I felt like we put the work behind it and like it was ready to be released.

The track is a nice follow-up to Somebody’s Gonna and the two tracks really complement each other. Somebody’s Gonna did really well for you. What was your experience with that song like?

Austin: Somebody’s Gonna was a great start for the 2020 year for us. We’re working on an EP so to have that song kick it off and Spotify showing it show it the love that it has so fart’s, it’s only gonna get better from here. You’re right Forget Those Heels is a great follow-up to that. It shows off our intimate side too. We don’t have to song out that shows our true love side with our girl so it’s cool.

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You mentioned you’re working on an EP. When can we expect that?

Brooks: It’s definitely already planned but over the years, we’ve noticed that singles do a lot better, getting in front of the eyes of the fans anyway. There’s a better chance that they will get in front of more people if you release things as singles but towards the end of the year, we will have a complete EP released. We’re just going by singles right now.

What’s it like being in Nashville trying to make a name for yourselves? There are so many people in the city trying to achieve their dreams so does that create pressure or does it fuel you?

Austin: We moved here in October 2017 from a little small town in Kentucky called Murray, it’s where we went to college, so we didn’t know what to expect. It was kind of intimidating at first, I’m not going to lie, moving here and not knowing what the next step would be. We’re were just writing with whoever we could and we had a little small core friend group we would write with on a daily basis and we just put out a song called Plane Crazy back in 2018, and it’s kind of been off to the races ever since. It’s cool to grow as writers. I’ve noticed that we’ve grown so much just from Plane Crazy until now. The stuff we’re writing is, I like to call it a more mature SixForty1 soundwise. We’re kind of getting groomed by some of this town’s best writers. It’s crazy to think that we would even be in those rooms to begin with coming from Murray, Kentucky. It’s a fun ride for sure.

I’ve not been to Nashville yet but I always hear that it’s like a big supportive community for artists. Has that been your experience?

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Brooks: Yeah, you’ve got to be supportive because whether you’re an up-and-coming act or you’re an established artist already, sometimes people gotta borrow gear or sometimes you might just want to write with somebody else. If you’re not supportive of other people that gets around real quick. You just gotta treat people well, regardless if you live in Nashville or not, but you just gotta be gotta be nice. It’s a 10 year town so hopefully good things happen in that span of time. Word gets out and people want to work with good people so that’s basically how the town works.

Now that you’re you’ve been in Nashville for a little while, what things are on your checklist that you want to achieve?

Austin: We’re working on an EP. We’d like to get like a full length album as we’ve never had one of those yet. We’re working towards that. I would say our main goal right now is to get on the road and build our core fan base as a headlining act. We’ve opened for a lot of people. We’ve gotten in front of a lot of fans. We’re just trying to focus now on trying to build our brand. It’s hard right now in this, this tough time but that’s really what we’re trying to focus on for 2021 at least. But right now it’s just getting the music out there, so they know it by the time we get in front of them on stage so they can sing along with this.

There are positives and negatives during this time. How have you been promoting your music and what challenges have you faced?

Brooks: It’s definitely taught us a lot, whether it’s from the promotion standpoint, making our own ad material, making our own little promotional videos and snippets and stuff like that, we’ve learned a whole lot. One of the challenges is we make our money on the road so maybe when we could have paid somebody to make a creative piece of ad artwork for us, or something like that, that’s not really there. We’ve gotta adapt the best we can. It’s a perfect time to release a lot of music and I think a lot of artists in town know that because you just see this flood of music coming out every single Friday. We’re lucky our friends at Spotify really helped us out a whole lot and the last couple of songs have been playlisted pretty well. That’s been keeping us afloat. It’s been fun for us because we haven’t really had a chance up until this point to work on our music as much as we have been currently.

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Austin: We talked with some people over at Spotify, and it’s crazy. They told us this stat that said from March up until the end of April, when we had that meeting with them, that people are listening to Country music at a 14% higher rate than they were before all this happened because Country music makes you feel at home and everybody’s stuck at home. It’s cool to see that correlates to people like us putting out music so consistently that it has been received better during this time, which is weird.

You guys are very active on social media. How have you been leveraging that during this time?

Austin: We’ve definitely tried hard to up our social media game during this time. We’ve never been the best, even at our personals, to keep up-to-date with posting and little things here and there. It’s been challenging yet fun to see our creative ways to get our content out there. TikTok, we know that’s new and it’s booming right now, and we need to get more consistent on that. We haven’t been too active on it but Instagram we’ve definitely tried hard. Facebook we’ve been killing it and our engagement’s going up by just posting more consistently, which is a no-brainer.

You mentioned earlier that you’ve supported a lot of artists over the past couple of years. Who’s been your favourite and who have you learned the most from?

Brooks: They all have the same level of welcomingness and mentorship. Regardless who we’ve been on the road with, it’s still been a great learning experience every time. I think the one that takes the cake though probably would be Brantley Gilbert. We got to play some arena shows when we were with him and some festivals and stuff. Getting up on those big stages, it’s a whole other feeling. It’s a whole other ballpark. That’s what we moved to town to do. That’s really cool experience.

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Here in the UK we have a solid reputation for showing a lot of love to opening acts but I understand that’s not always the case in the US. What’s your experience been like?

Brooks: We always try to go to the merch booth after the whole show is over and meet people as they’re walking out. A lot of people actually pay attention, they actually care. They say, ‘I’m gonna go look at your music, I’m gonna look it up’. A good amount of people look the openers up before the show in the US but I’d say as an artist going out there for a big show like that, you don’t even really care if they looked you up or not. It’s such a high getting out there on that stage so you basically want to make them love you when you get out there and that’s all you care about.

Are you planning to come over to the UK to perform in the future?

Brooks: We would love to

Austin: You’ve got to get us over there! We’d love to come.

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Do you have anything else you’re planning to do this year or are you concentrating on trying to get back out on the road?

Brooks: I guess the road thing is the one tough part.

Austin: Besides the road, we have talked about just going ahead and starting another EP project for 2021. Honestly, that’s all we can do right now besides social media and trying to get our social media game up.

Brooks: That’s basically it. We’re trying to get dates for 2021. If we do that, great. We still have some tentative dates for this fall, so we’ll see if those happen. Other than that, the first thing we fell in love with was writing songs. Before we ever thought about getting out on the stage, playing with the band, it was Austin and I writing songs in the basement. We’re really excited to hone in on that craft and keep getting better at songwriting over the next few months. Being in the studio you learn a lot about yourself so being in the studio that much is really going to be great too.

What music has been getting you through quarantine?

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Brooks: I have played the Florida Georgia Line Six Pack pretty much non-stop. Sam Hunt’s new album. There’s just a lot of new up-and-coming artists too. I listen to a lot of that music too in town.

Austin: I’ve kinda slipped back into my emo phase. I went back into my hard rock, heavy metal type phase. There’s something about that music that clears my mind at least and doesn’t rattle it. If we ever have an opportunity to have a song I can scream on, that would be great Brooks (laughs).

SixForty1’s new single Forget Those Heels is out now. Take a listen to it below:

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