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Interview: Kane Brown talks UK jet lag, live setlist choices & exciting new music decisions

Kane Brown has always done things his own way. For a decade now he has circumnavigated the conventions and traditions of the Country genre, yielding tremendous success. Since he secured a record deal by releasing covers on social media (one of the first artists to do so), Brown has shown himself to be a talented artist unafraid to push the boundaries of expected conventions with his sound and style.

Touring the UK for the first time, in support of new album ‘Different Man’, Brown chatted to me backstage in Birmingham about his career and about the new music he has in the pipeline.

Thanks for giving me your time today Kane. How was the journey over and how is the jet lag?

The jet jag is crazy! I’m feeling that the jet lag is worse now than when it was when we went to Australia. I’ve brought some writers over here with me too and we have managed to write some great songs, though, despite all being jet-lagged!

Who’s come over with you?

My buddy, Jaxson (Jaxson Free) who I wrote ‘Thank God’ (and ‘Whiskey Sour’) with and Gabe (Gabe Foust) , who we’ve just signed to a publishing deal. They are both out here with me. It’s been amazing! We’ve been staying up till, like, 6.30 in the morning though! Today we did that and then I woke up at 3pm!

Have you brought the X Box with you?

I did, yeah! (laughing) I didn’t have my phone for a while. I couldn’t tell what time it was and I couldn’t get a hold of people. We were all trying to work out the time difference between the UK and back home but I brought my gamer friends out onto UK time and servers to play in the end (laughing)

Did Katelyn and the girls come with you or are Kingsley and Kodi still a bit too young for a transatlantic flight?

Katelyn arrived in London today so I’m going to do an ‘Elvis’ after this show and go meet up with her at the hotel. This will be her first time in the UK so she’s looking forward to it. She’s a terrible flyer! She did say the flight over was super bumpy but she’s always a little nervous. She didn’t eat any food either.

Congratulations to both you and Katelyn on ‘Thank God’ which has been a huge hit for you and could well be a number one in the next week or two. I heard the two of you talking about it on the Bobby Bones show last week. Katelyn came across so well in that interview – was she nervous beforehand?

I don’t think she was that nervous. She’s a talker, man. Any interview thing she would have to do, she’d kill it for sure. It’s when it comes to going on stage that she starts to get a little nervous.

Bobby was great with her and she was very much the focus of the interview. Was it weird for you sitting back and not really being the focus of the interview?

No. That’s my style, right? If you notice when I do collaborations with anybody, I always tend to sit back and let them do the talking. Except for Marshmello because he doesn’t talk! (laughing)

It was cool to give Katelyn the spotlight for a change. I ended up taking her to do the radio things where you have to go into a studio and talk to various platforms for 4 or 5 hours. Katelyn was, like, ‘This is exhausting!’ And I was, like, ‘And that is why when I come home from doing these things I don’t wanna talk and just wanna go clear my head a little!’ (laughing)

Different Man’ is, in my opinion, your strongest album so far. Obviously tracks like ‘Thank God’, ‘Like I Love Country Music’ and ‘One Mississippi’ have been huge for you from the album. Do you have a track you are particularly proud of?

Man, honestly, I love so many of the songs on that album. I’m kinda sad as the artist that I don’t know how many more singles we are going to get from the album. I’m already working on new music and I think I might already have the next single already written!

I’ve been asking people what they think the new single should be on the socials and people were saying it should be ‘Whiskey Sour’. That was before we came here to Europe because I’ve decided that I think I have the next single just written instead. It’s a sort of ‘Like I Love Country Music’ part II.

How many stakeholders in terms of the amount of people are involved in choosing a Kane Brown single or is it you that has the ultimate say?

Ultimately, it’s down to me but I do take input really well from people I trust around me. If I have the gut feeling with a song that it is the one that needs to be released than I will make that happen.

With the title track, ‘Different Man’, when did you decide you wanted two voices on it and when did you decide the second voice was going to be Blake Shelton’s?

I was actually headed to the gym. People ask me all the time what I listen to at the gym but, as weird as that sounds, I’m usually only listening to myself! I was trying to think of a feature that could be on the song and Blake immediately popped into my head.

I texted him directly and sent him the song and came right back and said he loved it.

I’m a big fan of ‘Riot’ – it’s a great song and the perfect concert opener for you.

I wish that song got a little more love than it does.

Talking of concert openers, I’m fascinated as to how you put a setlist together. You’ve got so many different songs and so many different projects, styles and sounds too. Do you agonise over which songs to leave out or do you have a strong gut reaction as to what you want to play and what the fans want to hear?

Eventually, as an artist, I think you get to the point where you just want to play your hit songs. You’re gonna have die-hard fans at the shows that have been there since day one but you are also going to get people at your shows that only ever listen to radio and the hear the hits. Then there are the people being brought along by friends who only ever hear the radio songs too.

It is hard sometimes, leaving songs out. It’s been hard over here in the UK where I haven’t really played before. People at the show in Manchester were throwing out all these songs that we haven’t played in five years!! We ended up putting ‘Homesick’ back into the setlist. We don’t tend to play that song much anymore but it was a lot of fun, very cool to hear the crowd singing along to it.

I try to build the shows mostly around high energy tracks like ‘Hometown’. I have the songs that will make people cry and make them get in their feels but that’s not really what I want at a live show. I talk on stage and tell everybody about how I grew up and my backstory but instead of being sad about it I try to lighten it a little and throw a couple of jokes in there about it too.

My main goal is to let kids know that no matter where you come from you can always go and do what you want but I also want the show to be energetic and a whole lot of fun too.

Are there any songwriters or artists that you haven’t managed to write with yet that you’d love to get into a room with for your next project?

Man, I ain’t gonna lie to you and I want to keep them a bit of a secret as much as I can, selfishly, but the two guys I have out with me right now that I mentioned earlier, Jaxson and Gabe, are so good. Kent Earls, who is my partner in Verse 2 Music, signed Gabe and Jaxson, to me, is the hot new writer who is about to blow up.

Every new song we’ve written out here is one I am going to cut, which is unheard of. I think they are my secret weapons and I’m just running with them right now. I’m going to start doing what I used to do before everyone started copying me, you know, and playing their songs on Instagram and TikTok. I want to go back and start doing what I used to do with the new music.

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