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Interview: Chase McDaniel talks C2C, the power of TikTok and his plans for the future

Kentucky-born Chase McDaniel recently signed to Big Machine Records and he’s currently in the UK to perform at C2C: Country to Country this weekend.

His first time in the country, McDaniel will be performing around the festival giving fans the first chance to see him live on this side of the pond. With a handful of songs available on streaming platforms, such as ‘Project’ and ‘Your Daughter’, McDaniel is garnering attention for his blend of Country, Pop and Rock.

I caught up with Chase yesterday ahead of the Big Machine C2C media showcase to find out more about his journey so far, discuss his viral success and to find out how he’s feeling about playing the UK’s biggest Country music festival…

This is your first time in London. How is it?

Wet and cold (laughs). It’s amazing. The people have been so kind. People have been surprised that I say that I’ve had conversations with complete strangers. Everyone’s been so nice. I’ve talked football that I know nothing about, but I’ve talked about it. We’ve had a really great time. Took a little bus ride last night to a little pub, which is great.

There are plenty of pubs around here…

So many. It’s a Nashville guy’s dream.

Are you going to get any time to explore while you’re in London?

I think if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna have to do it late at night, which is fine. I’ll just take the bus.

Maybe tonight after the showcase?

Maybe, you never know. That’s what we did last night. We just hopped on one of the buses because my dream was to get on one of the double decker buses like you see in Harry Potter. Of course, the only bus that was going to where we wanted to get was a single decker so I gotta go on one again tonight to get to the second level.

For your first time in London, you’re playing C2C which is the biggest Country event we have. Do you realise just how big an opportunity that is?

No, not at all. I’m just happy to be here (laughs).

Am I making you nervous?

(laughs) A little bit! I’m really grateful to be here. I’ve had some amazing fans and some amazing people in my life that have just made this opportunity possible for me and I’m just so grateful. Whatever happens happens, I’m gonna go out there and give it my best shot and just hope that people like what they hear.

This is the equivalent to CMA Fest for us…

That’s awesome. That’s crazy.

Nothing is bigger than C2C when it comes to Country music in the UK…

That’s friggin’ awesome. I know it’s the real deal. We’ve talked about it for weeks and as soon as everything happened, I have just been shaking with excitement, to be honest, and nerves. Mostly excitement.

Have you been able to get a handle on UK fans via social media prior to this trip?

You know, I’ve heard that I have a few UK fans, which is really exciting. I get messages every now and again that say please come to the UK. I’m interested to see if any of them show up and come out to C2C. I would love to meet them. I had a couple of my songs do really well on social media and I think that carried over here across the pond. We’ll just see. Hopefully I’ll make some fans while I’m here and then maybe meet some that I already have.

You’ve released a handful of songs over the past couple of years, with ‘Project’ and ‘Your Daughter’ resonating strongly. Everything I’ve heard from you so far has been quite different and it straddles Country, Rock and Pop. What can people expect from your music moving forward?

I think you said it best – it’s pop-rock-country. That’s what I grew up listening to. That’s what I think my sound is. I grew up listening to Josh Turner, I grew up listening to Eminem, I grew up listening to AC/DC so I think all that has made its way into my sound and into my voice. I just try to make music that’s real to me and hopefully it feels real to other people.

Chase McDaniel
Credit: Robby Stevens

During the pandemic you were close to giving it all up after losing your job, but then things turned around and you signed to Big Machine. What was that experience like?

It shows you how important being a friend can be in tough times. I think everyone needs that person and I luckily had that person. Since then, so many people have stepped into my life to help the other things take place. It started with one friend who saw me in a tough place and helped me get that one opportunity. That one opportunity I took and I ran with it, and then all these other opportunities happens. But you gotta have a friend, and I had one of those so that’s really powerful. I’m really grateful for that. Everything that’s happened since has been just a whirlwind (laughs). After the pandemic took place I started posting songs on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. It’s the craziest thing. There’s 1000s and 1000s of artists online just trying to get a foothold and the fact that one of my songs cut through the noise is just the most crazy thing that I could ever imagine. We’re so thankful to those people for engaging with it and loving it and listening to it.

Platforms like TikTok have completely transformed music discovery and that’s where a lot of people are discovering artists now. Have those platforms had to become integral to your marketing?

Absolutely. I think social media as a whole is so important and it gives you a way to interact with the people more too. The people who are listening, they get to see a side of you that they don’t get to see, and they wouldn’t have gotten to see in the 90s, or the early 2000s. We’re past the days of the mystery rock and roll guy. You have to show the people who you are. They’re not just buying into your music, they’re buying into who you are as a person. It’s really cool and really, really important.

It’s like a full-time job on top of a full-time job keeping the socials ticking over every day…

Yep! (laughs)

You’re right though. Back in the day you’d only see an artist if they performed live or on TV. That was it. Now there’s so the expectation to share everything you’re doing but you have to be so careful with what you do share and how it might be perceived. That must come with a lot of pressure?

It’s crippling (laughs). It is scary (thought), I say that in jest. It is like you have six full-time jobs. You have to love it. You have to have no other backup choices. I don’t have a backup plan. I don’t have a plan B or plan C. I don’t have a plan A-. This is it. This is all I’ve ever loved or worked for. I think in order to make it happen today, with as much work as it is, it has to be that for you.

Have you started thinking about an EP or an album at this point?

I’m thinking about all of it. I’m just seeing which one takes hold first. We wrote about 30 songs in January and we’re still writing more all the time. The next step is to figure out which of those songs stick out the most and then record them and go from there. We’re gonna pick real songs that mean something to me, that connect with me, and I think historically has connected with the fans.

Or you could just do a Morgan Wallen and put them all out on a 36-song album?

(laughs) He’s figured it out, hasn’t he? Just put out every song (laughs). The next one might be 400 songs (laughs).

It’s doing his streaming numbers the world of good…

I think people are loving it. You know, I’d love to get to that some day. It would be great.

Fans are so hungry for music now that as soon as you have a song out, they are anticipating the next one. Do you think there is still a need for quality control has lessened or is it more about putting out as much music as you can now?

That’s a great question. I think it’s both. I think you have to have quality control and I think sometimes you don’t know. Sometimes the people will tell you what is the best song. You don’t know, sometimes you write a song and you’re like, ‘oh, I’ve written a bunch of songs like this’ but then sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you play a teaser and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, I didn’t realise that this would connect the way that it did’. You have to have an element of self-control. I don’t want to put everything that I wrote in my shower out there to the world. That’s a great question. It just takes a little bit of of everything, just awareness.

Artists are even putting out recordings they’ve done on voice notes like Kameron Marlowe did recently…

That’s amazing. I think it shows you how important music is in our world today, in our generation. How much it’s connecting to people’s lives, how much it helps them escape from their reality, whatever they may be going through, and it helps them get to a place where they can’t be otherwise for at least three minutes.

You mentioned the importance of music and I think that was even more true during the pandemic when people were hungry for new music. In a way, do you think that has helped people discover your music?

Perhaps? It’s hard to say. I would think that that’s that’s a possibility. I think people having more time and needing music as therapy. They need music to get through some of the things they’re going through in their lives. I think the pandemic hit a lot of people in ways that maybe they, for a while, felt some way that they had never felt before. What do you do in those dark times? What do you do when you’ve never had access to any thing before to help your spirit or your mentality? Music is that thing that all of us can go access for five bucks a month and get out of our heads for a little bit, or maybe even get through something and deal with something that we’re going through because of the power of a song. It’s really cool.

What’s your game plan in terms of the UK post-C2C? Are you aspiring to get to arena stage like your label mates Thomas Rhett and Lady A?

Those are some big shoes to fill. I look up to all those people. My goal is to always be true to myself, no matter what. To keep making songs that I love that I feel connected to, and put them out, and hopefully they connect and help somebody else. If that leads me to an arena or a stadium, greatm, and if it leads me to playing in pubs and bars, that’s fine, too. I think it’s most important to stay true to who you are.

You’re surrounded by artists on Big Machine who have worked from the bottom up here and put in the effort so you have a lot of experience and advice to lean on…

Yeah, I’m excited to learn from them and all their perspectives because they’ve got years of experience on me, especially on the road. I’m excited to talk to those guys and just soak up everything. I’m just gonna be a sponge. I don’t know anything. Tell me everything.

C2C will be eye-opening for you I guarantee it and then you’ll be plotting your next trip here…

I think so too. I’ve said before, next time you’re not gonna be able to get rid of me. I love this place. I’ll be here for a month, maybe three months. I might have a house here or apartment. Sounds good!

Chase McDaniel will be performing at C2C in London, which takes place from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th March 2023. Watch the lyric video for his track ‘Your Daughter’ below:

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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