Originally from Austin, Texas, George Birge started out as part of country duo Waterloo Revival – but it was encouragement from a major country star that led to his solo career.
90s legend Clay Walker encouraged Birge to post songs to his TikTok account, and the rest is history. After his track ‘Beer Beer Truck Truck’ went viral on the app, and with follow-up ‘Mind On You’ – originally set aside for Jason Aldean – making waves, it’s clear he’s destined for big things.
During his recent visit to the UK to perform at C2C, I caught up with George to talk about his experience of the festival, how he approaches his songwriting, making his Opry debut, what’s ahead for him in 2023 and much more.
Welcome to London!
Glad to be here. I have been blown away by the city and the people. It’s been one of the best couple of days of my life so far.
Have you had a chance to explore the city a bit while you’ve been here?
I have, yeah. Last night I went out. Went and saw St Paul’s Cathedral, went to the Shard, had dinner at an awesome Indian restaurant called Dishoom, I had some drinks on the roof at Soho House. So we painted the town last night. London’s been really good to me so far [laughs].
So for people who may not have heard you before, how would you describe your music?
A little bit of storytelling with some rock and roll influence too. I grew up in Texas which is a little bit of a different style of country music than in Nashville, it’s more storytelling, roots-style music. And then moved to Nashville and got some of that rock and roll, bigger production influence. So I consider myself a hybrid between the two. It’s been a pretty awesome lane to kind of find those two.
Are there any songs you’re particularly enjoying playing live at the moment?
My new single ‘Mind On You’ has been really taking off in a big way for me. I think we’re at 15, 20 million streams on it now, it’s gonna chart top 50 in the US this week which is my first time ever being on the chart. It’s insane. So that one’s been a lot of fun just to see people starting to react. I’ve started working on my full length album and that’s gonna come out end of May, early June, so a bunch more songs coming. But it’s just a super exciting time. I’m feeling really empowered as an artist. People are coming out and supporting. It’s been a really, really good year and I can’t wait to get the rest of the music out too.
Can you give us any hints about the album at all – what’s it going to sound like or what the vibe is going to be?
I think it’s just gonna be my opportunity to plant my flag in the ground as the artist that I wanna be. It’s gonna be some of the storytelling that brought me to Nashville, who I am, and then just some big production and some stripped down songs as well. It’ll be kind of a variety, but it’ll be my opportunity to introduce myself to the world as an artist which is really exciting.
I also wanted to ask you a little bit about how you approach your songwriting. Do you have a typical way you write or is it as the song takes you?
I keep a little bank in my phone, and basically as I’m living life any moment or situation that inspires me I’ll write down a little title or a line in my phone. And then when we sit down to write I’ll go through and look at all those and see if anything sparks inspiration or as a jumping off point for a song. So that’s kind of my process. A lot of stuff is based off of real life and then other stuff is based on other people’s lives that I try to put myself in their shoes. But no matter what I just try to create a situation where other people can feel something and just put themselves into that song for the three minutes and 30 seconds that they’re listening and get lost in it.
You made your Opry debut last year as well. What was that experience like?
I did. It was incredible. I think every kid growing up playing country music dreams about playing the Opry one day. To be invited to that historic space and get to step into the circle and share my songs, it was a pinch me moment and it was definitely one to check off the bucket list.
The other thing I wanted to ask you about was working with Neal McCoy on ‘That Drink’. How did that come about?
Yeah, that was amazing. Neal is somebody that really inspired me growing up, and 90s country music is making a comeback and I love it. So I took one of Neal’s songs and I basically stripped all of the lyrics away and rewrote it as a tribute to 90s country. It went super viral on social media and Neal ended up calling me and said, “Hey, I’m gonna come down to the studio and I wanna sing it with you”. So it was really flattering to have him believe in it enough to wanna sing on it with me, and to see people’s response to it has been so much fun for me. It was very, very cool.
What advice would you give to your younger self if you were starting out now?
I think it’s just be honest with yourself and don’t try to be what other people want you to be. That’s something that I had to learn the hard way in Nashville. When I first got to town everybody had a vision of who I was gonna be as an artist and what I was gonna sound like, and I kinda got put into a mould and I lost myself for a while. And it wasn’t until I really was honest with the songs that I wanted to write and who I wanted to be as an artist that people started connecting with it. I think that fans are really good at sniffing out what’s genuine and what is fake, and I think the moment that I started being genuine and being unapologetically who I am was the moment I started connecting with fans and things really started taking off. So I wish I would’ve learned it sooner but I’m glad I’ve got it now and it’s really been exciting to have this taking off the way it does.
What song do you wish you could have written?
Oh my goodness! Probably ‘The Chair’ by George Strait. It breaks every rule in songwriting in the most perfect way. It’s awesome.
We’ve mentioned the album, but what does the rest of 2023 look like for you?
Just an insane tour schedule, the album coming out, hopefully get a little bit of golf in this summer [laughs]. And just continue to grow. So it’s really exciting, things are taking off on the radio, and we’ll see. But I think we’re poised for a really good year.
And lastly – do you have plans to come back to the UK?
I’m already talking to my manager. We’ll see y’all here next year! [laughs]
George Birge’s latest single, ‘Cowboys Talkin”, is out now on Records Label LLC/Sony Music Nashville.