Hi Molly. At Belles and Gals we receive a great number of recommendations for new music on social media and one particular follower suggested I should listen to your EP ‘The High Road’. I have to say that by the end of the first song, ‘This Town’ I was hooked already. Tell us about the song?
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the EP! “This Town” is a special song to me. I wrote it in Boston with dear friends of mine (Eric Leva and Christina Skramstad) at Berklee College of Music about 3 years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it sparked the entire album. When I sang “This Town” to myself back then, I felt so much confidence that my upcoming move to Nashville would be an incredibly positive experience. I knew that I had to take that song to Music City and put it on my first EP. It represented the type of music I wished to write, perform and produce. “This Town” was the first track that we laid down when we started recording for “The High Road” and it’s the first track that I show people who haven’t heard my music yet. If I’m still writing, recording and touring when I’m 60, I hope I’ll still be singing it!
I’m always a big fan of songs where a harmonica appears, and exactly this happens in the brilliant final song ‘Montana’. This song, for me, highlights a great versatility in your music, where you seem to be able to move through country genres in the EP. Is this something you work on, or does it just happen?
It just happened… and I’m glad it did! The idea of recording a country record in Nashville was a little scary to me. ‘Twang’ tends to show up in recordings down here whether you like it or not… and I wasn’t sure if that was the direction I wanted my songs to head toward. Luckily, I had a great co-producer (Hunt Hearin) who encouraged me to take it easy. Let the songs speak for themselves. Keep it honest. Make it intimate. Make it “YOU”. The product ended up being versatile because I’m a very versatile musician with a love for many genres of music. You can hear some classic-rock, folk and americana influences in there, for sure!
The EP was released back in December. How exciting was that and how long was it in the making?
VERY exciting and TOO LONG! In December of 2014, exactly a year before I released the record, I created a Kickstarter Campaign online in hopes to crowd-fund the making of the album. My expectations for the campaign were blown out of the water when the project ended up raising over $13,000.00. I still can’t believe that happened. The next couple of months were slow… I was looking for inspiration and was a little hesitant to start recording. I didn’t want to disappoint any of my Kickstarter Backers with material that wasn’t the BEST that it could be. Once August rolled around… I bit the bullet and jumped into the studio, fully ready with an arsenal of songs and some killer musicians. The whole process took exactly a year. I’m thankful that I never rushed anything!
The site Belles and Gals began just a few days after I saw Lindi Ortega in concert, the Canadian singer songwriter a real inspiration. Being Canadian yourself, what do you think it is about the Canadian scene that produces such great musicians?
Lindi Ortega is phenomenal. I believe that when ANY artist produces or writes original music, they want it to sound unique to who they are, which greatly depends on where you come from. Canadians are lucky to come from a country with unbelievable amounts of beauty, inspiration, creativity, artistry and balance. The understanding and nurturing of those features is embedded into our identities at birth… and some artists go on to make some really incredible music with that knowledge.
What got you into music in the first place? Do you come from a musical family? And what music would you say influenced you to pick up a guitar and sing in the first place?
Just listening got me into music. My parents are both musical and have great taste in music (by my standards), so I grew up listening to what they were playing; lots of James Taylor, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, the Eagles, etc. Once I got my own Walkman (throwback!) I would sit cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom and wear those CD’s out. I loved the simple act of just listening to music. My dad noticed my interest in his records and CD’s, so he started strategically placing guitars around the house in hopes that I would pick one up. Worked like a charm, I’d say!
What was the first song you ever performed in front of a real crowd?
In 7th grade, I sang and played “The First Cut is the Deepest” by Sheryl Crow for my high school’s morning Chapel (like an assembly). There was no mic stand available, so a student advisor had to hold the microphone for me as I sang. I didn’t look up from my guitar once. I was so nervous… but it all melted away quickly. Somewhere around the bridge of the song, I realized that I should be proud of myself for even getting up there in the first place, which gave me the confidence boost to help me finish the song strong. The applause afterward gave me enough inspiration to fuel me for the last 13 years!
And what music are you listening to yourself at the moment? Is it all country music?
I definitely listen to A LOT of country music, even when I’m not in the mood for it (which is frequently). As a songwriter in Nashville, I’m always paying very close attention to what’s on the radio. It’s important to be aware of the musical trends, singles and artists that are getting airplay, as they’re my competition, in a way! I take frequent breaks from Country Pop Radio stations, though, to listen to some more rootsy, organic music. Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell are two of my favorites right now!
Tell me about your songwriting. Is it the music or the lyrics first? It always fascinates me how a songwriter could even start to come up with a song!
When I was in my teens and first started falling in love with songwriting, I would always write the music first. I could hear fully-finished songs in my head before I knew the lyrics to them. It was later in life, when I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston that the process reversed. In the songwriting major, we spent a significant amount of time breaking down the writing process and studied it’s most efficient uses. I learned that writing a song from a ‘seed’ (e.g. a phrase, a word, a title of a newspaper article) was the most effective method, as it always gives you a main idea or a ‘hook’ to return to. Once you’ve got a concept that you’re in love with, you could write about it for days and days. You wouldn’t believe how many ‘song seeds’ and ideas I have stored in my phone!
We always ask this same ‘fun’ question! Everyone has an embarrassing first album or single that they bought when they were much younger. What was yours??
My first CD was “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. I like to think my taste has come a long way since then! Though, you’ve got to admit, there are some serious classics on that album!
To finish let us know what’s in store for Molly Brown in the next few weeks and what hopes and plans you have for the rest of 2016?
The next few weeks in Nashville are going to be really fun! I’ve got a bunch of gigs lined up, both solo and full-band which is great. I love having a change in stage dynamic every once in a while. I also entered the “CBC Music SEARCHLIGHT” contest this year with my song “This Town”. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be promoting my entry in hopes to get some votes! Advancing in this competition could mean a lot of great things for my career in Canada. You can watch the one-take, live video (shown below) and vote for my submission! –> https://www.cbcmusicsearchlight.ca/entries/70659
“The High Road” EP was released 3 months ago, but I’m still very active in it’s promotion! I’m going to keep working every day to ensure that the buzz keeps buzzing. My hopes for 2016 include touring or opening for some big Nashville acts, writing even better songs, getting some gigs back home in Canada and travel as much as I can by playing music that I love!
Interview conducted by Nick Cantwell
Follow Molly Brown on Facebook and Twitter and buy her EP “The High Road” here.
Once again, don’t forget to vote for the following video in the CBS Searchlight competition here.