Some of you may recall my review of Gwen Sebastian’s superb 2017 album “ Once Upon A Time In The West , Act 1” for this site ( link here http://bellesandgals.com/2017/12/06/gwen-sebastian-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-act-1-album-review-by-lesley-hastings/) in which I mentioned a forthcoming interview with this incredibly talented and busy lady.
Well I’m happy to say that she was true to her word, and found time in her hectic schedule to answer my questions about her writing, touring and musical influences among other things.
Hi Gwen and thanks for taking time to answer my questions! As always I like to set the scene so can I start by asking where you are right now?
I’m in Greenville, SC getting ready to jump in the shower. It’s the first night of Miranda Lambert’s “Livin Like Hippies Tour”. I’m excited!
Congratulations on all the incredible reviews for “Once Upon A Time In The West” . How important is industry feedback to you compared with reaction from your fans and fellow musicians? And of course compared with being proud of the album yourself!
Thank you! I used to be nervous about what the industry would think and now I honestly don’t worry about it. I went in making the music I wanted to make. No apologies, no regrets
You had a hand in writing all the tracks and your husband was producer so can I assume this is your most personal body of work to date?
It’s definitely more personal. I trust Louis (my hubby) with him knowing exactly what I wanted the music to say and to sound like. We work pretty well together. Both in the studio and at home. Ha ha!
Are there any tracks that you have a particularly personal connection with?
“Oh Cowboy” hits me the hardest since it’s about my dad and the struggles he has as a father, farmer & husband, trying to keep food on the table & everyone safe.
I hear lot of different musical genres coming through on the album, can you tell me a bit about growing up in N Dakota and the type of music/artists you were exposed to there that have influenced your writing?
I grew up singing with my parents who had a band, so they are my biggest influences. But along with Trisha Yearwood, The Everly Brothers, Queen, Linda Rondstadt & The Eagles, I listened to a lot of pop music in the 80’s & 90’s
And the writers you worked with, like Miranda, several are good friend as well as collaborators I gather, does that make it easier for you to open up emotionally in a writing session ?
I have to pinch myself sometimes when I write with these amazing story tellers. I learn from them every time I sit in a room with them. It’s definitely easier writing with friends, ’cause you can say whatever you want and not feel weird about it. I think it’s more truthful that way
Is there anyone you dream of collaborating with in the future?
I LOVE Don Henley & Vince Gill. That would be pretty fantastic
You seem to have taken quite a few risks professionally to get where you are today, including the move to Nashville after quitting your nursing course. Quite a change from living in a farming community. How was it for you initially?
I was completely intimidated when I moved to Nashville. There are so many amazing writers and musicians here. It was a huge change, but now Nashville is my home and has my heart as well as North Dakota
Even before touring with both Miranda and Blake Shelton ( after connecting with them thanks to The Voice in the US ) you opened for some huge names…..can you remember the first time you stepped out on a big arena stage and how it felt compared with the more intimate venues you’d been playing with your own band?
It was pretty scary, but in a good way. Made me want to “step up my game” and get better.
Is it hard to juggle your solo career while also being out on the road with Miranda?
A little bit, since I can’t schedule my own show on the same day as one of hers, but I wouldn’t change that for a thing. I love being in her band.
What do you like to do when you’re not busy working?
Eat. Eat. and Eat
“Cadillac” sounded amazing when you stepped out to perform it while on tour with Miranda here in the UK. You must have been thrilled with the reaction from her fans and I hope that will encourage you to return for some headline dates. I expect a US tour will take priority of course, are there plans afoot for either in 2018?
Yes, I’m going to be doing shows this year. Not neccesarily an actual “tour”, but gigging wherever I can.
Great news, I really hope we’ll see you back in the UK soon, thanks again for your time ( and your music!) and have fun out there on the road!
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)