Interview with Erin Enderlin (Conducted by Lesley Hastings)

Some of you may have read my recent review of the stunning album, Whiskeytown Crier, that Nashville based Erin Enderlin released recently ( link here if you missed it ) and I was interested to find out more about this talented singer/songwriter. Well fortunately enough she agreed to answer a few questions exclusively for us here at Belles and Gals, it’s a great read and I’m particularly happy with her final answer!

Hello, Erin, I’m excited to find out a bit more about you as your recent  ( second) album “ Whiskeytown Crier” has made such a great impression on me and I’m happy that so many others seem to feel the same. Can I just start by asking where you are right now? I like to set the scene! 

Hey Lesley! I’m so happy to be talking with you.  I’m currently sitting in the guest bedroom of a friend of mine’s mother’s house outside Lorena, TX.  She’s been kind enough to house me on my day off while touring.  Ms. Cindy has beautiful, Southern/Texas decorating sense so I’m surrounded by turquoise decorative pieces, a homemade quilt, and pictures of my friend Kimberly and her family.

I gather you grew up in Arkansas and it was largely due to you grandparent’s love of country music that your passion for the genre developed, is that correct? Were they or your parents musical? 

I did.  I lived several places around central Arkansas growing up.  My grandparent’s listened to a lot of country music and between my Papaw’s record collection and my Mamaw watching TNN I really fell in love with the genre.  My Mamaw also sang a lot of old time songs.  My parents both listened to music when I was growing up, but I don’t remember playing much – although they were probably pretty busy keeping up with 3 kids! 

And you started songwriting at a really early age…..did you always have a vivid imagination?  Your writing really helps the listener picture the character and their situation so well! 

I guess I did.  I always loved playing make-believe and imagining myself as all these colorful characters.  I really appreciate you saying that!  I really love trying to capture a moment.

You moved to Nashville to study, and not long after that one of your songs ( Monday Morning Church) got recorded by Alan Jackson,  That must have been a life changing moment, wasn’t it? 

It was!  Because of that a lot of great things happened, but most importantly, I got to go straight into writing songs full time once I graduated college.  Alan opened a lot of doors for me by recording that song, and I had a lot of amazing experience because of it, none the least of which was getting to meet Alan himself.

But did you always set out to be a recording artist yourself ? 

I did.  I’ve always loved singing and performing.  In fact, when I was about three years old I snuck up on stage at a restaurant where my family was eating and tried to steal the microphone from an old blues performer – guess that was my first public performance, ha!  It took me awhile to figure out who I was exactly and get my “act” together you could say.

Are you still getting cuts by others these days? 

I am.  I’ve been lucky enough recently to have several cuts by friends of mine Tara Thompson, Terri Clark, Elise Davis, and Muscadine Bloodline. 

So if you wrote a killer song would you keep it for yourself these days even if a really major name wanted to record it? 

For me recording it, it would just depend on if it fit my style – I’ve written some songs I absolutely love, but just aren’t right for me for one reason or another.  As for someone else recording it, I’m all for it.  I personally love hearing great songs cut by multiple artists.  It’s like Kris Kristofferson, I love hearing Johnny Cash or Sammi Smith, etc singing his songs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear him singing em too!

On both your albums there’s been collaboration with some fantastic names, whether they are writers, backing singers, musicians or producers. I get the impression that the Nashville musical community is very supportive of one another when it would be so easy to be competitive. Has that been your experience since moving there? 

It has been.  It absolutely amazes me the talent I get to work with on a regular basis.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of great people – for example, I remember walking into my very first demo session, and a lot of the musicians I knew, from the incredible records they had played on – and I was like, really?  It’s a really incredible town.

Most of your songs seem to be co-writes, do you enjoy the experience of bouncing ideas off other writers and is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future? 

I do, especially when I was writing really heavy, every day, sometimes more than one a day, it helps to have another creative mind.  I’ve been really lucky to write with so many of my favorite writers.  I mean I’d love to write with Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson…dream big I say.

Saying that, the track that never fails to move me from Whiskeytown Crier is a solo write, “Broken“. Can you tell me a bit more about that one please?  

That one’s a heavy one.  It was inspired by several things.  One of the biggest influences was a program I worked with in high school that worked with at risk teens through peer counseling and workshops and such.  The stories behind so many of those kids and the lives they were living just really struck me deep.  I still feel like working with them was one of the most impactful things in my life. 

The album is getting a lot of attention and some fantastic reviews, but sadly modern day country radio is probably unlikely to pick up on your music. Do you agree and how important is it to you to keep true to yourself and “ keep it real” rather than chase a more commercial sound when you write? 

One thing I love about country music, is that it encompasses so many styles.  For me, I guess I just wanna write and perform what songs I love, and I hope they connect with other people.  I feel blessed to have to opportunity to do that.

Is it right that you had twenty eight songs to select from for the album? Was it hard to chose what to omit, and will those ones that didn’t make the cut be recorded in the future do you think? I hope it’s not going to be another four year gap between your albums! 

I believe that’s about how many I recorded!  It was a little challenging to settle onto the right mix of songs.  There are so many not on this album that I love –  I’m definitely planning to take those along with a few new ones to make another record!  And likewise, I’m hoping it’ll be out in less than four years, ha.

Do you find writing therapeutic? And do people ever comment that they connect with your writing and that it’s helped them cope with tough situations? 

I do.  I feel like writing is a great way to process emotions and experiences, both positive and negative.  I have had other people reach out and say that songs of mine have touched them, and helped get through tough times.  That’s the most special thing about music to me, the connection with others.

You’ve played the Opry, always a great honour….how was that experience for you, stepping into the circle and following in the footsteps of so many great artists? 

It was everything I’d dreamed it would be and more.  Not to sound hokey, but it really was.  I watched and listened to the Opry since I was little, and I’ve always had a real respect and love for it.  It’s an amazing experience, really makes you feel like you’re a little thread in the tapestry of country music, stepping into that circle.  Plus, that was the night Jimmy Dickens signed my guitar!

You’ve recently been back to Arkansas to play a few shows ……what reaction do you get from your hometown audience these days, is it always extra special to play there? 

I love going back to Arkansas!  It’s always great to see family and friends.  Playing there reminds me of why I fell in love with music, brings me back to the heart of it.

What lies in store for you for the rest of 2017 and going into 2018? 

I’m really excited about this next year.  I’ve got some really great video projects coming up that I can’t wait to share, might be some very special guests appearing….  I’m also looking forward to getting on the road a lot more.

We’d love to see you over here in the UK, are there any plans afoot to visit us?

I am researching that now!  Really want to get over there and play shows and see the country.  I will definitely be making that happen!

That’s fantastic news! Looking forwards to hearing you play live, we have some wonderful venues and I’m sure you’ll appreciate what an attentive audience we are over here! 

Many thanks for your time…..and your music! 

Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings


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