Gone West Discuss Their Debut Album ‘Canyons’ and Collaborating During Lockdown

Image Credit: Gregory Keith Metcalf

Gone West have been making waves within the industry since their formation in 2018 and with their perfectly polished tracks and vocals it is easy to see why. Comprised of two-time Grammy award winning Colbie Caillat, ACM Nominee Nelly Joy, critically acclaimed songwriter Jason Reeves and Hawaiian music award winner Justin Young, the band are no strangers to the music industry. We could up with them to discuss their upcoming debut album ‘Canyons’ and how the band have been working together under lockdown.

Hi all! You have a very unique sound which seems to draw from your eclectic musical backgrounds and influences. What are these influences and how would you describe your sound?

We do have different musical influences, but with many favorite artists in common. Broadly, our sound is vocal harmonies telling true stories.

Nelly – classic country

Jason – songwriter / folk

Colbie – 70’s classic rock

Justin – Hawaiian / soul

Where does your band name originate?

We all live in Nashville, currently, but we are all from west of Tennessee. So when we aren’t in Nashville, we’ve usually gone home to Iowa, Texas, California or Hawai’i – GONE WEST.

As a group you are very polished and sound incredibly natural in your harmony, almost as if you were destined to be a band! How did the band come to be and was it a natural process?

Thank you so much! We’ve all been friends for about 15 years, working together in the studio, writing songs and touring together so it’s really been a natural progression for us to be a band and we feel like our voices formed such a unique blend through that process.

Your current single ‘What Could Have Been’ is lyrically and sonically brilliant and it has now surpassed 6 million streams on Spotify. What is the story behind the song and were you expecting such a phenomenal response?

You always hope for that when you release music especially because we all like to write songs about what we are going through in life and in love, and to know it’s being related to around the world makes us so happy. “What Could’ve Been” is a song about two people who ended their relationship, both looking back wondering if they could’ve done anything different, and if so, maybe they could’ve been together still.

Your debut album Canyons is quickly approaching its release on June 12th. ‘Slow Down,’ available for pre-order now, is an incredible hint of what is to come. Can we expect a similar sound and feel for the rest of the record and are there any surprises?

Absolutely! This album is filled with songs with four-part harmonies, bright acoustic guitars, some songs about love but most about the process of something ending. We have piano ballads, up-tempo guitar driven songs and even a country reggae song.

As creatives during the current global crisis, how have you been collaborating as a group and passing time? 

For much of the quarantine we were separated as couples, which made collaborating difficult in a new way. We had to do all of our interviews and performances split-screen style and that made actually singing and playing together impossible because of the delay.  Even though this presented a problem, we only had to figure a way around it and that opened up a new way of creating together. File sharing. We basically recorded half of our parts and then sent them back and forth until it was full. It really has made us appreciate how much of a gift it is to be able to be together and make music.

Prior to lockdown directives you opened for George Strait and were due to perform alongside Kenny Chesney. Can you tell us a little bit more about this experience? How does it feel to have their support?

Getting to open for George Strait in Vegas was incredibly surreal and such an honor to us.

He’s such a legend and a class act and he sounds so good live! And we had family and friends there which made the experience even more special. That was our last show before the lockdown, so it has become even more significant now. Speaking of Kenny, we’re all very bummed about those shows not happening. We were really looking forward to being able to play our first stadium show and we are all fans of him. Having their support has meant so much to us. It’s incredibly encouraging.

It appears that as a collective you have nailed heartbreak and emotional pain as a key songwriting influence. Do you use songwriting as a therapy or do you draw on the stories of others to produce a new track?

All of our songs are inspired by our lives. Whether it’s something we’re going through personally or something our friends and family are experiencing, writing from reality is so much more poignant and powerful.

How does the Tides EP compare to your new record?

The Tides EP was just the first wave of the album. All of those songs are on Canyons, they were just the first presented to the world. The songs that weren’t on Tides are an extension and a growth from the EP. We’re really proud of the diversity of songs and productions on this album, but we also worked hard to make sure they all tied together as a whole. There is more heartbreak, but also songs of celebration and love as well as a song about our experience as artists in the music industry.

Finally, do you have a unique party trick which would impress our readers?

We don’t really have any super impressive party tricks necessarily, but this question just somehow inspired the idea of turning the clocks backwards so the night can go on longer!

Gone West’s debut album ‘Canyons’ is available for pre-order now on all digital platforms and is set for release on June 12th.

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