Q&A: Brandy Clark talks fashion and winning Song of the Year
By: Whitney Lauren and Alina Tichacek
It's been quite a year for Brandy Clark! From touring with Jennifer Nettles and Eric Church to winning Song of the Year at the CMA Awards last week, Clark is wowing audiences with everything she does. Read on to learn more about winning the award, her songwriting habits, and of course the stunning gown she wore at the CMAs. There’s a huge congratulations in order, walking away with Song of the Year last night with Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally. Tell us about that experience, your name being called and the whole night.
Well, it was a huge shock. The whole thing, the nomination was a shock. That’s the lowest charting song to ever be nominated, so for it to win…I really thought it was just rounding out the category, so after I heard the word “Follow,” I don’t remember anything after that. Like, it was so surreal, I was like “Is this a dream?” I don’t think it’s really totally hit me yet, but for me I think of all the songs that have been Song of the Year –“Strawberry Wine” being one of them, “Go Rest High On That Mountain” – you know all these amazing songs. As a songwriter that’s all you really want, to write something that goes down in history, and Song of the Year goes down in history. So it’s just amazing. I know it will get more amazing as I get further away from it. You know in the moment, like I said, I went blank, and then you go backstage and they’re like “Oh we gotta get you back out to your seat cuz you’re in the next category and then after that we’ve gotta get you back here to present.” So in the moment you’re just kind of point A to point B. But it’s huge, especially when I look at all of those other songs. And the other really fun fact is, since Kacey and I won last night, there’s only been 14 women in the history of the CMAs that have ever won Song of the Year. So that’s pretty crazy.
Last night when Kacey accepted the award, she said “You have no idea what this means for country music”. What do you think she meant by that?
I can’t get inside Kacey’s head, but what I took from that is it’s just a simple song that has a lot of truth in it. And sometimes, not just in country music but in our world, there’s not a lot of that. So I think what she meant is it just means that country music still is songs about truth that are simple, but also progressive, because the subject matter is not what you think of with a country song. So I think it’s kind of a mixture of tradition and progressive.
So I know you’re coming off of this obviously crazy week, but it’s been an even crazier year. You’ve been on tour with Jennifer Nettles, as well as finishing The Outsiders Tour with Eric Church, and then we just found out you’re going to be with Alan Jackson on the 25th Anniversary. Can you explain to me how you’re feeling with this whole roller coaster?
Tired sometimes! So tired and just exhilarated all at the same time. I feel so lucky that I got that Jennifer Nettles tour first. A year ago I remember sitting with my manager and her saying, “You know, what you need is a tour. That’s what you need, a tour to get your music in front of people. The right tour.” We wanted it to be a theater tour, and we wanted that Jennifer tour so bad, and we got it. At first we were only gonna have a third of it, and the next thing you know I have all of it, and then they’re extending it, and Jennifer took me on the rest of it. I learned so much from Jennifer about how to entertain and just how to be. Jennifer – I just can’t say enough about her. She is gracious, humble – she’s what anybody would want. For me it was just for her to be the headliner and me to be the opener – if I were ever the headliner, I would think “How did Jennifer Nettles treat me?” that’s what I would go back to.
With the Eric Church tour, it’s not been as long of a stay, but it’s been amazing because it’s a challenge for me to go from playing theaters to playing arenas with the band. It’s a different crowd, a whole different mindset. But it’s exciting because for Eric I had to think, “How do I sneak a ballad into this set and make it work?” because I wasn’t gonna, and the guys in my band and other people involved were like, “Well you have to do a ballad, you have to do ‘Hold My Hand’ or something.” So it’s just like “How do we do that?” Just figuring that out, it feels so fast and furious. With Jennifer I would do 30 minutes, and it’s amazing how much shorter 25 minutes seems. We only do one less song, so we are moving. There’s never a time where I’m just talking over dead air. Anytime I’m talking, it’s over an intro. It’s all kind of planned to keep the audience engaged.
I’ve watched Eric’s show in those big places. He’s every bit as great of an entertainer as Jennifer, in a different way. From both of them I’ve learned so much, and from Alan I’ll probably learn even more, because he’s a legend. I have been a fan of his my whole life. I met him the other night at the ASCAPs and he was amazing and said he was excited to have me on the road and I was excited to hear that.
I’m gonna start a new record so it’s like “How am I gonna do that?” and I’m working on a musical that has a big work session in January. So I just try to use every moment to the best of my ability.
Congratulations on the new deal with Warner. Looking at this new record, are you writing as much as you would like to be?
Yes, I am writing. I was someone that loved the grind of writing every day. That felt like working out. You know you get up, you do your stuff, and you go write. It’s not as easy to do that now, so I try to make the most of the time I do have to write. I’m taking today and tomorrow off, but if I’m in town, I’m writing. I try to just focus on the collaborations that work really well for me. There’s been a few times on the road I’ve had the chance to write, and I try to take advantage of that, but it definitely is a challenge, and it’s something that will be a challenge now for me from here on out. Like, “How do I keep this as a top priority?” because without my songwriting I would be nowhere. I mean, it’s the foundation for all of it for me. I just have to keep that at the forefront.
Last night you wore a fabulous long-sleeve, black Pamela Roland. How did you pick this gown?
Well, I worked with Tiffany Gifford. She picked several things. I didn’t really look at things. I let my manager and then a friend of mine was with me who’s got great style. I would just put something on, I would let Tiffany help me get it on, and then I would walk out and gage their response. When I put that on, they were like “That’s it.” That dress was really comfortable; it was very flattering. The shoes were not so comfortable, but I guess shoes are just that way. But I loved it. I’ve never worked with a stylist that intensely. I mean, I work with a stylist that picks out clothes for me onstage, kind of, but it’s not the same thing. Tiffany did everything from undergarments to earrings to shoes, jewelry, all of it. It was so nice. I could get spoiled on that.
If there’s one thing in your wardrobe that you can’t live without, what would it be?
A ball cap.
Photo Credit: Brandy Clark Facebook