Kelsea Ballerini interview: 'I was so naive at the start, but I had Taylor and Shania to look up to'

16 September 2019, 15:59 | Updated: 7 January 2021, 16:42

By Tom Eames

Kelsea Ballerini is one of the most successful and exciting stars in country music today.

Since releasing her debut album in 2015, she has scored several huge hits, and will soon unveil her long-awaited third studio album.

Kelsea dropped by the Smooth Country studio while on her UK tour, and she revealed where she's up to on her latest record, her ultimate country idols and advice to up-and-coming stars.

Watch Kelsea's full interview with Eamonn Kelly above.

Talking about her next album - which will feature her recent single 'Homecoming Queen?' - Keslea said: "I have to have intentional cut-offs for songwriting. If I keep writing, I will just redo the record 85 million times, and I’ll just never have a done album.

Kelsea Ballerini - homecoming queen? (Official Music Video)

So my cut-off was like two weeks ago. So I’m done writing. I have to be done. And I have like 200 songs. And now I have to sort through it all and be like, 'OK, what’s good enough?'

"I’m taking my songwriter hat off for a couple of months while I finish the album so that I don’t confuse myself, because I’m going to write something and be like, 'The whole album’s wrong. I have to redo everything.'"

With Kelsea starting her career at 19, she had some advice for anyone starting out in the industry today: "Well, the cool part about the music industry, and the frustrating part about the music industry – one of them – is that there is just not a rulebook. There’s no set way to make it happen.

"That’s why there’s shows that people go on, and some people break young, and some people break older. Sometimes, it takes a certain song, and you’ve had three records. It just depends.

"And I think that’s really frustrating, because you don’t know where to start, but when it does work, it’s so custom. It’s so unique to you and your path. I would say: if you love writing, write as much as you can. I think songwriting, for me, is the reason I have the opportunity to be an artist.

"If I wasn’t a songwriter, I don’t think I’d have this career. So I’d say that if you have something to say, I would write until you feel you’ve said it."

When asked how she managed to break through the noise, Kelsea explained: "I was so naïve. I didn’t know. I was so young. And luckily for me, I had Taylor [Swift] to look up to. I had Carrie [Underwood] to look up. And Shania [Twain].

Kelsea Ballerini with Shania Twain in 2016
Kelsea Ballerini with Shania Twain in 2016. Picture: Getty

"There were so women in country music at that point that I just thought, 'Of course I can do this'. I didn’t know at the time, really, that there was a gap of women that weren’t on country radio. But I was naïve to it. I didn’t think that that was going to be a conversation.

"And so when we ended up putting the first single out, and it started charting and doing well, that’s when people were like, 'Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you have a single that’s working on the radio'. I was like, 'Really? Why? All these other women have done it.' I was just naïve. I think it’s the greatest gift I had."

Kelsea also singled out Shania Twain as one of her heroes, saying: "She gets me in the right mind-set, because not only was she so bold with her music – and she wrote it all – but she was just bold in the way she dressed, and the way she performed, and did music videos, and all of that. She was just a trailblazer."

Kelsea Ballerini's new single 'Homecoming Queen?' is out now.