Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A Very Candid Conversation with Kaylin Roberson


Kaylin Roberson (2020)

From a young age, Carolina native Kaylin Roberson loved playing music, but it wasn’t until she was fourteen when she found her own voice. At age nine, Kaylin was the victim of a brutal dog attack, which required facial reconstruction. After the accident, Kaylin used music as a way to heal and then ventured into songwriting. By the time she was in high school, she joined the Teen Nation Tour and visited high schools throughout the country to speak about bullying. In addition, she had toured with her band in the Carolinas where she played guitar and piano. Her first single in 2018, “Christmas Everyday,” was featured in a Christmas movie for the BET Her network . 

In 2019, Kaylin moved to Nashville to pursue a musical career. While in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaylin was busy writing songs in the pop country genre. Kaylin’s music speaks on several themes about love, hometown life, and moving to a city. In 2021, Kaylin released two singles, “Big Fish” and “When He’s Been Drinking,” with more to follow.

In this candid conversation, we cover the beginning of this promising young artist. We start with Kaylin’s childhood to her recent move to Nashville. We discuss her musical inspiration and her goals for her musical career.  I want to thank Nichole Peters-Good of Good Public Relations for setting up the interview, but mostly I want to thank Kaylin.

Jeff Cramer: So what got you interested in music?

KR: I actually started playing music when I was 14, and I started writing my own songs. My dad always kind of pushed me into music a little bit. He put me into piano lessons when I was six. That's kind of where it started. And, of course, I dreaded going to my lessons, but I'm really thankful that he put me in them because as I got older, I wanted to pick the piano back up and learn how to write my own songs on it.

Then, I formed a band in the Carolinas, and we started playing both North and South Carolina venues. It just kind of started from there, and it grew. I've been in Nashville for two years. And now I'm just really trying to become a better songwriter and put out quality music because I don't just want to be another voice in Nashville. I want to be a voice that people want to listen to.

JC: I understand that you had an accident when you were nine years old.

KR: Yes. When I was nine, I was attacked by a black Lab—it was actually a family dog. And he ended up ripping off the right half of my lip and splitting open the side of my eye. I had to go into surgery and get facial reconstruction and the whole nine yards. It took a toll on my family.

Going back to the question about what inspired me to get into music, and that incident honestly played a really big role in my music career.

After the accident, I was home for a couple weeks recovering and my dad was like, "I have to go to work. Here's a camera." He set it up and said, "Here's the Record button. Have fun." ’Cause he knew that I was always the kind of kid who could entertain myself. I was out of school, so I didn't see it as an issue, but I started just recording covers of who knows— KIDZ BOP or Hannah Montana, whatever you do when you're nine years old.

Later in high school, a company reached out to me and wanted me to join them on an anti-bullying tour. They're called the Teen Nation Tour. We went from California, to Texas, and my hometown, and we just talked to kids in schools about bullying. I always tried to preach self-confidence, because in my mind, if you don't let yourself get bullied, you won't be. So, I try to preach just loving yourself for who you are, things happen, and that's part of my story.

I actually got homeschooled after that. I missed too much school because I was going to other schools to talk to kids about bullying. One thing led to another, and I think it helped the transition of me moving to Nashville go really easy. I mean, I had already given up so much. I'd given up public school and things like that. So it made it easier and just kept inspiring me to want to do the music thing. And now I'm here.

JC: Your first single was a Christmas song “Christmas Everyday.”

KR: Yes. Actually, it's really funny. I had a drummer back home in the Carolinas, and he knew a lot of people in music. From him, I got this opportunity to write a song for a Christmas movie. I thought it was really cool. So we wrote a couple of Christmas songs together, and it actually got put in the movie, and it plays on BET Her, the female one, every Christmas. So it's really funny that you said that because I do have Christmas songs out. A lot of people don't know that. [To listen to “Christmas Everyday,” click here.]

JC: There’s another Christmas tune, “Grandma Got Lit.” 

KR: Oh my goodness. Yes.

JC: Let's talk about that one.

KR: That was part of the Christmas songs we did. It wasn't in the movie, but they wanted to have an extra bonus track thing that was fun. That was probably the most fun I've had in a long time for sure. And my grandma loved it. [To listen to “Grandma Got Lit,” click here.]


“Grandma Got Lit” cover (2020)

JC: During the pandemic of 2020, you wrote a good deal of songs.

KR: Yes, I definitely did. At first, going from in person to using Zoom didn't mesh with me well. I was like, “No, I'm going to wait this out.” I think a lot of people thought that about the whole COVID situation anyways—they thought that it would just blow over and we wouldn't have to change our entire lives around it. But we did end up having to do that. So after a month or two of just being like, “Oh, I'll wait it out,” I was like, “I'm going crazy. I have to keep writing.” So I started writing songs. Luckily, now the world's open again, but yeah, it was a lot of songwriting for sure.

JC: You were living in Nashville in 2020, and the first song you wrote and released was “Out of My Town, where you talk about how your hometown can never be replaced no matter what happens to it.


“Out of My Town” cover


KR: An Uber driver inspired that idea because he was telling me all about how Nashville is his home and a lot of newbies like me keep coming in. Not that he has anything against it, but it just made me really reflect on my hometown and how it would feel when I would go back and little things that happened. Actually, part of growing up is moving away from your hometown. But I also met a lot of people in Nashville who made me realize that this is their hometown. The city is tearing down their homes and rebuilding them, and doing all that really changed a lot of this town. But to them, it's still their home.

So I wanted to capture that with my buddies, Clayton Mann and Bryce Mauldin. They helped me write that song. I'm glad that it was my first release. [To hear “Out of my Town,” click here.]

JC: Then you get into falling in love and wanting to know someone better with your single “Know You Like That.

KR: That one is super fun. Actually, I think it might be my most streamed song. I just wanted to write something fun and upbeat, but it's harder to write those types of songs, like love songs that are happy. It sounds bad, but it's a lot easier when you're upset to feel inspired to write about a breakup or something like that. [To listen to “Know You Like That,” click here.]

JC: Then we touch the theme of breaking up in your Break Up Proof EP. There are three songs on the EP, but they all carry the same theme. 

KR: It does. I really wanted to tell a story with that EP. Obviously, you can tell I'm glad you noticed. I kind of wanted to tell the story of someone who fell in love because it starts with the “I See You” [To listen to “I See You,” click here]  and then the breakup happens and that's “Break Up Proof.” And then “Right About Now” is kind of like the phase of getting to know somebody new again and having to deal with the moving on and stuff like that.

JC: I thought it was a good choice to have piano as the only instrument for “Break Up Proof.”

KR: I really wanted “Break Up Proof” to be stripped down. Who knows, maybe I'll rerecord it later and do some production on it. But I wanted to showcase the lyrics of it. [To listen to “Break Up Proof,” click here.]

Break Up Proof EP cover (2020)

JC: Then there’s “Right About Now. In the song, the narrator is still remembering her past lover, but the lyrics also say, “I should be over you right about now.” It's like the lyrics for “Break Up Proof” and “Right About Now” could be narrated by the same person.

KR: I really wanted to just capture that moment of trying to get to know somebody new and it was kind of hard to do. Because when you put too many “yous” and “he” and all that in a song it's like, “Who are you talking about? Who is she with?” But I just wanted to really capture moving on and getting to know someone new is always really hard because it feels like you're pressing restart. You have to come up with new inside jokes, and you almost become like a new person in that way. [To listen to “Right About Now,” click here.]

JC: I wonder if the single “Big Fish” has something to do with your move from North Carolina to Nashville because the lyrics are about thinking you’re big but once you go to another town, you're not as big as you think you are.


“Big Fish” cover 2021

KR: Yeah. What I love about that song is it just started when my mom has said growing up about just people in our town that thought that they were on their high horse all the time. But I experienced it as well on the other side of things. Being the big fish, then coming here realizing there's a lot of other people doing the same thing as me, which is very comforting and also really just inspiring.

And it makes you want to work harder. But yeah, I mean, people can take it either way they want to. And what's cool about it is you can take it as maybe there's someone you know that needs to hear that song. Or maybe you've been there, and you're like “Oh, yeah, people told me that and look where I'm at now.”[To listen to “Big Fish,” please click here.]

JC: We're slowly starting to reopen. You've put a bunch of songs together. What's your plans now for 2021? 

KR: So I actually have two more singles coming out. I have one that came out on August 20 called “When He's Been Drinking,” and I'm super excited about it [To hear “When He’s Been Drinking,” click here.]. Then sometime in November I'm going to release another song with the vibe like “Break Up Proof.” People seem to love my sad-girl country songs.

JC: Any chance you be going taking the singles out on the road?

KR: I've been playing a lot around Nashville. I mostly do a lot of songwriter rounds. Every now and then I play on Broadway. [Note: In this context, Broadway is referring to the major thoroughfare in the downtown area in Nashville, Tennessee.] I opened up for Chris Janson recently. I think I'm playing one festival so far in October, but I don't have any major things planned yet. Right now my big focus is getting music out there, and I'm completely independent. So the goal is to just keep building my team up and hopefully one day there will be some one who can help me and my band figure out how to get on the road more because I love doing that. So, hopefully we get back to it soon. But right now, you can catch me playing in Nashville for sure.

Kaylin Roberson (June 2020)


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