With a songbook in one hand and electric guitar in the other, Kelsey Waters is spitting out hard-hitting singles left and right. The Spotify prodigy is a female force to be reckoned with as her single “Want” has been grouped alongside Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Lana Del Rey.
I sat down with Kelsey Waters to talk about the release of her new single and her impressive repertoire at such a young age.
Ariel Zedric: Could you talk a little about the inspiration behind your newest single, “You Got This”?
Kelsey Waters: This song is about that little voice in the back of all of our heads that insists on telling us that we’re not “good enough” or capable enough to achieve something great… Whether it’s love, confidence, accomplishing a goal, overcoming a fear. Not believing that little voice is half the battle.
Production wise, everything on this project is cohesive. Lyrically, however, each song feels like we (me and my co-writers) are peeling back a new layer. I like releasing singles because it gives me the opportunity to show different sides of myself as an artist.
You also recently released the music video for “I Pour”, congrats! What was filming that like?
Filming that was the highlight of my year. I’d wanted to make a music video since I was a little girl obsessed with VH1’s ‘Pop Up Video’! I didn’t know that it would be so fun to turn into an actress for a day.
Are there any parts of your childhood that you pull from for inspiration? How so?
I feel like I pull from my childhood constantly. The music that I grew up listening to plays such a huge role in the music that I create today… Whether it was listening to my mom sit in with a local band on a Friday night or blaring Alanis Morissette (among others) through the car stereo on our way to school. Growing up, my dad was always drawing me out of my comfort zone by asking me to sing for family and friends at gatherings, which taught me that 1) I will always have at least one fan (thanks, dad) and 2) getting “uncomfortable” is key to growing. I force myself to get uncomfortable every time I walk into a writer room or onto a stage.
Talk a little bit about your move from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL to Nashville? What inspired the move?
When I left FSU, I moved home to the beach for a few years to make money playing shows in local bars and restaurants. I was a college drop out, I was broke, and I was having the time of my life playing in bars every night and putting cash in my pockets at the end of it. As you’d expect, I fell head over heels in love with a boy. He broke my heart. Playing love songs in the corner of a bar suddenly started to feel uninspiring. I just packed up and left. I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was doing or how I was going to make Nashville work. Six years later, it was the smartest decision I’ve made yet.
Have you ever doubted your decision to pursue music full time? What has inspired you to keep going?
Yes. 100 times, yes. It’s a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. If my mom had tried to pursue a career in music, I believe she would have made it. That gets me out of bed every day. I don’t want to have any regrets.
What moment in your career so far has left you the most satisfied or proud?
Signing a publishing deal after my first year in Nashville. I had friends in town who were here for years and never had that opportunity. I was incredibly blessed to meet my first publisher when I did. She gave me a reason to believe in myself.
What’s it like being a female in the music industry?
I never know how to answer this question. It’s never bothered me that sometimes in Nashville, I feel outnumbered by men. Mostly because my team is mostly made up of incredible, hardworking, and talented men that have taught me so much and helped me grow as an artist. I have so much respect for both men AND women in the industry. We’re all after the same thing. If I was in country music, that may be a different story. I recognize that women in that genre have to fight a little harder to get heard.
What’s the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in the music industry?
Learning how to pick myself up when I get knocked down. And learning that it’s okay to get knocked down.
Who is your biggest inspiration, in life or in music?
My parents have always been my biggest inspiration. My mom gave me this gift and I feel her presence the most when I’m using it. My dad has never failed to be my number 1 fan and to lift me up when I need it the most.
What would you say is your overall message in your music?
I’m just being “me”. I hope people like it. If not, I think I’ll just keep being “me”.
If you could give young aspiring artists one piece of advice, what would it be?
The only person capable of holding you back is yourself. Be fearless.
Feature Image by Bree Fish, courtesy of Kelsey Waters