Rising country-pop singer-songwriter Brina Kay recently released the brand new single “Rome” & has taken the time to speak with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution about the brand new song & official video.
Hey Brina, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
Brina: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! I’m Brina Kay, I’m 23 and originally from Schaumburg Illinois (which is a Chicago suburb.) I grew up loving to sing and perform and was involved in musical theatre from a very young age. I also learned to play the violin in kindergarten, and I think that gave me a good foundation for understanding music at its core. I didn’t begin writing my own songs until high school, but being a “pop star” was always my childhood dream. I loved performing, I loved being on stage. I went to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and after changing my major three times and graduating early on accident (with a degree in journalism) I realized that if I didn’t chase my real dream, which was a music career, it would never come true. So, I packed up everything I had into our family’s old minivan and moved to Nashville Tennessee without much of a plan. I just knew it was Music City and where you go to be among the best, so I went for it. It was very challenging at first. The only job I could get was at an ice cream shop and I lost that job within two weeks due to some dumb mistakes I made. But I took it day by day and by persevering, meeting some really awesome people and a little bit of luck, I’ve managed to accomplish a lot. So far I’ve played all around town, put out four fully produced singles, released a music video, and have one set to release this summer. It’s been an exciting journey and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
How did you first discover your passion for music?
Brina: It’s something I have loved from a very young age. Although I didn’t really like playing the violin when I was little, I think learning to play and read music so early on wired my brain to have a good understanding of it. I loved to sing, I remember running around the back yard as a kid singing and pretending to be a Disney princess. Then I got involved in musical theatre, which I fell in love with. I was always very outgoing and had a lot of energy, so it was a really good outlet for me and I felt like on stage, I could really be myself. I also grew up listening to the Dixie Chicks, so that’s where my love for country music started. “Traveling Soldier” was my go-to audition song for everything. Watching them as a little girl made me feel like it was possible for me too. There was also a lot of music and singing in my family. It’s always something I envisioned myself doing, so when I graduated college I knew I had to go for it or I would never get the chance.
Did you always know that music was a career that you wanted to pursue?
Brina: I’d say yes and no. It’s always been my dream. I think most people grow out of their childhood dreams. In Highschool, I got away from music and a lot of my energy went into sports like soccer and cheerleading. Later on, I decided to try out for the Orchesis dance team, which pulled me back into music and the arts.
My junior and senior year, I did the school musical instead of playing soccer. Then in college, I started taking dance and theatre classes I didn’t need to take for my major because I missed performing. Then I wrote my own songs and figured out how to get them produced by connecting with producers online. By the time I graduated, I just realized that I wasn’t ready to give my dream up and become a practical adult. It was a “now or never” kind of moment, and I just knew that I needed to take a leap of faith and go for it without holding back.
I spend the summer playing with an acoustic duo in Nebraska and then moved to Nashville that August. I had no idea what to expect, or how I planned to make it, I just realized I couldn’t deal with the potential regret I’d have later in life if I didn’t try. Nashville was Music City, I didn’t feel like L.A was right for me, so I just made the move and figured out the rest as I went along.
How would you describe your musical style to someone unfamiliar with your work?
Brina: I call myself country-pop. I don’t try to hide the fact that I didn’t grow up “country” in the sense of living in a rural area. I’m not writing songs about small towns and tractors because that isn’t my experience. However, my writing style as far as the melodies I come up with and my narrative-driven lyrics I would definitely characterize as country. When I identify myself as an artist, I feel more like a country artist than a pop artist. I’m more influenced by country artists and I don’t think I sing like a pop artist. When I play my songs acoustically, they sound more country. The pop elements come with the productions and the theatrics involved as far as my album art and videos. So, in the fully produced versions of my songs, I don’t limit myself to “country sounding” instruments to try and fit into the category. We add all kinds of elements that speak to the story the song is trying to tell, so they come out sounding more poppy. Strip it down though and you can still tell that the country is there. I feel it’s a true fusion of the two genres rather than one disguising itself as the other. I feel like my album art and overall creative vision for my videos and live shows are more eccentric than what you’d expect from a country artist. In the end, genre classification is less important to me than telling the story of the song in the most impactful way.
You recently released the official video for “Rome”. How did the idea to create this song come together?
Brina: This was one of my first Nashville songs. It was inspired by the challenges and doubts I faced when I had first moved to Nashville. It started out as some sad poems, and once my life started to get a little better, I gave it a melody and turned it into a song. When I was working with my producer trying to decide what my second single would be, he took a liking to it. I actually wasn’t sure I wanted it to be a single, but he convinced me it was good enough and I’m so glad he did. It’s a really important song that speaks very personally to my coming of age story, and it means a lot that other people who have heard have drawn inspiration from it in their own lives.
As far as the video, my plan was to put out two music videos this year. I found a director/videographer online and we met to discuss ideas. The “Rome” video actually started out as a completely different idea, with tons of different scenes and a number of characters, but in the end, I had a limited amount of money to spend and we decided to put more of our budget into the second video. We decided to follow the theme of the cover photoshoot I did for it, which was me in a wooded area with a lantern, to represent my journey of moving to a new environment all alone and trying to figure things out. In the end, I think it came together really nicely, and the second video came together great as well.
What does the song personally mean to you?
Brina: This song means everything to me. It’s my personal anthem. It was one of the first I’d ever written and performed in Nashville, and it is a testament to my resilience during some of my hardest moments. The truth is, my first couple of weeks in Nashville were a disaster. It was the most alone and unmotivated I’d ever felt. I wasn’t even writing songs because I had no energy. Rome started out as poems I’d written here and there to express what I was feeling because there was nobody to talk to. So, to make it through all of that, manage to turn it into a song, then get that song produced and released as a single, and then have that song become my first official music video, feels like coming full circle. I look back at the videos of me in my bedroom singing the song with an acoustic guitar, before I’d even played a single writer’s round, and just think of how far I’ve come since then, and all the cool things I’ve done. I just couldn’t have imagined during those first few weeks I’d ever get to this point. Now when I am having a sad moment, I have my own creation to fall back on that can lift me up, and I think that’s really sweet.
How do you feel the official video reflects the meaning behind the lyrics?
Brina: I think it expresses it beautifully, and my director Josh Lockhart did an amazing job of capturing it. The whole thing is a metaphor for my move to Nashville. I’m alone in this new environment, trying to find my way, with only the small light of a lantern to guide my path. You see some daytime shots and some nighttime shots, and me expressing various emotions throughout the video to represent the ups and downs. During the instrumental bridge, you see me walking through the dark forest, clearly freaked out and unsure of what’s to come, but still moving forward nonetheless. That’s the overall meaning of the song, and I love the way we were able to capture it on screen.
8. What message would you like listeners to take away from this song?
Brina: The biggest take away for me was the lesson that feeling down is not the same as giving up. I feel like a lot of people, me especially, can feel pressure to always have a positive attitude or outlook about things. The reality is, it’s human to feel upset and hopeless sometimes. It’s human nature to feel unmotivated, and not want to get out of bed when things are going wrong. It’s okay if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes your biggest victory of the day is going to be the bare minimum, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still progress. I want to achieve big things, and I can feel frustrated when I feel like I’m not accomplishing enough, or not hitting my goals fast enough. I’m allowed to be a human being and doubt myself and feel these emotions and still not be a quitter. I hope that people can listen to this song when they’re feeling down, feel like they aren’t alone in what they’re going through and that there is still hope for tomorrow in spite of what they’re currently feeling. When I’m feeling down I turn to music to lift my spirits, and I want to be able to do that for others.
When you are not performing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Brina: I usually don’t have much spare time! But I like to go out dancing at the bars or go see my friends at their live shows. I also keep up with the news and politics, not sure if that counts as a hobby. I’ve had more downtime during this pandemic so I’ve been watching a lot of animal planet.
What is one song you always keep your playlist & why?
Brina: That’s a tough one because I have an entire playlist “Brina Kay’s Favorites” on Spotify with a wide range of music. One song I think more people need to know is “Black Dress” by Mercy Bell. She’s an incredible artist in town who I met through a mutual friend. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I can listen to it over and over again and not get tired of it.
What was the last movie you watched & did you enjoy it?
Brina: The last movie I watched was “On the Basis of Sex” It’s about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I loved it. It was really inspiring, and just shows how far we’ve come as far as women’s rights. It makes me want to get out there and keep fighting the good fight.
If you could appear on any TV show, which would it be & why?
Brina: Do I only get to pick one? I’d say my dream TV show would be Dancing with the Stars. It’s such a feel-good show, not something you see as much of these days. Plus, I love dancing, and I think it would be fun to do a sexy Tango or a powerful Paso Doble. I’ve never done ballroom dance, and they do fun themes like Disney night, or “your most memorable year.” I feel like it would be a lot of fun, and I think I’d have a decent shot at winning!
It’s also my dream to be on Shark Week. I love sharks and I get extremely excited about shark week, I don’t miss an episode, I’m pretty much a super-fan, so it would be cool to be a celebrity guest and go diving with great whites!
Who would you consider to be the biggest inspiration within your music?
Brina: I would have to say the Dixie Chicks. They were definitely a huge inspiration to me as a child and still now, as people and as artists. That’s why it’s so important for women to get equal play on the radio, so the next generation of young female artists can have people to look up to. I’d say I also really draw inspiration from artists like Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves. I love how they write genuine thoughtful music and embrace their own style instead of trying to follow the trends or be like everyone else.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you about pursuing a career in music?
Brina: This is more general life advice, but I’ve applied it to my music career and it’s made a major difference in what I’ve been able to do. It was actually the theme of a Nebraska Women’s Leadership Network conference I attended. The theme was “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and it’s so true. The truth is, you’re never going to feel completely ready or prepared for something worthwhile. If you wait around for that, there is so much you are
depriving yourself of, especially a good learning experience. I live by this mantra and have learned over time to push past that fearful voice in my head in order to take opportunities. These opportunities lead to more opportunities and overall growth. It’s normal to feel nervous, it’s normal to doubt yourself or feel unworthy of the opportunities you receive, do it anyway.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?
Brina: If you’ve made it this far, it means you took some time out of your day to learn about my music and my story, and I appreciate that so much. If you’d like to learn more be sure to subscribe to my email list at brinakaymusic.com. This is important because I give my email subscribers exclusive content, content I work hard on like behind the scenes info or news about new projects. If you’re on my email list you’ll get news before anyone else, and other exclusive offers like a free t-shirt or something! I’ve also got a blog at brinakaymusic.com where I go into unfiltered detail about my experience as an artist making my way in Nashville. I’m looking to expand it into a podcast and a YouTube series.
Speaking of YouTube, you can follow me there, as well as Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, @brinakaymusic and Brina Kay.