Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Exit 216

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Exit 216 over Zoom video!

Exit 216, the duo comprised of hit songwriter Steven Battey (“One Number Away” by Luke Combs, “Sugar” by Flo Rida, “Buzzin” by Mann) and Cole Burkett, has teamed up with songwriter and artist Nikki Williams on their new single, “Robbery”.

Produced by David Mescone and co-written by Steven Battey, Nikki Williams, and David Mescone, “Robbery” is about carrying the unique and unmistakable style of confidence. Williams, Battey, and Burkett sing of entering and commanding a room and being entirely unapologetic. Make heads turn, let them stare, and don’t be sorry for it. Exit 216 and Williams want to spark inspiration for others to approach life in the same way.

Exit 216’s journey began in January 2020 when Battey was seeking a duo partner and was introduced to Cole Burkett. Battey had the idea of forming a duo that could incorporate and deliver a natural country soul sound without straying away from what country music listeners gravitate towards. After a few songwriting sessions together, the strength of the music was undeniable.  Together, Battey and Burkett formed Exit 216 (a reference to the exit home to Nashville International Airport).

Since their formation, the two have been writing and recording music that was set to be released in early 2020, but like so many other artists, due to the spread of COVID-19, release plans were halted.  It wasn’t until Battey co-wrote “Brother,” and the two came together to record the track, that they felt compelled to release the new song to enforce positivity, encourage others, and stimulate change.

While Steven was making his way in Music City, Cole Burkett was a high school student residing in Smyrna, Tenn. Burkett had an exceptional, raw musical talent for his age. Still, his sights were set on playing college baseball and continuing his education. The future of these two collaborating would seem highly unlikely.  Burkett graduated high school in 2017 and turned down a baseball scholarship to put his energy into songwriting. By the time he was 19, he already had a robust catalog of songs and began to garner the attention that would lead him to work with some of Nashville’s top writers and producers. Burkett started to earn a name for himself for the gift he had, not only as a natural songwriter but as a premier vocalist and player.

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