Kylie Frey wasn’t born to be a singer/songwriter.
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The indie recording artist from Louisiana had a lisp growing up and not much range to her voice. She struggled with understanding song structure and how melodies work and how the thoughts in her brain could transfer to the page.
Add that to the fact that the third generation rodeo star spent many a year becoming a rodeo queen and a goat tying champ. Heck, she even appeared in Vogue in all of her rodeo regale. In short, many wondered what might come of this girl with the dreams as wide as her smile.
Those dreams become much clearer the day she turned on the radio, and heard a new artist by the name of Taylor Swift.
“I remember sitting in the backseat, my parents driving down the interstate, and I heard Taylor Swift sing “Tim McGraw,” Frey tells American Songwriter during a recent interview. “I don’t know. I can’t describe it. It just opened my world up a little bit. All of a sudden, I knew us girls with guitars had a chance.”
And from that moment on, she fought like hell for that chance at stardom, or something close to it. Recently, armed with a versatile voice that can take go from silky to soulful with ease, Frey made history as she scored her fourth number one on the Texas Regional Radio Report with her current single “Spur of the Moment. The song now holds the record as the fastest-rising #1 by a female in chart history.
“I remember we were driving around Louisiana and someone cracked a joke about something happening at the ‘spur of the moment,’” remembers Frey, who has shared the stage with everyone from Cody Johnson to Randy Rogers to Aaron Watson through the years. “Songwriters are always looking for ways to spin common phrases and I just knew that I could write a rodeo song from that.”
Coincidentally, it was at the age of 14 years old, while sitting at the foot of her bed, that Frey wrote her very first song, a song about, of all things, the rodeo. The next week, she got in a fight with her sister, and ended up writing her second song.
She was on her way.
“Songwriting was keeping me sane during those years,” she remembers. “I was a kid who had a lot of feelings but didn’t know how to talk about them, but it made more sense when I picked up a guitar and wrote a song about it.”
At 16 years old, Frey found herself at a songwriter’s festival in Florida, crying over her shrimp pasta as she listened to the stories of songwriter Lisa Carver. And it was at that moment she decided to become a songwriter.
the same time Frey became one of Shania Twain’s protégés on the inaugural
season of USA Network’s
Real Country in 2018, Frey went in to a write with Leslie Satcher, eager to share her ‘spur of the moment’ idea.
“She understood my upbringing and how I grew up, because she had rodeo roots too,” Frey says of the Texas native.
But god almighty, the last thing Frey wanted was to write another ballad.
“I had so many ballads in my catalog,” she remembers of writing with Satcher, who has written singles for everyone from George Strait to Gretchen Wilson. “I told her that I could not physically write another slow song. I needed something that moved and felt good. I knew she had written ‘When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues’ for Martina McBride, so I basically I told her that I wanted a song that felt like that.”
And Bratcher said something to the affect of ‘no problem.”
The song was finished in a matter of 45 minutes.
“It was one of those that literally fell out of the sky,” Frey remembers.
These days, its that sky that Frey finds herself looking up to more and more as she wonders where things stand within a future that has never held more uncertainty. Indeed, the beginning of the year had Frey perfecting her live show with a band that she had established a year and a half before. She had some residencies set up and was getting into a groove when the world shut down due to the pandemic.
“It really blows,” she laughs. “But there is always a bright side. This whole pandemic has given me the chance to sit still and be bored in Nashville again. There is something special about being bored in Nashville. Good things always seem to come out of times like that.”
For example, the 25-year-old has finally learned to cook. She’s grown more intentional about her guitar playing. She has broadened her songwriting vocabulary. And most importantly, she is now ready to release her much anticipated EP this September.
“I have been able to sit still and be intentional about this EP and I’m feeling solid about the six songs on there,” she concludes. “They are all a part of me and crucial in presenting Kylie to the world.”