Sometimes serendipity just takes over. So when we realised that we’d have Laura Oakes and Aubrie Sellers paying us a visit on the same day it seemed rude to keep them apart. It’s not everyday you have two rising stars of country in the office at the same time! So we gave them the run of our bar to compare notes on what it’s like to be songwriters from opposite sides of the pond. We kicked them off by asking them how they both got started in music. Here’s what happened…
AS: I was born in Nashville so that’s how I got into music. My whole family’s involved in music so I was played from an early age but I only started writing my debut album in 2012. I was playing guitar and singing backing vocals for other people but I only put out my first record last year…
LO: Which I love by the way! My boyfriend introduced me to you. He said “There’s this really cool girl, you need to listen to her!”. “Like The Rain” is on my Spotify all the time.
AS: It’s perfect for London.
LO: Yeah – it’s the soundtrack of today!
AS: So this is my first time over here but it’s clear there’s a scene for this music.
LO: Yeah, which is quite a new thing actually. It feels like country has really blown up in thelast 5 years. I grew up in a musical family singing in harmony with my mum and my uncle. For me it was normal, that all my family played, but when I got a bit older I realised it was something different. People used to say to me “Isn’t that old-people music?”, but now that’s all changed.
AS: Even in the U.S. I think the audience is getting younger.
LO: Oh really? That’s cool. I think if we don’t label it then people are willing to give it a go.
Country to so many people used to be line dancing & cowboy hats, but it’s not like that now.
AS: So who are some of your influences?
LO: So I started on the big 90s female voices. Country had always been in my family, my Mum and my Nan played mandolin so that’s how I heard the older stuff. But they used to show American Idol over here a week behind the U.S., it was the year Carrie Underwood auditioned and she was singing Sin Wagon by Dixie Chicks. That’s what really got me hooked.
Martina McBride & Dixie Chicks were the two that I was just obsessed with as a kid and I knew every note.
How about you?
AS: Yeah I grew up on traditional country music so George Jones, Steve Earle & Dwight Yoakam. They were mainstream artists but they always did their own thing. Then a lot of Bluegrass because my Dad played a lot of Bluegrass. People like Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Stanley are two of my favourite artists of all time.
Then in high-school I got into a lot of rock music. Led Zeppelin, CCR, a lot of blues and grungier raw stuff
LO: Well you can definitely hear that. That’s what’s nice about your record, the fusion, it’s really nice to listen to. That’s the one thing, I wish we had more bluegrass over here. I remember when I was 14 or 15 being on LimeWire because it was so difficult to get hold of.
AS: The common thing to everything I listen to is soul. A soul and an honesty. That’s why they call it mountain soul.
LO: Yeah, that’s what resonates with me because my most favourite voice in the whole world is Bonnie Raitt because it’s pure but it’s raw as well and it’s so emotive.
AS: And sound like that person. They sound 100% them. I think when someone’s speaking voice could be their singing voice, it’s so authentic. It brings you in on a personal level that you don’t get with other music.
LO: It’s just so real. It’s tough though because I always feel so sad in sessions and even writing sessions. I think maybe that’s why it’s taken so long to take off over here because we’re so British, we can’t tell people how we’re feeling. But I think the younger generation are getting better at expressing themselves and telling their own stories through this music. It’s made me the happiest person in the world to see that happen.
AS: Have you been writing new music?
LO: Yeah, most of this year has been writing so I’m a little bit frazzled right now.
AS: Me too! I’m in the same exact place because last year I was on tour and promoting my first record so much and then this year I’ve just been writing. I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to start making it.
LO: I know exactly what you mean. We’re putting the first song online this week and I’m just so excited for people to hear it. I’ve been playing so much over the summer and people have been asking me “So when can we own any of this?” When you have something that you really want people to hear you want them to be able to hear it right now.
AS: I know exactly how that is. That’s why I’m going to be back in the studio like a month after I get back on tour.