Kelsey Waldon’s The Goldmine is just that – a goldmine. Hers is unashamedly country music, without all the pop-glitter insincerity that has become modern country. Instead, Waldon writes gutsy songs that are not afraid to hit hard but manage to go down smooth.
Named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know”, there’s a reason she’s been getting so much attention lately. Stirringly honest, her songs are written from an open heart. She has no filter. She is confident and vulnerable all at once. We agree that Kelsey Waldon is onto something.
NYMM: Where are you from?
KW: No one believes me at first, but the actual name of my hometown is Monkey’s Eyebrow. It’s a little town near Barlow, KY. I lived in Monkey’s Eyebrow until I was about 13.
NYMM: Then how did you get started in music? Was it a family thing?
KW: Music skipped a few generations in our family. My grandmother, great-grandmother and my great-grandaddy all played bluegrass, but my mom and my dad didn’t. My mom really likes music and is really supportive. My childhood babysitter was a piano player in our church and she introduced me to music. I found that I was really drawn to it. I started writing songs when I was 9, started playing guitar when I was 12, and started making mix tapes in high school. Music seemed like the only thing that made sense.
NYMM: Do you remember much of what you wrote back then?
KW: I remember the first song I wrote on guitar and I would never want anyone to hear that, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.
NYMM: When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
KW: I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t think music was career-worthy. Some people go about it different ways, but I can say, without any bullshit, that I always wanted to do this. When I started, I forced myself to get out and play my original songs. I did all the stuff that small-town singers do: singing in church and that sort of thing. Everything that I’ve ever done, all the day jobs I’ve ever had, were to get money so that I could make records. Now I’ve been lucky enough to make money playing gigs.
NYMM: When did it start getting that serious?
KW: I started finding myself around people who have been involved in music for a long time, who seemed to like what I was doing, and were willing to support it. That has been a big encouragement for me. I’ve tried to work hard and put it out there, and good things have come from that. I’m much more confident in my sound now, and it’s closer to what I want to hear. I’m constantly sculpting it, but I feel comfortable in it now. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin, but I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am.
NYMM: Can you tell us a little about “The Best of Everything”?
KW: That song was my youngest child. I didn’t really know if it would work, or if it would fit on the album. It was this random thing that I wrote quickly, and it turned out pretty cool. There’s a lot of personal details in it, but overall, it’s about being out on your own. We’re all trying to keep afloat, and I think if we can all get through and keep our head balanced, we’ll be ok. You can’t take back your past or anything that’s happened in your family. I think a lot of people try to change their roots and I think you have to accept the past and try to make the best of it. The moment you realize that the people in your life aren’t perfect, is a great moment. You can’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder.
NYMM: “High in Heels” has gotten a lot of notice. Can you tell us a little about that one?
KW: “High in Heels” was inspired by where I’m from in Kentucky. It’s a story of desperation. It’s about some people I knew who used to evangelize over in the Eastern part of the state. I’m not saying whether or not that way of life is right, but I think a lot of people don’t understand poverty and haven’t really been around it. A lot of things happen out of desperation. There are a lot of people out there that need more than just a good idea. Jesus seems like a quick fix sometimes, but those people need other things as well.
Images by Jon Karr
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