Hi Sonia, your new single ‘When We Are Alone’ is awesome. Can you tell us the story behind it?
I had a friend staying with me from Denmark and she was telling me about a guy she was seeing who treated her differently than when they were alone. He would be very cocky in public but very loving behind closed doors. I started writing it immediately . The next day I went to write with Danny Myrick and brought the song into the write. He loved it and we worked with it a little that day and Danny ended up producing the song. I really like the combinations of pop/rock/country style in the delivery.
While you have had loads of success Stateside, this is really your UK debut. What are your goals over here?
My goals are to make as many friends/fans in the industry and market here. I have a realistic expectation of creating a presence here in the UK and exposing my music so that it may be heard. I plan to continue to release music in the UK and to tour here as much as possible. I really love it here and feel my heart always stays behind every time I leave. I hope to one day own a home somewhere in London.
People over here probably know you best as a songwriter for Zac Brown Band. Your sound is very different. Was that a conscious choice?
I am a songwriter first and foremost. I write so many different styles. Zac has a very different approach and style than myself. I really love the pop rock side of music so that comes out in my writing. I think there will always be a hint of country to whatever I write because I was born and raised in the south of USA.
We have seen you labelled as country, but your sound seems much more diverse. Who are your key influences?
I am influenced by so many different styles. I really love The Killers, David Gray, Ryan Adams, 2 Pac, Sia, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea,Dej Loaf, Katy Perry, Delta Spirit, MGMT, Passion Pit, Biffy Clyro, The Counting Crows, The Naked and Famous, Estelle, Lana Del Rey,The Sounds, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Judds, Jason Aldean,
I am very fortunate to be friends with some of the artist I love to listen to on a daily basis, some who are about to really break in the industry and some who I have befriended on my musical journey including Blackberry Smoke, Uncle Kracker, Meiko,Brandy Clark, Josh Kumra,Dean Dillon,Sean Costello, Brooke Eden, Sam Hunt, Lisa Goe, Brett Young, The Muddy Magnolia’s, Meghan Linsey and Stella James. I love to introduce people to new music. It’s a passion of mine. In Nashville, we support each other and I really like that about my circle of friends, we all really want each other to succeed.
How would you describe your style?
My sound is more of a pop rock country sound sometimes I throw a bit of hip hop in there and indie rock. I do what I want with my music. I have that luxury because I am an independent artist. I have the freedom to let my songs be what they are instead of trying to fit into someone else’s box. I think more and more people are discovering the wonderful world of being an independent artist.
You are about to head out on the road with Sasha McVeigh. How did that hook up come about?
A mutual friend of ours who used to play drums for me connected Sasha and I. Sasha happened to be in Nashville and I invited her to dinner with some of my friends before a songwriters round I was playing that evening. I invited her up to play some songs. Then we just hit it off. Like I said I love helping other artists I believe in as much as I can. In turn Sasha offered a spot to do a co-headlining tour in UK. I have always wanted to tour the UK so here I am and I thank her for inviting me to share her stage. Sasha has an extremely tireless work ethic like myself. She works hard to make her mark and I respect that. Some artists sit back and wait for it all to just show up. In this industry you have to be willing to get out and get your hands dirty, take risks, you have to go to the water to drink it! You have to be willing to grow and Sasha is a new artist so I see her learning and really developing more and more every day.
Is there a potential recording collaboration in the offing?
Sasha and I have some time to write while we are on the road and I wouldn’t be opposed to cutting a song together! Could be pretty cool!
British Country is on the rise – what do you make to our acts?
I think that what I have observed is a movement in the UK for country music. When I played at the C2C festival I saw a hunger and thirst for country music. I was surprised to see so many in attendance. I think a lot of the popular country in America is not accessible to people in the UK. However, that seems to be changing as more and more of radio are making room for country in their UK play list. I am excited to be apart of this movement in the UK.
In my opinion the country music genre as a whole is in a transitional place right now. There are more out side genre influences leaking into the country sound. Some people like that and some people do not. Like it or not, there is much more history of ALL music inspiring today and tomorrows generation. It is inevitable that a new sound will emerge from all the music around us. I think most people listen to ALL genres of music, and that comes out in what you create no matter what style the artist. Think about how all music has changed over time. Look back to the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. Back to the original question, I am impressed by some of the UK country artist and I want to be a vessel to bridge the gap between Nashville and UK. That is the meaning behind “Mind the Gap Tour”. I am excited to help expose UK Country to America, and vice versa.
Is there any you would like to work closely with?
I would really like to work with Sia. I keep saying that in hopes one day she will read an interview and check me out! I have much respect for her not only because we are both Sagittarius but she has a history of writing all styles. I love the place she writes from. She seems to have the same angle on music as far as writing what she wants.
With the tour getting started this week, what can we expect?
Expect to want to dance, expect to laugh, expect to be moved deeply. I hope you walk out of each show feeling like you would if you just finished a great book or just saw a movie that changed your perspective. If anything expect to get your money’s worth and expect to tell your friends they should have been there.
What song are you most excited for audiences to hear?
I have a couple of new songs that are not yet released that I am looking forward to test out on the UK crowd. I think with summer coming up and hopefully some nice weather hanging around UK I am excited to play “Put It In Your Pocket” and get people excited about the changing of the season!
Lastly, what is one thing you have never revealed in an interview before?
I am Gluten Intolerant, there I have said it, my secret is out!
Mind The Gap tour dates can be found at www.sonialeigh.com