Introducing....Angaleena Presley

After spending time as one third of the Pistol Annies, Angaleena Presley started to make her way as a solo artist and cemented that with the release of her second solo album Wrangled earlier this year. The Kentucky native was recently over in the UK and I was able to catch up with her mid-tour and ask her some questions....

How do you feel your upbringing prepared you for a career within country music?

Well, my dad was a coal miner and my mum was a school teacher so they both have a really good work ethic - I come from a long line of working-class elbow-grease type people so I think that part helped out a lot. Other than that really nothing! [laughs] It is like a crazy life of travelling and not really being in the same spot too much and that's kind of the exact opposite of how I grew up because whilst they work really hard, neither of my parents have ever been on an aeroplane. But the model of hard work comes in handy out here on the road.

How would you say you've adapted from your upbringing to where you are now then?

I think that it was pretty easy for me to adapt because I was always a dreamer as a child, I used to think that I was born in the wrong place. I would always tell my mum that I was supposed to be living in New York City anyway. So I always had stars in my eyes, I think there's just a part of me that was kind of born to do this. I really enjoy it, I love travelling, getting to see new things and keeping myself inspired. 

How would you describe your music to new listeners?

I would say that it's...I don't really know, that's a tough question. I could say something that other people have said, there's a friend of mine that said it's like if John Prine and Loretta Lynn had a baby. Then also I would add in maybe they like had a threesome with Sid Vicious [laughs] Something like that! There's definitely an air of rebellion and like punk rockabilly edge to it as well as country and bluegrass tendencies. There's even some blues and I would even go as far as to say some big-band era influences. It's all over the map so it's really hard to put it in one box.

You've released two solo albums as well as releasing two albums as part of Pistol Annies, how did the experience differ between the two?

It was really different. With Pistol Annies, we had been touring with Miranda for almost two years on and off, we would just kind of jump on the bus with her and do pop-ups at random times so we had built a pretty big audience and so when we went to release our record we had a really big following and our record debuted at number one on the Billboard charts when it came out. When I went to do my solo record it was kind of a wake-up call because I realised oh, these people don't really know who I am! [laughs] I'm like the brown-haired girl in the middle. Just the part of getting out and making my own fans and having to go back and do the building part that was really easy with Pistol Annies because we kind of just jumped on Miranda's coat tails and adopted her fans and they adopted us. So yeah, it was harder.

Your latest album was released earlier this year and you co-wrote all of the songs, is song-writing something you find comes naturally?

Definitely - I don't know if it's the easiest part but it's definitely the part that comes most naturally to me. I moved to Nashville to be a song-writer, I really didn't have any aspirations to be a superstar artist or anything, I kind of just wanted to write my little songs and have other people sing them. When I got there I on one hand realised that my songs were personal and edgy and not really...I don't want to say commercial, I hate that word...but they just weren't the run of the mill songs that people were cutting. I also fell in love with the recording process and kind of developed a producer's ear because I just really love being in the studio, it's a different creative outlet for me that I really enjoy.

Which song from any artist do you wish you'd written?

"Strawberry Wine", I love that song. I think it's just the perfect country song because it talks about drinking, it talks about summer romance, it talks about being young and then being old and remembering when you were young, I just think it's a perfect little song. Matraca Berg wrote that song and she's one of my all-time favourite song-writers and a big influence on me and probably one of the big reasons why I decided to move to Nashville and try to do it myself. 

How do you balance the different aspects of your career?

Well I'm still trying to figure that out! [laughs] I don't really know that I do balance it well, I try to take it one thing at a time and then when I have to do five things at a time I try to be okay with the fact that I can only put so much of myself into something if I have to do five other things. Just trying to not feel like I have to be perfect and also remembering to just take some down time. Like yesterday, we've been on the road for like two weeks and I was like okay, we're taking baths! [laughs] So I went and bought a bunch of bubble wrap and I have my son out with me and I was like alright, we're going to do spa night. Just doing things like that to take care of myself but long story short, I don't do it well! [laughs] It's just so many hats to wear. 

Given the choice, what would be the one non-essential item you would take with you on tour?

Oh my goodness I don't know...I'm so used to not having certain things! [laughs] I've kind of just trained myself to not even think about the luxuries. I'm going to have to think about that...a refrigerator! [laughs] It's so hard to eat fresh food when you're in a van. Over here it's easier because there's actual real food in the services. In the States you can be in a place where there's not an apple for fifty miles. So if I had a refrigerator that I could just take with me all the time I would keep it filled with fresh fruit and ice and other stuff that you can't really take. Until you've lived this life it's really hard to explain what a luxury it is to have a refrigerator every day. Usually when I'm in the States we'll take a cooler but then you have to drain it and keep the ice in it and it's just hassle so you just wind up eating like chips every night - which after a few weeks your show clothes don't fit you and you have to go to H&M and buy a whole bunch of cheap clothes to wear. For that I've found like the golden place here, Primark. That's like the ultimate disposable clothes road equipment like haven, all the stuff is so cheap! I'm sure if you wash it one time it's going to like dissolve but just like a hoody, or a pair of leggings or socks or some clean pyjamas can be like gold out here. 

You're currently over here in the UK and are set to return later this year, how has the response to your music been from UK fans?

It's been unbelievable, they are such loyal, respectful people and now that I've been over a few times I'm starting to see the same faces and people are starting to show up at my shows with my t-shirts on [laughs] It's like I have some real life fans! It's really amazing. People over here just have a different mind-set I think as far as going to shows. In the States it's kind of a crap-shoot, you never know what you're getting yourself in to depending on the type of place you play. Some places are amazing and then some places it's just like people are there to drink beer and get wild. Over here if people come to your show they're coming to see you play music and they want to hear you. They're quiet when it's time and they laugh when it's time so yeah, it's different.

Can we expect to see you build upon the relationship that you've started over here to make a regular tour-stop?

Definitely! I love coming over here, it's always really inspiring for me to be able to see new places and meet new people and like I said, the clubs and the fans over here, I kind of get spoiled when I'm over here because it is so great! Not to take anything away from the States because there are places that are amazing there too and you kind of always on a tour have a couple of tough venues that are like oh my gosh I'd rather be getting a root canal [laughs] than having these people not listen to me play my music. 

How do you deal with it if you end up with a show where the audience isn't particularly concentrating?

Well I have different techniques, sometimes I'll kind of just go into a zone and kind of let's just get through this and I'll kind of go through the motions but then if I'm feeling really good and feeling frisky I'll just get in their conversations with them and I'll try to like play off of what they're saying, just kind of laugh it up with them. There was one show in particular where this guy was texting the whole time - like never looked up - and I was talking to this girl behind him who was wearing one of my t-shirts and he looked up when I was talking to her like are you talking to me and I was like no sir I'm not talking to you, how would you even know what's going on, you've been texting the whole time that I've been playing. Then when the show was over I went off and my manager was like uh miss, the guy that was texting was a reporter that just did a lovely story on you today! [laughs] So when I went back for encore I was like I just wanted to say thanks to the lovely reporter that was texting the entire time, it's no problem! You can text just as much as you want. For me you can save any show by showing your vulnerability, I'll miss lyrics on purpose, anything to just get a laugh, to draw their attention in. Usually the easiest way is just by showing I'm just a person too up there sharing songs. I think it gives them something to connect to.


Thank you to Angaleena for her time! Her latest album Wrangled is available now and you can find her October UK tour dates on her website here.

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