Introducing....Stephanie Quayle

Country singer-songwriter Stephanie Quayle released her newest single, Drinking With Dolly, on March 28.

Whilst Stephanie has released other singles and EPs in the past, it was Drinking With Dolly that both introduced me to her music and impressed me with the overall strength of the track. Rooted in a traditional country sound, Stephanie comes across as a strong storyteller through a song that, whilst not written by her, seems to be a perfect fit.

With the track grounded by a catchy and distinctly singable chorus, Stephanie's vocal is supported by a soft snare drum line with interweaving instruments - such as fiddle and lap steel lines - that create that overall traditional country feel. Drinking With Dolly as a whole doesn't disappoint and promises that it will definitely be worth keeping an eye on Stephanie as an artist as she develops through future releases.

I was recently able to catch up with Stephanie and ask her some questions....

How were you first introduced to country music?
It was actually growing up on a farm in Montana, we would play this little silver am country radio in the barn and it played country radio 24/7. I think that's where it really just got into my soul [laughs] and I just fell in love with the stories. My parents were a huge influence on what I listened to musically, so getting to hear the great traditional country music artists like Willie Nelson and George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, all the classics, all the stories really got in my head. I didn't really realise how much of an influence that was until I started writing country music and then I realised this is who I am! It's a very good introduction! It's funny, the barn is like a home to me. I grew up on a farm so every time I enter a barn it's like I just hear all the country songs bouncing off the beams. 
What was your first experience of song-writing?
My first experience of song-writing I was twelve years old and my best friend at the time...we would go to Minnesota every summer to spend it with my family that were there from Montana...and she fell for my cousin. I felt like the best way to be the soundtrack of their moment was to write them a song and so I wrote them a song and I actually sang it to them. I mean this is twelve, this is ridiculous! [laughs] They were sitting there looking at the lake and I sang it to them. That was my very first song and I can still remember but no-one will ever hear! What was really great was that it couldn't have been more genuine and when I think back to that very first song it was very honest and it had no other purpose than to be for that moment. I think finding your way back to that sentiment...obviously we're in a business of music making and looking for the hit, you're writing the hits and you're hoping you write the hits and so sometimes it's good to kind of scale that back and just write a great song. 
Do you find it easier to write songs from your own experiences or to put yourself into other people's shoes?
You know, I would think about fifty-fifty. I find myself pulling from a lot of topics when writing my music and I've found that I've become more vulnerable in my writing, not as protective of things that have happened to me over the course of my life. But I also find that I love to be a storyteller of others and so if it's eavesdropping over a conversation...[laughs]...which I have done! Or if it's something that a friend or family member is going through I do find it's easier to write someone else's story versus my own. So sometimes what I'll do is I'll write from the standpoint of okay so I'm writing about my situation but I'm going to make it about a different person so that I can write from a different perspective. 
What's the craziest thing you've heard when you're eavesdropping?
Oh shoot I don't know if I can say that in an interview! [laughs] What was one that I heard that actually become a song...was 'How 'Bout Another Round Of Second Chances', that was kind of interesting. I was like what does that mean? [laughs] Then of course I've heard really crazy things that just can't be repeated. 
Drinking With Dolly is a brilliant track, what drew you to that even though you didn't write it?
Well I appreciate you saying that so much, that means the absolutely world to me. I was sitting in the studio with my producer Matt McClure, I played him a couple of my songs and he said there's a song you need to hear. I respect Matt so much so knowing that there was something that he'd been pitched that he wanted to share, I was just overwhelmed with excitement. So he put on 'Drinking With Dolly' which was just an acoustic vocal - a little work tape - and honestly, the first chord, the first line of the song, "sometimes I think I was born too late, came into the world in the wrong decade", I've used those words. So I knew right then, the hairs on my arms went straight up, my eyeballs started crying and I just knew that this was my song and I knew it wasn't luck. I didn't know that this song was as magical and was going to have the impact...sometimes you hear a song and it affects you but it might not affect someone else the same way and what's been amazing is how this song has impacted so many lives, it has such a positive vibe. I think it's a beautiful tribute to the women of country music, not only is it reminiscent but it's also very forward and that the conversations of women haven't really changed. If you read back in country music history of what was going on when Kitty Wells was on the charts, it's really profound if you think what these incredible women of country music went through to pave that way.  
It's one of the more traditional country tracks you've released, do you often find yourself gravitating towards a more traditional sound?
I'm a blend, I'm definitely a blend. I think I find myself most drawn to other stories and with country music I always find it's like a three and a half minute movie and I'm a very visual person so I love imagery and this song just screams imagery to me. Also the songs that I'm writing and the ones that I've been finding that really fit who I am as an artist and as an entertainer, performer, musician and writer are the stories. Sometimes they're going to be as deep as a dog dish and other times they're going to be as deep as an ocean and I think what's really beautiful about our genre is there's room for both. Sometimes you want to put on that song that just tears your heart apart and you play on repeat and it's like you're a glutton for musical punishment but...have you ever had that song where it kills you to listen to but you have to listen to it over and over again? Then other times you can just roll the windows down and a song comes on and you don't have to get deep, you don't have to think, you just bop your head and you feel the breeze in your hair, that's a wonderful feeling. There's room for it all so I think with putting this project together I really want my fans, which we call 'the flock', 'the flock of quayle' have that feeling that when they're listening to the album that they feel it all and that they get to escape in the music because that's why music is so powerful, because we get the opportunity to just totally immerse ourselves in these songs. 
Can we expect to see a full-length album released from you soon?
Yes, we're trying to decide on a time, I think we're looking at early 2017. We've got about seven songs recorded and I have the entire month of August and part of July set up for writing. There is so much great music out there, I don't want to wait too long to put it out but I do love the idea of putting out a full album instead of an EP. But it also could be an EP, things change every day! [laughs] So I'm kind of just open to all things as long as great music prevails. 
Are there any tracks you wish you'd written? And why?
Well definitely 'Drinking With Dolly', that is just beyond brilliant, that's written by Victoria Banks and Rachel Procter, two really extraordinary women and there's another song that will be on the album called 'Ugly' and that's one too where you can place yourself in almost every line of the song that you didn't write, it's kind of the most wild experience, just like wait a minute I didn't write this, how did this happen. Then there's some songs that I've written that I'm just really excited to share with the world because I feel like I've gone to a place that's much more vulnerable and raw, I think that there's a rawness that I've maybe been a little bit more protective of in the past in terms of my song-writing that now I'm just like you know what, we've all had experiences where there's something to relate there and instead of looking at it fearfully I look at it kind of like I'm embracing that rawness and going you know what, everyone can relate to this and I want to share that story. I hope the music will speak for itself but that's how it makes me feel for sure. 
Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
There's so many! [laughs] There are so many...if I reach back I have been listening to Dolly since I was a teeny tiny human and I think that to collaborate on anything with her would kind of be full circle. When I think about listening to her as a child, being able to pay tribute to her in this song - she's heard the song and she loves it which is just extraordinary. I have never met Dolly so to be able to do something with her would be one of the moments that you can't recreate, when I think about the little girl in the barn listening to Dolly as she's cleaning stalls and brushing horses, this little silver am radio playing and then I think about how she's been a force in country music and being able to look at her career and how she handles herself with always such grace and kindness and then to be able to share this music that celebrates her and Tammy and Patsy and Loretta and all the others of course, to be able to do something with her I would probably lose my mind! [laughs] 
You've performed a myriad of live shows now, how do you feel that's helped your development as an artist?
There is no place I feel more at home than on stage and I think what's helped me is that when I go to shows I study other artists and what they do and how they connect with their audience. The biggest take-away from performing live has been performing new songs that have yet to be recorded or are in the process of seeing if they work or don't work and it's incredible to have the fans connect with the songs, there's nothing like it. I think also through all these different shows I've been ready for anything. I've gotten much more comfortable with being uncomfortable and also with just kind of going for it. I think if my early years I was much more conscious of can I do this, can I do that and now it's more like I'm here to entertain and I want my fans to have a blast, new fans, first fans, old fans, this is for them and so the best show wins and we've got to just make it great. I think that as I've become a better musician and a better vocalist that just happens with time and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of shows, It really just allows it to be much more organic and authentic and connective. 
Congrats on reaching the top five of the Macy's Rising Star contest, how has that experience been?
Thank you it's been wild! The best part and the most surprising part has been the fans. My fans, my folk, have gone to the max for me. I have never seen them engage in such a way, the determination is just incredible. When you're asking people to vote for you every day for any amount of weeks and then you get to the top five and you're asking that again it's a lot to ask of people and I think that it's not that I underestimated my fans, I just have a really hard time asking [laughs] people to do things for me, I've always been that way. So I think it's been great to watch my folk come together in such a cool way and be able to share...'Drinking With Dolly' is getting extraordinary exposure. This contest has brought so much light on my song which all helps and it's all exciting. Of course we want to be number one, I don't know if anyone goes into a contest thinking oh I really want to be third but regardless, the impact has been so positive and the radio stations all across the country that have come on board that aren't even iHeart because they are in great support of what I'm doing and creating here. I think it's been a great surprise. I think it's extraordinary, the song is building. it's finding it's way.
Are there any plans to tour the UK soon?
Gosh yes, tell me when! [laughs] I can't wait to come back over to Europe. It's interesting, as the fan base grows, the reach grows. I've had a few different fans on social media saying when are you doing C2C, can you do C2C next year, yes I will! [laughs] but I don't know how to do it! [laughs]. I think they have to invite you. I'm thinking next year we'll start making our way over. This year it's all about building that foundation here in the US and then being able to take it everywhere. I don't know if you knew this but I did an exchange program in high school and I ended up in Switzerland studying French in my junior year. There was a band there that needed a singer and I auditioned for that band and that's really where and when I knew this would be my life. I got up on stage as this kid from Montana singing her old songs with this band from Switzerland and we played every weekend and put out a little CD and it was then that I knew this would be my life so I can't wait to come back as Europe had such a profound affect on the whole course of my life.

Thank you to Stephanie for her time! I'd definitely recommend downloading Drinking With Dolly and you can also listen to her other tracks through YouTube and on iTunes.