TikTok is the app that’s generated the careers of many artists who’ve been grateful for the social platform. But no other has had their music go viral as fast as Texas native Erin Kinsey’s. Since establishing her roots in Nashville, Erin has taken the time to craft two hit singles that have continued to showcase why songwriters are lining up to work with her. At just 20-years-old, the singer-songwriter from a small-town joins us at Roots to talk about her exciting career thus far.
Erin, thank you so much for joining us here at Roots and giving us the time to talk about your incredible start in the industry.
Thank you so much for having me. This is gonna be fun!
Q. It’s been a whirlwind of a rush for you this summer with social media and streaming platforms buzzing about you. Nashville has grown a strong interest in you but for others who are just now hearing about you, how would define your music?
A. I probably describe my music as definitely country. But it has elements of pop country and also some rock in there. Big guitars. Big drums. Lyrically, I just try to keep stuff as conversational as possible. I just like to say it how I would say it if I was talking to you.
Q. A lot of people have hopped on your growing fanbase and the attention you’ve received has been exciting. Most of this attention was gained from the popular app TikTok. Within 24 hours, your post, featuring your single “Drunk Too”, gained nearly two million views. What was going through your mind as people were becoming aware of your music?
A. “Drunk Too” was my first single that I put out back in April (of this year). That was my first experience of getting any kind of traction on the app. I had been posting on it and I definitely wasn’t against it. But I had a really tough time figuring out what did well on TikTok and what people wanted to see. It’s so different than other platforms and it’s kinda hard to nail down. But I just posted a song that I wrote and was really proud of. I was planning on releasing it, but not as quick as we did. I’ve been pursuing this dream since I was 12 and now, I’m 20 and I had never put out music. I was waiting for the perfect song and the perfect moment. I think something you learn from getting older is that there is no perfect moment. When that song got the traction that it did, I just ran to the studio and recorded it. That was whole whirlwind of itself.
Q. You’re doing this at such a young age. What people are surprised to find out is that you’ve actually been doing this for years. Where did this passion for music come from?
A. I always loved music. I was always singing around the house. My parents always had some kind of radio on, and I loved it. I’m originally from a small-town east of Dallas. When you don’t grow up in Nashville or in LA, I don’t think you realize that you can pursue something like that. The second I knew it was an option I decided to go for it.
Q. Many people from your home state of Texas can attest to how big the country scene is there. But what decided that Nashville is where you wanted to be and develop your career further?
A. Obviously, Texas has it’s whole country music scene and it’s amazing. But industry-wise, I just found to be able to meet people and write easier. Especially, being as young as I was when I moved, I just thought, “Nashville is the place to be.” I was coming back and forth from my town to Nashville since I was 13 or 14. Just short little trips. Writing with people, meeting with people, going to shows and playing shows. Ended up moving permanently when I was 17.
Q. The single “Drunk Too” had an incredible viral moment. On top of that, it nearly has a half million streams on Spotify. What was the process like recording this song and did you think it would catch as much attention as it has?
A. I was really excited about it. It was a song I knew I was really proud of. With that song I got to make a Spotify account, I got to make an Apple account, got to download the Spotify for artists app and all these other fun things. But the single that I just put, “Just Drive”, has, honestly, been the one that changed my life. It got a total of 7.5 million views on TikTok throughout the videos. You see the numbers come in, but you don’t know if it’ll transfer over or if people are gonna wait on it. The amount of support and love that song has gotten has blown me away. I love the song. It’s so close and near and dear to my heart for a lot of reasons. But it’s been really cool to see it being close and relate to people the way it is.
Q. Critics and artists have noted your strong prowess as a songwriter and are very excited for your future. You’ve expressed how dedicated you are to your craft and are constantly found in writing sessions with others. What’s the evolution of your songwriting been like since joining these sessions with other accredited writers?
A. Especially being in a town like Nashville, you’re constantly around people who are better than you, who are pushing you or are more experienced. Being able to bounce ideas off of such amazing people and writers has helped me grow so much every day. It’s also helped us get the best songs that I’ve gotten so far. Some people like to write by themselves more, some people prefer to co-write. I just love being in the room with people and bouncing ideas off of each other. Teamwork makes the dreamwork type of thing.
Q. Your latest single “Just Drive” has risen to the top of streaming services in just about the same span as “Drunk Too”. You mentioned how Paramore was a huge source of inspiration for the song and how you really admired them. Is there an artist that you felt you gained a lot of influence from in your artistry?
A. I grew up on everything, so I’ve tried to take little pieces of everything that I’ve listened to. That’s why as a country artist, of course, I looked up to Taylor Swift and the classic female idols in country music. I’ve tried to pull things from everywhere. I just love the big guitars and big drums in Paramore songs. I think it’s so cool—it’s something that not everyone does in country music. There are absolutely people who have influenced it in their music. But it was really cool to try and figure that out. It’s been even cooler that it’s kinda worked.
Q. The comments that viewers and fans have sent to your singles really show your ability to connect to your audience. But one song that’s touched the hearts of thousands is the single “Pink”. It’s become another inspiring anthem for breast cancer awareness. You co-wrote the song and later had it recorded by the iconic Dolly Parton with features from Monica, Jordin Sparks, Sara Evans and Rita Wilson. What was it like being a part of this great project and how personally has the single become for you?
A. I wrote the song with Victoria Shaw and Jodi Marr. Two super, well-respected writers here in Nashville. I was super honored to be in a room with them and shocked we’re actually gonna write something together. It was really crazy. A whole other element that I found out while walking there, somebody really close to me was in the middle of battle with breast cancer. Victoria could obviously tell something was off. We just started talking about it and it was just one of those moments where she happened to have a title she was saving. “Pink” was a title she kept close and the hook would be, “someday, pink would just be another color and it won’t have to represent breast cancer awareness because it won’t be a thing anymore.” That song was in the room that day and we were really proud of it. We were excited that it seemed to be filled with hope. I played it for the person who was close to me battling cancer. She said, “I can see people in the waiting room where they don’t know what the results are going to be, listening to this song and being encouraged that they’re not alone.” We thought this song was more than just throwing it on platforms. We reached out to Susan G. Komen and its CEO. After that, we got all these amazing artists on the song who recorded it. It’s been absolutely amazing to see not only the reaction, but genuinely, how many lives this song has saved. The main message was going for early detection scanning and people went to get scanned because of that song. We’ll never truly know how many lives it’s saved. But we know it’s saved many.
Q. You made your Grand Ole Opry debut this past October singing “Pink” along with your cowriter Victoria Shaw. Rita Wilson was just one of the big-name lineups who accompanied you that night onstage in support of the fight against breast cancer. Do you recall the moments and emotions you felt being among great artists that night?
A. It was surreal. I don’t know if, even now, it’s really sunk in that it happened. It kinda feels like a dream. But it was such a crazy moment and I’ll never forget it. To be able to make my Opry debut, which is such a big thing for a country artist, for something so much bigger than me and my music but for breast cancer awareness and women across the world made it mean so much more.
Q. Besides being on the Grand Ole Opry, you’ve been featured in numerous televised shows when you’re not performing at songwriter rounds. One of these was a PBS songwriter series that featured Nashville superstar writers Jimmie Allen and Liz Rose. But what was your first ecstatic moment when you found your name being mentioned by a high-profile artist?
A. It was Victoria Shaw’s tv show and she mentioned about getting me on in the second season. When I found out it was with Jimmie Allen and Liz Rose, I got more nervous. But also, a lot more excited. I really respect Jimmie Allen’s music and Liz Rose is such an icon. Especially with young female artists. She’s written with everybody. It was really awesome and definitely nerve-wracking to play and sing in front of them. But it was such an honor and I’m happy that it was filmed so I can go and watch it back!
Q. You have a lot of writers behind you that expressed how exciting it is to work with you. But is there an artist in particular that you hope to collab with next?
A. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with a lot of people that I want. There’s a lot of people on that list. The person I would really love to collaborate with, because I respect his writing and guitar playing so much, is John Mayer. I have looked up to him for a really long time I think he has such a specific style. It’s one thing to be able to sing and people know it’s you. But to play guitar and everybody know that it’s you? I have no idea how he does it.
Q. After releasing two singles that have enraptured millions of listeners, where do you intend to go from here as people await your next big release?
A. I’m, currently, trying to decide on the next single and really hoping that an EP is in the future. We’ll just kinda see what happens. I’m writing everyday and going to writing sessions. New music keeps coming in every day which is really exciting and also makes things a little bit crazy. Definitely, will put out more stuff soon.
Q. No doubt, people all over Nashville have been looking forward to your upcoming shows you have booked for this year. But as this year is starting to wind down with the summer months rolling by, what should people expect from you as making two big standouts?
A. I’m just hoping to play more. I have singles in the running that I’m trying to beat out or decided between. I’m really excited for all of them. But definitely, come out to the shows, I love to meet people and see them. Follow on socials to stay up to date. But I’m really excited to see what the next “little bit” holds.
We’re all excited to see what that next “little bit” is for you as your career develops further from here. Thank you so much for joining here at Roots to share your music and the incredible experiences from it.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been awesome.
Interview by Trenton Luber