The C2C: Country to Country audience was due for a treat back in 2020 but the less said about that the better. One artist that would have graced the stage had it not been for the pandemic was Caylee Hammack, an enigmatic and truly wonderful redhead from Ellaville, Georgia. Caylee is an artist that lived the Nashville dream of moving to town and playing in bars with the hope of finding a record deal which she did and happened to make one or two friends along the way that have been regular visitors to the UK. Three years later than planned, she made her public London debut at C2C in 2023 and she did her best to steal the crown of best hugger in Music City off her good friend Tenille Townes when she hung out with Jamie before her main stage debut to talk about the festival, her upcoming sophomore record, the coolest girl gang in country music and even a little nod to getting erm, High School High.
Thank you for taking the time to hang. “Thank you for wanting to hang.”
Oh girl, this is amazing. You were the last person I saw play live and on stage before the world shut down. “At the Gibson show?”
That’s the one. “Gosh mighty, I know, and it was the night before I was supposed to play the exact same place that we are tonight at the O2. It was a tumultuous year after that, so it was like the last moment of sanity.”
That’s one way to put it but I have now got to see all three times that you have been on stage in London because I was at both shows yesterday so that is really, really cool and my fourth time tonight will likely be a lot of people’s first time seeing you. You’re going to play that big old room in there in what looks a really cool round with Alana (Springsteen) and Tyler (Braden) too. “It’s gonna be a good one. It’s always fun when you play in a round that you actually really enjoy and you vibe with those artists too because you can bop and dance around in your seat whilst they’re singing, it’s special.”
I know the last time you were here three years ago, things erm didn’t quite go to plan but obviously getting back here has been something that you really wanted to do and make up for. “There is a reverence for country music here that is unparalleled to anywhere else. Getting to do C2C is such an honour because for me it is a way to thrive as an artist, not just survive. I get to come over here and am fully embraced by people listening whether they know me or not. There is a ferocity to the love of country music that the people here have, and I have to say that C2C pick some wonderful places for us to go because every single night people feel that energy and that just means a lot to us.” The other thing I guess in terms of being able to play songs, it has been quite a while since you put an extended project out. We had “All Or Nothing” at the start of the year so, I’m guessing you may have something brewing and yesterday we got to hear quite a few new songs and is over here a great place to be trying them out?
“Yes, that was the first thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to try out some new songs and see how y’all reacted to them. Getting to have “All Or Nothing” out here as the first song to the second album is exhilarating to me because heck, we put the album out in 2020 during COVID so, I pretty much had to Zoom with people everyday and I didn’t really get a visceral reaction from people on how they felt about the songs. Being able to play new songs here with people whooping and hollering between the songs is so cool, I can’t tell you how much that it means to me to be able to come over here across the pond.” Whilst it’s been a while since you brought something as a full body of work yourself, you were involved with Ashley’s really cool “Lindeville” project. I know you were both touring with Miranda a couple of years back and all of you girls recorded the cover of “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”, was that the first time you and Ashley properly spent some time together or had you been doing things together for a little bit longer? “Yeah, I’ve actually never told this story before, I don’t think. Miranda invited us into Neon Cross which is Jay Joyce’s studio in Nashville to record that song. When I got in there it was her and Ashley McBryde where we are microphone in front of microphone where Ashley and I are singing to one another. Then Maren walks in, but Elle and Tenille came in another time because they got stuck with flights somewhere else. I remember at the very end of it that Maren had to run off as she had something else to do after we had got done recording, then I was about to leave too because I could tell that Ashley and Miranda were friends. I never want to be that young artist that they feel like I’m trying to cling onto or anything like that, so I go to pick up my purse and go to walk out, Miranda looks at me and goes where are you going? I said I was just gonna leave y’all so you can just hang out and get some time, you probably never get to see each other. They said well if you have nothing to do then sit-down girl, we’re playing songs for each other, and it was the first time I really got to hang out with those girls. I automatically just fell in love with both of them. Ashley has this reverence for country music and Miranda may be the only person I know that is at the same level, it’s so educational to sit down with them and listen to old country music.”
I first met Ashley in Amsterdam and as you know, she is such a wonderful and warm human being but the thing I love most about her is you can always tell when she is really excited or passionate about something. Ordinarily, to me she talks quite fast anyway compared to a lot of people but the more excited or really into something that she gets, she just speaks faster and faster and faster until she gets to a point where her mouth is moving so much quicker than what she is thinking that she has stop and breathe so she can catch up with herself. That’s just one of the cutest things about her and one of many reasons why I love her. “I have to say that Ashley got me through 2020, her, Tenille Townes and Miranda, those were the girls that I got to sit down, talk to, vent and play work tapes for when we couldn’t play music for other people. If you ever want to hear a really cool sea shanty, then ask Ashley McBryde! That woman knows every song that you can ever imagine, including all of the sailor songs.”
We’ve talked about quite a few of your friends who are other girls that are doing great things and have been over here quite a few times. From the limited time you have been in Europe and what you’ve observed with trends here, have you picked up on there being a more positive attitude towards supporting female artists over here compared to in the States? “You know I don’t know from the radio point of view just because I don’t know what’s streaming and who’s playing but I do know from the fans. I feel this beautiful intimate connection with other people when I am here, like yesterday I had time where I got to go into the crowd and one of the girls saw me in Berlin. From then on, she had come to different shows and has got me addicted to Milka chocolate bars, I told her that I gained about ten pounds from that, but the thing is I have felt so much positivity and encouragement especially from the women here. As a woman in country music, I do feel a sense of support here.”
I Know back at home the gender balance isn’t the way that it should be in country music and that is an important conversation to keep at the forefront but there are a lot of people that are giving their all to fight your corner. CMT with their Next Women of Country programme which you were part of a couple of years back are one of those especially where it is not them preaching the gospel but having the platform to really be able to do positive things. “One thing I do want to say to any woman or man that is reading/listening is that if you have a fervent passion for music, but you don’t think you can work in it because maybe you don’t write, maybe you sing or maybe you don’t play guitar there are so many people that put this on. There are publishers that sit and listen to music they love and connect to the right artists or people like Leslie Fram that pretty much runs CMT who with that power and position brings in young artists like us and create this little thing on the side where she can promote the women in country music. Just know there are so many different jobs and ways that you can follow your passion where you can make country music, or any type of music happen. If you feel that need in your heart and you can’t live without it, then do it!”
Amazing, I really have enjoyed this a lot and I know you have got some other people to talk to, but you mentioned about album two so have we got a rough timeframe for when we will get to hear it? Are we looking at this year? “Yes, so my sophomore album will be out at the end of this year, I’m guessing quarter 3 so maybe around August and until then we’re going to start releasing some other songs. I think the next song will be called “History of Repeating” which I actually wrote with Ashley McBryde and one of the other ladies from the Lindeville project; Pillbox Patti who is also here this weekend and I LOVE HER! If you have not heard of her, you’ve got to!!"
That news is so exciting, have a lot of fun tonight, enjoy Dublin and Glasgow where everyone is going to love you and fingers crossed you will come back and see us again. “Hey, just bring me back anytime you want me, and I will be here.”
Absolutely, we all want you to play “Family Tree” over here because you didn’t play that yesterday and there’s a line or two about things you can do a on Sunday drive that I’m with you on Caylee. “Ha ha, YES! I knew we would be friends.” Well, if we weren’t already that seals it. “That was the one part of the song that I didn’t know if I wanted my mom and daddy to hear, so it was like ooops ha ha.”
Is it right that came from when you were initially doing a write for Carrie? “Yes, I was a staff writer at Universal Publishing at that moment and there is a thing called target writing where because I’m a young female artist and my range was similar to hers, they put me in a room with Troy Verges and Gordie Sampson where they said write for Carrie Underwood. At that point she had just put that song out about smoking cigarettes so I thought what is the next edgy thing that she could talk about? What about getting High School High? Anyway, my family called and made me explain that one but I’m very grateful that it wasn’t really up her alley because it’s right up mine and I’m grateful for all of the weird detours that life gives me, it’s been a fun road to ride.”
This has been an absolute blast. I can absolutely one hundred percent see how you, Ashley and Tenille are each other’s people because you are all so warm, so fun and the three of you adore hugs. I declared Tenille Townes the best hugger in country music and Miss McBryde wants that crown but they’ve both got some serious competition now friend! “That’s awesome, I’m happy being one, two or three in that list but I do love hugs so, let’s have another one.”
You can find the new track “All Or Nothing” from Caylee Hammack on all your favourite platforms HERE and keep up to date with all of her upcoming releases by following Caylee across her socials (INSTAGRAMTIKTOKTWITTER & FACEBOOK). C2C: Country to Country will return to the O2 Arena in London and OVO Hydro in Glasgow on 8th to 10th March 2024 where the festival will also head to Belfast at the SSE Arena for the first time. Early Bird tickets were released on Friday March 17th where full ticket information is available on the WEBSITE and socials (INSTAGRAM / TWITTER / FACEBOOK)
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks