Over the last six years, Drake White has steadily been building an international fanbase and is set to play his fourth different festival in the UK when he plays Black Deer Festival. This latest visit will also include a 7 date UK and Ireland headline tour. Before he got on the plane, we caught up with Drake to find out what he was looking forward to about his latest visit
You are about to head back to England. Yeah, we are really excited about getting back over there. I can’t believe it’s already here. The time has gone buy so quick and we are looking forward to getting there and play some music for you all.
You’ve been building this market for over six years now. Do you look back at those first shows each time you come and see the progress? Prior to my injury we had real momentum going over there. The last time I was over, we opened for Lyle Lovett and Chris Stapleton at the O2, and we’ve done C2C a couple of times now. There’s been some epic moments and I’ve always considered myself a world traveller. It’s my desire be over there and nurture those fans to be in that pocket. I love travelling to you guys; I love the conversations; I love what it does for my writing and my music. It’s crazy it’s been that long!
Did you think international opportunities wouldn’t come back after the injury, or was it something you were determined to keep on building? I’ll be very blunt. There was a time when the doctors said I would be lucky to walk again. I always knew that I would be back on stage and back there but fighting through having to learn to walk again at 36 years-old and then the pandemic meant there was multiple things that happened so there were thoughts. We’ve nurtured the fans over there and always want to be with those fans, so we were determined to get over the obstacles in our way and that makes it sweeter. Your first headline show was a couple of hundred and now you’re returning to play Scala with a capacity of over 1000. Is it mad seeing this progress? It’s really not, as I am a pretty inpatient person naturally and I like for things to happen quick. I like mowing the grass as you can see the lines, which is instant gratification. In a music career 6 years is a long time and the two or three things that have happened have been major, so it seems like a really long time. We’ve put in a lot of work over there to make this happen and I’m looking forward to 60 more years. It feels like we are due to keep building and hopefully we can build that to 3000, then 5000, and then headline the O2 Arena.
On your last visit, you played Millport and Long Road Festivals. How did you find the audiences at the shows as you spread out across the UK? When you go and play the big festival, there’s a lot of people in the crowds and I feel like our music connected with them. That’s what music does, it finds a way to connect with people and we started getting booked over there pretty quick. We’ve got a great team that know I’m passionate about the international business out there. It’s a big world and there’s much more than just the US. I’ve been really adamant about keeping the fires lit over there.
Black Deer will be your fourth different festival in the UK! Does it keep the motivation going getting booked on more and more festivals in Europe? I’m as excited about Black Deer as I am about anything in my career. We are in the country world and I’m a country guy from Alabama; that eats with a southern drawl; and eats fried chicken; and I love country music, but I think Black Deer is a great point for us European wise with all different kinds of music being there. I think our music spans genre and is genre less as its country, soul, rock, bluegrass, and blues.
With Black Deer being in the heart of the English countryside, are you looking forward to some tour dates away from the big cities? In my travels I’ve been as far as New Zealand, Alaska, all over Europe and my motto is against the grain; swim upstream; go to the countryside and meet the people. The cities are great and vibrant but where I like to go is to the small towns and talk to the people that are out there in the fields working hard. I’ve always travelled to the small spots, as the countryside is where I live right now. I like the normality of that as I live on a farm right now, so it’s normal to me anyway, as I like the simplicity and slow pace of it.
Stephen Wilson Jnr will be joining you on your tour. How good is it to an artist similar opportunities to those that you had 6 years ago? I’ve actually never met Stephen; we got introduced through Hailey Whitters and I started listen to his music and thought his sound was awesome. I’ve always been very hands on with the way our show feels and if it feels like it fits then I’m in and Stephen has such an authentic sound and I think the people over there will love it too. People gave me opportunities to open for them and to have somebody help open the gates is always good and is I get to do that for Stephen Wilson Jnr then heck yeah, it’s great.
What can we expect from these shows? I’m bringing the Big Fire band with me. As I said, my goal is to headline the O2 Arena and we are growing and want to keep that going, so it will be full band. Don’t get me wrong, I love coming over and playing acoustic as I know that really speaks to you guys and I’ve done that many times, but this is going to be a full-blown kick the tyres and light the fires. Do you think it’s important to be full band when it’s your headline show across the country to give the full experience? For me, it doesn’t always matter as you can connect with a group with just a guitar in your hands and if you can’t do it with just a guitar and no pyro then, for me, you’re doing something wrong, but everyone is different. Full band is a different experience compared to acoustic – no better or worse – as the stars will be in a certain place that night and the music will sound the way it’s supposed to sound when it hits the listeners ears and we will be doing what we do. It is what it is and that’s what makes it real.
Before we finish, I have to ask about Poundcake. Is it almost frustrating when inspiration for a song comes from something so simple? I don’t think frustrating is the word as we beat our heads against the wall trying to not get too fancy and it really was just a joke. Poundcake is just so funny, as in the TikTok world that we live in you put something out there, you turn around and a few weeks later it had 3 or 4 million views, so we had to put it out. I don’t think about more than that. I don’t try to make it perfect or right, I don’t try to say I wish it was a more serious song and that’s why Poundcake came out. I’m an artist first and I’m going to chase the muse. It was a freestyle moment that happened, and it turned into a song, which is what I’m here to do.
Is that moment going to be one you will look back on if you do struggle for inspiration? Yeah, a lot of artists will talk about lightning strikes. You can’t control lighting strikes. When you find that creativity you have to want to chase it and that’s the dedication you need as an artist. When you feel it – chase after it. It’s more about the space around the lightning compared to just the strike.
Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you in the UK! Can’t wait!