Paisley Marie makes music that takes you back and breaks your heart. But there’s an unmistakable joy there. This is a woman who clearly loves what’s she’s doing.
If you haven’t already, you too can have your heart melted tonight. Paisley performs at Senate’s End Hall for the launch party of WREN, the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her music, her inspiration, and the future.
Where are you from?
I’m born and raised in Columbia! It’s my home, and always has been.
Tell me about the music you make.
I try to keep a balance between old-school country and old-school folk. Think: A southern Joan Baez with lyrics about heartbreak, death, drinking, and patriotism – all the good stuff.
Does living in the South impact your music?
Absolutely! And it doesn’t solely affect the genre- it affects the subject matter, as well as how I perform. I think being in a place with so much history provides plenty of vibes and emotions to go off of when writing music.
As far as performance goes, I started playing gigs in bars and barbecue wing restaurants – really southern places – when I was twelve years old. To stand up in front of a bunch of grown men and women who only came to watch an SEC football game and sing your heart out on some Taylor Swift songs takes a lot of guts and a lot of crowd engagement. I’m proud of where I started, and it’s definitely turned me into more than just a musician. It’s turned me into a performer.
How does your family and activism inform your musicmaking?
My family are all musicians, I work at a music store and teach voice lessons at Freeway Music, I went to school to study voice, and I participate in Girls Rock Columbia as well as various benefit concerts. I guess you could say music is quite literally ALL I do. And I love it!
What are your hopes for the future?
I made a tough decision last year to leave college to pursue music full time. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life so far, and I hope my dreams continue to be realized. I’m working on releasing some new material soon and hopefully touring on it in the near future.
Nashville is somewhere I’d love to take my music. I would honestly just like to be in a place where I can wear a cowboy hat, a fringe Nudie suit, and play a sparkle Telecaster on stage in front of people who appreciate that vibe, haha.
I’m sorting through the 30+ songs I’ve written all throughout my teenage years to pick which ones I’ll be recording within the next few months. Also, arguing about possible album titles with my dad. You know, the necessary parts of being a musician!
Who do you listen to?
Lately I’ve been on a real country kick. Lots of Margo Price, Lera Lynn, Nikki Lane, Sturgill Simpson, Anderson East, and the like! Old-style country music reminds me of home, and the dark themes really appeal to me.
I’m actually a huge fan of classic rock and punk, though it doesn’t show through in my songwriting quite as much. So in that vein, lots of The Stooges, MC5, ZZ Top, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I dig that stuff just because of how raw it is. Which is totally similar to the reasons I like country and folk. To me, it’s all about the raw emotions.
Who inspires you?
My dad is the person who pushes me to do my best and has helped guide me my whole life and career. He moved to Columbia to pursue a career in music at a young age, and has done pretty damn well! He’s also the best Iggy Pop impersonator I’ve ever seen.
He raised me up telling me that if I was going to enter into a field that’s male dominated, I was going to have to learn to kick ass and learn to do it quick. He taught me that I shouldn’t be the best FEMALE musician, or the best YOUNG musician, I should just be the BEST musician. That anything is an even playing field if you demand the respect you know you deserve. He raised me tougher than anyone else could have so the world wouldn’t seem so harsh compared to the stuff he put me through! Haha.
Any favorite Southern women?
I can’t think of one in particular, but just the idea of a strong Southern woman has always been inspiring. Strength seems to be one characteristic that’s intrinsic of the people in the South. I’ve been criticized my whole life for being strong/intimidating/loud/etc. but I always chalk it up to being a classic Southern woman.
Any other Southern women or non-binary or trans Southerners making music that we should know about?
Lera Lynn, Nikki Lane, Margo Price, Shovels and Rope, Angel Olsen!