#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Brown & Gray

“In the words of Storme Warren himself, Brown & Gray, the collaboration between Kaci Brown and Sam Gray, serves as a bridge between the soul of Country Music in the US to the new boom of Country in the United Kingdom. Building a link between the US and the exploding Country Music scene in the UK, this exciting project is just the beginning of a creative journey through the best both worlds have to offer, with the new single “Top Down” leading the way.

Texas-born and Nashville-raised Kaci Brown signed her first publishing deal at age 11 when she moved to Nashville and signed with Barbara Orbison’s Still Working Music. She became the youngest writer ever with ASCAP, and by the age of 17, she released a debut pop album ‘Instigator‘ via Interscope Records. Sam Gray is a highly acclaimed songwriter, singer & producer based in London, England, with millions of streams on Spotify across a variety of current singles, with artists including Hardwell, Julian Perretta, DJ Katch, Tobtok, and Manovski.”

Together they are the country act Brown & Gray. The duo made their Stagecoach debut this Sunday on the Festival’s “Introducing SiriusXM Spotlight Stage,” alongside Ashley McBryde, Runaway June, Lewis Brice, Temecula Road, and CB30.

Sam, you’re a classically trained violin player – will you be showcasing the instrument on any upcoming songs?

“Definitely planning to, yes. We haven’t currently worked the instrumentation into production or our live set, but we’ll definitely be experimenting as we go.”

Having written for a number of artists, you’ve seen your songs chart Top 10.

What’s different now that your current song is one you both co-wrote and perform on?

“Top Down is a record I (Sam) wrote at a writing camp with Michael Angelo and J-doe in London. It’s always incredible to have a song charting, and there are many songs Kaci and I have written that are doomed/destined to chart as well.”

You are a co-writer of “Top Down,” along with Michael Comrie and James “J-Doe” Smith. Saw the song has over 1.7 million views of the official video.

What’s the backstory to the song?

“We wrote it on a summer day in London. It’s not particularly sunny there, but we had a vibe. Emotionally, we were writing about wanting to get away from where we were. We didn’t want to leave it or end it, we just wanted space to process and reset if you will. It was fun writing a song about putting your top down, cruising, and not having a care in the world. It was also a blast shooting the video.”

Kaci, your first publishing deal was at age 11.

How did you come to sign with Barbara Orbison’s Still Working Music at such a young age?

“After winning Little Miss Texas and covering songs with cover bands all across Texas, my momma called several publishing houses looking for original material we could record. Charlie Monk responded with a few age-appropriate records. That relationship led to one with Clay Myers. Clay Myers led to Barbara Orbison. She saw me walk in the hallway and she had a feeling. She was a very spiritual woman and her instincts said there was something special here.”

You went on to pursue a pop career, touring with Backstreet Boys. Your debut album Instigator was released when you were 17.

How has your Texas upbringing influenced your music?

Man, people in and from Texas are just awesome. You don’t realize what you’ve got till you’re gone. People from Texas ask you how you’re doing, and they wait for your response. They make eye contact and call you by name. I’m from a very small town where everyone knows what your cousin had for dinner last night. Traveling to and living in other parts of the world definitely highlights the humility and unity I was raised around. I think coming from a place where it’s safe to be vulnerable allows for a blank canvas every time I walk into a room to create. It also makes, for me, genuinely connecting to and enjoying the people around me. Aside from fulfilling our own creative needs, relating to other humans is one of the biggest reasons we do what we do.

In 2016 you joined Sam at Notting Hill Music. Who brought the two of you together?

Kenneth Komisar is responsible for my meeting and working with Andy McQueen. Andy McQueen is the ingenious, bold, mastermind behind this whole Brown & Gray thing.”

And together you’ve been named a SiriusXM’s Highway Find Artist, a CMT Discovery Artist, along with substantial play on Apple Music and Radio Disney Country.

Do you think the blending of the US & the UK influences have helped your music stand out?

Sam and I both had eclectic music exposure. I think we both bring the best of the worlds to the table when we’re creating, and our openness to what comes out has given us the ability to stand out.”

What has been your biggest challenge as a duo?

“Trying to come together to write and rehearse, hands-down. We live in two different parts of the world. We also find it challenging to perfectly execute the productions of the records we’ve written. They each have lives of their own. Sam and I are very particular about making sure the end result genuinely caters to the songs themselves.”

What direction do you envision for your music?

“The heart of our songs are country, but we’re a progressively pop hybrid. We enjoy incorporating rootsy, urban, rock, and even reggae elements. We’re very much looking forward to sharing where we are.”

What music are you currently working on?

“We’re currently working on finalizing the productions. The more we perform them live the clearer our vision becomes. We really pay attention to what the fans are responding to.”

What do you each like to do outside of music that contributes to your individual musicality?

“Life itself inspires all my creative ideas. I try to make sure each day is full of joy and adventure. I have a little girl. Seeing life through the innocence of her eyes helps me keep a clear perspective and prioritize my time spent both professionally and personally.” -K

“I enjoy anything that gets me out of my head. I like sports. I like to stay active and travel. Keeping a healthy body and mindset gives me a more positive outlook, and I like taking that positivity into my sessions or on to the stage. It’s just better that way.” -S

What new music do you like?

“’That Girl’ Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

‘Girl Going Nowhere’ Ashley McBryde

‘Worth It’ Danielle Bradbery

‘Wild West’ Runaway June

‘Space Cowboy’ Kacey Musgraves

‘In My Blood’ Sean Mendes

‘Love Lies’ Khalid / Normani

Vulfpeck does a lot of funky jams/soul music. The members change from song to song. It’s an incredibly stimulating collaborative effort from really great musicians and vocalists.”

What are your musical icons/influences?

“In no particular order, here are just a few that come to mind…

Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Gloria Estefan, Johnny Cash, Chain Smokers, Kenny Rogers, Imogen Heap, London Grammar, Bruno Mars, DNCE, Kings Of Leon, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, Cheat Codes, Sigala”

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Author: Donna Block

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