Interview: Kane Brown Talks Stagecoach, Collabs & ‘The Experiment’
One of the most exciting trends of 2019 is the increasingly blurred line between country music and other genres. At the forefront of this movement is Kane Brown. The 25-year-old recently lent his gentle twang to a remix of Khalid’s “Saturday Nights” and then brushed up on his Spanish for a reggaeton remix of “Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere” with Becky G. His refusal to be confined by tradition really shone through during his epic Stagecoach set on Friday (April 26), which boasted projections and lights usually associated with a pop concert and a medley of covers that included Bastille and Marshmello’s “Happier.”
I caught up with Kane before his festival-stealing performance and asked how his crossover collaborations came about. He revealed that there are more on the way, and said that online criticism only spurs him on to be more creative and experimental. Other topics of conversation were the differences between his first and second Stagecoach performances, being away from his wife and the creation of his (appropriately-titled) sophomore LP, The Experiment. Get to know the country superstar a little better in our Q&A below.
How did your collaboration with Khalid come about?
Khalid actually said he wrote it as a country song and then, he asked me on my wedding day if I would jump on it with him. I said, “Of course.” There’s no way I’d say no.
And what about “Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere” with Becky G? Who came up with the idea of mixing reggaeton and country?
It was definitely her. I mean, I don’t even really know how to speak Spanish. A friend taught me everything and I wrote it as close to English as possible. But, it was an awesome experience. I love Latin music, just the grooves and the dancing. It’s awesome to actually be on that record.
Your twang came through in another language, that’s impressive.
You even showed off some dance moves in the video.
Yeah, I was trying. I don’t know. She was trying to get it out of me. She was very, very sweet and she’s a very warm person, so she just, she helped me break out of my shell.
Was it a little outside your comfort zone?
A little bit, but going back to Latin music, me and my brother were always going to a bar or something and they would play one Latin song, you know, every two hours. And when that came on, we were super hyped and we just tried to dance as good as we could. So, it was basically like going back home.
Will there be more collaborations during this promo cycle?
Yeah. I grew up doing country music and I’m still going to keep making country music. But you see all these people that are like, “Oh, he’s not Country.” It helps me actually just be like, “Okay, well, if you’re going to say I’m not country, since you’re already putting me in a category, I might as well go ahead and do these songs with other artists.” It just eggs me on to do more.
Why do they say that?
They say it about everybody, it’s not just me. I’m just always on social media, so I see it all the time.
Why are people so caught up in the old country vs new country debate?
Well, I mean, it’s definitely changed. The sound has changed. I mean, it’s the same with everything. The rap genre has changed. Pop genre has changed. Everything changes, everything progresses and you’ve still got the other fans that still just can’t you know, move on. They’ve still got to hold on.
They want their banjo.
Well, we even bring a banjo, we got a fiddle on us! I don’t know, it’s just something else.
You called your album The Experiment. Was that the goal when you went in the studio, to see how far you could push your sound?
Well, we just started doing a bunch of different stuff. I fell in love with the fiddle when I went to Texas and then, we started putting that on there and we just started writing super pop songs and had Dan Huff make it country. And, somebody asked me one day what I’m going to call the album. I never had a name and I was like, “I’m just experimenting right now.” It just stuck with me.
“Heaven” was such a big hit. Did you feel any pressure to come up with another huge song on your second album?
It definitely makes you kind of nervous, but we had so much momentum that I was more excited than nervous about anything. You know, “Heaven” helped us a lot, “Heaven” and “What Ifs” helped us tremendously. So, you know, you want two big songs again your latest record.
Did you get to work with new people on this record?
Dan Huff will be my producer for life as long as he keeps doing it. And the writers, I really got to pick who I wanted to write with. I have a small circle that don’t have a lot of number ones, so the number ones that we’re getting, we’re writing as a team. Which I love, and they’re just family.
Will there be a point when fans care less about the changing boundaries of country?
Oh, no. It’ll always be like this. And it’s not just Country, you know. I’ve talked to Khalid about it and everybody tries to put you in a box, no matter what genre. I find that crazy. Because I feel like whatever you’re feeling one day, you should be able to listen to a song and it should move you in whatever way you’re feeling and nobody should be stuck in a box.
What are you listing to at the moment?
Man, it’s just whatever I’m feeling. I don’t know. When I was getting ready, I was listening to Roddy Ricch and Marshmello’s track. It’s like, some days I’ll be on the road and one of my go-to songs is “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson. I’ve been listening to Queen a lot. So I’m just all over the place.
Did you enjoy the movie?
I loved it. It made me a bigger fan. I didn’t even know I was a fan. It made me a fan.
What is going to be the difference between tonight’s performance and your first Stagecoach?
The production is bigger and then, of course, I got more comfortable on stage. My band just came together. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people that were here two years ago and saw us. And, you know, we have more number ones than last time. I don’t even know if “What Ifs” was number one yet when I played, but people were familiar with that song. This time, we have four that hopefully everybody is familiar with now.
Is Stagecoach one of your favorite festivals?
I love festivals in general. But this one’s a really big festival and I love that you can see all the mountainsides, and just the scenery while you’re playing. It’s awesome.
Do you get a chance to enjoy the festival as a fan?
Usually, we play and leave. But this time, I’m here for a while because we’re doing some other things in LA, so I’ll be here for a couple of days. I might show back up when Jason Aldean plays on Sunday and just be a fan. Instead of, you know, just working.
Is there a downside to music festivals?
Well, my wife isn’t here. So, you know, it’s just me and my security guard and my tour manager. Also, this is one of the strictest festivals, which is great for artists because nobody can get back [stage]. But usually you’ll have fans getting back and asking for pictures. It’s weird, but it’s an exciting part of your day. I love it. I like when you can see people. You know, or at least wave to people. So, I mean, we went out joy riding and people-watching today.
I know your wife is expecting. Is it hard to juggle family life with touring?
No, we haven’t been apart for five months. She is usually with me everyday. The only escape time I get alone is going to the bathroom. And the only time she gets to escape me is going to the bathroom. The only reason she didn’t come this week is that we found out it was going to be 104 degrees here. She just didn’t want to be in the heat and get sick. She wasn’t feeling good already, so she just stayed back. But, we’ll be at the BBMAs. She’s coming to Vegas with me.
I have to ask, what do you think of “Old Town Road”?
I’m not going to lie, I love the song. Especially with them getting Billy Ray Cyrus on it, it made it more believable for a lot of people. But, the first time I heard it, I understood why Billboard took it off the country charts. But then they added Billy Ray, which was a smart move. The song is huge.