Chelsea Bain, a country singer from Nashville, Tennessee, will headline The Foundry this Friday, March 9 at 8 p.m. Rachel Farley, who is a co-writer of Bain’s new EP “Just In Time,” will also be performing a songwriters in the round with Mike Dekle before Bain takes the stage. The two women have worked very closely together over the past years and have pushed each other to greater levels through their collaboration.
The Red & Black spoke with Bain to learn more about her roots, sound, upcoming performance here in Athens and past experiences that have shaped her into the musician she is today.
R&B: How did you get into the music industry?
Bain: I always wanted a career in country music, and one day once I was 18 [and] I was just like, ‘Okay, I’m going to Nashville.’ It’s as simple as that.
R&B: What made you want to go to Nashville specifically?
Bain: It’s the home of country music. I’m sure any artist or writer can tell you that. If you want to do country music, you know you have it in your head your whole life: ‘I gotta go to Nashville.’
R&B: How has your childhood love for horses impacted your music today?
Bain: Tremendously. I grew up, I started barrel racing originally, then started showing American Paint Horses. It taught me so much work ethic and a lot about how to be on the road. So that translated really well into going from the backseat of a dually truck to the bunk of a bus or bench of a band.
R&B: How would you describe your sound?
Bain: Very honest. A mixture of rock, pop and country combined. My best friend describes it as if Joan Jett were to sing country music, ‘cause I’m very loud and enthusiastic, if you will, but I still love the story-telling that country music is and the songs.
R&B: With that being said, what is the main kind of story or meaning you try to get at with your music?
Bain: I mean, I try to be as honest as I possibly can with my songs and sometimes it’s kind of scary. But I just write about my life and my experiences and my relationships and how I feel throughout that. The most recent project I did, “Just In Time,” is an actual journey through a relationship I had with a guy that I dated. I kind of want people to go on my rollercoaster of emotions with me, and see if there’s been anyone else just as crazy out there.
R&B: I saw that previously you would perform at NASCAR 50 times per year for two years. How has that shaped you as a performer?
Bain: I had to work my butt off at NASCAR because people were not as interested initially in seeing a show as they were with cars. I’m less appealing than cars in that environment. But it taught me so much, and it was an awesome way to figure out who I wanted to be, my sound and all that. I was really lucky to be on the road when I was, and it was just a really great experience. It’s really brought me to where I am now – now I’m very sure of my sound, what I want to say and what I want my show to be.
R&B: What has been your biggest challenge as a musician so far?
Bain: Believing in myself. That’s been a really big theme I’ve been talking about recently. Just thanking my team and the people around me because there really was a while where I was like, ‘I want to do this, but I need this and this and this, and these people and that person.’ My best friend Rachel Farley, who will actually be performing with me on Friday – she is just such a great supporter and has really stepped back and told me, ‘You do realize you’re great just as you.’ The team I have around me now has really encouraged me and helped me grow. I do think this is one of the hardest businesses I’ve ever seen. It can tear you down and I’ll admit that I’ve come close to walking away many times, but I love it too much. It’s only made me stronger and made me more confident than I ever thought I would be.
R&B: Going off of that, I also saw in your bio that Rachel Farley, who is also performing at The Foundry, has played a big role in your career. How did you two meet?
Bain: I was working with Michael Knox at that time, and he played me some of Rachel’s songs and I was like, ‘Holy cow, I have to meet this chick because we’ve lived parallel lives and I really think I’d like her.’ I ended up cutting two of her songs, and we met at some point during that. We went and got coffee – which turned into three hours – and realized we have to hang out as much as possible.
R&B: What does it mean for you to be able to perform at the same venue as her on Friday night?
Bain: Rachel will actually get on stage with me and play some guitar and sing some background vocals during my set with me. So we actually get to play on stage together, which I never in my life thought I’d get to do, and it’s the coolest thing ever. And it makes it so much fun because we challenge each other in every way, even on stage – it’s really playful and fun. I just feel really lucky – not everybody gets to have that kind of opportunity to have that kind of experience with a close friend like that.
R&B: What do you hope for audience members to get out of your performance on Friday?
Bain: A good time. An escape from the regular world and the day to day. That’s initially what I want, but I hope that the audience members can take away from at least one of the songs that I’ve written and think, ‘Wow. I’ve been through that. Glad somebody else is with me on this.’ A connection with a fan is the coolest thing in the world, for somebody to walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, I experienced that and it really sucked, or it was really great, but I’m glad you experienced that, too because we’re in this together.’ There’s no original thought, there’s no original feeling. I think that’s what music and songs do for us – they connect us. I could be standing up on stage pouring my heart out or talking about a really hilarious drunk occasion and know that there’s probably a few people out there that have been there, too, and it’s comforting to know that and makes it more fun. So I hope I can connect with a few people and make some friends while I’m at it.
Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets for Bain's March 9 performance can be bought online. Ticket prices are $5 for college students at the door, $8 for pre-purchased general admission tickets and $10 for general admission tickets the day of the event.