Tag Archive: Tony Taylor

By Tony Taylor,Director of Industry and Artist Relations, HorizonVU Music

As I put pen to paper, it’s been two weeks since the C2C said its ‘au revoir’ for another year, and my heart yearns already for its return. Of course, I could have written this piece just after the event finished, but, like a good wine, I believe that the C2C has to be savoured for a while in the palate, and not gulped down too quickly, so that it lingers in the memory. Now, for those of you out there who don’t know about the greatest Country music festival in Europe, I say, « Shame on you, » and, « you don’t know what you’re missing ! » Quite simply, for three days, London, Glasgow, and Dublin become hosts to Country music’s finest performers, who give their all to knock your socks off ! Three amazing venues – London’s The O2, Glasgow’s ‘The SSE Hydro’ and Dublin’s 3 Arena literally became Nashville and got to show off the best talent that Country music has to offer, whether they be superstars, current rising stars, or the stars of tomorrow !


Obviously, I couldn’t be in all three places at once, and as I’ve not been cloned yet (« Thank God, » I hear you say!) – London’s The O2 became my destination as I stepped onto the first of two trains to take me from France to England. Remembering to put my watch back one hour for UK time, I arrived at the Ibis hotel in Greenwich to a roar of laughter from a gaggle of Country music fans in the lobby, all decked out in cowboy hats, baseball caps, and associated finery, and clearly pumped up and excited about heading to The O2. « I take it that you folks are here for the C2C ?! » I said, relieved that I could put my heavy bags down for a breather. A loud roar came back almost in unison, « Yes, we’ve got taxis coming for us ! »

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I found myself crammed into one of the taxis bound for The O2 with my new found Country music friends, and on my way to paradise in the form of The O2’s cathedrale like dome. My first port of call was the AEG Reception area to pick up my press pass, or rather wristband, that would allow me passage into the press room and its highly prized press conferences with the stars ! As I put the wristband around my wrist, I knew that the next three days would be mayhem – dashing between gigs, and preparing for some high profile interviews with the most talented artists in Country music today.

Besides having enough food and drink, the most important thing for a journalist to have during the C2C is comfortable shoes or boots, because, believe me, considering the distances that you’ll have to cover, you’ll need ’em ! ‘Why ?’ I hear you ask ! Well, if you think that The O2 has only one stage, then you’ll have to think again, because, although The O2 Arena itself has a huge main stage, it also has a smaller one called ‘The Spotlight’ stage, and, once you get into The O2 complex during the C2C, then, boy, you’d better be prepared, because stages there are in abundance ! For your pleasure, allow me to present them to you below :

• C2C Close Up (Building Six by day)
• BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo at The O2 by day)
• C2C Late Nights (Building Six by night)
• CMW Hub and The Saloon (All Bar One)
• C2C Sessions (NY-LON)
• Big Entrance Stage
• Town Square Stage
• Busking Stage
• Water Margin

Got the idea ? That’s a lot of stages, right ? And… a lot of artists to see – in fact, I reckon there could have been around a hundred – I didn’t count them, but, the point is, there were a lot ! Certainly more than any other Country festival that I know in Europe. Also, they came from the US, Canada, Australasia, the UK, Ireland, and the Lord knows where else to spread the word of Country music – in other words, Country music heaven !
Add to this The O2 Cinema and its CMA screenings, and I just knew that to cover everything that was going on would take superhuman strength. Luckily, I was accompanied by my friends from the French magazine, Danse Floor – four eager beavers, Gérard, Rose, Hervé, and Martine, waiting to soak in the C2C, while I attempted to do a report on behalf of my friends at Renegade Radio Nashville.

Now, although I’m no cameraman, I was tempted to try filming with a 360° Giroptic iO camera just to see how it looked – and, ‘YES’ – I know that Giroptic went belly up on the 5th of March, a fact that came to mind again when I had one or two problems later when trying to film interviews ! However, that aside, I still had my trusty Zoom Q4 ‘musician’s’ camera with me as a plan B to film on a tripod during interviews and gigs.

So, to the fray ! As it happens, some months before, I’d arranged with Martin Dewey of the Square Pie restaurant in The O2 complex to have an area set aside for my friends and I to work from and do interviews during our stay at the C2C, but, due to the economic situation with restaurants at the moment, poor Martin’s Square Pie restaurant had to close in February, leaving my companions and I without an operations base to carry out our interviews. To cut a long story short, I’d managed at the last minute to cut a deal with the Hollywood Bowl at The O2, which not only allowed us to have a place to interview artists, but also gave them a chance to relax and let their hair down by playing a game of bowls if they wished.

So far, so good – except my friends from the French mag had been delayed, so here I was for the first of the interviews, alone, and now realizing that the background noise (I mean the pop music, not the actual bowling) within the Hollywood Bowl might prove problematic for recording with my cellphone and attached Giroptic camera.

Before I knew it, Archie from the Big Machine Label Group arrived with my first guests, Delta Rae, in tow. He looked nervously around, clearly perturbed by how noisy the venue was with the loud pop music (not Country) blaring out from the speakers, not to mention the excited shouts coming from children and adults alike as they had fun on the multitude of amusement arcade machines dotted around the place ! However, one thing I got to know about Archie is that he seems to thrive in adversity, and that he’s one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet in the music biz. His worried expression turned to a smile as he shook my hand and introduced the group to me – two brothers and a sister – Eric Hölljes, Ian Hölljes, and Brittany Hölljes, then their very close friends and cohorts, Grant Emerson, Mike McKee, and Liz Hopkins.

Now, I’ve got to be honest here, folks, these guys are handsome people – and, I mean unfairly good looking, made even worse when compared to a Quasimodo like me ! Ladies, the boys will make you faint, and fellas, the beautiful and sublime brunette that is Liz, and the stunning blonde that is Brittany… well, let’s just say when you click on www.deltarae.com – you’ll know what I mean !

From the get go, they had me in the palms of their hands, as I tried to get my questions in order and film them with two cameras at the same time. Undoubtably seeing that I was nervous talking to Brittany, Mike the drummer broke the ice with a funny comment about his balding being compared to his bowling, and he took off his hat to prove his point. I was saved, laughter broke out, and I somehow got myself together and managed not to go weak at the knees as I looked at the girls.

As they played a game of bowls, the fun side of these wonderful folks shone through, and if you can admit to having fallen in love with a band, well, then I admit to having fallen for Delta Rae. Watching them play a gig the next day, I rocked along with the crowd as they belted out, ‘A Long And Happy Life’ followed by one of the most soulful and touching songs that I’ve ever heard, ‘No Peace in Quiet’– an ode to those of us who have lost someone dear to our hearts.

As Delta Rae and I hugged and said our farewells, I wondered what had happened to my friends from France, when an email arrived on my cellphone informing me that Morgan Evans had cancelled all his interviews for the moment – arggh, this was disappointing, as I’d really wanted to have a chat with him about his native Australia, and the folks back there that we both knew. Anyway, at least I had Brett Young to look forward to ! And, as luck would have it, my companions did arrive minutes ahead of Brett taking his place on an interview stool.

What can I say about Brett Young ? Well, he’s tall – very tall, and my joke about him being able to eat his dinner off my head made him laugh – ice broken n°2 ! Secondly, he’s extremely handsome, which made Rose ask about his availability, as it were – another belly laugh from him and a comment that he’s heavily engaged to the love of his life – so, sorry, Ladies, no chance with this guy for now !

Being a baseball pitcher in his youth, before suffering an injury that made him change direction in life, Brett still has the build of an athlete, but has developed over the last few years into one of the top artists in the field of Country music. As I listened to Rose interviewing him, I couldn’t get out of my head the song, ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’ – in fact I’d been humming it to myself on the walk from the press room to the Hollywood Bowl, and here was the guy who wrote and sang it in front of me now.

He talked about the song, and two others I love – ‘Like I Loved You’ and ‘Mercy’ and showed to all of us present why he is where he is now, and why he’ll soon become a household name, if he isn’t already. However, don’t take my word for it, just click on www.brettyoungmusic.com and if you didn’t know before why his fans go crazy for him, you will do afterwards !
And… given the prowess that he displayed on the bowling alley, I can confirm that he’s one hell of a bowler too ! As his big hand shook mine, and he thanked me, I thanked him in return for his time and he gave me a big smile. I thought to myself, ‘luckily, I’m a fella,’ because I reckon a girl wouldn’t be able to resist a guy like this or sleep nights because of him !

It’s funny how time flies, and as my friends went to have something to eat, I headed back to the press room to recharge my gear’s batteries, before grabbing something to eat quickly myself, then joining the others for the evening’s big star gigs at The O2 Arena. Arriving at a restaurant to share some Tequilas with my companions, it occurred to me that we had already missed seeing Old Dominion, Morgan Evans, and most of Kelsea Ballerini’s performance on stage, and if we didn’t want to miss Brett Young, we’d better hurry up to The O2 Arena !

A panic rush and a security & ticket check later, we found ourselves zooming up several escalators until we reached ‘Entrance B, Block 405’ – which can only be described as the ‘pigeon loft’ of the Arena. At this point, I have to make two confessions – firstly, I didn’t buy my ticket, it was bought for me, and I first saw it when Rose handed it to me in the restaurant, and secondly, I suffer from VERTIGO !

For anyone who suffers from this horrible condition, being stuck in seat 567 in Row A, with only a small barrier (partly glass) between you and nothingness is not the easiest way to enjoy your favorite artists performing way down below you. For my friends, it was great, but then, they didn’t know that I was terrified to look down to the stage where Kelsea Ballerini was singing her last number, and to the Spotlight stage further back, where Brett Young would be about to perform !

As Kelsea shouted her goodbye to the enthusiastic fans, I hung onto my seat and stared with fixed vision at the big screens on either side of the main stage. I stayed like that throughout Brett’s gig, until a toilet break during the interval gave me a chance to get a drink and prepare for the headliners – Faith Hill & Tim McGraw !

At this juncture, I feel that I’m obliged to make a statement, because I’ve heard that the social media sites were alive with comments about their headliner performance from some fans that weren’t very happy about it that night – anything from the sound wasn’t very good to who was better, Faith or Tim, etc, etc. I, myself, have only one thing to say – ‘respect’ – these are great artists, some would say ‘the royal family of Country’ and I could see them put their hearts and souls into that performance at The O2 Arena on the 9th of March ! Things might not always work out 100 % on the night – that happens to all of us, doesn’t it ?! Most of my friends are accomplished singer/songwriters, and I know how they feel, and how I feel, when things don’t go exactly to plan, but, that’s life ! It’s not always our fault ! Considering what happened to Tim on Dublin’s 3 Arena stage on Sunday the 11th of March, it only proves that he gave everything to the point of exhaustion, and we should love the guy for it ! Maybe in the modern world, we’re just too used to everything being the way we want it to be, and when it doesn’t live up to our expectations, then we lash out via social media. Our ancestors took everything in their stride, shrugged their shoulders, and got on with it. I reckon that we could do with a little more of that attitude to life these days too. For my part, I’m just grateful to have been there to listen to Faith and Tim’s songs from their Soul2Soul Tour – something that I’d never expected to experience!

I’m afraid there were no after parties for us that night. Exhausted after such a long day, it was time to hit the hay and prepare for Saturday !


A new day dawned, and as I tucked into my hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, beans, mushroom, tomato, sausage, and fried bread, I thought of what lay ahead on this decisive day for interviews. Now, before I go on any further about these interviews, I feel obliged to tackle the subject of my breakfast, because I can almost hear your shouts of ‘piggy’ regarding its contents ! First of all, I live in France where croissants and pains chocolats are considered to be the acceptable way to start the day. That means that a traditional English breakfast as described above is not. The fact that this kind of breakfast is also a traditional Irish one (add black pudding) meant that, as a kid, I loved tucking into this, as did my late father. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in France, but, frankly, I just couldn’t resist the chance to relive a bit of my childhood for a moment and treat my tastebuds to a delight I once knew.

So, with that out of the way, back to the interviews and gigs to see ! First of all, three of my Danse Floor mag companions had a morning date with Brett James at The O2 Cinema for the CMA film screening, while Gérard and I went to see gigs, then got ready for the afternoon press conferences, followed by our own interviews with Catherine McGrath, Jillian Jacqueline, and the amazing, incredible, wonderful… Sugarland !! A day to remember, I hear you say, and it certainly was – but, in a mixed bag sort of way. During the C2C Sessions at the NY-LON, I saw great performances by the likes of LANCO, my new friends, Delta Rae, and the sublime Stephanie Quayle (who I’ll discuss later) and left the place in an upbeat mood after getting some good footage.

However, later in the Hollywood Bowl, I glanced at my watch nervously as the agreed time for Catherine McGrath’s interview approached, and there was no sign of her or her tour manager ! I tried to call the guy, but his line was private, and somehow I couldn’t reach him. Maybe it was because my cellphone had a french operator – who knows, but the fact was Catherine wasn’t here, and this was bad news because, honestly, I think that this girl from my home country is the best thing to hit Country music since sliced bread, and – YES – I truly believe that she will be Ireland’s Taylor Swift ! Just click on www.catherinemcgrathmusic.com and you’ll see what I mean, because songs like ‘Talk of This Town’ – ‘Thought It Was Gonna Be Me’ and the oh so beautiful, ‘Cinderella’ show just how good she is, and why she’s destined for superstardom. Anyway, the long and the short of it was that her tour manager later called me up to apologize and try and arrange a time on Sunday. Due to my Sunday schedule, it didn’t prove possible, but I did manage to film her singing ‘Cinderella’ on the BBC Radio 2 Stage at the Indigo, and I felt like a million dollars after hearing that voice of hers.

Trying to hide my disappointment over the missed interview with Catherine, I looked up to see Scott McGhee leading Jillian Jacqueline towards my team and I. Scott introduced himself, then presented Jillian to us. Smiling broadly and dressed in a white raincoat (prepared for the british weather) – this beautiful rising star settled on the interview stool, and immediately she and Rose commenced a back and forth about her career, influences, and her new album. Now this girl has an amazing pedigree, being road-mentored by Kenny Rogers, and having written and recorded with the likes of Vince Gill and Richard Marx, she’s already on the high escalator to the top tier of the music industry. One look at www.jillianjacqueline.com and songs like ‘Reasons’ – ‘God Bless This Mess’ and ‘Hate Me’ to name but three tracks, immediately tells you that you’re not only dealing with a consummate performer, but an amazing songsmith who can reach deep down into the soul and come up with lyrics that express a panoply of human emotions. It was a pity that the loud pop music in the Hollywood Bowl meant that my camera couldn’t record a good quality of sound, but, luckily, Rose’s own microphone worked great, so with any luck, you guys will get to see my footage with good added sound after it’s been fully edited !

As Jillian and Scott cheerfully left the premises, I felt a rush of adrenaline, because within the hour I knew that we were going to be led into the backstage area of The O2 Arena to meet non other than my heros – Sugarland ! What more can I say ?! They were my first love in Country music since my early days with Dreamwest Magazine, when my longtime close friends and then press colleagues, Terri Church and Angela Siracusa secured one of the best interviews ever with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush ! Over the years, we did several front covers with Sugarland, and had great times with them in Paris in 2009, then in 2013 covering Kristian’s solo career with him at the CMA Summit at Eurodisney.

When they had the hiatus to pursue their solo careers, we were pleased for them individually, but saddened at the same time, because we knew in our hearts that we’d be unlikely to see that kind of chemistry again on stage – quite simply, in their heyday, they were the N°1 Country duo in the world !
Well, I’ve got news for you folks reading this – THEY’RE BACK !!! And… it’s like they never left ! It’s the strangest thing, almost like they were kidnapped by aliens whilst on stage, and then returned years later exactly the same as the day that they’d disappeared !

As we all headed from the Hollywood Bowl back to the press room, our conversation was all about this duo, especially Rose, who like me is gaga about Sugarland, and she just couldn’t contain her excitement about seeing them in the flesh again. Waiting in the press room, several minutes before Archie came to fetch us to meet our heros, something dramatic happened that wrecked my confidence. Whilst checking my Zoom camera and the Giroptic iO, I’d put my camera tripod on a table where the press room microphones were, and, somehow, it rolled by itself and landed head first onto the floor, breaking in the process the attachment bit for the camera. Now I don’t know if the press room is haunted, but this has never happened to me before, as tripods don’t usually roll by themselves off tables, as this did ! As I picked it up and saw the damage, I let out a cry worthy of a warewolf in pain, and used language that I wouldn’t dare repeat to you folks, and, as if on cue, Archie strides in and says, « OK, guys, come with me ! » Honestly, at that precise moment, I felt as if the ground was swallowing me up, because I knew that having to hold a camera in each hand whilst filming Jennifer and Kristian would not only look unprofessional, but would be difficult to boot.

Following Archie and a security person, we went through a labyrinth of The O2 Arena backstage corridors until we reached a lounge area where Sugarland were already being interviewed by German journalists. Ah, the Germans always seem to get there first, just like trying to get a sunbed next to a pool in Ibiza ! Still, our turn came, and amidst a flurry of greetings, Rose gave a wee present to Jennifer, who reacted with glee, and I expressed how nice it was to see them again after the great times that we’d spent in Paris years before, followed rapidly by an apology for having to film them with a camera in each hand, but I’d had a mishap with my tripod. They laughed, and totally laid back, they responded with enthusiasm to a host of questions that, no doubt, they had heard from journalists a thousand times before.

Obviously, we knew that Kristian was also the producer for Lindsay Ell, also at the C2C, and who I reckon should be called the ‘Rockin’ guitarist girl’ of Country ! His pride in her and the work that they did together was evident to such an extent that we were kind of getting two interviews in one. At this stage, the interview was going on for longer than had been scheduled, and I could feel the sweat on my brow gather as I watched the battery indicator for the Giroptic camera count down at racing car speed ! Needless to say, I found out that filming long interviews with this type of camera should be avoided, as not only does it eat up your battery, but it physically heats up too, so that it’s actually hot to the touch !

Nevertheless, the interview with our heros was a success, and their warmth was genuine, as was their excitement at being back together as Sugarland ! I’m going to talk more about them a little later, but, if you click on www.SugarlandMusic.com and read about their new music, and especially their new single, ‘Still The Same’ – you’ll understand why we love ’em !

I’m not going to bore you with what came next after saying our ‘Goodbyes’ to Kristian and Jennifer – suffice to say that in our pumped up state, we somehow took a wrong turning and got lost in the labyrinthine backstage passageways of The O2 Arena and had to be rescued by amused security guards, who led us back to the press room.

By the time we’d got our act together, we realized that we’d missed some great artists perform on The O2 Arena’s stages – Ashley Campbell and Ashley McBryde on the Spotlight Stage, and Luke Combs on the Main Stage. This was a crying shame, especially as folks later told us that Ashley Campbell’s performance blew everyone out of the water, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she paid hommage to her late and great father, Glen. She proved that she’s a star in her own right, and that’s for sure !

However, despite us being upset at missing Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs too, we did manage to catch the tail end of the great Kip Moore’s gig, and witnessed our girl, Jillian Jacqueline’s full performance (Yes!) As the applause and cheers rose up all around for Jillian as she exited the Spotlight Stage, tension was in the air, because we could see the stage crew feverously preparing the Main Stage for the grand entrance of… Sugarland !

And, what an entrance it was ! The whole stage lit up with the logo SUGARLAND in huge letters as the first bars of ‘Find the Beat Again’ filled the air. There followed a high energy trip down memory lane for their ever loyal fans – ‘All I Wanna Do’‘Stuck Like Glue’‘It Happens’‘Settlin’‘Stay’‘Baby Girl’‘Something More’ and others that made Sugarland a giant in Country Rock !

Anybody who knows anything about Jennifer and Kristian knows that they are big fans of 80s and 90s music, and the track they had chosen to close the gig – Simple Mind’s ‘Alive and Kicking’ knocked me off my feet ! I’m not going to go into details here, but Simple Minds was my favorite group during a tough time in my life, and was reflective of an era when the ‘Troubles’ existed in Northern Ireland. Sugarland chose this song to make a statement to the world about themselves being back on the scene, and as tears rolled down my cheeks and I mouthed the lyrics, I could almost hear Jim Kerr roar his approval.

I could write reams and reams on Sugarland’s performance that night, but that wouldn’t be fair to the other artists that followed them, so let me put it this way – when they left the stage to the loudest shouts and applause I reckon that I’ve ever heard, you just knew in your heart that this would be one hard act to follow !

I felt sorry for Lukas Nelson as he played his opening notes on the Spotlight Stage, and tried to cope with some of the crowd heading to the washrooms after experiencing one of the greatest shows ever. But, this worthy hier to Willie Nelson is a trooper, and it wasn’t long before folks were rushing back to hear him sing in that voice of his so reminiscent of his father, that it’s uncanny. As Lukas took his bow and left the stage to huge applause, we prepared for the headliner for the night – Kacey Musgraves !

Remembering Kacey’s last performance here in 2016, I knew that we were in for an exciting finale to the evening’s performances, and, not to disappoint, her first address to the crowd was with an expletive ! I’m not going to repeat the word she used, but within a second of saying it, she apologized to BBC Radio 2 as she remembered that they were recording that night’s gigs for an audience of millions of listeners ! At this point, I feel I must apologize to Kacey Musgraves’ fans for not recalling every song that she sang on that Saturday night, but the ones that still stick in my mind are, ‘Stupid’ – ‘Butterflies’ (with amazing background graphics) – and a super cover version of Miranda Lambert’s ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ ! Kacey is a great performer and whether you agree with some of the public comments that she makes from time to time is neither here nor there, because the fact is that she’s a grade A extremely talented singer/songwriter, and deserves to be where she is in the highest echelon of the music biz.

As we piled out of The O2 Arena after Kacey left the stage to a standing ovation, I remember that we all headed to a bar somewhere within The O2 complex, then I recall wanting to see Russell Dickerson play at a late night after party, but the rest, quite frankly, is a blank. I don’t even remember how, or at what time I got back to my hotel !


I do, however, remember not feeling very well on Sunday morning, and waking up to the fact that we had, besides the press conference and gigs to see, three major interviews to carry out with Stephanie Quayle, Midland, and Danielle Bradbery.

Forgoing breakfast, I decided not to wait for my colleagues, but took a bus directly to The O2, where I headed to the press room to recharge some of my gear, and prepare for my first interview. When I was there, I saw an email stating that Danielle Bradbery wouldn’t be able to make the interview, so that left me with two. I hate to admit this, but I was actually grateful for this cancellation, as, at this point, I was wondering how I’d get through the ones that remained.

I was still pondering this, when I received a text from Rose saying that the team wouldn’t be able to make the first morning interview, but would meet me at lunchtime for the interview with Midland at the Hollywood Bowl. Clearly, they were in a similar state to mine, and would need a few black coffees to settle down before hitting the trail !

So, to my interview with the delightful Stephanie Quayle ! Meeting Rachel of The O2’s team at the AEG Reception, she led me through a backstage corridor into the Amex Lounge (complete with bar!) where Stephanie was being interviewed already by a team of reporters. Long story cut short, but I’d already had a quick chat with her after her gig the previous day, when I had passed on a big ‘Hello’ from Joyce Aponte of Renegade Radio Nashville, who’s a friend of hers. Hence, Stephanie already knew who I was, and gave me a big wave, even though she was still in the throes of an interview !

I waited silently for my turn, looking around the place – the fantastic bar – a guy sitting on a nearby sofa, and Stephanie’s assistant, Christine, from her label, smiling back at me. Luckily, I wasn’t going to film in 360° after Saturday’s experiences, but, even so, I was worried about filming with my Zoom now that it was minus its tripod.When the other press guys departed, I sat down next to Stephanie, who greeted me with a big smile and a « Hi, how are you ?!’ » Slightly embarrassed, I mumbled something about me being worried about filming without my trusty tripod, as it had broken the day before just prior to my interview with Sugarland. « Hey, no worries, » came the reply, « Dave, my husband there can help you ! » I was introduced to the guy on the nearby couch, who just so happened to be a professional cameraman.

Dave was incredible – a nicer guy you could not meet ! With the use of several books, he helped me prop up my camera to get the best angle, while Stephanie explained to me that she was teaching french to Dave, because they were heading to France and then Switzerland to play a gig, where she had learned the language for a year during a student exchange when she was at college. This was music to my ears, and for a minute or so we just spoke in french together, during which I told her she should write a song in french to introduce herself to the French Country music fans. She thought about this for a moment, and said, « Would you be interested in helping me ? » Well, you can imagine my response to this rising star, who with songs like ‘Drinking With Dolly’ and ‘Winnebago’ made the Country world sit up and take notice, and whose new single, ‘Selfish’ is burning up the music charts, not to mention the accompanying video, which is all over CMT ! How could I say « No ?! »

As I’m sure you can imagine, the interview itself went like clockwork, and if you guys click on www.stephaniequayle.com – you’ll see what the whole world of Country sees in her, because she’s quite simply adorable and mega talented ! Leaving the Amex lounge in a flurry of hugs, I smiled back at Nathalie, a Swiss journalist, that I’d got to know, and who was waiting for her turn to interview Stephanie. And, with one last glance back at that amazing bar, I followed Rachel out of the place and was soon on my way to the Hollywood Bowl.

By the time I reached there, the rest of our gang had arrived and were busy preparing for the arrival of Midland.
How should I describe this band ? Well, it’s made up of Mark Wystrach (lead vocals/guitar) – Jess Carson (lead guitar/background vocals) and Cameron Duddy (bass player/background vocals) and they’re huge in stature and huge in the charts ! If you think of the Eagles of Country music, then you won’t go far wrong. Though all based now in Dripping Springs, Texas (don’t you just love that name?) – Mark hails from Arizona, Jess from Oregon, and Cameron from California. With mega hits like ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ and ‘Make a Little’ they have captured the world of Country music and brought back ‘Nudie suits’ onto the stage and into fashion via the pages of magazines like Vogue ! They were at the C2C to help promote their new album, On the Rocks, and they weren’t only coming to see us to be interviewed, they also wanted to do some bowling too.

As Archie led them to where my folks and I were ensconced, once again I felt like a midget compared to their giant frames. However, the guys were great, and after a round of introductions and handshaking, got down to the serious business of being interviewed by Rose, with Gérard and I with our respective cameras doing our best to get some good footage. By this time, the background noises in the Hollywood Bowl had reached a crescendo, particularly with the pop music, but Rose’s microphone saved the day, and the interview went well.

The bowling match between the trio was a revelation, as their competative natures came to the fore, and every missed skittle received a barrage of expletives natural to every American friend of mine, and hilarious to a british audience ! When you click on www.midlandofficial.com – you’ll see for yourselves why these three troubadours are winning hearts and souls wherever they go, and why their songs are a real deal breath of fresh air in a world that needs more oxygen and wide open spaces ! Saying ‘adios’ to our new found ‘compadres’ of Midland was sad, not only because it was the last of our ‘one on one’ interviews with the stars, but because we knew that this was also the last day of the C2C, and that tomorrow, we’d all be winging our way back to our rather duller ordinary lives.

However, back in the press room, we did get a chance to see not only Midland again, but also Lindsay Ell, Margo Price, Russell Dickerson, and the incredible… Little Big Town, though I missed Emmylou Harris and Walker Hayes when I went out for a while to get something to eat and then buy some festival souvenirs for my friends back home.
Rushing up the escalators in The O2 Arena, I ran into one of the security guards who I’d befriended, and who knew that I suffered from the dreaded VERTIGO. Pointing to his head of security, he smiled and told me to go and ask this lady if there were still any complimentary tickets available for seats on the ground floor. After I explained my predicament to her, she extracted a ticket, and with a « Here you are, darlin’ ! » I found myself the proud possessor of a ticket proclaiming, ‘Entrance H, Block A3, Row F, and Seat 42’ – I was saved ! Dashing downstairs, I got to my seat in time to see Midland on the main stage playing their last few numbers, before Lindsay Ell mounted the Spotlight Stage for her gig. Now, I briefly talked about this girl during my account of the Sugarland interview, and it’s not hard to see why Kristian Bush felt privileged to be her producer, because this bluesy rockin’ poppin’ Country blonde from Calgary in Canada is a shooting star, and with songs like ‘Waiting On You’ and ‘Criminal’ to name but two from her new album, The Project, she’s destined for greatness ! However, don’t take my word for it, click on www.lindsayell.com and see and hear for yourselves !

Next on the Main Stage came Margo Price, who I’d seen briefly in the press room, but I must admit to being ashamed that I didn’t know more about her and her music. She’s clearly a great artist and has a very large fanbase, but I honestly can’t say that I’ve listened to her songs prior to her appearing on the stage before me at The O2 Arena. Her songs like ‘A Little Pain’ and her invitations to Lukas Nelson to perform duets with her on stage went down very well with the enthusiastic audience, and an amazing drum duel/jam with her band’s drummer, that saw two drum kits on the stage, left all of us awestruck ! I’ll certainly make time to listen to her tracks from now on !

Russell Dickerson, appeared next, and blew me away when he sang ‘Every Little Thing’‘Blue Tacoma’, and ‘Yours’ on the Spotlight Stage. The truth is that I’d tried to get a one on one interview with him prior to my arrival at The O2, but the agent contacted me far too late, and in consequence, the interview didn’t happen. But, that aside, I’ll say it loud and proud, those last two songs of his in particular are world beaters and this guy’s music reminds me why I love Country Rock so much ! When you have a moment, please take a peek at www.russelldickerson.com – believe me, you won’t regret it !

For the next artist on the Main Stage, there is only one word – LEGEND ! Emmylou Harris’s return to a London stage was a credit to her, The O2 team led by Milly Olykan, and Whispering Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 ! Even at the age of 70, this lady not only deserved to be there, but, no matter the age group, the crowd showed their love of her, even if, like me, they didn’t remember all of her songs, except some of the covers she did and a great finale with ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ – a classic if ever there was one ! Hats off to you, Emmylou – you’ll always remain in our hearts !

Next on the Spotlight stage was Walker Hayes – a guy who has managed to combine Country pop and Rap and make it work. Honestly, I’m no fan of Rap generally, but like Colt Ford and Sam Hunt, with the songs from his new album Boom, Walker has shown his talent as a singer/songwriter to maximum effect. Although he was only given time to perform two of his songs, ‘You Broke Up with Me’ and ‘Beautiful’ – he had the crowd eating out of his hands ! Check out www.walkerhayes.com – because there was a reason why he was chosen to set the stage for the one and only… Little Big Town !

After seeing quite a few gigs in my time, I thought that I’d become accustomed to seeing big entrances, but, man, did Karen, Kimberly, Phillip, and Jimi have a surprise in store for us in the form of their cover of Elton John’s, ‘Rocket Man’ – and with the background graphics to match, they took us into outer space and beyond the confines of the Arena ! OK, you’ve already guessed that I’m a huge fan of this band, but, how can you not be when they’ve contributed so much to Country music being exported beyond the US ?!

It’s also kind of difficult for me to recount in detail their stunning performance that night, because, honestly, I was just high on their sound, mouthing the words from their hits like ‘Drivin’ Around’ ‘Pontoon’‘Happy People’Front Porch Thing – and so many more that my head was spinning ! But, that wasn’t all, because about half way through the gig and whilst singing ‘Little White Church’ – they did something I’ve never seen anyone else do at The O2 Arena, they left the Main Stage and went over to the Spotlight Stage to sing a few acoustic numbers, much to the delight of the fans who went crazy as they passed them. More than this even was their highly emotional tributes, one to their recently departed friend Deborah by singing ‘Sober’, and the other to Glen Campbell, with a rendition of ‘Wichita Lineman’ that reinforced the love shared with the fans by his daughter, Ashley Campbell, on Saturday. After making their way back to the Main Stage, a video showed them in their earlier days and the songs ‘I’m With The Band’ and the Beatles’ cover ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ came to the fore ! There followed some great songs like ‘Better Man’ ‘Tornado’ – ‘Day Drinking’ – and when it comes to finales, you really don’t get much better than a Little Big Town one, and with ‘Girl Crush’ and ‘Boondocks’ they said it all!

As the crowd went crazy and gave a massive standing ovation to this amazing band of four as they left the stage, I looked up at the seats high above me, trying to wave to my friends still up there somewhere in the gods, knowing that the next day, they’d have to take a very early train back to France, whilst mine didn’t leave until after lunch. In the mad rush of thousands of Country fans exiting the place, I didn’t get the chance to see them, so decided to head to Building Six to see Lindsay Ell’s late night aftershow, part of which I managed to film, before saying my ‘Goodbye’s’ to The O2 complex for another year.

The bus ride back to the hotel Ibis was eerily sad – like you feel after a breakup, and after all I’d experienced in the last three days, there was little that could fill that feeling of emptiness, except the memories that would make great after dinner conversations for a long time. Arriving at the hotel, I found again my new found Country fan friends, who I’d shared a taxi with at the start of the festival, and until the wee, wee hours of the morning, we shared stories and verbal reviews of three days of artist performances, liberally fuelled with quite a bit of alcohol, except that is for me – I drank hot chocolate all night ! Saturday night’s binge was enough for me, and I didn’t want to miss my train back to la belle France !

Before I down my pen, or rather my computer keyboard – I’d like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to all the artists that my folks and I got to chat with, their agents, the wonderful staff at The O2, including the super security people, the fantastic folks working in the Hollywood Bowl at The O2, and last, but not least, the ever smiling and tolerant folks at the Ibis hotel, who put up with our loud banter.

For those incredible singer/songwriters that I didn’t get the chance to meet, film, or simply witness their gigs, all I can say is, « Please forgive me and my team, but don’t think that we’ve forgotten about you, because we haven’t, and sooner rather than later, we’ll be knocking on your doors too ! »
As it happens, my Danish colleagues and I are currently working on an Internet TV series that will help promote singer/songwriters internationally, so be prepared to be in the spotlight, guys !

See www.C2C-countrytocountry.com

[Traduction française ci-dessous]


For the first time, the International Songwriters’ Retreat will take place in Merlimont, France, from the 16th to the 21st of April, 2018.The retreat will take place in beautiful woodland, and in walking distance of the Golden Merlimont beaches. Add to this the fully furnished lodges, bar, and super restaurant, and it’s the ideal setting for singer/songwriters in which to create great music!

The retreat is run by the two well-established artists, Eva Hillered and Annika Fehling from Sweden, on request from the production team behind the artist services company, HorizonVU Music.

“We are so excited to start this in France together with HorizonVU Music.” Annika Fehling says.

“We have heard so many times how a retreat can have a revolutionary effect on musicians’ lives, and so it was for us too, when we started. It’s nothing magical or strange. We have a clear structure around our work, and when you add that frame to a group of creative and talented artists, then anything can happen!”

“In addition to the amazing songs that are always created on the retreats, they have an enormous impact on people’s lives and careers. They help songwriters to develop and to find new ways to reach out with their music in the world.” says Eva Hillered. “It’s easy to lose hope in an industry that’s so narrow and competitive. Here amazing new opportunities are presented through people’s cooperation, experience and networking.”

Tony Taylor says: “When I first heard about Annika’s and Eva’s retreats, I was intrigued. ”Their mission to create a place for community, inspiration and support amongst dedicated songwriters fits in well with HorizonVU’s beliefs, and although our company specializes in assisting female artists, we are only too happy to support all genders via the Merlimont International Songwriters’ Retreat!”

HorizonVU Music celebrates the independent music community by providing a broad range of business services to female emerging musicians in the global world of popular music. The event will be marketed and promoted internationally.

Eva Hillered is a Grammy nominated Swedish artist with 10 released CDs, touring in Europe and USA with her music. She is the author of the bestselling book about songwriting “Lathund för låtskrivare”, which has been called “the Swedish Songwriting Bible” in the Swedish press.

Annika Fehling is a world-touring Swedish singer songwriter with currently 12 CDs released. She has participated in the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest, produces the Visbyfestival and Living Room Concert Series in Gotland, and writes music for theatre and exhibitions as well.


The total cost to participants is 750€. Fill in the information below and send a 100€ non-refundable deposit to secure you place at the retreat to:

International Songwriters Retreat’s PayPal account: int.songwritersretreats@gmail.com . If you have any problems with this E-mail ( Eva and Annika)

We will send a confirmation as soon as we receive your registration fee (part of the payment of the retreat – but not refundable)

The information should contain this info:

Year of birth:

Tell us with a couple of lines your experience of songwriting

The form should be sent to either annika@annikafehling.com or info@evahillered.se.

HorizonVU Music – Atelier !

Les Auteurs-Compositeurs-Interprètes du monde se rassembleront à Merlimont !

Pour la première fois, un atelier internationale pour les auteurs-compositeurs aura lieu à Merlimont (France) du 16 au 21 avril 2018.

L’atelier se déroulera dans une région boisée à quelques pas des plages magnifiques de Merlimont. Ajoutez à cela les chalets entièrement meublés, le bar et le superbe restaurant, et c’est le cadre idéal pour les chanteurs/compositeurs dans lequel créer de la bonne musique!

L’atelier est dirigé par les deux artistes bien établis, Eva Hillered et Annika Fehling de Suède, à la demande de l’équipe de production de la société de services aux artistes HorizonVU Music.”Nous sommes très heureux de commencer en France avec HorizonVU Music.” déclare Annika Fehling.
”Nous avons entendu tant de fois comment un atelier pour les auteurs-compositeurs peut avoir un effet révolutionnaire sur la vie des musiciens, et c’était aussi le cas pour nous, quand nous avons commencé. Ce n’est pas de la magie ou étrange. Nous avons une structure claire autour de notre travail et quand vous ajoutez ce cadre à un groupe d’artistes créatifs et talentueux, alors tout peut arriver!”

”En plus des chansons étonnantes qui sont toujours créés dans les ateliers, ils ont un impact énorme sur la vie et la carrière des gens. Ils aident les auteurs-compositeurs à développer et à trouver de nouvelles façons d’atteindre le monde avec leur musique.” dit Eva Hillered. ”Il est facile de perdre espoir dans une industrie si étroite et compétitive. Cette nouvelle opportunité exceptionnelle est présentée grâce à la coopération, à l’expérience et au travail en réseau des gens.”

Tony Taylor dit: ”Quand j’ai entendu parler des ateliers d’Annika et d’Eva, j’ai été intrigué. Leur mission est de créer un lieu de communauté, d’inspiration et de soutien parmi les auteurs-compositeurs dévoués, tout en respectant les croyances d’HorizonVU. Bien que notre entreprise soit spécialisée dans l’aide aux artistes féminins, nous sommes très heureux de soutenir aussi les artistes masculins avec l’atelier des auteurs-compositeurs à Merlimont.”

HorizonVU Music célèbre la communauté musicale indépendante en offrant une vaste gamme de services aux femmes émergentes dans le monde de la musique populaire. L’événement sera commercialisé et promu internationalement.

Eva Hillered est une artiste suédoise nommée aux Grammy avec 10 CD sortis, tournée en Europe et aux USA avec sa musique. Elle est l’auteur du livre à succès sur l’écriture de chansons «Lathund för låtskrivare», qui a été appelé «la Bible suédoise des auteurs-compositeurs» dans la presse suédoise.

Annika Fehling est une auteure-compositrice-interprète de renommée mondiale avec 12 disques actuellement en production. Elle a participé au Concours Suédois de l’Eurovision de la Chanson, produit le Visbyfestival et le Living Room Concert Series à Gotland, et écrit de la musique pour le théâtre et les expositions. www.annikafehling.com


L’atelier comprend les activités suivantes:

Cercles de chansons:

Les participants se réunissent en cercle et jouent des chansons les uns pour les autres, préalablement écrits ou co-écrits pendant le cours.

Co-écrit assigné:

Avec l’aide des préférences des partcipants, les leaders associent les auteurs-compositeurs à des paires de compositeurs, et la majeure partie de la journée est consacrée à l’écriture ensemble, qui comprend des exercices d’écriture de chansons. Le matériel est ensuite joué dans les cercles de chansons, et des commentaires sur les chansons seront offerts.

Préchauffage du corps et de la voix:

Eva Hillered dirigera un réchauffement du corps et de la voix tous les jours.

Cercle du matin:

Annika Fehling mène un cercle de bienvenue quotidien.

Concert de l’atelier:

Un concert aura lieu à la fin de la semaine!

Le Prix

Le coût pour les participants est de 750 Euros.

Early Bird: 50 Euros de réduction avant le 15 janvier 2018.

Nous pouvons également organiser un plan de paiement si cela est nécessaire pour rendre votre présence possible.

Ce prix comprend:

Salle de bain et douche, WC, Cuisine avec micro-ondes, Cafetière, Réfrigérateur, Cuisinière, Tables et chaises, Couverts, Assiettes, Serviettes, Téléphone. Wifi est également disponible dans le bar, et il y a un service de blanchisserie.
Un petit-déjeuner buffet et un dîner de trois plats (avec du vin) sont servis tous les jours au restaurant Club Vacanciel.


1. Allez sur la page d’accueil HorizonVU Music

2. Remplissez le formulaire.

3. Réservez votre place à l’atelier en payant 100 Euros d’acompte (non remboursable).

Pour plus d’informations et de questions – Contactez-nous!

Annika Fehling – annika@annikafehling.com (Questions sur l’atelier)

Eva Hillered – info@evahillered.se (Questions sur l’atelier)

Tony Taylor – tony.taylor@orange.fr (Questions sur l’emplacement et le voyage)

Paris, France – April 25, 2015

Contact: Lei GUO


HorizonVU Music (Horizonvu Group LLC), a start-up company specializing in business services for emerging female musicians announced a company relaunch today. Featured artists include Sagarika (India), Chantelle Barry (US), Tarah Who? (France-US), Amanda Thorpe (France-UK), Maura Kennedy (US) and Nausicaa (France).

The company was initially founded in 2009 by CEO Phil Cartwright and a small dedicated team. The company has traditionally offered business services including management, marketing and promotion, publishing and production.“We continue to believe that there is a niche for a firm that offers both brick-and-mortar as well as internet-based business services to emerging female musicians. Our firm caters to dedicated female musicians in need of affordable business support to further their careers.”

Phil Cartwright

Phil Cartwright

Although there are many music industry consultants and support networks, HorizonVU intends to provide focused service to a relatively small roster of musicians with the intention of contributing to successful careers for female musicians, and over the course of time establishing a long-lived annuity relationship with those artists.

In addition to meeting the business needs of our artists, the company will be extending our interest to include educational programs focusing on general topics such as event management as well as more specialized subjects such as topics economics of the industry, business in a networked ecosystem, and innovation.

HorizonVU Music in incorporated in Delaware as a Limited Liability Company and registered in France. For specific questions about the company and its service offers contact

Phil Cartwright, CEO phillip.cartwright@horizonvumusic.com
Tony Taylor, Industry and Artist Relations tony.taylor@horizonvumusic.com
Lei Guo, Marketing and Communication Management lei@horizonvumusic.com
Nathalie Ni, Community Leader nathalie@horizonvumusic.com

Thanks once again to our friend Tony Taylor at Dreamwest Magazine, we’ve been able to get in touch with Katie Cole! Katie is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and now based in Los Angeles. Among her influences are platinum artists such as Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Katie appears as a guest vocalist on Glen Campbell’s final studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, and she’s enlisted Kristofferson to appear her own upcoming full length, Lay It All Down? Katie is a singer/songwriter breaking through the clouds

HVUM: Hi Katie. It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to get to know you better. You have quite an interesting story. You are from Melbourne, now living in Los Angeles. Tell us more about yourself and how you made your way from Australia to Los Angeles.

KC: I’m a songwriter chasing a dream. Corny as hell, yes, but 100% true. My record producer Howard Willing (Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Ok Go, Nerina Pallot) reached out to me while I was in Oz. I basically flipped out and somehow made my way over to Los Angeles. I always knew I’d end up in California…just didn’t know how I’d get there or why. I play guitar, piano and a little bass when I’m forced to and I’ve been singing since I was 2, but professionally since I was 15/16. I’m a scorpio, various favorite colors and self-confessed cat person. Also, it is unwise to leave pizza near me.

HVUM: We know from your biography that you were brought up surrounded by the rock of the 60s and 70s – Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. How do you find the influence of these artists plays into your music?

KC: I suppose any and all music plays a role on a person that goes into a music-related profession. I think the early music and concerts I was subjected to played a huge role in the way my brain crafted an idea of what constitutes great song, song structure and live performance. I still love a soul/blues edge to notes I choose to sing and great guitar riffs are a must. As a listener, I definitely go through moods and phases, but those early influences sort of stick around whether I like it or not. 🙂

HVUM: You tell us that today you relate to artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Sheryl Crow. Do you have a specific sense for how these musicians are part of your work?

KC: I think I just feel a kinship towards singer-songwriters and bands of that nature that maintain an uptempo feel to the bulk of their work. I’m a huge fan of the anthemic songs and these artists managed to deliver many songs that I consider to be staple material. Sheryl Crow, to me always had such diverse lyrics and clever but easy-sounding choruses. As a lyricist, I learnt a lot from her work. Petty brings to the table simple chord progressions with deep and often dark subtext coupled with easy sing-along choruses. Fleetwood Mac having so many lead singers bring the effect of 3 bands. Christine McVie songs, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks songs. All felt vastly different from one another depending on who was singing. That’s a rarity in a band….to get away with such diversity. I feel I learned how to take complex characters and bring them to life in timeless sounding songs. It’s hard to compare yourself to other artists, but I love the above mentioned for those reasons. That said, I’m always learning. Always trying to challenge what I write and the way I record it.

HVUM: So, describe Katie Cole as Katie Cole…How do we best describe your sound?

I always say uplifting, singer-songwriter with flavors of folk, country and rock. Strong lyrics and stories that feel relatable. My vocal style is closer to Sheryl Crow and music style is a hybrid between Tom Petty and new artists like KT Tunstall and One Republic. I write emotion from the heart with elaborate plot lines. A lot of relationship songs that aren’t standard “i love you” songs. I think it’s about the details. I like details.

HVUM: For you, personally, does any of your work to-date stand out as the crowning achievement?

KC: I suppose the first single taken from my first American EP of the same name “Lost Inside a Moment” would be that song. I knew it was a special song when it was a challenge to write. Sometimes a song is ready when it’s ready and it was definitely worth the time spent writing and recording. It was my first song to get radio play in the UK on BBC Radio 2. For me, that’s a big deal. It’s probably a big deal for any artist. It was play-listed, then another song was. It was a really important time for me. In 2011 I had released the EP in America and I felt, that song wasn’t really reaching ears. I suppose there was a good gut feeling and some luck involved when it jumped across the pond. A great song has legs, the mystery and sometimes frustration about that is not knowing when those legs will sprout. There is a lot of persistence and hard work involved in what I do.

HVUM: You do a lot of collaborative work with famed artists such as Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Tell us a bit about you collaborations. Is collaborative work something you really enjoy?

KC: I first met Glen Campbell in 2009 when I first popped my head over to Los Angeles to start the meetings and recording process. My amazing Producer Howard Willing is also Glen’s producer and helped introduce me to his team. I ended up opening some shows up for him in Nevada in 2009 then again in 2010. When it came time to record his 2011 “Ghost on the Canvas” album I was brought to sing all of the female parts. A huge honor. It’s very sad that Glen is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. His fans will always remember what he’s given to the music world though. I also found out that a few songs from that album are being re-released on a new album 2013/2014 for Glen. An amazing singer and unbelievable guitarist and showman. Chatting with him and our Producer I was quick to learn his background as a session guitarist and all the iconic albums he performed including Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys etc. Huge stuff. Then it came time to record my new album and my Producer Howard once again reached out to somebody amazing. I actually wrote the song on the album called “Penelope” for a male artist just like Kris Kristofferson to sing. When I decided I was going to record it myself, Willing reached out to him having previously engineered the last couple of Kristofferson records for Producer Don Was (also a legend). Timing was just amazing and it happened. Collaboration is an incredible thing. None of the collabs I’ve done have been fully planned. There is definitely some randomness to that equation. Randomness and magic.

HVUM: You’ve toured a lot – Do you have any special or favorite places to perform?

KC: I really enjoyed touring American cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville and Denver. I love London too. I can’t wait to get back over there. I think I just enjoy travel and visiting new cities. It’s not always about the live shows, but the people you meet and the food. The vans – not so great.

We’ve been featuring your new video, “(We Stared A) Fire” (just out November2013). The track has been described as “American Country meets British pop”. What’s the story there? We’d like to know more about the track and the video.

KC: Thank you for supporting my music!! Well, the song was the last one I wrote for the record. I just wanted one more uptempo song. To me, this one is a tad sexy in nature although it’s at a fast pop tempo. I don’t think I do slow, sexy bow chicka wow wow songs. Haha. It was a really organic recording process as the drums and bass were laid down first with rough guitars and vocals. It was clear between my Producer and me that the drum part was going to be a feature and was going to drive the song. Everything else just sits on top of that. Guitar parts punch through and keys float in and out. It’s mostly my voice and that drum pattern that drive the song. I wanted a video to match the nature of the song. I felt like I wanted the main scene to be the band shot as I was hoping to introduce the viewing audience to my live band. The colored lighting of each scene change from a red band scene, to yellow fabric scene to a black scene with a yellow fluorescent lamp and a smoky scene where I’m wearing an amazing gown. All up it has a raw, rock feel with a sultry streak. There is a real live sense to the way it’s shot. Director Justin Coloma really captured the video exactly how I imagined it and the rest!! It’s moving, flowing and changing the whole ride. Lighting was a real key to this video along with elements of fire itself to illuminate some key shots.

HVUM: We know you have a new album coming our way “Lay It All Down” Tell us about that project and when should we be looking to buy the album?

KC: I actually launched a kickstarter campaign mid 2011 and it was successfully funded. Yes, it was that long ago. It started as me wanting to record 5 songs as a new EP. Once my Producer and I started to go through costs and songs, it was clear that I had too much solid material and it was more cost effective to spend more time and record more songs. So another 6 months went by with recording and planning. Put the first single out Oct 2012 called “I can’t wait”, signed a small record deal….some time flew by (6 months)…then extracted myself swiftly from that deal. Long story and I lost a lot of time. Time that I can’t get back unfortunately. I opted to somewhat restart. A lot of artists go through this. My producer wanted to remix the record and I launched the second single “(We started a) Fire this November. The new album is due out March 3rd 2014. I wanted to allow enough time to promote the new single. To me, you get one first impression of your art …so I’d rather wait and do something right than be impatient and release something early for the sake of it. That’s the definition of vanity and this is not a vanity project. I suppose I’m trying to compete with other major label and indie artists and that takes time and planning. So here we are!

HVUM: In the meantime, let’s take some time to check out that video “(We Started A) Fire”.

HVUM: Okay! We’ll be watching out for “Lay It All Down”. Any other projects in the works?

I spend roughly 1-2 weeks every other month writing in Nashville. I’m positive I have enough for another 2 full albums…but I’d like to narrow that down to an EP of songs. I’m thinking on that at the moment. I haven’t released “Lay it all Down” yet, but I’m definitely already planning something new.

HVUM: Do you have any particular causes or charities that you support and want to mention for our readers?

In Australia I used to do a lot of work for the Cancer council and the Variety club. Since moving to the US, I have been supporting Red Cross, MS Society (as my mum has MS) and WECAN that empowers women and supports awareness of Climate Change globally. I give charitably to a lot of random causes too and when needed I will buy a subway sandwich for a hungry face. I think kindness is a daily ritual and not something to brag about. It’s quite easy to be nice and do nice things even if no one else knows about it.

HVUM: Finally, my favorite question? Do you have any special superheros of your own? Why?

My Mum is my favorite superhero. It’s really hard being away from her. She’s a strong women who has overcome some difficult challenges in her life. She also now has MS. She’s still stubborn as ever, which is funny, and demands to do as much as possible on her own. I love that sort of independence. I hope I got that from her. I also think my cat here in Los Angeles has super powers. But those superpowers are only present when no one else is watching and only when she’s not napping or eating.

Visit Katie Cole at http://katiecoleofficial.com/

It’s with a big thanks to Tony Taylor at Dreamwest Magazine that we came to know Taylor Heard and her Manager, Amy Fish. Taylor is an award winning singer-songwriter from a small town in East Texas. She recently won the prestigious John Ritter Showcase in Carthage, Texas which earned her the title, “Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Representative for 2013”. She won the People’s Choice award at the showcase.

Taylor has a unique style and sound all of her own with her sultry, alto voice. She follows her heart when writing songs with captivating and entertaining results! Taylor has worked with some of the best in the industry including Dan Rollins and Doug Drake. She is involved in several charitable organizations such as Sally’s Hope, Night of Superstars and The Boot Campaign.

HVUM: Taylor! Thanks for meeting us. We know a little bit about you from email and online bios, but tell us the story of Taylor…Give us a look into the personal side of Taylor Heard.

TH: Well I come from a town that’s about an hour from any big city. Omaha, Texas. A place where you can’t get away with anything. Because EVERYBODY knows your momma and they sure don’t mind telling her about you in church Sunday morning! (Not that I ever did anything of course! Haha) But hey, I love it. I love the people there and how supportive they are of me in my musical journey. Growing up there was a blessing in my eyes, because I’ve seen how hard people work to provide for their families. I’ve seen the ups and downs of running your own business. I’ve seen a community come together and be there for one another when death hits. I’ve seen good deeds done when they thought no one was looking. I’ve seen people stay there all their lives while others choose to go off. So in the end I know it was the right place for me to grow up. My family is a big part of what I do as well. I have two lovely parents who support me all the way in this and a best friend/younger brother that I absolutely love to death!! I don’t know what I would do without them!

HVUM: Taylor, before we go on I’d like to take a few minutes out and let our readers in on your music. Let’s have a look and listen to “Tennessee Waltz”.

HVUM: All right! Okay…let’s go on with your story. We know you’ve been focused on your music. How did your interest in music come about and how have you pursued developing your career. In building your career, what has worked well and what hasn’t been so successful?

TH: My interest of singing has always been in me. We actually have recordings of a three year old me singing what was supposed to be Hank Williams Sr.’s hit song “Hey Good Lookin'”, but instead came out “Hey Good Wookin'”! And over my years of having a career in the music industry, God has blessed me with so many opportunities it’s unreal to me sometimes. Now don’t get me wrong there have been ups and downs for sure, but I am blessed beyond measure. I can’t really say what things have been “non successful” in my journey. I believe that God opens the doors He wants you to walk through, and that He shuts the ones not meant for you. Because honestly who are we to say what success is or isn’t in the first place?

HVUM: What do you like to do other than music? What does Taylor Heard do to relax and have fun?

In the life of me when I’m not singing sonewhere on a gig or writing songs, I love getting up early in the morning with my neighbors and going “junkin”. Now this consists of mapping out all of the yard sales in an area and hitting them before everyone else gets the good stuff! I really do enjoy it though, I am a person who is all about finding unique and different items for hardly nothing. Its almost like an accomplishment when I can take $25 and bring home a car load of stuff! Haha. Another thing I love is animals! Especially pigs. When I was apart of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) organization, I would raise my pig from a piglet to about 300lbs, then show it at a livestock show. If I was lucky, I would get someone to bid on the pig and sell it. Then I would use that money to go buy guitars or some type music equipment.

HVUM: Of all the musicians that might have inspired you, are there just a few that come to mind as inspiring? Are there any artists, past or present, that you hold up as giving you foundations for building?

TH: My number one inspiration would have to be Victoria Shaw. Not only as an artist, but as a songwriter, performer, and a music industry great. Working with her has drastically changed my outlook on the business in so many wonderful ways. She is honorable, hard working, and classy. All the the things I aspire to be. She definitely has a lot to do with the artist I am today.

HVUM: Think about your singing and songwriting thus far. What do you consider to be the greatest moment of your career and tell us about the worst. Be honest now!

TH: I would say so far my greatest accomplishment would be doing a show with Don Williams. He has been one of my favorite artists since I was little, so having that honor was absolutely breathtaking! It is for sure one of the memories I will never forget. Now, the worst memory…….is singing at a rodeo in front of a huge crowd and starting off in the wrong key that was WAY too high! So needless to say the “for the land of the free” line was so off pitch due to the note being too high. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was super embarrassed!!

HVUM: Bring us up to date on your music. Where are you now and where to you plan to go with work underway?

TH: I actually just finished my new EP, “Southland”, and we are in the process of getting it released very soon. My fans have been waiting on this CD for about a year now so they are chopping at the bit just as much as I am! My goal for this project is to express the new stage in my music I am stepping into, as well as show my writing skills. I am hoping that this EP will send the listener to the places I want them to go, the moments I want them to experience, and the destination I want them to seek. All through the sound of music and the entertainment of words.

HVUM: We know that you are involved in charity work and organizations. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your efforts on behalf of charity organizations?

TH: The charities I have worked with have been so lovely letting me be apart of their activities. One that I was glad to attend was Neal McCoy’s East Texas Angel Network (ETAN). He puts on an awesome concert with a golf tournament the day before and all proceeds go to the ETAN organization that helps local children with illnesses. Neal is such a great person on stage and off stage. I remember the very first time I met him and him talking to me like he had known me for years. He has such a heart for the kids and it is fantastic to see that up close.

HVUM: Okay, finally, I have to ask you my favorite question. Do you have any superheroes? Who and why?

TH: I have many heroes in the musical world, from singers to songwriters to industry legends. But my number one hero is my Meme. Meme is my great grandma who passed away from breast cancer a couple of years ago. She is a hero to me because of the fight she fought against the cancer and how big of a support she was to me in my music. I love to tell the story of a few days before she died, my mom asked her what she thought I would become in my life. And her response was a singer. She then asked Meme where would I play, and her response was at the Grand Ole Opry. So that just gives you a little insight of how she felt about my music. She was an amazing woman who I loved dearly, and I know that one day what she said will come true and she will be right there with me on that stage.

Taylor, thanks so much for joining us here at HorizonVU Music. We wish you all the best for a successful and fulfilling future and we hope that you’ll stay in touch!

Visit Taylor Heard at http://www.taylorheard.com/ aas well as on Facebook and Twitter

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