The daughter of country royalty sets out on her personal musical path with authority.
Though 2016 is still a rather young year, one of the best records the next 12 months will likely produce is already out. New City Blues, the debut LP from Aubrie Sellers, is an all-killer-no-filler album packed with an urgent, rocking, and blues-inflected style Sellers has termed “garage country.” The Nashville-based singer-songwriter may be new to the ears of music fans, but her parents, Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers, and her stepfather and record producer, Frank Lidell, are well-known. But New City Blues makes it abundantly clear the young, honey-voiced Sellers is an artist all her own.
We were able to catch up with her just before her album was released during a snowy morning in Nashville and discussed the joy of recording, the Nashville rat race, and her distaste for celebrity culture, among other things.
Cowboys & Indians: The record has a distinct rock and blues vibe, and the drums come across really big. Was that the plan from the very start?
Aubrie Sellers: For me, the energy and electric sounds on this record are inspiring because I love high-energy music, and I intentionally didn’t put an acoustic song on the record for the purpose of being clear with the sound I wanted for the album. Production is really exciting to me because I enjoy the whole process of making a record, because how a record is finished is an extension of songwriting. We gave ourselves plenty of time in the studio so we could focus on making everything sound exactly the way we wanted it. I’m not on a major label, so we didn’t have to worry about any deadlines.
C&I: It’s safe to say that music is the family business. Is there some valuable knowledge you gained at an earlier age than many of the young artists who come to Nashville in order to make music or to land a big record deal?
Sellers: My parents have always been 100 percent focused on the music. They have never told me to cater to a label, and that focus has helped me stand on my own. Being around the business for a while already, and living in Nashville, my focus on only music has kept me on the outside of certain social groups of younger artists and songwriters. I do know a lot of them, but I’ve never immersed myself into the business side of things the way that many new artists in Nashville might usually. I am able to consult my parents for advice but I make my own decisions about my music.
C&I: You wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album. How autobiographical are your songs?
Sellers: Not everything I write is completely autobiographical, but they always come from a personal place. I get inspired the most by personal feelings and emotions, so I’m not somebody who will craft a random story about a made-up person. I can’t really see myself doing it any other way because it comes so natural.
C&I: In “Losing Ground,” you sing about depression and prescription medication. Is that something you’ve dealt with before?
Sellers: That’s the most personal song on the album, and I wrote that one by myself. And I’m a very anxious person, and those feelings are something I’ve dealt with before. That song is about having ups and downs in life and many doctors think they can throw pills at people who are depressed or anxious without thinking about really helping the person.
C&I: “Magazines” is a song with a clear message about your thoughts on modern celebrity culture. Was there a specific story that angered you when you wrote it?
Sellers: There wasn’t a specific story because that type of tabloid news coverage is so constant now. I’m really sensitive to the phoniness of celebrity culture, maybe because I grew up around it and was annoyed by it all when I was young. There’s a lot of that in Nashville. People now become obsessed with just getting famous without actually being good at something. I don’t like seeing people act like the world is just a big version of high school where they can hopefully get into the popular clique.