Feed the Band
Feed the Band
Could British music artists take over the country music genre like the Beatles dominated the American rock scene in the 1960s? If you asked me this question a year ago, I would have found the very idea of that utterly preposterous. That’s even knowing the origins of the genre formed many years ago across the Atlantic. That said, just like the hamburger, America has adopted it as it’s own and pushed it to popularity in the early 20th century. To my surprise, almost a year ago today, I met Sasha McVeigh. She was the first British artist that turned that question from absurd to the possible for me.
I heard Sasha McVeigh for the very first time a couple of years ago. She had recently released her single “Rock Bottom”. At the time, I was finally able to accept that seizures would be part of my life and was starting to recover from the mental toll that took place on the road to acknowledging that fact. However, the single resonated with me so strongly that there were times that I would listen to it over and over for an hour or so. Sasha did what the goal of any country artist should be. She told a story that connected to someone’s life.
Fast forward a year, and I had the opportunity to meet Sasha McVeigh face to face at the Ole Red in Orlando. Seeing her live solidified her as one of the top new artists in country music. Of course, I realize that’s a bold claim, but she is deserving of it, in my humble opinion. Why? Sasha is doing what only a handful of country artists are doing in today’s world. Sasha is singing country music.
In today’s world, if you sing a pop song in a twangy voice, they call it country. Not only that, but many of these songs lack the depth of emotions that the country genre is known for. Sasha McVeigh might mention pop-country on her press kit to keep up with the times, but in my eyes, she is carving a new path. One that keeps country music intact while creating contemporary stories that resonate with real people. Like the Beatles, Sasha McVeigh is beating her American counterparts at a game they made.
Laying praise on someone who is not a household name has its challenges. For example, it would be so much easier for me to talk about an artist you listen to on the radio every day, like The Carrie Underwoods of the world. Yet, that’s not country, it’s corporate. Nashville and country radio is filled with fat-cats sitting behind a desk selling you a product for profit. They do their best to drown out independent artists like Sasha McVeigh. So, I encourage you to cowboy up and give Sasha McVeigh a listen.
Sasha McVeigh's Latest Video
The title of Sasha McVeigh’s latest single, “God Bless This Mess”, may make you think her feet aren’t fully planted, but it could not be farther from the truth. She knows right where she stands. But, she is also not scared to take risks. How country is that? You don’t need to just take my word for it, though. We did a little interview, and if one of us is a mess, it’s me. It took a few tries to get her Southern Fish and Chips recipe just right, but we finally nailed it. So look out for that and enter that giveaway at the end. Here is our interview with country music artist Sasha McVeigh.
Tell us about your road to Nashville.
My road to Nashville is a rather long one because I’m originally from the UK. But to ensure this interview doesn’t go on for pages and pages, I will give you the slightly detoured version.
I’ve been a country music fan my entire life because my Dad would always play his Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, etc. cassette tapes and vinyl in the house when I was growing up – my family also tells stories about how, from when I was 18 months old, my Dad would dance with me around the coffee table in our living room to Country Music Television. I started rediscovering the genre for myself when I was around 11 years old and started writing songs when I was 12; the songs just came out sounding country.
From 2012-2016, I would make frequent trips to Nashville, Tennessee, with my Mum to pursue my music. In addition to performing on Lower Broadway in Nashville, my Mum would also organize tours across the United States where I’d perform on the main stage at some of the biggest country music festivals, alongside artists like Eric Church, Luke Bryan, and Miranda Lambert. When I look back, it’s amazing what the two of us were able to achieve, and it’s no wonder people dubbed us “the Thelma and Louise of country music”. Then, in 2017, I was finally approved for my green card and was able to officially move to Nashville and plant some roots.
It seems a little flippant to explain it like that because the immigration process of moving to Nashville was honestly one of the most grueling and traumatic things I’ve ever been through. Until I was an “official” resident of the United States, I constantly felt like I was fighting an uphill battle in terms of my music career because people in the industry can be very dismissive if you don’t live in Nashville. Still, my situation wasn’t as simple as just moving. However, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and, at the end of the day, it’s all part of my story.
What do you feel are some important things you have learned in the music industry?
Money talks more than talent for the most part, and that was an immensely sad realization for me. I don’t come from money, I’m 27, and my parents have been pensioners, as we say in the UK, since I started this journey in 2012, and as such, they sold whatever they could to help me fund everything – which was an incredible thing for them to do. You could have a number one song on your hands, but if you don’t have the money to record it (usually starting at $2,000 per song), then how are you going to get it out there? Similarly, if you want your music on the radio (i.e., on multiple major radio stations), you have to put on a radio tour which starts at a minimum of $300,000. Want to get your music featured in media outlets? Well, you need a PR team which can be anywhere from $1,500-10,000 per month. Need to record a music video? That’ll cost you anywhere from $1,500-$15,000 or more, depending on the concept. Meanwhile, you could be asked to perform on the main stage at a festival, in the opening slot of the day, and you’ll get paid $500 – imagine trying to use $500 to pay yourself, your band, your hotel, your gas, etc., but you don’t want to say no because it’s a huge opportunity.
I completely agree that everyone should be paid for their time, effort, and their work, but when artists are largely underpaid for their gigs, streams, and other means of income, it seems very lopsided to me that these services we ‘have’ to use to be successful cost more than the majority of us can afford, without having an investor on board or a wealthy family.
Obviously, there are exceptions, and social media platforms like TikTok have been game-changers as far as giving independent artists a means of getting their music out there to fans without having a big budget behind them.
But it just seems a little ironic that country music was always targeted towards the working man, but to be successful, for the most part, you have to have a silver spoon in your mouth.
Who are your top 3 influences, and how did they shape you as an artist?
I always find this question tricky because there are so many artists that have helped shape me over the years. But if I had to choose, I would say:
Keith Urban – Like me, he’s what people call an “international artist” but has managed to make his mark within a very “American” genre. I suppose you could say he’s given artists like me a bit of a roadmap on succeeding in America while also retaining the roots of where you come from.
Taylor Swift – I remember the moment I first heard Taylor’s music, and it was like some puzzle pieces in my brain finally fit together. When I was younger, I was always told my lyrics were too autobiographical and that I needed to write in a more generalized way for my songs to be relatable…then in came Taylor Swift with lyrics that sounded like they’d been ripped directly from her diary. Hearing her music gave me more confidence in my own songwriting, and there’s no denying how much she opened up the industry to a younger generation of musicians and fans. Without Taylor, I don’t know if I’d have been able to do all of the things I’ve done over the years, simply because before Taylor, the industry didn’t take much notice of younger artists, but she changed that, and she ultimately paved the way for artists like me.
Lady Gaga – Although musically, Lady Gaga and I couldn’t be more different, she has undoubtedly shaped the way I dress on stage, the way I deal with criticism, and the way I see myself, in the sense that I’m now not afraid to be exactly who I am. It’s funny, people often say that we look alike, and when I sing “Shallow”, I joke that requests for that song are probably going to pay off my mortgage faster than any of my songs will!
What is the best way to start the day?
A cup of coffee with milk and a biscuit, or cookie as they say here in the States. I feel off-balance if I haven’t had a coffee in the morning!
What fad or trend to hope comes back?
Shoulder pads, without a doubt!!!
We are constantly developing recipes here at Southern Fellow. When writing music, what recipe do you use?
Aside from the basics of a song needing to have a melody, lyrics, a story, and some rhyming pattern, I don’t follow a specific recipe or formula. Songwriters in Nashville often talk about the “Nashville formula,” which is said to be a formula to write the perfect country song. I’ve never been one to follow the rules – after all, I’m a British girl, singing country music – so I tend to just write what I feel and let the creativity flow.
Connect with Sasha
What is unique about the place you grew up?
My hometown actually has a very strong tie to the United States. I’m from Hereford, Herefordshire which is where the Hereford Cattle are from. Today, Hereford cows are the most prevalent breed of cattle in the US after originally being brought over in the early 1800s by Henry Clay. I believe we are also the smallest city in England to have a cathedral, and that is the main reason we are considered a city, despite having a smaller population.
What is your first fond memory of food?
I have always loved lasagne, ever since I was little, and I’ve always had a big appetite. I remember being four years old and eating an adult portion of lasagne, in a pub, during a family celebration. I could never get enough of it and it’s still one of my favorites.
What is a piece of advice you often give but find yourself struggling to follow?
Almost everything – haha! I’m the Queen of giving advice, but not taking it which I know isn’t a good trait to have. I just find it difficult admitting when I need help and therefore tend to brush off advice from other people, in favor of telling everyone “I’m fine”. But, I’m trying to get better at that!
One piece of advice I think we all struggle to follow is not to worry about the things we can’t change – that’s certainly something I struggle to do and I know many of my friends feel the same way. That’s one of those things that’s much easier said than done.
If you wrote a song about food, what would it be about?
I would either write a song about all of my favorite British food items, or I would write a song about tacos and guacamole – I know, two very different ends of the spectrum. The British one would probably be the most fun because I’d talk about how us Brits love our different cheeses, especially the stinky ones, and I’m sure there would be some funny lyrics in there!
Try this inspired recipe!
Southern Inspired Fish and Chips
What do you feel people take for granted the most?
The simple things and the fact that life is short. We all talk about making time for the simple things and making the most of life, but few of us actually take action. I think last year taught us just how much we take the simplest of things for granted, like time with our loved ones or just human interaction in general. I think it also taught us how fragile life is and how quickly a year can go to waste. My parents have always tried to instill in me a sense of living life without any regrets, so I often find myself having moments where I ask myself “If all of this ended tomorrow, would I have any regrets?”, if the answer is “yes” then I do my best to act on those things.
What do you hope to achieve in the next two years?
I would love to have a song on the radio, have made my Opry Debut, have reached a million streams on a song, and be consistently on the road, playing gigs and hugging fans…that’s the goal!
What is one of the weirdest things you used to do as a teenager?
I don’t know whether this constitutes as “weird” per se, but when I was in High School I had these various personas that I would put on around my friends to make them laugh, there was a Southern American grandma, a surfer from California named Kyle Parker, that had a pet spider named Bob, and then a rather odd character named Egbert Treefish, that was scared of cats and talked with the most bizarre voice/accent. Sometimes I would become the characters in the middle of class and whisper in to my friends in the various voices – the fact we never ended up in detention for all the laughter is shocking!
Tell us about your single “God Bless This Mess”.
“God Bless This Mess” is very much a song that celebrates people being who they are, doing whatever they want, and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks about it. It’s about living your life to the fullest and having no regrets, and accepting that sometimes things go wrong in life but it’s all a part of the journey.
I actually wrote the song back in 2015 with a friend of mine, Vanessa Olivarez. Back then, it somehow got into the hands of Margaret Tomlin at Sony and was subsequently pitched to and put on hold by Miranda Lambert for her record. Unfortunately, it ultimately didn’t get cut but I continued to play it out live for years and would always get a wonderful response. It wasn’t until Nathan Chapman heard me perform it at the Wild West Songwriter’s Festival in Deadwood, SD, and said that it should be recorded and released, that I decided to go into the studio. It was meant to be released last year, but we all know how 2020 turned out – but now it’s finally out in the world!!
What’s the most valuable life lesson you have learned because of a mistake?
You can’t fill a circular hole with a square. It sounds silly, but you can apply that notion to so many aspects of life.
Is there anything else you want your family at Southern Fellow to know?
Just that I’m very grateful to those who took the time to read this interview and listen to my music. I try to be as active as possible on social media platforms and I also try my best to reply to messages and comments, so if anyone reading would like to get in touch, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. It’s a pleasure to have you on this journey with me!
Here at Southern Fellow, we are all about family. Sasha has felt like family since day one. Hopefully, after this interview, you will feel the same. She has some fantastic songs, and I know without a doubt that there are a couple that will feel right at home on your favorite playlist. You can find Sasha McVeigh on many music platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and YouTube. While you are jamming out to “God Bless This Mess”, try our southern spin on fish and chips that Sasha inspired. It sure is tasty.
Thank you for checking out Sasha McVeigh here on Feed the Band. We have so much more music and recipes on the way!