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Exclusive: Abigail Rose defends bro-country; explains her bold 'Royals' cover

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Nashville native Abigail Rose dares the bro-country trend, deciding to stake her claim in sensible lyrics and heartfelt emotions. That’s not to mention her recent “Royals” parody -- that features shout outs to such country cliches as pickup trucks, tailgates and dirt roads -- doesn't give in to the typical summer anthem. Her version, which she penned with fellow musician Cole Taylor, was only a small blip on the radar, simply adding to the ongoing (often heated) debate surrounding country music in 2013.

“We were in a co-write writing a completely different song,” Rose explains exclusively to Examiner on creating the song. “[Cole and I] have known each other for awhile. I love writing with him. He’s a very talented artist himself. When we were writing, we were talking about other music, and he brought up ‘Royals’ [by Lorde]. He asked ‘have you ever played that in one of your shows?’ I love Lorde, but I haven’t. So, I asked him to teach me the chords to the song. He was teaching me how to play it on guitar.”

She continues, “‘Royals’ is about typical pop culture and the things that are sung about so often in pop music. We were just joking when we said ‘there should be a country one,’ because of what all the country songs are about. We were just singing about what country music is about right now. We threw out some ideas. It [eventually] got more serious, and I was like ‘why don’t we just write this.’ We spent 30 minutes writing it. There is a lot to say about country music and bro-country.”

On the current trend, Rose notes that the moonlight on the tailgate anthems have been bubbling under for quite some time. “A few artists have been doing this for awhile. Then, those artists became very successful, and obviously, everyone loved it. People realized it was becoming popular,” she says. “People were like ‘if it’s working, why don’t we do it?’”

“The other thing is it’s not like they are making up the stuff they sing about. It’s actually what they experience. I’ve grown up in Nashville my whole life. I don’t drive a pickup truck, but my brother does. That’s just what you are around. One of the lines in the version we wrote is ‘you sing what you know about.’ A lot of artists in country music know about having fun and being in the country,” she relates.

As far as the next big trend, one can’t possibly pinpoint what will be commercially viable next. Rose, however, has a few hopes for the future. “I think more stories [will emerge]. What I hope is that there’ll be more [female] artists, more girls singing on the radio.”

Of course, being a female herself, the singer is rather hyper aware that her work is cut out for her to breakthrough. “Pursuing this as my career, I’ve always kind of known that for females to break into the industry and become successful is very difficult,” she says of why so few female artists are heard on the airwaves. “I think there was just such an abundance of talented guys that it just outweighed [the girls] and all everyone wanted to hear was guys.”

Growing up in Music City, Rose was given an advantage over her contemporaries who moved to the town on a whim to pursue dreams. “I’ve always grown up around music. I’m not used to anything else. I know there’s music playing every night of the week. You can go see live music any time, even during the day. I grew up around country artists living in my town. I thought it was so normal. I thought it was a regular career. I didn’t think it was different than anything else. I was just like ‘I want to be a country singer. That’s what I want to be when I grow up.’"

Picking up the guitar at 11, Rose recalls the first song she learned to play: “Wonderwall” by Oasis. Later, she took a spin at the mandolin and piano, two instruments that have helped the singer develop her craft and propel her career forward. The guitar, in particular, came rather naturally for her. “When I was a child, I was a pretty energetic person, and I still am,” she details. “If something doesn’t click immediately, then I’m kind of like ‘oh, this isn’t that much fun.’ So, when I got a guitar, it clicked for me. I just fell in love. I mean, a guitar is an instrument, so it still takes practice but at the same time, I knew it was what I was meant to do.”

Of course, as a result of her hard work, she has an EP titled “See Me Now,” a collection of self-penned or co-written tracks. On the project’s creative forces behind it, she elaborates extensively, “I went into the studio with a friend I’ve gotten to know. He’s a producer/engineer. His name is Reid Scelza. We’ve known each other for a couple years. We’d always talked about going into the studio. He’s helped me in some of my live band rehearsals just to help me with sound and my arrangements. We decided one day to go into the studio to create a high-quality demo of some of my songs. I got a few people from around town to come into the studio for two days of tracking. Halfway through the first day, I called my manager and said ‘I’m loving this. I think I want to release it.’”

“Originally, it wasn’t even going to be released. We finished the songs. We got them partly mixed and then let a few people hear them. That’s kind of how it happened. There wasn’t a lot of promotion. A lot of the people that have been supporting my career for a long time, I never had any music to give them. It was for my amazing, existing fans and for anyone that hears about me or sees me play.”

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