Check out our interview with Country-pop artist Brina Kay who recently released her new country-pop single “What I’ve Got.” “What I’ve Got” is a great reminder that materialistic things are temporary and at the end of the day, they don’t make us spiritually and emotionally “rich.”
Brina Kay’s first release out of Nashville, “Horizon” charted on the highly acclaimed She Wolf Radio, which has featured rising country stars such as Tiera and Lainey Wilson. Kay’s next two singles followed the same success, with “Heat of the Moment” reaching number eight and “Into the Sun” reaching number one. Brina has been featured in numerous publications and news outlets, including Chicago’s Daily Herald and WGN News. Her music has regularly featured on iHeartRadio country station Chicago’s Big 95.5.
Follow Brina @brinakaymusic
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Determined, resilient, imaginative
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
I started out doing musical theatre as a kid and I also learned to play the violin in Kindergarten through an early instrumental music program at my elementary school. I believe that gave me a baseline understanding and passion for music. I loved to sing and perform, and it was a great outlet for me given the fact that I had a ton of energy and a particular craving for attention. I always dreamed of performing for a living, one way or another. I was involved in cheerleading, dance, musical theatre, soccer; basically any scenario where I would be in front of a crowd who was cheering me on. I was also always very passionate about (and got good grades in) language arts classes. I experimented with songwriting during my senior year of high school, but never really pursued it until college. College was where it really all began. I was pursuing a journalism degree (at the University of Nebraska Lincoln) but missed being involved in the arts, so I began signing up for music and dance classes (that weren’t required for my major). I ended up switching to the theatre school for directing, then back to the journalism side again, this time on the more creatively involved advertising and public relations track. After facing the first real heartbreak of my life, I had to do some soul-searching, and it brought me back to the stage. This was when finally, I combined my love for music and writing and started writing my own songs. I got a few of them produced by a company online and began basically singing karaoke to my own instrumental tracks at open mics around town. At one of those open mics, I met an acoustic duo called the Gunnison Drive Band. I asked the lead guitar player Mark if he would be willing to play guitar for me at an event and he agreed. After that, I was lucky enough to be asked to join them at some of their gigs, and I got a taste of singing and performing again. That summer after graduation I realized that this was who I was at my core, and if I didn’t pursue it fully I’d never know if I could do it. So once my lease in Lincoln was up (metaphorically and literally) I took the leap of faith and moved to Nashville with a dream and some loosely made plans and have been here for the past four years.
How has this changed your life?
Drastically. I really went all in on this. Everything I do revolves around this, which means I don’t live a conventional lifestyle and don’t make conventional adult decisions. I’ve had a wild amount of day jobs, I don’t have any retirement savings at the moment, but I do have a roster full of songs, some music videos, and a lot of fun stories to tell. It’s been a big adventure with a lot of really high highs and low lows. I try not to think too far ahead, and I like to think that I’m doing my best with my finite time here on this earth and really going after what I truly want. Most people aren’t brave enough to do that. If I have anything going for me, it’s the audacity.
In all seriousness, it was pretty scary to move here on a whimb like I did. I didn’t know a single person, I got an apartment, a job at an ice cream shop shop, and have been winging it pretty hard from there. I’ve met a lot of amazing people, created some pretty cool things, and overall just live my life like it’s a movie. Nashville is a special place and I love being in a place where dreams do become reality and where people believe you can make it in music. I like being surrounded by musicians and other people who were crazy enough to take that leap.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Theatrical Country Pop
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
I’ve loved music ever since I could remember. I’m a musical theatre kid at heart, but my biggest influence as far as WHY I chose to make music has to be The Chicks. My mom would play their CD in the car and I loved their songs, I would sing them at auditions. They really made me fall in love with country music at a very young age. They also taught me at a young age the importance of standing up for what you believe in. As far as other influences, I’d say the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, and Taylor Swift. Outspoken country pop girls who aren’t afraid to shake things up and break the mold.
Do you play any instrument?
I can still play violin but I don’t as much while performing. I would love to re-embrace that as well as learn guitar so I can accompany myself and book more gigs on the fly without having to coordinate with someone.
Do you ever get nervous?
Yes, definitely. On stage, I usually just tell myself that my “nervous” feeling is just excitement because they feel the same. What makes me actually nervous in this industry is the business side of things. Taking out loans for projects, making investments, making decisions and betting on myself, things like that. The big risk you have to take on order to make it big, these are the things that make me most nervous, but I make myself do them anyway.
Tell us about your new single “What I’ve Got?”
“What I’ve Got” started out as “The Gratitude Song.” I’m a big believe in The Secret and law of attraction type stuff, so I was trying to be really intentional about gratitude. It’s a pretty simple message; here’s what I’m grateful for in life, here are the things that actually matter. Music is a rough business, you get kicked around, rejected constantly, and often times don’t have a lot to show for your hard work. I wrote this during I time I felt like I didn’t have much going for me, and I wanted to manifest a different reality by shifting my focus to being grateful for what I already had.
What’s the story behind the song?
Aside from what I’ve already shared above, the song really centers around the idea of faith being the most important thing you can have. Faith, hope, can’t be taken from you, no matter what else is. On your darkest day, you can still hope for and have faith in the prospect of a better tomorrow. I was really inspired by the story of Pandora’s Box. We learned about it in high school and it stuck with me. The idea that while all of these evils escaped into the world, the box was closed before foreboding could get out, so humanity, with all of our flaws and all of the wickedness that exists around us, is still able to hope. I think that’s really beautiful and I think this song captures that idea.
And about the success of “Horizon,” and “Into the Sun?”
Horizon (and every song since) wouldn’t exist as it does if I hadn’t gotten fired from an ice cream shop, went to a barbecue instead of working when I was scheduled, and met my producer. This was my first single out of Nashville and it was really a product of happenstance. Seeing that song succeed really made me feel that I was pursuing the right path because the universe really re-arranged itself around me (even as I protested) to make it happen. Into the Sun is a song about someone who had a very positive impact on my life, so it meant a lot to me to see it hit number one on She Wolf Radio.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
For me, its being there for people. Music has always been there for me, even when it feels like noone else is. It gets me when noone else does, and it doesn’t get fatigued if I need to listen to the same song on repeat. I love that maybe one of my songs can be that for someone. Music is there to enhance life, it takes over when words fail. It’s there to celebrate your wins and comfort you in defeat. I like being able to play a role in helping people in whatever way, feel supported out there.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has some amazing exercises and philosophies in it for getting past creative blocks.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Art is not a competition
The Journey truly is the destination
Obstacles are often times blessings in disguise
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Keep being yourself. Always stay true to yourself, no matter what’s being said or done around you. it’s as simple as that.
How would your best friend describe you?
(I just asked my roommate to answer this who is also one of my best friends) Bubbly, smart, charismatic, a ray of sunshine (sometimes a little pointy) but overall, very good
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
My book would be called “Rebellious Optimist”
I think it’s really easy especially in the world today to be pessimistic; to believe that big dreams aren’t achievable, and that the idea that you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard enough is a lie. To me, being pessimistic is a cop out, an excuse to play it safe that many people take while they sneer at those with the audacity to attempt something greater, and in today’s society being optimistic is it’s own act of rebellion.
I’ve never stopped dreaming, I’ve never fully stopped believing that I could win a grammy or tour stadiums one day. I’ve been beaten down and tested like no other out here, and it would be very easy to give up, but as an act of rebellion, I won’t. I’ll keep my faith in myself and the future I invision and I’ll make it happen or have fun trying.
What’s next for Brina Kay in 2023?
First, I’m going to take a nice long break because I’ve earned it after all this hard work! Then I am going to shift my focus to promoting my EP by playing bigger shows, possibly even touring. I do however want to make it a point to take my business manager hat off for a while and just have fun being an artist. I want to book a ton of writes and just let my creativity flow for a couple of months without feeling like I have deadlines to meet. I’m looking forward to it.
What is your favorite healthy food?
I love Acai Bowls!
And your favorite cheat food?
I don’t believe in the concept of “cheat foods” because I don’t subscribe to diet culture, but my favorite unhealthy indulgence is hot cheetoes!
How would you explain your fashion style?
Sparkly things, cowboy boots and things you would wear on a beach vacation. I’ll be honest and say fashion isn’t my strong suit, I’d love to work with a professional stylist and curate my closet a bit more intentionally. I’ve never had a passion for fashion, my friends used to have to convince me to go to the mall with them by promising we’d get food.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Living your truth and having no regrets
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would meet Natalie Maines because she is my biggest inspiration.
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
I would love to do a girls trip to Greece, especially if Abba is involved.
Best advice ever given?
That if your art can make a difference for even one person, it will have been worth making
Do you support any charity?
I’m not in a position financially currently to give consistently anywhere, but I do want to shout out the Nashville Food Project, I think their community gardens are an amazing concept. I’d love to get more involved when I am able.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I don’t look that far ahead anymore, it stresses me out. I will say that I hope to be more financially stable, recording new music, playing bigger longer shows, maybe even picking up some awards and accolades along the way, and having fun doing it.
What is you favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?
Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift.
What do you think of Social Media?
There’s a lot of opportunity there, it allows artists to bypass industry gatekeepers and go straight to the fans. It can also be exhausting to keep up with an a harsh environment to try to succeed in. I do my best to not put too much pressure on myself with it and just have fun, albeit with some strategy involved.
Where we can follow you?
@brinakaymusic on most platforms, “Brina Kay” on the rest, and you can subscribe to my email list (where you’ll get exclusive offers and info) and follow my journey on my blog. Links to everything relevant can be found on my website, brinakaymusic.com
Book: The Girl on the Train
Quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
Movie: She’s The Man
Tv Series: The Bachelor (and it’s entire cinematic universe)
Favorite Food: Lou Malnati’s Pizza
Travel Destination: Maui
Sports Team: Nebraska Cornhuskers