Kelleigh Bannen, singer, songwriter and host of This Nashville Life podcast, has been on the country scene for well over a decade. After parting ways with a major label in 2016, she fearlessly began putting out music independently. In 2018, she released her three-song EP The Joneses, which includes, “John Who” “Happy Birthday” and “The Joneses” – all of which debuted on Sirius XM’s The Highway.
Now, Bannen is turning heads again with her edgy, retro-rock anthem, “Deluxe,” which is all about a lover who brings a little something extra to an electrifying romance. “Deluxe,” written with Danielle Blakey, is the first taste of new music from Bannen’s upcoming album, produced by Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston.
The accompanying video also unleashes Bannen’s confident attitude, as viewers catch her strutting around a dusky red room while dressed in a leather jacket and intimate apparel – something she says pushed her outside of her comfort zone. Bannen recently caught up with Country Now to talk about the swaggering, up-tempo “Deluxe” as well as its music video.
Check out our Q&A with Kelleigh Bannen below.
Melinda Lorge: Can you tell me about the inspiration behind “Deluxe?”
Kelleigh Bannen: I had that title for a while. I felt like it was a fun way to label a kind of love. It was the first time I had ever written with a woman named Danielle Blakey. She’s awesome, and she’s also a producer. We were just running through titles like a normal writing day, I was explaining the idea to her and she really loved it. It was a really fun day, because I think we got to cheer each other on in a really cool way. Also, for whatever reason, it was one of those days where it was easy to play with words.
Lorge: Was it different writing with her versus writing with other people?
Bannen: Some days are just easy days, you either have an idea that just unfolds really easily in front of you and then some people are just easier chemistry-wise. I think it was just one of those days where we were both on. She’s kind of up for anything and willing to take on something cool and different. It was a special day, especially because there aren’t a ton of days when there’s only women in the room. Actually, my friend Claire Douglas, who I wrote “Happy Birthday” with, and a couple other songs that’ll be on the project, she was supposed to be in that write that day as well but had something come up and couldn’t make it. So, it was going to be the three of us. But, instead it was just me and Danielle.”
Lorge: That probably would’ve changed a few things.
Bannen: It would have been a different song. It could’ve been a really cool song, but that’s what’s so cool about writing is literally every single person brings out something different in you, for better or worse, ya know? So yeah, Danielle is really awesome.
Lorge: So, “Deluxe” follows your EP, The Joneses. Do you ever get anxious or nervous when releasing new music?
Bannen: I always get nervous. I’m always up in my head about it. I think one reason I get nervous is for so long in the major label system, you think you only get that one next shot. So, you think everything is riding on this one next thing. My team now is really like, ‘No, we’re building.’ You don’t have to live and die by every single song. We want every song we put out to be really meaningful, and matter and choose it, because we are passionate about it.
Lorge: That is so great too, because I feel like something next can be even greater. You just never know.
Bannen: Yes, and that’s such a more hopeful way to think about it instead of thinking about it like, ‘If it doesn’t all go perfectly, it’s all over.’ Ya know? What a terrible way to try and create.
Lorge: Can you talk a little bit about the “Deluxe” music video?
Bannen: We shot four videos for the four singles that are coming out this summer, over two days in New York. They were long days, mostly because it was more affordable for us. “Deluxe” was really fun, it was the very last video we did. I think we were all a little bit looser with each other. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone a little bit. My stylist was like, ‘I have this idea. We put you in intimates but like under this leather blazer.’ And I’m like, ‘Girl, I don’t know if that’s really what I need to be doing right now.’ But, she felt very strongly. It was going to be lit, and it was just going to be kind of moody. At first, we were just going to make it a performance piece that was just kind of a mood. Then, as we got closer to the release, we just felt like we needed a little more story to it. So we went back and shot the scenes with the guy and the car. I really loved that we were able to go back and add those scenes after the fact because a lot of times you don’t have the luxury of doing that. I was really happy with it. For us, we also wanted to make a bold statement on the first single. And, we just feel like this song sonically sets the tone for the direction that this album is going in.
Lorge: Any other hints about the other songs you can share?
Bannen: So the next song we’re coming with has a really cool video, because it has a woman, who is a boxer. It’s actually her story and she just has a really inspiring story, so that song is kind of about who you put your faith in. It’s kind of about her relationship with her work and fighting for her goals as an athlete, and also about her relationship with her daughter, which is really cool. I’m excited about that. Some of the songs, they’re a little rowdy, they’re high energy.
Lorge: Aside from being an artist, you also started a podcast called This Nashville Life. How did you get into podcasting?
Bannen: I’m a fan of podcasts. I just really fell in love with that format, as a storytelling format. My other hope was just, as a Nashville native, I could be a resource for people that are trying to navigate these really tricky waters, especially as a woman. I feel like it’s really hard to navigate it. I thought, maybe I can use the stuff I’ve learned, just because I’ve had a major label deal, I’ve gone on a radio tour and I’ve had things not work, but some things work a little bit. So maybe I can use what I’ve learned and help somebody try to get in the industry. That’s kind of why we started.
Also, I was passionate about trying to figure out new ways to connect to fans. When you don’t have a major label deal, you really don’t have access to getting on country radio. It’s fairly not possible to get on the radio without a major promotion team behind you because it’s so costly. So, it was like, how else can we connect with fans and build that relationship between me and them?
Lorge: Speaking of being a woman in the business, any piece of advice that you’ve received that kind of helps you with the ups and downs of being a woman in country music?
Bannen: I think you have to really work on doing what you do, that part of what you do that’s special and unique. And doing that as well as you possibly can, and hold onto that instead of trying to change to please the people that tell you, “you need to do this if you wanna get on radio, you need to do this if you want to be successful.” Be teachable, but also hold onto the things that make you so unique and special. And work harder than everyone else. If you’re a woman, you just be ready to work harder than a lot of people around you.
Kelleigh Bannen’s “Deluxe” is available everywhere now.