Streamsound Records artist Jaida Dreyer never originally intended to become a promising singer-songwriter, but after a horse-riding injury, she was forced to reevaluate her perspective. That's when she decided to take her songwriting, something she simply did on the side, more seriously, and she made the trek to Nashville. Currently signed with Grammy award-winning producer Byron Gallimore (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw), she has her sights set on the horizon of superstardom.
Nashville Gab had the chance to talk to Dreyer about working with Gallimore, her debut album (released earlier this year) and working with Sugarland's Kristian Bush (and much more).
Nashville Gab: Do you ever get starstruck?
Jaida Dreyer: Very rarely. But I did meet Kris Kristofferson a couple weeks ago, and I was kind of freaked out. I didn’t know what to say, because he’s like my dude. I wracked my brain forever to figure out what I was going to say to him. I walked up to him, and he looked at me, titled his head and said ‘am I in a dream?’ I melted. You can’t beat anything than your hero saying exactly what you’d want him to say to you. [laughs] I proceeded to tell him how I was in Hawaii in the fall and hired a helicopter to fly over his house. Then he told me that I should have stopped by because he did that to Johnny Cash once.
NG: Who else did you listen to growing up?
JD: A little bit of everything, but it was mostly rooted in traditional Country music. I was a big Waylon [Jennings] fan. Loretta Lynn. Kitty Wells. Patty Loveless. Dolly Parton. Linda Ronstadt.
NG: Your debut album is called ‘I Am Jaida Dreyer.’
JD: Yea. I wrote or co-wrote everything on it. It’s nice to have something out finally. I’ve been in town for six years and to have something out that I can put my hands around is cool.
NG: Do you have a favorite track on the album?
JD: There’s a song on there that’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written. It’s called ‘If That’ll Make You Love Me.’
NG: Your album is produced by Byron Gallimore. What’s it like working with him?
JD: He’s like the dad I never had. He’s been very good to me. You won’t find a bigger fan of my songs or me than that man right there. I can’t say enough wonderful things about him and his family. They’re great people. Originally, that’s why I signed with him. Byron is an old farmer from West Tennessee, and he’s not intimidating at all. He’s a very normal person. I like that about him. Working in the studio with him, he’s like a mad scientist. It was a little intimidating. We found our groove and rolled with it. I don’t think you’ll find me anywhere else.
NG: There’s a duet on the album with Sugarland’s Kristian Bush called ‘Boy Who Cried Love.’ How did that come about?
JD: Well, Byron produces Sugarland. He’d played Kristian some of my stuff that I was working on. Kristian was like ‘hey, I want to write with that girl.’ So, I went to write with him a couple times here and there in Nashville. Then, I went down to Atlanta for a weekend and wrote a bunch with him down there. That song came out of that trip. He ended up co-producing that track and singing on it with me. It’s great. I’m a huge Kristian fan. I feel like a lot of times he’s underrated as just a guy in Sugarland. He’s an amazing vocalist, musician and writer. He’s such a great guy.
NG: As a songwriter, is it important for you to draw inspiration from your personal life?
JD: I don’t feel you’re a real songwriter until you can start making stuff up. I’ve been fortunate enough to live a life that’s given me a lot of inspiration and a lot to draw from. I feel like you can only do that for so long. To evolve into a real writer, you have to be able to pull things out of the air. I feel like I’m at that point now. I’m able to concoct things out of my imagination, instead of hurting myself over and over again so I have something to write about.
NG: You first got a publishing deal when you were 19. What’s your journey been like over the years up until this point?
JD: When I moved to town, I had never done any co-writing. I had just written songs by myself. I didn’t even know you could get paid to write songs. I didn’t know if I was writing songs the correct way. I very quickly learned that everybody kind of has their own formula to get to the end result. I started co-writing with a lot of different people, and the songwriting community really embraced me and took me under their wing. I got a few cuts and [then] put out my record. It’s wild. Now, I’m actually back in writing mode. We’re getting ready to go in and cut for the second record in the fall. It’s nice to be back and after having been on the road for the last year and a half and have new stories and new characters to bring to life.
NG: You’ve been on tour with Luke Bryan and Eric Church. What were those experiences like?
JD: They’ve been great. I went out with those guys before I’d even signed my record deal. It was really cool for them to put me in front of them and expose me to their audience. Dierks [Bentley] took me on my first little arena tour, and it was great. It’s nothing you can beat playing your songs you’ve written in front of people that are excited to hear them.
NG: You have an equestrian background, right?
JD: Yea. I grew up showing horses professionally. I won my first world championship when I was five and turned pro when I was 13. Before I moved to Nashville, that was all that I did. I wrote songs on the side. Growing up that way, it definitely gave me a lot to write about. It was just my mom and I. I’ve lived in several different states. It was an interesting way to grow up.
NG: What was that decision to pursue music?
JD: Well, I had no choice. I got hurt doing the horse thing. I had to completely reevaluate my life plan. The only other thing I knew that I did was wrote songs. I knew that if I couldn’t do what I was doing in the horse deal that I didn’t want anything to do with it. It hurt my heart too bad. I made a few trips to Nashville and packed my bags. I lived in Southern Georgia at the time. I didn’t know if anybody would like my songs or how that would work. I’m glad I did it.
NG: Are there any current artists that have impressed you?
JD: I really dig Ashley Monroe. I think what she’s doing is cool. Kacey Musgraves. I feel like there’s a wave of talented women that are rooted in traditional Country that is a good thing. Miranda, obviously. She’s great. Eric Church. I love what he does. Jamey Johnson is great. Then you’ve got all the American people that have been holding it down for years.
NG: Females in Country always have a harder time breaking through. Does that intimidate you?
JD: I’ve lived my life like that, so no. [laughs] I feel like once a female breaks, they sell more records than dudes do. It’s worth it.
Read the full interview here.
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