Bailey Bigger, an 18 year old singer-songwriter, has been working on her music for quite sometime despite her age. Bigger recently released her first EP, Closer to Home, on Spotify to accompany numerous singles. We chatted with Bigger about her journey through music and here’s what she had to say:
GP: What age did you start playing music?
BB: I started playing guitar when I was nine years old, but I’ve been singing and writing for as long as I can remember. I would write poetry all the time which eventually translated into song once I picked up an instrument.
GP: When did you realize this was much bigger than a hobby or stress relief for you?
BB: I think over time I found that I really couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. It became such a constant in my life and I remember so many times feeling isolated and alone, but a song would come on and I would feel like the artist was going through the same thing as me and I wasn’t the only one. I thought if I could ever give that to someone else in their time of need, I had a purpose.
Photographs by Vivian Gray
GP: What steps did you take to pursue music full time while being a student, daughter, friend etc.?
BB: I definitely prioritized my family first, school work second, and music third. There was plenty of time for the most part to balance all three of those, but friendships were actually a lot harder to keep in the mix. I had a few close friends throughout high school but never a designated group to go out with on a Friday night. I think a lot of that comes from my gigs were typically on Friday nights. I love my friends but I love my music too, and frankly I felt more allowed to be myself on a stage where I could share my inner most personal thoughts and emotions with complete strangers.
GP: Was is hard to find a balance?
BB: There were definitely phases where I would find myself feeling separated from friendships or relationships with my family members due to spending all my time with homework and gigs, or vice versa where I would go out and be social so much that I found myself missing getting to play shows on the weekends. It’s always a struggle to find a perfect balance between things you love equally.
GP: Are you planning to study music in higher education or are you skipping college to pursue music?
BB: I’m going to the University of Memphis for the next four or so years to study Music Business. I think I’m capable of pursuing it on my own but I don’t think I would reach my full potential doing so. I want to become a better musician, a better songwriter, and basically just a professional on all things music industry based. I want to really know what I’m doing and not just figure it out as I go.
GP: What genre would you label yourself as?
BB: I’d call my sound Folk/Americana. Almost a ballad.
GP: What are the major, musical influences in your life?
BB: The Avett Brothers, Shakey Graves, Mandolin Orange, Gillian Welch, Alabama Shakes, The Beatles, Bob Dylan is a HUGE one, Zella Day is a female artist who is also a goddess that I really have a lot of respect for, Colter Wall, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead is always there for some inspiration, sound-wise I really enjoy listening to bluegrass. Railroad Earth, Billy Strings, Greensky Bluegrass, they all have a really home-like sound to me and give me a lot of inspiration behind the instruments I choose to play on my tracks. But when it comes to writing, The Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, and Gregory Alan Isokav are really the main three. Don McLean is unbelievable too.
GP: Tell us about the new music you’ve released. Was there any specific inspiration behind these 5 songs?
BB: So, I had the material to create a full album, but decided that an EP was the way to go right now considering where I’m at with my music. I’m definitely not ready to release a full album but I was ready for more than just a few singles to be available on Spotify. I released Closer to Home because in order to grow as a musician, you need material out there for people to hear, so I chose what I believed to be my five best songs.
BB: “Johnny” and “Tornado” both to me are the songs someone would want to listen to when they’re just wanting to have a good day, enjoy themselves, and listen to some feel good stuff. On the other hand, songs like, “I Love You, Goodbye,” “Lyrics,” and “Wildflower,” are my best written songs lyrically. They all tell a story with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion involved. Everyone loves. We can all relate to that, and that’s why most songs ever written are about love. It’s the most inspiring emotion when it comes to art. “I Love You, Goodbye,” and “Lyrics,” tell the same story, just from two different points of that relationship. The story is about somebody I fell in love with but could not love me back for good reasons. If he did he would have messed up my life and I think holding yourself back from being with someone when you know it’s not best for that person is the deepest kind of love. Completely selfless. As for Wildflower, I actually released this song as a single in March of 2017. I did this rendition of it because I wanted this song to be included on my first CD and I wanted it to fit the sound of the rest of the record.
GP: Do you have a favorite lyrically?
BB: “Lyrics,” ironically, is my favorite song lyrically. I don’t think I could have said it any better. It just came out perfect. It felt finished immediately.
GP: Do you have a favorite that you like performing?
BB: I love playing Wildflower live because the bridge really kicks in and gets people quiet, just in time for most meaningful lyrics. It’s a cool song to play.
GP: Tell us about your recent show! Will there be more like this in the future?
BB: I had my EP release show at the Mound City Commissary in Mound City, Arkansas. It’s an old restored building on a farm I worked on for a while in the fall. Quite the atmosphere and fits perfectly with my sound. About 80 people showed up and I was overwhelmed by the support and love I felt from family and friends that night. It was an incredible show.
GP: Do you prefer performing in front of crowds or in your own personal space at home?
BB: I really love my alone time because it recharges me. I think it’s that way for a lot of people, but I’m not super into the fast life. I’m quite the homebody. Playing in my room where I can write or practice or try something new and it be okay to mess up is definitely where I like it most.
GP: Did you ever have to overcome stage fright?
BB: I remember being nervous when I first started to sing at church or guitar recitals or something like that when I was younger, but as for playing gigs, I never remember being afraid to say what I had to say to people. Actually, still to this day though, it’s a lot harder to speak your truth through song in front of people you know than it is in front of strangers. But yes, with some time I became quite comfortable on a stage.
GP: Have you had a good experience as a young woman trying to make it in the music industry?
BB: So far, yes. Something I struggle with a lot though is the emphasis that is put on your looks as a female musician or singer. I don’t want to be an image to anyone. I want to be a real person who can share my voice and have people feel something from that. It’s not supposed to matter what it looks like. It’s music! That’s for listening.
Bigger will be staying in Memphis for the summer and playing shows that will be updated on her website.
To follow Bailey on her journey through music find her on social media!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Bailey! Listen to her new EP, Closer to Home, below!