HOnce everything has gone as planned, Kalie Shorr has just completed her first UK tour. Instead, the 25-year-old country songwriter is stranded in Nashville, diagnosed with coronavirus and combat trolls who have accused her of rigging him for publicity. It’s the longest she’s spent at home since music became her full-time concert seven years ago. She wrote songs with her two roommates but, if not, the lockdown was an exercise in getting to know her own business. “I am very extroverted and I thrive in chaos,” she said with a guilty laugh.
Shorr is no stranger to this. Her first album of 2019, Open Book, documents the worst year of her life: the fatal heroin overdose of her older sister; a cheating boyfriend; a relapse of eating disorder. “I’ve never been worse, thank you for asking”, sings Shorr on the front line of the album. “Does that make you nervous, all that honesty?” His poignant gloom and his acid spirit (the latter sharpened on stand-up evenings between concerts) frightened the famous conservative country industry. “They’re terrified of trying something they don’t understand,” says Shorr. So she self-published the album, an unprecedented evolution of Taylor Swift’s Nashville years. He made the best New York Times albums in 2019.
Shorr is more strategic and ingenious than this chaotic exterior. At 11, she told her father that she wanted to sign a publishing contract one day: “It was like, do you want to write a book?” The pre-teen Shorr eagerly read the CD cover notes, looking for songwriters whose names appeared alongside those of the Dixie Chicks and Faith Hill. “From there, I fell into a rabbit hole to write songs.” Shorr grew up “honestly, just poor” in Maine, commuting between his divorced parents. In a house where religion was “a kind of replacement” for psychology and therapy, she was sent to a pastor to talk about her anorexia, someone “who has no qualifications to talk to a teenage girl about the way she doesn’t eat because she tries to maintain she has no control over her world, ”recalls Shorr. She was left alone to understand it, and songwriting became a way of dealing with the world: “Rhyme and be able to organize it in three minutes and 30 seconds”.
Shorr posted covers on YouTube to attract listeners to his original material. After traveling to Nashville to perform in a Perez Hilton showcase, she realized that she would have to move there if she wanted to. So she headed south at the age of 18 and took a forensic approach in her turmoil, studying the industry closely, “trying to prepare it all,” she said. “I wanted to prepare for the worst case.” She worked during the day in a clothing store and took a job all night in a hot dog stand. “I had seen E! True Hollywood Story,” she says. “If Faith Hill can work at McDonald’s, I can most certainly work at the Broadway snack bar.”
There was no worse scenario, at least not at the career level. Shorr joined Song Suffragettes, a collective of songwriters against gender disparity in the industry. Present your song Fight Like a Girl (“when you push me, I will grow stronger”) during its weekly live broadcast won him a publishing contract. For a while, Shorr smoothed out his edges to try to write commercial material that could be playlisted on country radio. Then the beginnings of his bad year, in 2018, forced his honesty to decline. “My manager said to me, ‘All you’re doing right now is listening to Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple and crying – channel that, that’s clearly what you have to do on a personal level,’ recalls After her sister’s death, she wrote Vices, admitting all of her most unhealthy coping mechanisms: “I keep waking up next to my ex because he knows my body / And his new girlfriend , well she doesn’t know / And hell, I wish I was sorry. “It was liberating,” says Shorr. “It is the responsibility, to be able to admit it, because then it is much more difficult to do it again.”
When she showed her manager another new song, the wildly funny F U Forever kiss, he leaned back in his chair. “He was like,” Damn, I guess we’re doing this! “” Said Shorr. She recently reviewed the songs she wrote at school. “They looked so much like Open Book,” she says. “It’s so beautiful and reassuring that I’m on the right track, because Open Book channels who I was when I first used songwriting as a coping mechanism and crutch – that raw emotion before ‘you are really taught, you must be ashamed. of it. I will never start writing songs from a private perspective. ”
Calling Open Book a 2019 album, the New York Times wrote: “Everyone in Nashville probably hopes to sand it down to something a little less confrontational; fingers crossed, it doesn’t happen. “It isn’t.” I don’t think anyone has tried to chisel me because I really came in swing, “says Shorr.” When you turn off FU Forever, you can’t go back. ” However, she is frustrated by the labels’ resistance to her: “They say,“ We can’t really sign another girl ”or“ We don’t really know what to do with it. ”Well, fans know what to do with it “People are finding it and we don’t have a marketing budget. I haven’t even run a single Instagram ad – it’s as popular as it can be.” It was difficult to self-fund everything. “But I wouldn’t change the level of control I could have: own my masters, control my own story, say whatever I want to say.” She recently rejected an offer to advertise a weight loss aid. “It’s not a detox tea, it’s literally laxatives,” she says. “I want to maintain my anger just about it.”
Shorr’s life has improved since the release of Open Book. “There is certainly still evil, but not the same as the one I sing on the album,” she says. “I haven’t had a” Jameson chase with Jameson on the rocks while smoking a packet of American Spirits “since I finished.” She auditioned for roles in films, presented her show on Radio Disney Country, and launched her own over-sharing comedy podcast. The recovery of a coronavirus gave him a new perspective on his future. “It’s so easy when you’re in your twenties to feel invincible,” she says. “If you listen to Open Book, this is the journey for me to discover that I am not.”