Exclusive: Peytan Porter talks about her new project

Porter is playing at this year’s CMA Fest

Alluring singer-songwriter Peytan Porter is a self proclaimed small-town misfit from Dawsonville, GA. She’s breaking the molds of both polished commercial country music and the rootsy-craft behind Americana, hooking listeners with vivid tunes that feel universal yet question what we already think.

After breaking out on TikTok during the pandemic, Porter signed a publishing deal with Jody Williams Songs/Warner Chappell Music in 2020. Following the latest release of “First Stone” and the organic success of her debut track “Therapy,” Porter releases “Why We Broke Up,” available at all digital retailers today, as she considers getting love drunk once again – even though the hangover is terrible.

Today also marks the announcement that her debut project, In My Head, will be available June 24th featuring seven songs that mix playfulness with purpose. Co-produced by Greg Bates and Evan Cline, its original songs trust fans to want more than fairy tales.

I had a chance to chat with Peytan ahead of the announcement where she shares what’s really going on inside of her head. She also talks about her start to playing live shows which has included an opening slot for Willie Nelson and forthcoming first-ever CMA Fest appearance opening for Chris Janson next Friday, June 10th when he headlines Ascend Amphitheater.

Buddy: Your new single is out today and your debut project, In My Head, was just announced for June 24th. I’ve listened to some of your music and I’m very excited about the Americana sound that you’re bringing to country music. Tell us about your new project and single.

Peytan Porter: So my new project is called In My Head, and it’s seven songs that I’m really proud of. Some of them are older than others. Some of them, we wrote a few days before we recorded the project, so it runs the gamut. And my new single, ‘While We Broke Up,’ that came out today is probably a new favorite. I just started playing live shows and that’s what made us wanna push this one as a single, because it feels so good to play live. So, I cannot wait for people to hear this music I’ve been working on it my whole life, I guess.

Well, like I said, I listened to it and really digging that we’ve got more Americana and traditional sounds coming back into country music. What is it like for you to just play that style of music? Is that something that you’ve always loved to do? Or is it just something that just kind of came to you one time, you’re like, ‘I really gotta do this?’

PP: Well, I grew up in north Georgia and I played our hometown festival called the Mountain Moonshine Festival. And I would get in trouble by my mom because I would play like the track eight of albums that no one knew, but I thought it was the best song that was like written well. And so I had to learn how to play hits, but really where my heart was, was forcing people to listen to really well written songs. And I think that’s where the Americana part of what I do is it’s in loving the craft of songwriting. And I think a lot of songs are really well written and they get pushed into an Americana audience because they’re paying more attention maybe, but I’m really excited. It feels very, I like music that feels light and airy, kind of like the mountains that I grew up in. But also has some meat on its bones and says something and challenges ways of thinking or challenges the way we feel. So hopefully my music does a little bit of both.

Like you said, some of the best tracks on the album are non single tracks. The days of popping in a CD sometimes seems like they’re long behind us, but I have a shelf full of like 1400. I just can’t help it. You know, you just gotta pop in an album sometimes and listen to it straight through. Is that what you’re hoping people will do with your music as well?

PP: Definitely. I love that music is moving in a new direction as far as how we consume it, but I also am like such a traditionalist, too. And I love the idea of a full project and a body of work, a hard copy body of work. I was talking to one of my managers today. I was like, ‘Well, they really want this song.’ So maybe when we get to do a hard copy version, we’ll give them this as like a bonus track. That’s a very conscious conversation that we have because that stands the test of time. And if all of our internet resources go out someday, we can still have our CDs.

Oh yeah. It seems like those days of owning it, ripping it and taking it with us are behind us, but I still enjoy owning physical copies because there’s nothing like a tangible product. Would this project be your first physical copy of anything? Because starting in this digital age, have you had a chance to release other music independently?

PP: I actually did two little projects when I was 16. One was a gospel record and it was like highly, probably illegal tracks because I think we just downloaded karaoke tracks and recorded a vocal on ’em. So, hopefully those have all been lost or tucked away in my church members’ cars. Then we did like a little project when I was 16 that I’ve still got hundreds of hard copies of and I’ve hidden them because I don’t want anyone to hear them. So this would, if we get to do a hard version of this project, it would be my third, I guess, technically.

Awesome. Tell us more about the new project. We’ve discussed the style of it, but what are some of the songs that maybe fans are familiar with? You mentioned you’ve just started playing shows, but I’m sure they’re gonna be excited to hear some of these songs in the studio.

PP: Yes. So there are a couple on this project. I guess a few that had some life on TikTok and people fell in love with the demo versions of a few of ’em. I’m really, really excited for the people who grabbed a hold of those songs to hear the new and final versions of the way that I would prefer for them to hear ’em. So it’ll be cool to have some familiar stuff on there, but there’s also new songs. ‘Someone’s Love Song’, I think, is probably — depending on the day — my favorite overall, because there’s some soul to it and it’s sad and it’s hopeful and it feels really country. It gives you a chance to breathe in the project. And then ‘In My Head,’ it’s just this very colorful character and it kind of has some teeth to the character.

A lot of the songs were written from pretty soft edge spots. ‘In My Head’ is a little bit more gritty I guess, but it’s also a true story. I mean, it’s true that I made up this whole story in my head and then wrote a song about it. I don’t think the story that I made up happened. But, it’s true that we can let our minds wonder. And that’s what this whole project kind of focuses around is all of the different directions my head takes me and that can be in really good directions, like for ‘First Stone,’ where I dream up, what the world would look like if we all took better care of ourselves and in, in lieu of that took better care of each other. And then ‘Champagne Problems’ is all about what I’d do. If I had a million dollars and could live like the rich and famous do. Therapy is about mental strength and trying to take control of your life again after you maybe gave it away to the wrong person. And so it’s all this kind of like heady thoughts and I’m really excited for people to get a peak into the more complex feelings that we humans experience that it’s harder to put words to.

So it’s very imaginative.

PP: Definitely.

Let’s talk TikTok. When did you know that you made it on TikTok?

PP: I still haven’t made it on TikTok because when you want it to do something, it won’t , but when you don’t want it to do something, it does. I think maybe it was when I got nominated for Songwriter of the Year, I felt very welcomed by the platform and at least the people who pay attention to the platform. iHeartRadio nominated me for that, and that was such a cool experience. I’ve never been to an award show. I had never been to the state of California, so I got to go out there and just really experience a bunch of firsts. I’ve also never been nominated for an award so, wow. That was a big deal. And it was all based off of having a handful of TikTok videos that people really gravitated towards and they were all my original songs. So I think that’s probably when I felt welcome. But now if I try and get people to like a song that I want them to, like, they just don’t care. They just swipe right by it. So who knows?

Isn’t that something you just put stuff out there and hopes that it does something, but it doesn’t? And then the one thing you don’t expect to go viral is just blows up.

PP: Yes. Yeah. I still am getting comments. People are asking me to release the very first [song] that went viral and I’m like, listen, maybe someday, but it’s not on this project. Stop asking.

You seem kind of like Luke Combs in the fact that he was on Vine and was discovered on Vine — which was very short lived — but now he’s a superstar so I could see you definitely you’re on his —

PP: You said it, you said it. (laughs)

And what’s even another big feat that you have coming up is CMA Fest. I know you’re performing next week in Nashville.

PP: I’m so excited about CMA Fest. I’ve only been in Nashville since 2016, and I went to Lipscomb [University]. So a bunch of the students that went to Lipscomb grew up in Nashville and CMA Fest is like their big deal. It’s their big weekend and I’ve only tiptoed around CMA Fest once or twice. So this is my first proper time experiencing the whole thing. And it’s been cool because once we announced the show, a bunch of people who like congratulated me or said they were coming have been people that I went to college with. I’m so excited. I love an amphitheater. So I’m really excited that we’re playing Ascend. I have not played indoors yet with a band. So they keep putting me on these outdoor things and honestly, the weather’s good. I’m good. So it’ll be a lot of fun. My family’s coming up a bunch of friends and it’ll be really exciting.

And you’re opening for Chris Janson, right?

PP: Yep. Yep. I’m the only girl on the bill. So I’ll stand out.

So what’s next for you after CMA Fest? I know you said you’re on the road. Are you touring with anybody?

PP: We have a show in July with Lady A and it’s in Kentucky with Tyler Booth. And then we’ve got a run of shows with Brett Eldridge in September and a show, I think, in Virginia with Eric Pasley. So we’ve got those and they’re throwing a bunch at us, so hopefully we’ll have a bunch more. I’m like, ‘There’s nothing in July or August. We need to just add all the shows.’ I really caught the bug cuz I opened up for Willie Nelson in March. And that was my second show with a band ever playing my own music. Wow. So they just threw me in the deep end and I didn’t know if I was gonna like live performances. I always just kind of did all the steps and hoped that when I got the opportunity, I would love it. Like people say they do [love it] and halfway through the first show, I was like, ‘Oh no.’ My reality tilted. It was like, everything came into focus and it was all of the chirps of ‘What if these were your fans? What if they knew all the words? What if this was your show? What if you had your own merch? What if blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ And I came off stage and I was like, oh, I’ve got the bug. I’ve been bit. I’m never gonna wanna stop so I’m hooked anytime. They’ll let me play. I’m playing.

Anything else you want to let to everybody know about you?

PP: I’m excited. We’re releasing this project and we have plans to release another one in the fall. So, if they don’t like any of these songs, we’ll give them more at the end of the year and hopefully they’ll like one of those. But no, I’m just really excited to be at this point. And finally get to start putting out music and playing shows and meeting people. I’m just grateful and excited for what’s to come.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com