To Aubrie Sellers, Country Has Many Meanings
A featured artist on Spotify’s Indigo playlist, the Nashville native reflects on her musical upbringing, the heart of the genre, and forging her own path
photo: Courtesy of Spotify
Country music courses through Aubrie Sellers’ veins, and yet she’s proud to venture away from the trappings of Music Row, forging her own musical path in the process. Born in Nashville to hitmaker Lee Ann Womack and bluegrass impresario Jason Sellers, the singer-songwriter started drawing crowds of her own in 2016 with the release of her debut album, New City Blues. Her soaring voice and sharp songwriting chops were immediately apparent to anyone who heard the smoldering chorus of “Liar Liar,” but it was her sophomore album, this past February’s Far From Home, that provided a full portrait of Sellers’ musical influences, an embrace of country, rock, and any reverb-ridden offshoot of the two.
Far From Home’s title track is one of the slower cuts of the LP, which blends Sellers’ personal lyrics with classic rock riffs, the steely strains of honkytonk, and the edge of jukebox anthems. On the track, she sings of a deep loneliness born from a life on the road—one she grew familiar with as she ventured out to tour New City Blues—and her voice floats over a slow-picked guitar line that echoes and bends with her verses. It isn’t necessarily a pick you’d hear on most country radio stations, and that’s what makes it such a good fit for Spotify’s Indigo playlist.
“[Indigo], to me, is a big, shining bright light, because I feel like it takes things that have always been considered Americana—which I love—and pushes them into the mainstream, saying, ‘This can be country, too,’” she says. Below, Sellers ruminates on Far From Home, conversations with her folks about country, and why it’s a genre tailor-made for songs ripped straight from the heart.
Far From Home is a rock record as much as a country record, and yet there are surf jams and soft ballads all over it too. It seems like it’s found a natural home on Indigo, a playlist of music that could be described as “country and.” How does the title track represent your different influences?
As much as I love rock, I think people identify most with the songs on the record that are really personal and emotional. “Far From Home” summed up the experience I had when I was writing the record. Living all those stories on the road for the first time as a solo artist, I was really discovering myself. That song and “Hadn’t Even Kissed Me” have been the ones that really resonate with people. The rock thing sets me apart in some ways, but this other part of me is just as big. It comes from a personal place, and that’s something we’re missing in a lot of what’s called “country” today—real, honest, stripped-down truth. Not trying to structure a song in a certain way to make it some mega ballad or radio hit. Just trying to make honest, real music.
What is it about country music that makes it particularly good for baring your soul through song?
That’s kind of the history of country, in my opinion. It’s definitely what I grew up around. The country music that was appreciated in my household was the really emotional stuff. I think that’s why it’s become so widespread, and why you’ll find country fans in California—it’s an emotional outlet for everyone, not just a certain part of the country. People really identify with honesty. You can find that in other genres, but I think it’s what country is rooted in.
What’s the least accurate—or most infuriating—country music stereotype?
I guess because of what’s popular on the radio, a lot of people perceive country to be very homogeneous; it’s become bro-ish in recent years. There’s still the old-school stereotype of people singing sad songs and songs about their trucks, but it’s morphed into a party-type culture. It can still be about trucks and all the other things that people think country is about, but there’s obviously so much more diversity there. People who aren’t familiar have a hard time seeing it because they don’t get a chance to discover anything else.
Who are some of your fellow artists on Indigo you think deserve a lot more shine than they currently get?
I mean, everyone! (laughs) I was listening to it the other day and discovered some artists I hadn’t heard before, like Cut Worms. I love and embrace Americana, but I feel like it’s been not just a catch-all, but a place where all these people have been forced to go. It almost gives mainstream country an excuse to not include these artists by saying, “Oh, they’re in a different genre.” No, I think you guys pushed everyone out!
You’re an artist with your own career and direction, and it’s different from what your mom and dad did in the same industry. Things have changed in many ways from when your mom started out.
I’m coming from a different position, too, because I grew up around music and she didn’t. Funny enough, I think everyone in my family has great music taste, but not exactly the same taste—the same stuff doesn’t light our fires in the same way all the time. She’s much more of a traditionalist, and I’m very rock-influenced. We talk about it often, but we definitely have our differences in opinion.
What’s something that resonates with you, music-wise, that doesn’t resonate with your folks?
I’ll give you a recent example: My mom came out to California to drive across the country with me when we were heading back to Nashville. I’m very reverb and rock-driven, so I have a lot of that stuff on my playlists, but when an older song would come on, she’d just light up. That’s what she loves. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in an era when this other music really spoke to me, or if it’s just a soul thing. I really love and am influenced by heavy rock, and also the ethereal, dreamy, kind of stuff, which she doesn’t respond to as much. I think it’s just natural instinct.
Something I love about Far From Home is the role travel plays in it. You mentioned that your life on the road was a source of inspiration. How has touring changed your appreciation for country and your role within it?
I feel like I can get very in my head about what other people like, which is absurd, because you can never really know that—especially when you’re on tour, seeing what people respond to in different places. There are so many factors besides where you are. I grew up between Tennessee and East Texas, and I was around a lot of bluegrass. My dad played bluegrass, so I’m a huge fan of it, but I also love Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle and that era of country music. I grew up on that and it kind of feels like my home, but then I started discovering rock, and California’s Bakersfield sound—I love that dreamy steel. I think traveling opens your eyes; you can give people credit for loving a diverse amount of music, no matter where they are.
Indigo is a Spotify playlist featuring artists who embody the heritage of country music while bringing forth their forward-thinking songwriting, production, and lyrics. Listen now to hear songs by Sellers and many others.
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