Erin Viancourt released her debut album, Won’t Die This Way, on Late August Records (Cody Jinks). The record was co-produced by Viancourt, alongside her producer Kyle Dreaden. Blending sounds of traditional country, outlaw country, Americana, and folk-rock, Erin brings a comfortable and familiar energy to the country scene – done in a truly authentic and original way. The 13-song album is a testament to the fact that artists like Viancourt are the breath of fresh air that country music needs more than ever.
Songs like “Cheap Paradise” play with typical tropes of bars and beer, but with a more personable edge provided by the vocal delivery and clever lyricism from Erin. In a press statement, Viancourt shares more about the title track, “Many can relate to the feeling of needing personal change and realizing that they must be the ones to make it happen,” she says. “This applies to relationships, careers, living situations, old habits/mindsets, and the list goes on that can affect one’s happiness and peace. That responsibility can feel like both a defeat and a breakthrough, but we only get one life. I hope this song inspires others and gives them the extra courage to take the reins and create positive changes.”
We got the chance to sit down with Erin and talk about all things Won’t Die This Way, touring, collaborating with Cody Jinks, guitars, selling out the bar she used to work at for her album release show, and more.
GC: How do you think that this record stands out in the country music scene right now?
EV: Well, I hope that it stands out. It’s a little bit different, you know? Can’t quite place it mainstream, can’t quite place it Folk or Americana. I don’t know where you’d put it. So, I hope it just stands out.
GC: I really think it does because you’re right, it doesn’t fit in a box, which is different for Country right now. What do you want your fans to take away from this new album?
EV: You know, I hope that they feel empowered to live their most authentic true selves, taking control of their own happiness and life. This album started as “Well, let’s get you in the studio to record six songs. Actually, let’s make it eight songs…” We ended up with 16 songs and ended up with 13 on the album. Those songs weren’t planned. You know, they all didn’t really come together until it was completely done. And I was sitting in the studio with my co-producer, just him and I listening through it, and I was like, “Oh, sh*t, would you listen to that as a whole? Well, my goodness!” Living in Nashville for ten years, I never tried to fit in the box. I just kind of did my own thing and never tried to cater to whatever it was I thought I was supposed to be doing. So if this album can stand on its own, in its own way, then I hope that the people listening to it feel strong living their own authentic life…not living a life that isn’t making them happy.
GC: I love that. Yeah, definitely a lot of empowerment and just authenticity from you throughout the record. I really appreciate how truthfully you present yourself. My next question is about tour: What has it been like so far to be able to interact with your fans? Is there anywhere that you’re super excited to go specifically?
EV: I mean, I’m excited just to go. I really love touring out west. We recently got to open this last year for Cody Jenks’ Changed the Game tour, which has been incredible– the opportunity to get in front of larger audiences who are an amazing audience, some of the kindest people, and they’re just listeners! They’re really there with you. Getting to meet all of them has been incredible. And now we’re getting the chance to start headlining our own shows. The opportunity to get to play most of the album, as well as some of my favorite country songs, is really exciting…you get to connect in a whole new way.
Kyle is such an amazing co-producer . . .
GC: Absolutely. Should Have Known Better, which is currently number nine on American Country Music chart, which is amazing! What has that been like for you as a rising artist, and what made this track stand out to you and your co-producer, Kyle? What really made this track stand out to you as the lead single?
EV: You know, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t want to record the song! I think maybe it was either a little bit too close to home where I was like, “No, it’s just not hitting with me.” Kyle is such an amazing co-producer because he is an incredible listener; he has so much patience, understanding, and empathy; he is so incredible at pushing you to your limits and challenges, while also making you feel very confident while being vulnerable. So it was very easy for this one, where I didn’t feel very connected to it at the time to just say to Kyle, “This one’s yours, take it and do whatever you want.” And he did! And then, you know, it was undeniable — once it was done.
GC: I love that. It’s so cool to see how a song can morph and go on a journey, and then it ends up being something that you never imagined! What is your process like? Where does the majority of your inspiration come from?
EV: I wish I had a process for anything. You know, from being on the road or just by myself, you’re just around creative people. Write that down. Write that down, write that down. And then eventually, when you get the moment to sit down, just get something out. I definitely marinate on things. And, you know, they take a second. It’s either, like, a song gets written in 20 minutes, or it takes me a couple of months. Sometimes, I kind of forget about it, and then it shows up when I’m like, now it makes sense.
GC: You’re inspired by Shel Silverstein.
EV: I love Where the Sidewalk Ends. It’s like my go-to book from when I was going to bed as a kid. And oh man, he’s so great. I mean, who doesn’t love A Boy Named Sue? Yes.
GC: What has your experience as a woman in this industry been? Like, especially in country, music and country-adjacent genres, it can be very difficult to be a woman and make your way in this industry as an artist. Have there been any challenges? Any advice that you would want to share with other women to help guide them?
EV: That’s a tough one. I enjoy it when a man opens the door for me, but at the end of the day, I know that I can do it. Yeah, I enjoy the chivalry, but I’d say I’m just gonna do it. Anytime a man says, “You want me to back in that trailer for you?” No, I got it. Thank you. Just keep them on their toes, keep them sharp, although they shouldn’t be.
GC: Honestly, that’s a valid answer. Because you’re right, it doesn’t make sense in a lot of ways. And, you know, I’ve had people tell me that all of their experiences with men in the industry have been lovely. And I love that, as well as getting advice from female artists that have had rougher experiences that have advice to give.
EV: I’m sure I have, like, I think that’s the sad part about it is I’ve been in so many instances. I was a bartender as well. Ten years. So like, the crap you have to deal with that in that industry, and the amount of times where a male friend or acquaintance of mine is like, “I can’t believe you just dealt with that!” and you’re like, “Well, yeah, that’s just called a Tuesday.” And they’re like, “That’s not okay!” And I’m like, “Alright, well, by all means, do something about it!”
. . . a 1964 Gibson B-25.
GC: That’s a great answer! Since we are Guitar Girl Magazine, what is your favorite guitar to play right now? Do you have a favorite in-studio and onstage or…?
EV: Yes, yes, I do. Right now. My guitar is actually a gift from Cody Jinks, a 1964 Gibson B-25. And I was at rehearsal a few months back and said, “Aaron, I gotta show you this new guitar I just got!” I’ve been on the hunt for a guitar just like this — a B-25. There’s like a video of me, and I’m just kind of standing there for 30 seconds. I wouldn’t touch it. I was like, “That’s not real.” That’s my main at the moment, but in the studio, we actually found at the Smokestack Calm Oaks Studio rows and rows of every single guitar you could possibly dream up…there was this late 1800s Martin. Once we found it, it made its way all over the record. We played a majority of that guitar on this record, and we couldn’t put it down.
GC: That’s super fun. I love that! What a cool moment to be given the guitar that you’ve been hunting for! Last question is, what has been one of your favorite memories and your career so far?
EV: Oh, wow. There’s so many wonderful wins… I’d say getting to have my album release show just last week. I worked at that bar for eight years. Getting to watch great acts come through there, The Time Jumpers playing every Monday night. James Taylor getting up to play, Ray Benson from Asleep At The Wheel playing with The Time Jumpers. Yeah, you know, so many people that I look up to very much working their shows. We didn’t sell it out, but we had a good-sized crowd in there. So working that room and also getting to release my album in that room was very special.
WON’T DIE THIS WAY TRACKLIST
- Cheap Paradise
- Crazy in My Mind
- Straight Down the Barrel
- Some Things Never Get Old
- Old Time Melody
- Who Taught You How to Love
- Letters to Waylon
- Won’t Die This Way
- Should’ve Known Better
- Mountain Boy
- Beautiful Night for Goodbye