In 2019, figuring out what type of songs country music fans want to hear can be both exciting and challenging. While it’s fun to play with new sounds and instruments, the tried-and-true sounds that make up ‘classic country’ are also desirable. Finding that balance can be hard, but country trio MAMADEARhopes they have found that balance. The trio is made up of singer/songerwriters Dan Wilson, Kelly, Bradway, and Parker Bradway.
According to their official website, MAMADEAR formed the trio on a porch; have opened for artists such as Martina McBride and Kristian Bush; and were named “Best Up-and-Comer” by Rolling Stone at CMA Fest 2014. There’s a lot more to the trio than a tiny snapshot can capture, so we caught up with MAMADEAR on all things country music, what they like to do when they’re not working, and whether an album is in the works and more!
Check out the interview below.
Variety Beat: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. What’s one cool thing you’re currently working on?
Kelly: Well we actually just got back from a month-long residency in the south of France, so that was pretty cool! We got to bring a full band over there and open for some legendary artists like Sting, John Legend, Enrique Iglesias and The Jacksons. It was very surreal! We’re also really excited to release our next single which is called, “A Better Cigarette” in October. We hope it will remind people of the country music story songs they grew up loving. We’ve already played it out live a bit, and it seems to connect with people in really meaningful ways, so we’re excited to keep sharing it.
VB: What initially drew you to country music?
Parker: I grew up exclusively on country music. My dad used to play Alan Jackson or Garth Brooks in the car on the way to school everyday. I remember being the only guy in junior high who listened to it. The stories and the harmonies were what drew me to it originally I think!
VB: How would you define “country music” in your own words?
Dan: It’s honesty. The sound has evolved and will continue to evolve, but country music at its best doesn’t run from heartbreak and pain, and doesn’t run from the good times either. It’s a picture of everyday people’s lives and I think that is what makes it so interesting.
VB: How would you say that your sound and artistry have evolved over the years?
Parker: Musical evolution is such an interesting thing. In some ways, you have to grow and evolve but in others, you don’t want to lose your roots of what got you to where you are. Having said that, I think (hope) we have struck that balance. We always want to carry with us the rootsy-ness of the front porch that we got started on, yet we aren’t afraid to bring in some of the modern-day elements that are so prevalent. It’s definitely a challenge and hopefully we’ve struck a nice balance.
VB: You’ve released two songs so far this year. Is it safe to say that an album is in the works?
Kelly: Hmmm, good question. I think it’s too soon to know, but we would LOVE to make an album. It feels like we are living in a very “single” heavy world right now, but as artists we crave the chance to share all of our colors, words, stories and sounds in an album. We have so many songs that we would love to share with our fans and friends, so here’s hoping we get that chance! In the meantime, we’re really thankful people are enjoying the two we’ve released this far, and we can’t wait for them to hear “A Better Cigarette.”
VB: Which artist inspires you the most? Which artist would you like to model your career after?
Parker: I’m most inspired by the artists that are commercially very successful but still have such a distinct brand and think outside the box. Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert are the first that come to mind.
VB: Describe your songwriting process. What’s the most challenging part? What’s the most rewarding?
Dan: Usually, it’s the three of us and another co-writer in the room, or we’ll split up and write separately with other people. It’s always good to mix up the combinations and get different perspectives. The most challenging part is trying to write something that people will connect with. It’s funny, usually when you are ultra-focused on that it never happens, but when you just try to be as honest as possible, folks seem to connect more. The most rewarding part is hearing how a song impacts an audience and our fans. The stories that people come up to us after the show and tell us are part of the fuel that keeps us writing the next song.
VB: Do you have any plans to tour soon, and if so, where can fans come see you on the road?
Parker: Yes! We are going to be in Atlanta early October opening for Gin Blossoms. Towards the end of October we will be in Texas with Josh Turner and some additional TX shows at the beginning of November, and finally South Carolina in December!
VB: What do you like to do when you’re not writing music or playing shows?
Kelly: While we love that music is our job and that it takes us to amazing places, we also love being at home in Nashville! It’s such a fun city to live in, and I think we all love the down time that we get here. Here’s a dream day: Spending the morning at a local coffee shop like 8th & Roast, going for a walk at Percy Warner Park, getting a sweet treat at Vegan Vee, grabbing food truck tacos for dinner, and spending the rest of the night on our back porch with friends.
VB: What advice would you give to aspiring singer-songwriters? What’s one thing you wish you knew before entering the music business?
Dan: My advice would be to find what you do best and zero in on it. The world needs your perspective, not a copy of someone else. That will be what makes you stand out and what makes people connect with you. One thing I wish I knew is that it’s way harder than you think it is, but it also more rewarding that you think it is. It’s a hard business, takes a toll on your emotions, but if you work hard at your craft, there is always a place for great songs.
VB: Last question—What impact do you hope to have on country music? Why?
Kelly: As a band, we got our start on a front porch here in Nashville, so it’s kind of special that our roots tie into the roots of country music, which also started on front porches with artists like the Carter Family back in the 1920’s and 30’s. While we dream of playing stadiums, we also want to help people remember that very musical, authentic, harmony-driven sound that has been such a big part of country music from its beginnings. We also want to tell great stories with our songs, because that is something that has always made country music unique from other genres. If people look back and say we sang about real stories, and that we created music that brought people together and made them feel at home – that would make us really proud.
Watch the video for MamaDear’s song, “Steal Away” below: