Never before has country music witnessed a rising star born from the Internet like Kane Brown, who has become a viral sensation after posting videos of himself singing covers of other artists hits, including Chris Young’s “Getting You Home” and Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance.” Kane is making noise in the country music industry, and we’re all listening.
The Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., native released his EP, Chapter 1, in March of this year and he hasn’t looked back. Signed to Sony records in January, Kane is about to embark on Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots Tour on May 13. But before he heads out, Kane sat down with Nash Country Daily so we could dig a little deeper into his life and get to know more about the guy that’s making a name for himself under a different set of rules.
What was it like growing up for Kane Brown?
We didn’t have a lot of money. My single mom raised me and my younger brother on my grandpa’s farm. We moved around a lot growing up, moved to a bunch of different schools. I think I went to five different high schools and six elementary schools. I played sports all through growing up—football, basketball and baseball. I started doing music in middle school.
Was farming something you ever wanted to do for a living?
Nah, I ain’t gonna lie, I don’t want to ever have to work as hard as they do [laughs]. I was never looking into being a farmer. It was neat though, I got to watch my papaw milk the cows and stuff, but he used a machine, so it wasn’t near as hard as back when they had to manually milk them.
How did you get started in music?
My mom used to always sing to me. Growing up I’d always watched American Idol with her. I pretty much always wanted to sing on American Idol and be on American Idol. I used to sit on the bed with her, and we would just watch American Idol all night till it was my bedtime.
Does anyone in your family sing?
My mom could sing, she can’t really do it great anymore [laughs], but yeah, she could sing, and I always wanted to be like her so I joined choir, and I was in choir with Lauren Alaina. She kind of convinced me to sing because I was always shy. I got to high school and my buddies wanted me to join a talent show because I sang all the time. So I joined my high school talent show and I won. I was singing Chris Young’s “Getting You Home,” so it kind of convinced me ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do,’ because it was the first I heard anybody really cheer for me, music-wise. Then it started from there. I started trying out for American Idol and I didn’t make it, so I started putting videos on Facebook and everything took off.
Your songs seem to be about relationships and love. Are you more of a lover than a fighter?
Yes. I’ve been in one fight my whole life other than boxing. I box, but that’s not considered a fight.
What do you think is a misconception that people have about you?
A lot of people judge me off my looks and my tattoos and assume that I’m some kind of thug or guy that thinks he’s a hard-ass, but I’m really just a down to earth guy that loves everybody. My mom raised me right.
Have you always wanted to sing country music?
It was always country, that’s all I listened to growing up. Once I started moving schools, I started hearing different songs, different artists, so I started listening to that. Once I hit puberty and found out who Chris Young was, I just fell in love with his voice and his songs. And that’s when I turned to country.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
Back then, I ain’t gonna lie, I was a huge Shania Twain fan listening to my mom play it all the time—Sugarland, Tim McGraw, George Strait and all them. Garth Brooks was big.
Country music has never really seen a viral sensation before. Have there been lots of ups and downs?
It’s cool and it’s not. My shows and everything are ridiculous, which is crazy. My fans are just so loyal to me. But it’s hard whenever it comes to radio play because I just came out of nowhere and radio is like ‘Who is this guy, never seen this kid, is he real?’ A lot of them want to meet me before they play me. So it’s tough in both scenarios.
Do you wish you’d done it differently?
Nah, I’m super happy. I love being different. It’s a challenge because you got a lot of people supporting me and a lot of people hoping that I fail, so it’s kind of cool.
Did you think it would take off like this when you started posting videos or were you just posting for fun?
No. Honestly, I was doing it for fun, but I was hoping that someone would see me. I never thought I would get a fan-base off of it. I was just hoping maybe someone would see me and I’d get a record deal. When everything just went viral, I was like ‘Holy crap, maybe I should just run with this.’ I pretty much lived on my phone for two years. It was crazy. I almost ruined a lot of friendships and relationships off of it.
It’s a very non-traditional way to get started in country. Do you consider yourself a rule-breaker?
I don’t see myself as a rule-breaker because I don’t know the country rule book, if there is one. I wouldn’t say so. I just say it’s different. It’s a new way for people to be noticed and I hope that more people are noticed off of it. I know there are a lot of people out there that have the talent to do everything that everyone up here in Nashville is doing, so I just hope that they can get seen.
How has all this attention changed your life?
It hasn’t changed at all other than me being able to help out my family and friends that need it. I haven’t changed at all. It’s kind of weird walking into places and people knowing who I am. I try and talk to as many people and take pictures with as many people because they’re what got me here.
What’s your mom’s reaction to all of it?
Oh, she loves it. She came to a bunch of shows. There was one time she drove 14 hours to a show in Wisconsin and she lives in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., where I’m from, so it’s like across the country pretty much.
We can’t help but notice the Batman tattoo on your chest. How long did that take to do?
With all the time, because I was too scared to go back and get it done, I’d say about four months, maybe four and a half.
Did it hurt?
It didn’t feel good.
How many tattoos do you have?
I count them all as one, but I have a sleeve and a half sleeve and then the Batman tattoo and I have a symbol that means love on my neck and music notes on my other side. So I guess I’d say five total, but really more.
Obviously, you’re a big Batman fan. How did that come about?
Just growing up, it was one of the first movies I ever owned on VHS. The Batman with Jim Carrey as the Riddler [Batman Forever], that was pretty much just everything growing up.
Which actor that portrayed Batman in the movies was your favorite?
I don’t know. I can tell you my favorite Joker, but I can’t tell you my favorite Batman because they all have this unique thing about them.
Who is your favorite Joker?
So it begs the question, if you could have one super power, what would it be?
Either super speed or invisibility.
OK, back to the music. You are opening for Florida Georgia Line on their Dig Your Roots Tour. What are you looking forward to the most about being on the road with them?
Just taking in where I’m at pretty much and learning from them on pretty much everything. Different ways they handle all the radio meets and pretty much see how they schedule their day. I can’t wait to write with them. They’re all bringing out a bus. I get to write with Cole and Cadillac Three. And then hopefully, ya know, gaining some fans from their huge fan base and just getting to play with them. They’re awesome guys. I’m so excited that they brought me out.
Do you see similarities in your music with FGL?
I don’t know. Honestly, I wrote a song with their guys the other day and the song that we wrote, they said they wanted to write another “Cruise,” and the song that we wrote sounds so similar to theirs. But they have a very unique production to their music that I don’t even think remotely compares to me. Other than the song that we wrote and their guys produced it. But you can tell such a huge different if you play the song they produced against my music.
For those who have not discovered you yet, how would you describe your music?
I don’t even know. I can tell you how other people explain it to me. They say that I have an old-school voice on a new sounding track.
You co-wrote four of the five songs on your EP, Chapter 1. Do you like the songwriting process?
Songwriting is fun because whenever you actually finish a song and it’s good, you’re like ‘Holy crap, I wrote this.’ And then there are other times you listen to a song and I’ll be like, ‘I wish I wrote this.’ I just love the credibility of saying I got to write that song.
Did you always have a knack for songwriting or is that something you developed over the years?
It’s really just being in a room with guys that have done it for so long. I’ve gotten the chance to write with a bunch of great artists in Nashville. I’ve learned a lot from them. Just pretty much painting a picture in a story so people can see it.
What do you want people to take away with them when they listen to your music?
I just hope they find whatever they’re looking for. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that my music has motivated them or got them through hard times. I had a girl the other day that came to my show and she said I’ve helped her through this disease that she was trying to get through. It touches my heart to know that I can write songs and do music and touch people.
Kane Brown portrait by Joseph Llanes