“I just want to see the day you tell me that I did okay. God, I hope I’m still around twenty years from now.”
In the closing track from Kylie Rae Harris’s self-titled EP, the singer-songwriter pens a note to her six-year-old, written a few months after her own father passed away. She notes that it’s a little surreal to be the same age as her parents were once — an inevitable piece of the circle of life we don’t often think about until we reach it.
“I had a realization that not everyone gets the opportunity to know their parents as adults. It scared me thinking that it was totally possible I could be gone before my daughter reaches that point, “ she says. “Getting to the age your parents were when you were a child brings a whole lot of perspective. Parents are people. People make mistakes and being a parent is hard. I’m not always going to make the right choices, but I hope that when my daughter gets older, she’ll see that they were all made with love and the best of intentions.”
Growing up is something Kylie’s done quite a bit of in the five years since 2013’s Taking it Back. She’s moved from Texas to Nashville, from Nashville back to Texas, had a baby, had her heart broken, and lost her father. It’s a lot of learning to fit in a handful of years, but the singer-songwriter looks at her lessons with an understanding that they were necessary.
“My twenties weren’t a walk-in-the-park, a lot of that admittedly self-inflicted, but I grew a lot,” she says. “This project feels like the close of a real painful chapter and a welcome to whatever is next.”
The EP opens with “Missouri,” Kylie’s honey-rich vocals lamenting how easy it is to fall back into old habits, including old love. “What The Heart Wants” examines the process of falling in love, getting hurt, walking away…and then going back to step one and hitting repeat. “Big Ol’ Heartache” contemplates the kind of crush that just keeps coming back around, no matter the consequences.
“By the end of it all, finally, I find myself again. I find who I am as a mother, as a human, as an almost 30 year-old. I finally find out how to set boundaries and stick to them.”
On “Run Away,” Kylie ponders a simpler time, before heartbreak was part of the equation and life was as difficult as packing it all up and threatening to walk to the end of the driveway. “I remember being a little kid, and something happened that caused me to go into pout mode,” she says “I was too scared to leave the house, so I packed a small suitcase and went and set up camp between an accent chair and the living room wall. I waited stubbornly for hours for my mom to come find me and tell me to ‘move home.’ It was absurd.”
As the years pass, responsibilities grow. Opportunities to leave, to change a daily routine, become much more complicated. It’s another inevitability of time. “Nowadays, I think back on that time and realize how made I had it. There’s no running and checking out when you grow up. You’ve got to be present.”
Kylie’s love for music has been etched into her makeup since those early living room adventures with Teddy. She grew up in a small town northeast of Dallas, Texas, where even most trips in state took at least a few hours. She’ll never forget the road trips in her parents’ Suburban to the rolling hills hidden beneath East Texas forests. She loved those. “We spent what seemed like hours to a kid in that old Suburban,” she remembers.
“My step-dad is a music lover and he was the one who introduced the whole Texas-Americana, singer-songwriter thing to me. It’d be he and my mom in the front seat, and me and my two sisters and brother in the back. He’d put on Radney Foster or Jerry Jeff Walker and we’d sing along to all these different harmony parts. I love that memory.”
Add Walt Wilkins and Patty Griffin to her list of early influences and you begin to understand why her lyrics sound so relatable; they’re actually part of the life she’s lived. “You can just feel something about somebody when they mean what they are singing,” Kylie says. “That’s so important to me. Music is a connecting point with people; it’s fellowship with people.”
After singing in church and learning the value of a harmony, she wrote her first song at 14 and began playing open-mic nights, scoring her a residency at Love & War in Texas in Plano while still in high school. She’s released two records since then, lived in both Nashville and Texas, got a 9-5 job to support her family, and most recently, quit that 9-5 to go back to music full-time.
“I’ve always had a clear vision of being on stage playing songs,” she says. “I’ve never lost that dream. I’ve had distractions and gone off path some, sure, but never for long. This is what I do. I love music.”
To celebrate Harris’ new music, we sat down with her to do a Rapid Fire Round Interview so fans can learn a little bit more about her!
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is my mom’s chicken broccoli casserole. It’s one of those that I always request if I’ve been traveling a lot or have a special happening to celebrate, etc. I also love pot roast and chicken & dumplings. Comfort food at it’s best.
When was the first time you felt like you made it in the industry?
I got to play the Texas Music Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at Moody Theatre in front of all my peers in 2012. Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett all performed that night and I felt way out of my league, but also pretty validated.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given about working in the music industry?
My mom can’t carry a tune in a bucket (sorry, mom), but when I was 12 I really wanted to sing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” at The Wylie Opry. She wouldn’t let me because she said I couldn’t possibly understand what that song meant. She said, “If you don’t believe what you’re singing nobody else will,” and that has stuck with me ever since.
What’s your least favorite thing about being on the road?
Being gone from my daughter, for sure. I also am the type of person who, although loves to go go go, really benefits from routine and structure. It can be hard to find that when you’re on the road.
Which of your songs gets the best crowd response?
“Twenty Years From Now” definitely gets the most reaction overall. I don’t think I have ever played that song and not had people crying in the audience.
If you had to choose between a private plane or your own yacht, which would you choose?
Hard pass on the yacht. I get motion sickness really easy. My first yacht experience was in Cabo and I vomited as soon as we got out on the water.
What’s the one song (from any artist) you wish you had written first?
“Half Of My Mistakes” by Radney Foster. That song gets me in my feels, but in a hopeful, reflective way.
What is your biggest irrational fear?
June bugs. They creep me out so hard. Like, cringing even thinking about them aimlessly flying at me this summer.
What is the most memorable things a fan has done for you?
Recently I played in San Angelo, TX, and between soundcheck and the show I went to go get new tires on my car. They were so bad I was honestly shocked I didn’t have a blow-out on that run. Anyways, someone at the show had heard about this and came up to me and gave me the exact amount I had spent on my tires because he said he appreciated what we artists do and wanted to help me stay out on the road. I almost cried, it was soooo nice.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I love going treasure hunting at thrift, vintage and antique stores. It has honestly become my favorite hobby, behind music.