Jordan Rainer jokes that she came out of the womb making music; while that technically might be a joke, music has been in her life since she was a toddler. In 2015, she moved to Nashville and within a year, she was signed to Black Diamond Row Publishing. Although she’s been continuously writing with some of Nashville’s biggest writers like Dean Dillon, Jeff Hyde, Kevin Brandt, and Lance Carpenter, she’s finally taking the next step in her career and releasing her debut single “I’m Good.”
I got the chance to talk with Jordan about how she got in to music originally, how she would describe her music without using genre names, the story behind “I’m Good” and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
Well there’s a picture of me barely 2 years old, in a diaper, sitting on a piano bench and playing piano with my dad. So honestly, I feel like I came out of the womb making music. My dad is a phenom musician, and back in the day he was an award-winning bluegrass player. My mom is a classically trained vocalist and pianist as well, and so I had a great foundation. From the time I was little (and it’s still the case now) I was attracted to any instrument that was in a room. If there was a drum, a guitar, a piano, a trumpet in the room, I was magnetized to it and wanted to be playing it.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
The music of Steven Curtis Chapman is what really sparked the dream for me. I idolized the man for not only his guitar chops, but his “Garth Brooks” approach to performing. He was energetic, would run around the stage, even around the arena, entertaining his crowds. Watching Steven’s DVDs and videos triggered my imagination and I thought, “how cool would it be if I could do that too”. Much like young Little League baseball players will throw pitches in their backyard and imagine it’s game 7 of the series, I would play guitar in my room and picture an arena full of people.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
Great question! So here’s the thing: I wore out Keith Urban’s Golden Road album in my late teens because it was PACKED with upbeat, roll-your-windows down, road trip, feel-good songs. Those songs would pump me up, get me out of a funk or a bad mood, and make me soar. That is really what I try to capture in my own music. So many creators try to pack a message or hidden agenda in their music, or use their platform to push a political/global incentive. But me? I just want to be the fun best friend that gets you through rush-hour traffic, through a bad day. My lyrics are smart, quirky, and tell great stories, and those lyrics are all wrapped up in a sound that I’ve spent years defining. That said, my “sound” is really trademarked by wide open, roaring guitars. Driving kick drums, up-tempo, positivity, with a few sentimental songs thrown in from time to time.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
As a lyricist, I’m inspired by Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, and even pop icons like Elton John, Billy Joel. As a musician, Steven Curtis Chapman, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, and Nickel Creek.
Let’s talk about your new single, “I’m Good.” What’s the story behind that song?
This is actually the only song on my new EP that I DIDN’T write! I was scrolling through a friend of mine’s song catalog one day, listening to some things he’d written, and I came across the song title, “I’m Good.” I clicked it and hit play, and when that first chorus hit, I was hooked. I had to have the song. The melody was soooo different, and musically it was so interesting. I put it on hold immediately, cut it and [now] it’s one of my favorite songs to do live.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that, specifically what it was like for this song.
Well as I said in the previous question, “I’m Good” is the one song I didn’t write. But the other 5 songs on the EP came very organically, naturally. We would often start with a great guitar riff, something that felt fun and was a blast to play. Then we’d hit “record” on our voice memo apps and start humming/mumbling melodies along with this guitar riff until someone did something cool. Then we’d be like, “hey, hey, do that again!!” Before you know it, you’ve got a groove and a melody. Then all you need is a killer title, story, lyric. That’s when we’d start digging into my life story, pulling little gems and experiences out of the past, and putting our best foot forward to tell those stories in a way that was entertaining, relatable.
Sticking with songwriting for a second, you’ve written with some incredible songwriters, like Dean Dillon, Jeff Hyde, Kevin Brandt, Lance Carpenter, etc. What have you learned from them that’s made you a better songwriter?
Oh goodness, that’s a question that could take days to answer! I’ve learned to “write what you know,” meaning, don’t stretch too far out of your realm of experience, because songs tend to be weaker when they don’t have a foundation laid in some sense of reality. I’ve learned the importance of the second verse. So many young writers will just basically “rehash” the first verse and say the same thing in a different way for verse two, but guys like Kevin Brandt and Lance Carpenter have taught me the art of “turning the story” in verse two. Meaning, we take a pivot, a shift, in a direction the listener doesn’t expect, where it suddenly makes the chorus brand new. Even though the chorus lyrics never change, the fun challenge is always, “how can we make the same lyric say two or three different things just by setting up a different meaning in the various verses?” So that’s the long way of saying, I’ve learned to write smarter [laughs]. All the while, writing smart doesn’t mean writing over people’s heads. Lyrics can get too heady, too intellectual. There’s a balance, always, and we try to walk that line.
Going back to “I’m Good,” what was the recording process like for this song? Were there any major changes made once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Well, I’m a musician and guitarist, not just a vocalist, so naturally I adapted this song to fit my style a bit. I had to do that since, again, this is the one song on the record I didn’t write. I play guitar in open tunings a lot, so I detuned my guitar, sat down in the kitchen with the song and wrestled it for a while, playing it until it started to feel less like a starchy pair of new jeans and more like a pair I’d worn for years. That said, when I took it into the studio, my incredible producer, Bobby Terry, tapped into my brain extremely well and helped us capture “my sound” within the recording, and now the song feels as much “mine” as the songs I did write.
Your EP is set to be released real soon. Is it finalized enough yet where you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?
It will be a 6 song EP, and it is packed with incredible stories, smart lyrics, tempo, as well as a song or two that will hit the heartstrings. One song in particular, called “Painted Horses”, is a powerhouse song about the great state of Oklahoma, where I grew up. I’m Chickasaw Indian heritage, so I got a chance to really embrace that in this song while taking the listener on a journey through rolling plains, booming thunderstorms, and a rich history that I love so dearly.
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I want to sweep and hit all the big ones! I’d love to win a Grammy, an ACM, a CMA, and not just any… my goal above all else is to be an entertainer. Not just a girl who stands on a stage and strums a pretty little tune. I want to be known as a woman who can hold a crowd in the palm of her hand, and give them a show they’ve never seen before. But talking a little smaller goals, maybe more immediate goals, I want to hit the point as an artist where I look out in the crowd and see/hear them singing my songs back to me. That’s a dream I’ve had for a long time, and I think that’d be just about the coolest thing ever.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Okay, well I’m a guitar gear nerd. I love to talk pedals, amps, guitars, tone woods, things like that. So something that I’m currently nerding about is Taylor’s new line of guitars called the Grand Pacific. They’ve innovated the inner bracing of their acoustic guitars to a model called the “V Brace”, and it has revolutionized the tone of their instruments. Now, the Grand Pacific is also unique to anything else they’ve done because they’ve contoured ALL the hard edges off the guitar, even the bridge and sides of the guitar, to where every bit of it is rounded. This creates another dynamic and warmth sonically, according to the videos I’ve been watching on it. I’ve GOT to get my hands on one of those guitars!