Exclusive Interview with Pop-Country Singer Jordyn Stoddard
Jordyn Stoddard has already positioned herself as a triple-threat in Nashville — she sings with the soul of a seasoned veteran, strums a signature blue Taylor guitar and has refined her craft as a songwriter. The 21-year-old just released her new single “Bad Baby”, which is her first release since her debut album in 2015, Southern Tide.
I got the chance to talk with Jordyn about how Kenny Chesney helped her realize that music is what she wanted to do for a living, what she learned about herself in the four years since she last released music, the story behind “Bad Baby” and 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.
I started playing music at a really young age. I come from a family of five so my parents just really wanted all of us to be really involved in something, whether it was sports, music, [etc]. So they kind of just threw me into music, soccer and different things and I ended up grasping music. I started taking piano lessons when I was five and then I begged my dad to quit because I hated it, which I totally regret now [laughs]. I also was singing around my house and my dad was like, “Alright. Why don’t we put you in voice lessons and see how that goes?” I ended up loving singing and music in general.
I went to my first concert when I was 7 and it was a Kenny Chesney concert. I ended up getting pulled on stage that night, which was crazy. A lot of people are like, “You actually remember that night?” I really do. I think things like that you never forget. I remember standing in front of thousands of people and just being like, “This is what I want to do. This feeling is cool. The fact that this guy is on stage, singing in front of thousands of people and people are just singing the words to every song, that’s so special.”
So ever since then, I just had such a passion for music. Then I started writing music at twelve. My sister went to Lipscomb College in Nashville and she was sitting in class with Thomas Rhett.
Yeah, it was crazy. She knew him from college and was telling me about how some of these artists were songwriters on the side. Kelsea Ballerini actually went to Lipscomb for a little bit too. So she kind of knew all these people and was telling me [all this stuff]; I was like eleven or twelve and I was like, “Okay. So that’s really cool.” I was listening to Taylor Swift at the time so I knew some of these people had written their own music and I was like, “I want to do that.” So I taught myself guitar that summer and ended up just writing songs that were terrible. But it became part of my career.
That’s awesome. So I know it’s been a couple years since you released new music. What made now the right time to release new material and what did you learn about yourself, both personally and as an artist, in that time?
I put music out when I was 15/16 years old, and at the time, I really didn’t have too much to say as a songwriter because I was still kind of learning the process. I wasn’t living in Nashville so I didn’t really understand what it was like to co-write. I wasn’t doing it frequently like I am now. So I moved to Nashville and I was like, “Okay. I really want to spend x-amount of time and just write. Whether or not I have something to say right then, I just want to learn what it’s like to be doing it every day.” When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t really know anybody. My family stayed back in Florida and I think I just had a lot to write about and I learned a lot about myself in the process of doing that. I knew I wanted to be a writer of my own music. For me, I connect better when I’m singing songs that I know what it’s about and where the idea came from.
So the past two years, I’ve just spent time just writing. I’ve met so many incredible people that have pulled a lot of things out of me that I didn’t even realize I could write about and even just style-wise or genre-wise. So “Bad Baby”, when I first wrote the song, I was like “Okay. This is the style I’ve been looking for.” I knew when I moved [to Nashville] that I was searching for a sound, but I didn’t know how to explain it and now I do. And it’s funny how that happens; one song can change that for you and this song for sure did that. So for me, this song, genre-wise, really balances country and pop, which are two genres that I love and I draw a lot of inspiration from.
Yeah. So kind of going off of that, something I’m always genuinely curious about is what artists want to convey with their music. Like you said, your sound would typically be classified as pop and country, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe the music you create?
I am very melody driven. I feel like my strong suit in a session is always bringing really catchy melodies. I’ll get these random melodies in my head and I want people to be singing the song over and over again. I’ll send some demos to my team and they’re like, “Thanks Jordyn. That song is going to be in my head the rest of the day.” So for me, I feel like that’s kind of where I shine in a session. And then, when I met some of these writers in Nashville, I was like, “I really want to, through my lyrics, learn how to be more honest with myself” because I think writing is very much like a journal entry; you’re sharing things that you wouldn’t normally share with somebody that you don’t know. So I found a great group of people that really pulled that out of me and I have some songs that I have yet to release that I want to put out very soon that show that side of my writing as well. I feel like “Bad Baby” is kind of like, “Okay this is what Jordyn is really good at. This is who she is personality wise.” [So my music is] melody-driven, fun, upbeat, has a little bit of sassiness to it but then also I have songs that are vulnerable and honest and I think that’s what I was searching for the whole time in the past three or four years.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Oh man, it changes all the time. Kenny Chesney is for sure up there just because I grew up listening to country music. My heart will always be in country music, even though I do country-pop. My dad took me to just about every single Kenny Chesney concert there was that came through my hometown. I grew up in a beach town, and Kenny Chesney does a lot of beach stuff, so it really reflected how I was raised. Also that moment where he pulled me up on stage, all of that really inspired me. I still listen to him today. I tell that story all the time just because he really changed that for me.
I feel like Taylor Swift was a really big influence. For the longest time, if I’m being honest, I was kind of scared to say that because people always were like, “You sound very much Taylor Swift”, which is great because she’s such a talented artist but I feel like it made me nervous because I was like, “I’m not Taylor Swift. I am Jordyn.” But I did draw inspiration from her. I think she she encouraged me to be a songwriter and she was young and writing about things that most 15/16 year olds don’t really know how to express correctly. So I think that was so life changing for up-and-coming songwriters like me.
Then, in pop music, I really love Julia Michaels. I think she’s just killing it right now. She kind of set the trend for just being a songwriter at first and then deciding to do the artist thing. I thought that’s really popular. Those are probably my top three. I mean I have so many people I admire and look up to, but I think those three really have impacted my life.
So talking about “Bad Baby” specifically, what’s the story behind that song? What inspired it?
Yeah. The writing process is so different every single day and every time I step into a room with somebody. I had heard someone say “Bad Baby” before and I was like, “That’s a really cool title”. A lot of times, that’s how I start my song is just by the title. I think that title kind of threw me off at first because you could think of it in different ways. I love the titles where people read them and they’re like, “Oh I know what this is going to be about” and then it’s completely different. I think that title is kind of like that, so I wrote it down on my phone and kind of forgot about it.
The girl I wrote the song with – her name is Peyton Porter – I had never written with her before but we had known each other [for a little bit]. We were on the back porch of a little studio and it was a night write – so it was like 7 or 8 o’clock at night – and I was just going through my phone and I was like, “I have this title I forgot about. It’s called ‘Bad Baby’.” She was like, “Oh that’s kind of an interesting title” and I was like, “But just wait. It’s not probably what you expect. I almost want to say what I’ve been thinking about you bad, baby.” I want[ed] it to be about this girl who really likes this guy but doesn’t really know how express her feelings to him because I feel like, for me, I don’t really know how to express my feelings. So for me it was like getting this feeling when you really like someone and you’re like, “How do I tell them?” Just all this emotion overtakes your body for a second and you’re like, “Okay how am I going to express this without it being too much?” And so we just talked about that and what it’s like when you really having feelings for somebody and you’re thinking about them all the time but you’re wondering if they’re thinking the same thing. We wrote it in just a few hours. Ever since then, she’s become one of my favorite people to write with and she’s one of my closest friends.
That’s awesome. So you mentioned that this song specifically was written in a co-write, but just in general, are you someone that likes to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with other artists in co-writes?
I love collaborating with other artists but I do like writing by myself. For the longest time, I just focused on writing with other people because I was very critical of myself writing alone. So when I write with other people, I feel like they kind of validate my ideas, which is funny and it’s probably a dumb thing.
But I am totally fine writing by myself and I feel like it’s important to write by yourself because writing is just like doing anything, like playing a sport. You have to do it, you have to train, you have to get your mind to think that way. So writing by myself really does challenge me in that area.
For awhile, I was just writing with other people. I would get frustrated writing by myself. I got back into piano a few years ago so now I just spent a lot of time, when I do have downtime, back home and I just start writing by myself, whether or not I finish the song. I wanted to bring that back because that’s really how I started writing in general. At twelve or thirteen years old, sitting in my room back in Florida, I would write songs by myself. So I’ve just had to remind myself that I’m capable of doing it just and I can’t be super hard on myself; some songs might not be great but some songs might be good.
Right. Going back to “Bad Baby” specifically, were there any major changes made to that song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
No. It’s so funny cause that happens a lot. I need to find a demo and put it on my Instagram because. I have the working that we did that night. I fell in love with it that night and I still had the same feeling for when I went in and recorded it. Johnny [Simmen] – who did the production for the song – he kind of just pieced it together and I just knew. I was like, “I don’t think we’re gonna have to fix anything.” It was so easy, just the process and all of that.
That’s awesome. I know this song just came out, but do you have any plans for more singles or maybe even an EP or a full length project to come out some time later this year?
Yeah. I plan to do some more singles. Just because I haven’t put out music in so long, I kind of want to do singles for right now. I kind of want people to take in what I’ve been writing for the past three and a half years because it’s so different than what Southern Tide was; I learned so much and I’ve changed a little bit. So yeah I think I’m going to do singles. I’m hoping in the fall some will come out. I don’t have a specific date yet but I do have a lot of songs that are waiting to be released so it’s just a matter of time.
You’re still relatively new to this whole thing, so what are some of the goals and benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in your career in the next couple years?
I really do have a goal to be touring, [playing in] big arenas out in front of thousands of people. That’s why I started music. That night I got pulled up on stage, that’s why I wanted to pursue that goal. But that’s my big term goal.
I set little goals for myself. Every year, I try to have a list and it helps me kind of push myself and challenge myself. I think every year I try to at least hit writing 50 to 80 songs. I try to go out and meet new writers. I’d love to get on the road this year. We’re actually working on that right now and part of that goal is just building my fan base. So yeah, I try to set little goals like that. I think this year’s goal [is] to really get on the road and go to places I’ve never been. There’s so many cities that I would love to go play in and meet new people. I think that’s the best part about the job is that you just get to travel the world and you get to meet really awesome people that just enjoy music.
Last question – our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. So what is something you are currently nerding out about?
When new music comes out, I’m all about figuring out who the writer is on songs. I study songwriters like nobody’s business and I know a handful of people that do that. I grew up doing that. I think it’s so important. That’s my advice for people moving to Nashville that want to pursue being a songwriter and artist is know the people that are doing it who are on songs. So every time music comes out every Friday, I’m on New Music Friday – whether it’s pop music, R&B music, country music – I’m constantly going and looking at writer credit and producer credit as well because a lot of the producers are writers.
I honestly do nerd over the writers that are on a lot of songs. That’s why I fell in love with Julia Michaels. Those things just really inspire me because everybody’s path is different but everybody’s on the same path doing what they love. So part of my every day life is doing that and researching and studying.
For more information, you can visit Jordyn’s website or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “Bad Baby” is now available on iTunes, Spotify and all other digital platforms here.