She might hail from Michigan, but Jilian Linklater’s music will warm your heart. She’s already making waves in Nashville — she’s even impressed John Mays, the VP of A&R at Centricity Music: “I don’t care if you’re rock, pop, indie, folk, country, or jazz fusion, you will love Jilian’s music. You’ll love it because it has a way of cutting through styles and genres and heading straight for your heart. That’s the kind of music we all love — the kind that connects us to the deepest things that matter most about our lives, and that’s what lies at the core of Jilian’s beautiful gift. Buy this music, Go see her play. She’s one of the rare ones.” One of my favorite things about Jilian is that her lyrics are so genuine and really get to the heart of what matters in life — love, family, and important historical events — she’s written about them all. Plus, she’s sugar sweet.
I wanted to feature Jilian Linklater in Straight Outta Nashville first because she is the first on the long list of reasons that I even came to Nashville. I had been a fan of hers since the YouTube days (“The Penguin Song” was one of my faves). I hope that after you read this interview, you sit down with a cup of coffee and listen to what she has to say through her music. Jilian is such a bright light in this industry and in this town and I know that you’ll agree.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Jilian: I actually was on a trip to Nashville my junior year of high school because I had won a Taylor Swift Karaoke contest! Haha! It’s still funny to me, but really that’s where my “journey to Nashville” began. I had won tickets to the CMA fest and also studio time at Love Shack on music row. I was able to record a couple original songs. The person that was hosting us then took us on a tour of music row and we drove by Belmont University. I ended up touring the school, learned that songwriting was a career (what?!?!), applied to Belmont and Belmont only, got in, and here we are.
MusicDash: What is your favorite or most memorable performance in Nashville?
Jilian: Hmm…..The first time I ever played a show in Nashville was at the Best of the Best showcase for Belmont University. I was a little baby freshman and I was able to play for 1,000s of people which is the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed in front of. And I just remember getting off stage and turning to the drummer and violinist that played with me and being so pysched! We were all pretty much jumping up and down saying “let’s do it again”. The second was recently at the Well Coffeehouse in Nashville for my EP release party. I’ve never had so much fun on stage and I was so so humbled by how many people came out to support me.
MusicDash: What is your favorite song that you’ve ever written?
Jilian: Hmm… oh dear. It changes every time I write a song haha. That’s a hard question because I like songs for different reasons. But I’d say my favorite thus far is my most recent song that I wrote with a band called MamaDear called “Run Into You” it’s super fun to play and sing.
MusicDash: Last month, you put a YouTube video up on your channel for your song “Hard Candy.” The live video was shot at RCA Studio A. Many other famous artists have recorded there as well from the Beach Boys to Kesha. How did this opportunity come about?
Jilian: Yeah! It was so fun. One of my best experiences in music to date. I am a part of this YouTube hub channel called Made In Network and they had mentioned to me that YouTube was coming to Nashville to do a workshop for creators and also what they call a YouTube “pop-up” space where they would pick a venue and record videos for artists with professional gear and edit it all for free (HOLY AWESOME!!!). I was blessed to be chosen to do one of the videos and also to be a part of the artist workshop. It was beyond amazing and I learned so much from all the YouTube peeps. They are the bomb!
MusicDash: You’ve been uploading originals and covers on YouTube for years now. How has having your music on YouTube impacted you?
Jilian: I remember it being a really good outlet and starting point for me. When I started playing guitar and writing songs I would hide in my room and my parents would beg me to come play for them. I was dreadfully shy about it (still am at times). But when I started making YouTube videos I was able to play for people without actually playing for people (weird thing that YouTube). When I got a response, I was really encouraged and also happy to see that my songs were impacting people in a way I didn’t realize they could. It gave me confidence to keep sharing my music with others.
MusicDash. You recently released your second EP “Walking Stories.” How was that recording process different from that of your first EP?
Jilian: Ha well extremely different. My first EP was recorded with friends in a dorm room. Our vocal booth was a wardrobe. It was so much fun. I’ll never forget that experience. This time around we were in a studio with session musicians, chord charts, and intense microphones that I was afraid to get near because I’m kinda clumsy (the big leagues if you will hehe). It was a huge learning experience for me being at that level. I was forced to learn how to effectively communicate with all parties, how to get ideas from my brain across to extremely talented musicians, and to be confident in what I was doing.
MusicDash: What are your ultimate goals?
Jilian: Hm… I want to be a part of bettering other’s lives. Whether that’s directly through music or not. I’ve always said I want to write the kind of songs that change people for the better or at least make them think. I know songs have done that for me and it inspires me to continue that on.
MusicDash: What’s next for you?
Jilian: I love to write first and foremost – which I know I will do forever—but I am discovering this artist side of me as I continue to record and perform. I’d love to have a balance of both. I’m starting to do some more mini touring (hopefully in my tiny house J) and I just found out two of my songs are going to be in an indie film! So I hope I can continue to pursue the synch world as well. Non-music wise: I want to build a tiny house!
Article By Kaitlyn Midgett