After I had been in the “bi-polar weather” city for four days due to a Bachelorette, I literally rolled into the next Blue Bandana Country PR Weekonly under the adrenaline that I would be conducting the first artist interview on music row that Monday.
As my #bandanababes flew into Music City in the twilight hours, we knew we had to be up bright and early to head to Sea Gayle Music promptly before 9:00 AM.
We arrived “branded out” to the famous Music Row and I suddenly remembered that it was majority of the babes first time. All were familiar with various names of companies but also were in awe of the fact that there is a respect to historic preservation in such a significant neighborhood. Beautiful homes with large trees and the only reason you might know that it was a business is because there is a #1 banners displayed on their front lawns.
As we walked up the steps to Sea Gayle Music (a two-story big-window with crown molding light grayish/green home) we were all antsy to meet CJ Solar.
With the fuel of both Southern rock and country music influences pumping through his veins, it’s no surprise that Sea Gayle Music’s CJ Solar is a natural at fusing the two worlds. Combine that with Delta blues, compliments of a childhood spent in Cajun country, and you’ve got one badass up-and-comer, with the pure musical talent and vocal chops to back him up. Already turning heads throughout Nashville, Baton Rouge and beyond, having been named one of the“New Artists You Need To Know” by Rolling Stone Country, Solar says the driving force behind his untimely success isn’t fame nor fortune – it’s just a diehard infatuation with the music he grew up on.
Those that have paid attention to the country music scene should be familiar with CJ, however to us it was a hell of a way to kick off the week. One of the more important inspirations to our brand is that it was inspired by the girl in the Jerrod Niemann song Blue Bandana.
CJ is in fact one of the writers on the song (alongside Ben Goldsmith and Andrew Scott Wills). So when I was beginning to set up our week I KNEW we had to reach out to him.
That initiative was also persuaded by the other fact that ALL OF the #BandanaBabes are HUGE Morgan Wallen fans, to which CJ is also a co-writer on his most recent hit Up Down with FGL.
We were greeted by Brandon (Director of Operations at Sea Gayle) with perfect southern hospitality and were told to make ourselves at home. As we walked through the halls in search of coffee we were surrounded by awards, to which none of us had ever seen in person. Wide eye in realization that it was my first time in a publishing house to interview an artist it all began to soak in that this was a start to a dream.
As we made our way through the halls and up the stairs to a writers room, all of the babes were beginning to understand the magic that this week was going to present to us.
CJ arrived promptly and although tired from the abundance of shows from the busy few weeks, was ready to hang with the five of us on a bright and rainy (Nashville weather I know) Monday morning.
As expected, CJ was as kind as we thought he would be and we were all so thrilled we could hear some of our favorite songs and his new songs in person. We especially enjoyed hearing American Girls (which has since become our Nashville anthem) and a very fond musical memory we can all walk away with.
Below is our interview correspondence with CJ and we’ve included some song videos he played that day.
I encourage you all to get to know CJ through our interview and his social media. He is a blossoming talent in Nashville and I can imagine his future is only going to get even brighter.
American Girls is included in our Oh Shit It’s June post because it easily has been one of our favorite songs released this year.
Sunrise Serenade CJ Solar
BBC S: Savannah
BBC M: Megan
CS: Cj Solar
BBC M: You released Get Away With It earlier in April, how have the last few weeks been?
CS: It’s been pretty crazy. I have been out of town for the most of it playing shows. We did have a big in town release which was a lot of fun. But mostly I am excited to just get music out there.
BBC S: Which song do you think has the most unique back story?
CS: Thats’ so hard!
BBC S: Okay how bout the story behind your favorite?!
CS: Ah man songs are like your kids! You can’t really pick… this ones more athletic or this one is smarter HAHA
No but really, American Girls is really fun. I wrote that one with two of my buddies Michael Hardy and Jacob Mitchell. We were writing with Michael Hobby, from A Thousand Horses (ATH) that day so we were really trying to write for ATH. Which we kind of do a similar thing but I guess when they went to the studio they said they were not going to do it so I jumped on it and said I’m going to do that one then.
ATH is so great but that write that day was really inspired by the fact that I had just seen Tom Petty. One of my favorite song of his was American Girl so we looked into American Girls because it didn’t seem like anyone else had done it yet.
BBC M: So Tom Petty… he passed away on October 1st last year. When did you write this song?
CS: We wrote it a little ago but I have seen him 2-3 times. So this song was actually on a year hold but it is still one of the newer songs that has been released on the EP.
Get Away With It had been around for two years,
Airplane was pretty new, Same Town was also actually pretty new.
What’s crazy is Blue Bandana is pretty old; I wrote that song over four years ago.
BBC : Yeah! That sounds about right. Blue Bandana was the catalyst to brainstorming and the start of all of this for us. I had started this around 3 years ago and now its starting to carry momentum.
CS: Heck yeah! That song has really had a cool life of its own for not being a #1 hit.
BBC M: Well that leads perfectly into our next question! What is the story of Blue Bandana?
CS: I am actually writing with one of the co-writers that I wrote it with today. I told him to get here a little early to meet y’all.
So none of us had publishing deals yet and Ben was working the front desk at BMG. So one day he was like “hey guys, if y’all want to write here, you can come here after hours one day and we can write.” So it was probably one of my first times writing at a publishing company.
We were writing another song that none of us were crazy about and got sidetracked talking about music festivals and how awesome they were. The first four years when I moved here I went to Bonnaroo every year when they still had a lot of country music.
The first year I went they had Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band… those just alone was really cool. Then they had Weezer, StevieWonder, John Fogerty who is one of my favorite artists from Creedence Clearwater Revival . So there was so much amazing music that year and then slowly it has become electronic dance music.
But anyway we just started talking about our experiences going to festivals and Andy had seen that Merle Fest was happening right around that time and that chorus just fell out.
We all agreed that this song was way cooler than the other one so we were excited to throw our festival experiences together. We had to then decide if we just stick to country festivals and I was like this kind of girl probably would like all kinds of music; hitch hiking in a beat up van. So we added in all the other festivals and the timing was cool in the song in that Jazz Fest in New Orleans follows Merle Fest so it makes sense.
BBC M: Well perfect! The song perfectly spoke to us because we are those kind of girls that love all kinds of music but we know the most about country music. We pay attention to song writers.
BBC S: As an artist and songwriter, what has been your most proud moment in Nashville so far?
CS: Oh man, I don’t know! One of the first coolest moments was hearing Jerrod Niemann sing Blue Bandana for the first time. It was my first cut which was a couple of years ago.
We have been able to play a few shows with Hank Jr and we have some shows coming up that we get to play with some legendary acts.
My band and I even got to play a private event at the Grand Ole Opry, which I’m still waiting and excited for hopefully when that happens some day.
Oh and having Up Down on the radio, which is my highest charting song ever that I have written. So hopefully it goes number 1 and that can be my WOO HOO moment.
BBC S: What was it like to hear your songs on the radio at first?
CS: I had heard Blue Bandana on the radio before, which was really cool. I still remember hearing from Phoenix.
BBC M: WHAT! How funny! I was living in Scottsdale, AZ and working in downtown Phoenix at that time!
CS: What really? That’s crazy! I guess Jerrod is friends with one of the guys at the radio station and got to him early. He had posted about it being played for the first time. So I figured out how to stream it and listened to it on my porch SO excited drinking a beer.
It took me forever to finally hear Up Down on the radio. I swear every time I got out of my car in Nashville, twenty seconds later someone would text me that it was on. So I kept missing it forever and finally caught it on the Highway and then radio once.
I am always getting texts and snapchats of the song so it has been really cool.
BBC M: Well the song is perfect summer type song, so we know it will pick up.
ahem which it did y’all
CS: Yeah its crazy because it was released in November which it takes time to carry momentum.
BBC S: We actually remember Morgan singing it in Sacramento in July last summer. I remember it especially because Morgan covered a Linkin Park song in recognition of Chester Bennington. But from then on all of us that were there were like when is UP DOWN coming out to radio!!!
BBC M; So last question, being that we are an all-female blog, who is the most influential female on your life?
CS: In my life? Oh man… I have two great grandmas, a great-aunt and my mom who are all like everything. I also have an older sister who was always great to have around to give me advice.
I have a lot of really strong women in my life. I love them all so much. They have all done so much for me in my life. Some of my favorite relatives.
As it couldn’t have got any better that morning with CJ…
We were then able…
- To meet Andrew Scott Willis (the other writer of Blue Bandana)
- Catch up with our buddy JD Groover to geek out over his role at Sea Gayle and being tour manager of Jon Langston.
- AND AND AND Brandon was so kind to give us ALL blue bandana bracelets that a fan had made years prior. Seriously one of my favorite memories of that trip!
Thank you CJ for allowing us to interview you for our first ever Sunrise Serenade and thank you Sea Gayle Music for being such gracious hosts for a bunch of California Bandana Babes.
Peace, Love & Cali Kisses