Our second installment of Women of NAS features a Country gal with a feminist edge, Brenda Cay. Brenda's latest EP, Fragile Like a Bomb, feels like a feminist anthem from start to finish. From the title track to "Stamp Collector" to "Glass Slippers," Brenda is here to let everyone know she is a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to speak her mind.
KM: Thank you so much for being the second Women of NAS interviewee!
BC: I’m honored. Thank you for asking me. KM: I love your EP and title track “Fragile Like a Bomb.” The entire EP is truly the epitome of a feminist anthem.
BC: Thank you. KM: Before you began your music career you were a CPA. What led you to that career, and how did you eventually decide to leave that behind and pursue music?
BC: I pursued accounting because it came easily to me, and I saw that as a way to pay the bills, but music and writing have always been my passion. About nine years ago, I decided to explore songwriting. The creative process drew me in, and it is an indescribable feeling when someone says they really connect with a song that you’ve poured your heart into. One of the things I love about the music business is learning from other artists through collaboration. I have been blessed to have some great mentors, and I have learned so much along the way. While I love songwriting, I had never thought of myself as an artist until a couple of years ago, even though I loved to sing. I had supportive people around me that said they were touched by my songs so I decided it was time to tell my stories in my own voice. Fragile Like a Bomb is my second EP, and it has been amazing watching my fanbase grow. I have been moved by my fans as they have shared stories about how my songs resonated in their own lives, particularly “I Fish,” which is a song I wrote after I lost one of my younger brothers. KM: I'm so very sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I think music and songwriting - creativity in general - are great outlets for grief that we all should have in our lives. So I have to confess, Country is not a genre I know much about, and yet I do know it is very quintessentially American. As a female identifying Country artist do you feel it has been a struggle to be seen and heard because of your gender? Do you think Country is different than other genres in this respect?
BC: Being a female country artist definitely offers its own set of challenges. Country radio has given more airplay to male artists, but I think we are starting to see that shift a little. I’m hopeful that as more female artists break into country radio, that will pave the way for the rest of us. For me personally, I have a great network of co-writers, producers, and musicians that are just great people, and so I feel like I have a lot of support. I don’t know as much about other genres, but when I turn on a pop station, there seems to be a good mix of male and female artists, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face challenges.
KM: From my understanding of Country, especially from female artists, most songs are about love and heartbreak, but your tracks are very much about being a strong independent woman who marches to the beat of her own drummer. What inspired you to write these types of songs especially within the genre of Country?
BC: Country music has its share of songs about love and heartbreak, and I love those types of songs too, but there are also inspirational songs out there. When I think back to a time when women were played more on country radio, they were strong women like Reba McEntire and Martina McBride. I think all artists should write/sing about whatever moves them because that’s what makes the song relatable and honest. I faced some challenges and was growing as an artist when I wrote Fragile Like a Bomb, and I truly believe that you can’t let challenges hold you back. One of my favorite quotes is from the movie, Soul Surfer. Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark while surfing and lost one of her arms, but she got back out and surfed. She said, “I don’t need easy. I just need possible."
KM: I really like that quote too. Have you ever felt like you were held back in the music industry as a whole because of your gender?
BC: I haven’t felt that way at this point. The music business is a tough industry, and I think we all have to support each other. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to join a group of women supporting women in the music industry. The group is called “Be a Highway Woman," and they are all about promoting not just female artists but all women who work in the music industry. The group was started by a strong woman who believed in me, my manager, Jill Pavel.
KM: That's awesome. I'm also a part of a few groups started to help women in the industry, namely, "Women in Music." I'm so glad these groups exist. So your music video for “Fragile Like a Bomb” features you working out in ways we typically expect for men. What inspired that video? How long did you have to work out to get all the shots you needed? It really looked exhausting (laughs).
BC: I LOVED making this video. My trainer in the video, Brian Brewer, is a good friend of mine who also happens to be a great musician and personal trainer/boxer (fun fact: he played the guitar tracks on all of the songs on the EP except “Glass Slippers.”) I have wanted to try boxing for quite a while, and this song gave me an excuse to do it. We shot all of the boxing/training scenes in an hour and a half, in part because Brian was concise in teaching me, and in part because the videographer, Brittany Danese, did such a great job capturing everything.
KM: That's great! I'm glad you didn't have to work out like that for 5 hours! So what is next on the horizon for you? Is there anything you’re working on now we should know about? Music or otherwise?
BC: I just released a new single, “Alone With You." This is one of the heartbreak songs that you mentioned earlier, though some might say I’m still marching to my own drummer. When my vocal producer heard this song the first time, she said, “Congratulations, you wrote a bro country song.” I laughed and said, “if guys can sing it, I don’t see why we can’t sing it too!” I have been in Nashville working on the video for the song and recording more new music. I’m excited to share all of it. We’re all eager for the opportunity to play out in public, and I’m looking forward to getting out and touring once things start to open up again. I’m really glad to be a part of the NAS family and look forward to connecting more with everyone.
KM: That's so funny your vocal producer called it a "bro country song." I can totally hear that, and I love it. I agree if men can sing it, so can we. Thank you so much for chatting, and good luck in everything going forward, especially touring once things open back up again. We'll definitely be listening and watching!
Please continue to amplify female voices in this industry. They are needed.