The past six months have been a whirlwind for Kaylee Bell. Full of stellar performances and writing sessions with top Nashville artists, she’s clearly living the dream and loving it.
Fresh from opening for the Dixie Chicks at their Mission Estate show in April, she’s also been touring extensively, which has helped win her a legion of fans across Australia, America and closer to home.
The release of her latest single and video, Next Somebody is an infectious, empowering anthem that is set to become a summertime crowd favourite.
Kaylee debuted the song with her full band at the Dixie’s show and was thrilled at the response it received from the crowd.
It documents, the stage of freedom after the breakdown of a toxic relationship, and moving on without feeling bound by its negative impact.
The upbeat track was written on the road during a sold-out Australian tour with The McClymonts, and written with Brooke McClymont herself.
This, in itself, was an amazing moment for the singer-songwriter from Waimate, in the South Island.
“I have been so lucky to tour Australia a lot with the girls, Mollie, Sam and Brooke, and I have grown up idolising Brooke since my first time to Tamworth,” she says.
“Brooke and I were having some down time at her house and we sat down and did some writing and the song was born.”
When it came time to shoot the video clip, Kaylee took a very patriotic approach by pulling together an all-Kiwi team.
She called upon New Zealand producers Sam de Jong (Stan Walker) and Sebastian Beyrer (Nomad) to direct the video and also collaborated with Trelise Cooper and Head Over Heels to find the perfect outfit for the clip.
“With the story, I wanted to keep it very simple and not 'over tell' or put the song into any one situation, allowing the audience to interpret it on their own,” she explains.
“I wanted it to be more intimate of me telling the story, as opposed to a staged storyline, so that people could come along with me for the song and get to know me, and also see some of the beautiful country side I was lucky to grow up amongst.”
Filming in Wanaka, she says the whole project was dependent on the changeable seasons, but thankfully, the weather gods were kind to them during the two days’ filming.
“We were in Wanaka when the aurora hit, which we were blown away by, but it was just one of those shots we were so lucky and struck gold with all the variables that had potential to go wrong.”
As she releases the new single, Kaylee has barely had time to catch her breath from another wonderfully productive writing trip in Nashville, Tennessee.
She had the opportunity to write with Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, Jerry Flowers (Keith Urban), Phil Barton, and long-time friend and collaborator, Morgan Evans.
Within no time she found herself easing into the “song-a-day” culture and was working hard to steadily produce more hits.
“You can't help but feel inspired in Nashville,” says Kaylee. “You get into such a rhythm with writing you can't help but improve. Writing every day, at least once a day, I could feel something shift in me and knew I had snapped into full-time writer mode where ideas flow easier.”
As Kaylee’s career continues to take off, and she gains the attention and respect of writers and artists alike, she’s keen to support and foster young country talent in New Zealand.
For herself, she says the best way to achieve this was the talent quest circuit, which saw her cut her teeth playing pub gigs at the age of 16, from nine in the morning to 3pm.
“It really taught me a lot, and it was a way to learn my craft, deal with audiences and earn some extra cash.”
But, to take it to the next level, she wants to see attitudes to country music change on a mainstream media level, which is something she continues to champion every day.
“I would love it to become more positive in New Zealand and I am continuing to fight to make this change happen to hopefully allow an easier road for the next generation coming through,” she says.
“It is about believing in what you do and country music is the biggest buzz in the US.”
Keep an eye out for Kaylee’s tour dates to be released on her website and facebook page.