On Episode 185, I'm joined by rising singer-songwriter Zoe Cummins. This Friday (July 16), she'll be releasing her soaring and soulful debut self-titled EP. During this one, we talk about growing up in rural Oklahoma, moving to Nashville, hustling and navigating songwriting circles, rounds, and open mics, and hear some of the stories behind the songs.
This episode's presenting partner is Desert Door Texas Sotol and The Blue Light Live.
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Thomas Mooney 0:02
Hey y'all, I'm music journalist Thomas Mooney and welcome back to New slang. This is Episode 185, where I'm joined by rising singer songwriters Zoe Cummins. I caught up with Zoey last week for a great conversation about growing up in rural Oklahoma and moving to Nashville pursuing her dream and goals of becoming a recording artist. And of course, her self titled EP, which is out this Friday, July 16. So Zoe, she's been working with the folks over at Torres Music Group and farmland studios Stop me if you've heard this one before. In my opinion, they're producing and cultivating some of the best music that's coming out of Nashville these days. It's a genuine organic and diverse cast of songwriters and artists. We touch on some of that during this one as well. This EP by Zoe is just a wonderful introduction to her as an artist. She covers a lot of ground and just these six songs without feeling like she's just trying to check every box or wearing herself then there's still a cohesiveness. She's undoubtedly going to get some of those Morgan Wade comparisons, obviously is not a bad thing. She does occupy some of that singer songwriter country ground, but there's a lot of that Tom Petty rock and roll some of those Fleetwood Mac vibes. But I think one of the major keys one of the major elements of Zoe's music is her voice and her delivery. There's a soulfulness that really makes it special. It's really effortlessly cool. And I feel like it just informs everything that she's doing here. And it's not like she's using that soulfulness. In the same way. Every time. You kind of catch these different glimpses of that soulfulness. Whether that's in these like soaring, sing along choruses, like on your side of it, or like on the boozy bar storyteller ghost stories. What when she slows it down on the Leon bridges cover beyond it's there as well. Anyway, we talk about the development of the songs that style and and the feel of the EP, and much much more on this one. Today's presenting partner is our pals over at Desert door, Texas SoTL. If you've been listening to new slang for really any amount of time, you'll know that desert door is one of my all time favorite premium, high quality spirits. If you haven't or aren't sure what exactly a sotol is. I'm going to let you in on a little secret that's going to up the game on your liquor cabinet. For starters, the best reference point that I can point you to is to think about a tequila or Moscow. Do you feel that Western desert that text is ruggedness? Okay, Soto is like that, but a little bit more refined, smooth and fragrant. It intrigues the palette and offers these hints of vanilla and citrus, there's an earthiness that often sends me right back to my trans Pecos some Far West Texas roots. There's plenty to love about desert door. For me, it all starts right there. a close second is just how versatile desert door really is. You can go full highbrow and experiment with concocting a variety of cocktails that call for muddling fresh fruit sprigs of time sticks of cinnamon, it's perfect for that world. If you're a little bit more down home, if you've just rolled up the sleeves of your denim Wrangler button up, it's perfect for that as well. If you're just desiring something that's short and sweet, it hits the mark every time does adore is genuine and authentically West Texan. It's inherently West Texan. They harvest Soto plants out in the wild and are knowledgeable conservationists at heart. That's obviously something incredibly important to me. They shine a light on what makes West Texas special and unique and worth preserving and keeping it safe from exploitation. Right now, you can find desert door all over Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and there's budding numbers in places like New Mexico, Arizona, California and Georgia. Best thing you can do is to check out desert door.com to find where desert door is locally. Again, that's desert door.com. If this is your first time listening to new slang, I would highly encourage you to hit that subscribe button. New slang is available on Apple podcast Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Be sure to stop on over and visit our merch store. That would be at New sling podcast dot big cartel.com. Over there. You can find t shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses,
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all kinds of stuff. Go there and check it out. All the links that I just mentioned the are in the show notes. So yeah, let's get on into it. Here is Zoe Cummins. Yeah, let's kind of start with the obvious you have a new EP that's going to be coming out July 16. self titled Yeah. Did you Was this like, is it was this recorded this past year during quarantine? Little before? Or was it? Like, is this kind of a little bit more of a new recording process than the now? What's the kind of the story behind there?
Zoe Cummins 5:15
Yeah, um, so actually, the way that I got to record it in the first place was really cool. I've been wanting to put a record together for a while. Whenever I was playing tons of shows, sometimes like two or three a night, I did not give myself the time to be able to record so yeah, during quarantine. Alright, so decided that it was definitely a good idea to use that time to be in the studio. A lot of artists were doing that. So I posted on Instagram that I was ready to start that process. And Alex Torres reached out to me, and obviously, we had a lot of mutual friends. And he said that he had a really, really cool group at farmland that he had been doing records with. And it's been really awesome. So we got together and that was in November, when we started recording. So we're kind of on the tail end of, of quarantine. And so But definitely, still very much a COVID situation in the studio and everything but but yeah, we go down in November and just kind of took that process all the way through early April, when I think the first single was released. So yeah, it was it was really interesting, but it was definitely the time to be in the studio.
Thomas Mooney 6:36
Yeah, I knew that you were connected with the with Alex and like Torres Music Group and all of the stuff that he's been doing out there. He's got like a really, really nice, diverse cast of songwriters that he's been working with. And actually, I think it was like yesterday, I watched that video that you engagingly had on on YouTube was like an interview and a couple performances. So that was really nice to see.
Zoe Cummins 7:04
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. And those also don't have farmland, so it's kind of a magical little place.
Thomas Mooney 7:10
Yeah, well, what what's it, I guess? Like, did you know Gabe, or any of these? The folks that over at farmland beforehand? What? And then obviously, I'm sure like you, regardless, if you did or did not know them? I'm sure that's been one of those relationships. That's kind of, you know, you'd know these people more. Have you been able to do any co writing or anything like that? What's that been like?
Zoe Cummins 7:33
Yeah, um, so I knew Gabe, we had been playing some shows, kind of, you know, with each other alongside each other over the past couple years, and it's been really cool to get to know him. And that's definitely how I got connected to Alex. And I'm really, that video that you saw was really awesome. That was the first time we've ever collaborated on anything. But he's just so so talented. So it was really, really cool to get in the studio and do that together. And yeah, I think I'm really grateful to be a part of Torres Music Group, because it is like a really diverse cast of people, like you said, but we've all been working with each other a little bit more as time is going on. And that's been so fun. Everybody's so so talented. So yeah, that was the other part of the question.
Thomas Mooney 8:24
I was just gonna say like, have you have you had like, I guess more chances to collaborate with was part of me with some of the the folks out there as far as, you know, getting into like more CO Writing Situations or anything like that any kind of collaborative efforts.
Zoe Cummins 8:40
Yeah, yeah. I'd say Alex does a really good job kind of getting everybody together. And I didn't really know any of the musicians or anything out farmland. I knew of them, of course, but I'm meeting them for the first time with Alex. So he's really, really, really good at bringing people together. And it's funny, like when you walk into a bar with him, everybody just knows who he is or always like. So he definitely brings us together. And he's started doing some really fun shows for all of us. Most recently, we did a whiskey jam, which is just really cool event in Nashville, I'm sure you're probably familiar with. And he did a TMG takeover. So we all got to kind of do like a family band and play each other's songs and sing, sing all together. So that was really cool. And then I think in September, he's putting in a really cool, like, really big show with all of us and, and he brings in a lot of our other friends that play music that aren't necessarily with kmG right now, but still part of the family, you know, and I think one of the first things I heard in town was that you kind of find your group of musicians to be like a class you know, like your high school graduating class. And, and yeah, I think that's very true for where, at least where I'm at right now. And I think we're TMG as of right now as well. So, so we're a little family, a little group. And we got tons of friends that we like to kind of stick around and play with pretty, pretty frequently. But as far as the writing process goes, it's kind of it's different. I haven't written much with anybody from Torres Music Group, although I really want to because like I said, everybody's so talented. And writing is just such a passion of all of ours. So hopefully, that'll be coming soon. But I do have a lot of friends that I write with in town some more frequently than others, like some of the names on this current Yuki I was writing with pretty consistently before COVID. And, and so I love them, I just kind of starting the writing process back up after everything right now. So we're using back in.
Thomas Mooney 11:02
Yeah, you know, like one of the things that, I guess, like, I've talked with Alex here, and they're really just like, through social media and email and that kind of thing. But so I'm a little, you know, a couple steps away, but one of the things I feel that you really get a sense a sense of is how you said right there, he kind of connects people, he puts people in the room, and then also just doesn't, like really try and make you sound a certain way. He doesn't try and like, you know, make you fit a certain mold or anything like that. And you can really see that with again, like the, like Gabe Lee's are like the tourists and Morales is like, they don't sound anything remotely the same. But like they're, they're still like given the same, like freedom, I guess to to create what they want, even though they're, you know, under the same umbrella. I'm sure that was something that really drew you to the, to them as well.
Zoe Cummins 11:59
Oh, absolutely. Like, your creative control is everything. And Alex just kind of enhances it. He just, he just adds, he doesn't tell you need to do anything specific. And for me, that was a really big deal. Because, like you said, there's a lot of different genres in a company. But specifically the reason I think we decided to do NEP, instead of a record was trying to find songs of mine that were cohesive, because I like to go, you know, through different genres per song. And, you know, I really, kind of just depends what I'm listening to, or what's striking me at the moment, but But yeah, he's like, finding really cool ways to connect. It's still being my sound. And it's an it like, all be cohesive, all those different genres and blends and, and so it's been really, really fun.
Thomas Mooney 12:56
Yeah, I really do love your EP. It's like, you know, one of the I guess, like that first thing that really draws you in is your voice, like, your voice has, like, just that. right amount of like, rasp to it. You know, where it's, it's just, I don't know, like, I'm sure you've kind of you've probably heard plenty of Morgan Wade comparisons already. But there is that little bit of that there's like a little bit of like that Tom Petty thing that's going on as well. And I don't really like it. I again, there's just a lot of really cool moments on there. I'm kind of just kind of, I guess, not necessarily obsessed. I won't use that word, but the one that I just keep on going back to his ghost stories.
Zoe Cummins 13:39
Thank you. Yeah, I I love that one. And playing on live is like one of the best feelings. I love. I love the rock thing. And I think I think I totally know. Thank you for saying it feels really good.
Thomas Mooney 13:54
Yeah, what's what's kind of like the story behind that song? Where was like, I guess maybe, like the, the origin point from from where that came from?
Zoe Cummins 14:05
Yeah, um, I think this is actually one of my favorite stories to tell just because of how random it is. I, I love to like make up stories. And, and do that kind of thing. So, um, I would say it was back when I was playing again, like every night I gotten to a point right before COVID when I was just gigging a lot and I had a free day. And one of my best friends is a videographer. And she's actually a content creator for a label now, but she was just touring a lot as a videographer at the time. And so we both had a free day and we were hanging out on my back porch and decided to write a song. So we've written actually a couple songs together and it's it's crazy how well that that's worked out for us but she was back from a weekend run and she did Just jotted a couple lines down in her notes about just crowd watching people watching things that you do as a videographer. And she had the lines. She grew up in Mississippi was the first few lines. She grew up in Mississippi jumps from Wayland, back to Whitley. And then she had always sticks to jack and coke, she praises Willie, but she don't smoke. Just kind of generalizing people in the crowd, like I said, and I was like, well, let's make up a story about this girl and, and kind of based everything around that, like, who shows up to the concert. But yeah, we just made up a story about kind of that concert scene where sometimes you meet people there, and you might have a drink with them or whatever. And then as soon as the concerts over, that's kind of it and you just kind of walk away. And sometimes you don't even know their name. So, you know, we're kind of laughing about you know, if you get drunk or whatever, and, and, like, totally don't know anything about somebody, they could be a made up person. And sometimes they are, you know, made up and you know, from that side of things, so, it was like, well, maybe there it goes. Maybe they're ghosting somebody. And we just went with it. We just had a lot of fun kind of creating this story.
Thomas Mooney 16:17
Yeah, there's a lot of that character development in those first few lines right there as far as describing a person. I do love that. You know, probably the the obvious line would be from like, Waylon to Willie because of that rhyme. And everyone does that. But you went with you guys went with the Whitley which appreciate right there. But I do love I'm kind of fascinated with that whole aspect right there of you guys talking about the, the the ghosting of people or the misconnections or the you know, kind of doing the big fish story God blowing things out of proportion, maybe?
Zoe Cummins 16:56
Yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I especially being in Nashville we see that so we're open Um, and so yeah, we just thought it was it was cool to tell that story to people and and we definitely thought that Keith Whitley did not get enough recognition just generally you know, you always have like the top players mentioned in town you sometimes his face everywhere Willie's face and we're like, but when he was so good, we have to do
Thomas Mooney 17:26
yeah, that's like the I don't know maybe it's one of those things where there's like so few people who can, like hang with Whitley when it comes to those vocals that like maybe a little intimidation they're, you know, not sad like singing a Johnny Cash song is easy, but maybe it's a little bit easier for most folks in the Whitley things a little intimidating. You know, right and cut a Whitney song or cover one but yeah. This episode of new slang is brought to you by the blue light live here in Lubbock, Texas. Blue Light has long been the heart and soul of the Lubbock singer songwriter scene, and has been a home away from home for some a Texas Americana, country and rock and roll's finest over the years. Talk with 99.9% of the Songwriters who have come out of Lubbock and the panhandle at large over the past 20 years. And they'll point to just how integral and necessary the blue light is, with live music and touring slowly but surely coming back spots like the blue light or getting back to their usual ways as well. That means music every night of the week. Do you want to see that schedule?
Well, I've got a few options for you. One, go to their socials and give them a follow that is at blue light live on Twitter, at the blue light live on Instagram. And of course by just searching the blue light live on Facebook. They're consistently posting that week's lineup of shows as well as those heavy hitters that ought to be on your calendar that are coming up on the horizon. To check out blue light lubbock.com as well. There they have the full schedule, the cover charges time, any of those specials that may be happening while they're go check out their merge page. They have a wide range of hats, koozies, hoodies, sweaters, beanies, jackets, and so much more. You can of course get all of your merchant age, when you go see your favorite band, take the stage at blue light, just ask the bartender and they will get you all set. Speaking of which, that's another great way of seeing who's playing there. Just go to the blue light. It's at 1806 Buddy Holly Avenue here in Lubbock, Texas. And of course, again, that is blue light, loving, calm. I'll throw a link into the show notes too. Maybe I'll see you there. Okay, let's get back to the show. Now, obviously on here as well, you you do the the Leon bridge Just cover. First off, like when did you kind of like decide, hey, this is something that I need to throw into my own, you know, catalog, if you will. And then also like, what what's kind of like the decision to go the acoustic route on that song?
Zoe Cummins 20:18
Yeah, I think, honestly, everything happened really accidentally, and it worked out really well for us, which is so cool. I was kind of nervous. Like, I posted a video of me singing it, you know, you got to practice your songs for your three hour gigs and stuff. And, and that's just always one that I really loved. I think everybody loves us. I mean, it's, it's really beautiful, really simple, and just the right release. And so I posted it on my Instagram. And Alex was like, Hey, you sound pretty good. Like, maybe we should cut that song. Let's do it. And we'd already got the record. But we went back in, and it was like, Oh, it's so abrupt. So soon, we decided to do an acoustic but it's just not the right vibe. And, and like, I think the best songs I've heard those before, are ones that can stand alone with just a listening guitar. And it felt like one of those songs so we just did it. And like I said, it turned out cool. I was a little bit nervous at first, as I was saying, because I'm actually Luke combs did a crossroads session with Leon bridges for that song. And I didn't even occur to me, but until afterwards, but But yeah, doing an acoustic I think separated my version from that version as well. And it was it was just the right move. I haven't accidentally, but it was totally the right move. And it was a lot of fun. And I love that song.
Thomas Mooney 21:44
Yeah. And as far as like, you know, the placement on the EP, it adds like that little moment where it's a little bit softer than the rest of the EP separates itself in that kind of sense, but obviously, still fits within the parameters. But I think it gives a little bit of that moment to kind of maybe like, you know, get a little bit of a break, maybe not necessarily break. But you know, catch your breath a little bit, something like that. lean into the the EP.
Zoe Cummins 22:15
Yeah, totally, it was. I think it's really cool. And I think that's kind of like one of those things where the jumping of the genres kind of worked by doing it that way. And like, I feel like there's a lot of really rock elements to the whole production of the EP, we're definitely going for those like, big moments. And, you know, my band always rocks those out whenever we play alive. So, yeah, I think I think it was really cool to say, Hey, this is a little bit different. But you know, it's still Zoey.
Thomas Mooney 22:50
Yeah, you mentioned earlier the, you know, playing a bunch of shows and kind of just doing that way, but I guess like not way before, but before the lockdown and kind of just being financially stuck. But being in that mode, and not having the the time to cut an EP or anything like that. How long had you been doing that in Nashville?
Zoe Cummins 23:15
Well, um, so I went to school here, I went to Belmont. And I kind of decided, I don't know if it's just my mentality, or if it was something I was hearing, but I decided if I was going to be in Nashville, which I always wanted to be, of course, it was like my parents were saying, okay, you can go to Nashville and still have something going on. But I decided that like, Yeah, exactly, exactly. Gonna make the parents happy. So yeah, but like, as soon as I got into town, I was like, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna just like, be able to make stuff happen if I'm not playing. And so it was just a commitment of mine to myself to like, Okay, I'm gonna play every night. It doesn't matter if it's like an open mic that leads to around, or if it's around, or if somebody is like, back here, like, I have to play every night. So I did, I was like, start. And close. It was easy, because I was kind of living off my student loans. But then I started bartending after college, because it felt like the one job that could work, you know, where I was playing shows every night. And then it got to a point where I was like, I was getting off work. And I literally had one of my bosses sit me down. You don't really need this job, do you? And then I was thinking, well, I guess I kind of don't need this job. And so then it was like, you know, be able to pay my bill. And I also exist in Nashville, so so then it was just like a mega hustle for a while. I was like, well, I've got to play the page. Just enough that then still be able to do showcases and the rounds and stuff that I want. So, so it kind of was just like, it was just the only thing, I think.
Thomas Mooney 25:11
Yeah, well, I guess like, you know, you said you moved up there for school? Did you move up there knowing anybody? Or was that kind of, you know, the time you moved up there just kind of being alone?
Zoe Cummins 25:27
Yeah, I was, I felt alone. I think a lot of people, like a lot of people at the college were though, which was good, because, you know, everybody came with the same dream and the same, like, I'm gonna do it solo or with somebody so. So it was kind of like the perfect meeting girls to be able to say, okay, we're all alone together.
Thomas Mooney 25:49
Yeah, well, that's, it's interesting that you're talking about the, I guess, maybe kind of getting caught, like on the, I guess, like the hamster wheel, you know, where you're having to, like, play that many shows to do the shows that you want. And then like, just kind of, you know, don't look down, just keep on running. Because if you maybe look down, now you can get caught up in? Oh, my God, we're going 100 miles an hour. And, you know, how do I get? How do you keep up with with doing that kind of thing? You know? I don't know. Yeah, really, really interesting. I'm sure that a lot of up and coming. songwriter, she moves in Nashville, feel that but I don't know, maybe? Was there any like, I guess like thoughts about, you know, I guess maybe a different approach, because I'm sure like, some people move up there thinking, I need to be writing songs and just writing in, like pitching songs in that capacity versus like actually playing more? Or, or did you always kind of feel like getting your songs out? Even if they were in these like smaller rooms? And then working up? was the way to go? What what's I guess, like, the process of behind that? Or is there? Is that just kind of the the standard? Did you do you fail?
Zoe Cummins 27:09
I think it was, I think it differs, I think there's definitely like people that move up here to be writers. And I've gotten to know those people really well. And there's so also just so talented in their own way. But I feel like those people are constantly looking for an artist to sing songs and to write with so that, you know, they have something released to and I think like, you know, I don't have a ton of money. So recording here is kind of kind of a tricky thing, you know, you gotta gotta save up for a while. So that was just not something that was super easy for me to do when I was like, you know, bartending and playing gigs to pay my bills, so that I could do it. So, I mean, that's something that would have been really glamorous, but for me, it was like, I'm here to be a performer. And I just love to, I love to get up on stage and sing and like, songwriting, I, I kind of started getting into co writing in Nashville, like that wasn't really a thing back home, there was a lot of people pursuing music, at least within driving distance from my hometown. So I write solo a lot. Something I've always done something that I still do. Um, so booking those rights and things was was definitely like a second thought it was like, Okay, I already have the songs. I'm writing like crazy in my dorm room, writing like crazy by myself, every day. I mean, that's how I filled up the days while I was waiting for my shows to happen. So, so writing, like, just kind of happened. And then it was like, okay, the goal is to make people hear these, and if I'm not recording these, like, I did do some recordings. But, um, but it was definitely like, well, I got, I gotta make somebody hear me somehow. And regardless of whether or not you're like in town to be a writer, or a performer or a performer, something that everybody has to do is get into rounds and play songwriting rounds. I mean, Nashville's, like, living on those rounds. So, um, so everybody's doing anyways. And, and that's kind of how I met. Some of my co writers and collaborators was doing that, but, but I think like, yeah, I think I just always wanted to play live.
Thomas Mooney 29:37
Yeah, I think there's, there's something to that where, you know, it's the, it goes to that whole like Malcolm Gladwell thing of like getting X amount of hours before you become an expert on something. But it's one of those things where, you know, half the people out there always are just kind of telling themselves. I'll start playing whenever I have the songs. versus just kind of, you know, jumping in feet first. And just diving into the the deep end of the pool. There's something more to that where, you know, I think like you have to kind of do that sometimes you may not have all the all the ducks lined up in a row, but you can figure them out as you go. The Yeah, it cuz also like at the same time you'll hear like other people this is I don't know, the hypothetically you really don't play around and you just cut a record and then you release it. And you'll hear a lot of people go like, well, and this is one of those stupid things that you'll hear people say but like, Oh, that's like a, you know, a plant. Like that person was like created in a lab. You're like that band was like, right by the industry? And it's like, well, I don't know, maybe they just, you know, weren't playing around either. I don't know. Yeah. weird thing there.
Zoe Cummins 30:58
I think there's like some truth to that. I think there's some people that have the resources to be able to do that. And, and that's so, so cool. But yeah, for me, it was like, kind of just like you said, my mom gifted me that Malcolm Gladwell book, probably all of his books, but specifically the 10,000 hours, you know, whenever I was like, 16, or something, and she's like, okay, anything you want to do, here's the rule. So I definitely think that that's true. And like, you know, playing out, it's, it's the best because you get to see people's reactions, like, you know, what works like, okay, that song didn't work. But if I did this, this does work. And, and so that was definitely a huge part of me, like developing my sound, was just finding those moments and finding, finding that thing that worked about whatever I do.
Thomas Mooney 31:53
Yeah, I guess like there's a little bit more of the testing process that way. The Yeah, definitely. At least in some senses, you're getting like the instant gratification where otherwise if you're just like, writing those songs and playing them in front of the mirror or something, maybe you can get lost in the, in your own thoughts of like, Oh, is this actually even good? Yeah, totally. Also, like, the funny thing about the Malcolm Gladwell deal, the 10,000 hours is sometimes I think, like that's like, too low of a number. And then sometimes I think, yeah, too high of a number. I might man sometimes, like, maybe it's like, a million hours. I don't know.
Zoe Cummins 32:33
I guess it depends on the bar that you set for yourself.
Thomas Mooney 32:37
You mentioned home a few times. You're from South West, Oklahoma, which is pretty. You almost are out here in Lubbock by Yeah, it's pretty close. Probably like the, I guess is it is a bit closer than Oklahoma City, or is it kind of comparable?
Zoe Cummins 32:57
It's, it's probably pretty comparable. And I was actually, like, I don't know if you know, Wichita Falls, but that was probably like 3040 minutes from my hometown or just across the border from there. So there's a lot of stuff there. And, and yeah, I mean, Lubbock. Isn't isn't too bad. Dallas isn't too bad. I would say like, we usually would go to Dallas for things instead of Oklahoma City, because Oklahoma City was still like pretty small compared to Dallas and Dallas. So sacro like we're there a lot. We've got family there so we're definitely in Texas, though. I mean, there's there's really nothing to my little farming community hometown.
Thomas Mooney 33:40
Is that what your family did his farm and ranch or what's kind of your your, I guess your your childhood? What was that? Like?
Zoe Cummins 33:51
Yeah, my parents didn't specifically farm or anything my grandpa did. So actually, I don't know if you've ever Polish Oklahoma. I don't know if there's even a way to put it on a map because it's so small. But he grew up doing that and I was brilliant. In that world. I grew up doing a lot with FFA and four H and that was definitely pretty much the main job. Like I said, it's a farming community where I grew up is really small. Well, it's a land everybody had a family farm. And and yeah, I got really, really involved in FFA when I was in high school and stuff there like, like, wasn't a lot of music resources. Like I said, they're the closest music store was half an hour away. And I kind of I had a few teachers off and on when I was a kid, as far as like guitar teachers, but they were just people that I found from the church choir that was like, I know some chords so so I did that a little bit. A lot of it was self taught and And it was always what I was doing in my free time. But I did hustle a lot with FFA, I, I had pigs, that was my thing, my project. And we have like a horse and my dad built a barn. And, and so I guess, yeah, I mean, I kind of did that. But not like fully like some of my friends families are doing, I would have like, four or five or six pigs at a time. And, and our little horse that didn't really do much. It was pretty old, just kind of walk around the yard, but a group with a really big yard. I think we got like 13 acres or something, I doubt. And so it was there was a lot of that vibe. And I was constantly surrounded by it.
Thomas Mooney 35:48
Yeah, I always wonder about like, when you're when you grew up in a really kind of isolated, small place? How do you, I guess, understand, or start believing that you can be a musician or an artist because, you know, it's not like there's a vibrant local scene of local artists playing in your town. I feel like I grew up in Fort Stockton there really wasn't anything like that there. So I kind of felt like, you know, growing up, thinking that if you became a musician, you were you know, as I've said on here, 1000 times you really like George Strait or your your like that uncle who knew who some of those guitar chords, you know, and there was like, No, middle ground. When did you start I guess believing that like, that was actually, you know, a reasonable goal because I felt like it really is like to be to be a musician is is very reasonable. It obviously takes a lot of hard work and effort. But, you know, it's not like you have to become Shania Twain.
Zoe Cummins 36:55
Right? Exactly. Yeah. Um, that's actually one of my favorite stories. I saw my mom's oldest sister. She pursued songwriting for a portion of her life. She grew up in Kentucky, and just like an hour north of Nashville, so that was something that she's always been really passionate about. Outside of that, my family is like athletes, like my sisters all went to school on sports scholarships and things. So I was kind of the oddball but I was, I think it was like 6am music was always my thing. Like, whenever I was like a little tatertot, my I had this little play school boombox, and it had a mic on it, and you could put a cassette in it, and sing along with the cassette, and I actually had it and I had my cassette. And I have like the mocker Raina. So I put the mocker and I danced for everybody. And so yeah, my mom's older sister, Suzanne, like noticed pretty quickly that, that music was my thing, because music was the thing. And so she was like, constantly sending me little books and instruments, and she was the one who told me, if you want to be a performer, like you have to write, you need to write some songs. So pretty early in my, in my life, she told me that I should get into songwriting. And I really loved that. I mean, songwriting is so awesome. And it's, I don't know, I've always been kind of a writer of sorts. And so, so that was really, you know, complimentary, and really nice. And she kind of talked me through some things like as I was growing up, and helped me stay on track with that and just set the fire so to say. So I was really lucky to have her because otherwise there would really be nothing that was telling me to keep doing it, I would have probably done it anyways, just because it's it was always what I wanted to do. But she, she was the one who put into perspective, like how realistic it could be. And then, like I said, in high school, I was really involved in FFA. And it was a five girls, so my parents were like, let's get some scholarships. So, scholarships worked out for that. Mostly and, and up until up until the last day, to apply or to like commit to going to Belmont. I had no clue because I was like, I've got this great life word out here. I could do. I was giving speeches and kind of getting into the lobbying side of agriculture which was surrounding me. So I really thought that I was going to do that I thought I was going to go like be a lobbyist or work in the ag industry somewhere. And, and yeah, I don't know, I just was talking to my aunt. I was like, Well, if I don't do this now, I'm not gonna go back and be a musician. Like I could go back and work in ag in an hour. culture and history and stuff. But I was like, Whoa, I guess we're doing it and my mom thinks it's hilarious like we waited to the last moment, I think it must have been probably 1159 of the night that I had to come in and enter like, Well, here we go. And I don't think I even went to Nashville before. I was like, well, we're just gonna do it. And we did. And so ended up here and that linked me up with my other car, my aunt, but my mom's cousin lives up in Clarksville, which is like, you know, right by Nashville. And she was like, Well, you've got some family that I never met them. And, and now Yeah, now their aunt Tammy and Uncle Wade. So they like kind of helped refine my music a little bit. Tamra was like, involved in Bakersfield sound and stuff like that when she was growing up. So it was really cool to have people that like, knew what they were doing be so close. And. And yeah, and Tammy was out at gigs with me every night. She's still like, plays bass for me whenever I need a bass player and, and so yeah, it was it was a really interesting journey out here.
Thomas Mooney 41:14
Yeah, that's, that's really that's a great story. Because I mean, I kind of always think that there's at least that one person who opens that door that you didn't know is there was like, hey, let me show you this. And like you go, Oh, well, okay. I this is actually feasible to do. And then I love that. You know, if you need a bass player.
Zoe Cummins 41:36
Yeah, she's awesome. There's probably some videos on my, on my Instagram of us playing live with Aunt Tammy so she rocks.
Thomas Mooney 41:48
I want to break one more time to talk about our pals over at Desert door and offer up a quick Thomas Mooney, cocktail minute, as I've said probably 100 times by now, by no means am I a seasoned mixologist or bartender, but these have been some of my desert door go twos. For starters, let's just go with the tried and true range water, pop the top off the topo Chico. Take a good swig. Now pour in some desert door and top it off by throwing it if you lime wedges never fails. This one. It's so simple. It probably doesn't even count. But again, pretty foolproof.
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Zoe Cummins 44:51
I mean, it's it was definitely there. Um, I guess so we didn't really have like a lot of venues. So that was the thing that kept me from traveling more and like getting involved in that scene. Growing up, I was just like, again, just the oldest of five. So I was taking care of my sisters. It was really hard for my parents to travel to Oklahoma City or Dallas on any given day to like, take me to venues and network but but it was like, I mean, render is everything Ryan from everybody listens to pretty much only Red Dirt music. I mean, there's there's a lot of other stuff. But I mean, it was it was definitely everywhere. But I didn't realize how big it was because like, you know, Eli young band went from Red Dirt to Nashville country, there are people that have done that in the past, Kacey musgraves kind of walked that line, and even Miranda Lambert a little bit like making that transition from that scene to like, the mainstream scene. And like, people ask me all the time here, I didn't realize how unique It was. It was just like something. It was just always there. It was like, Oh, yeah, everybody does Red Dirt country or whatever. And it was a lot of what I listened to but yeah, whenever everybody's like, oh, you're an okie? Like coming from Oklahoma? Why? How are Oakland on even interested if there was nothing going on? So I was just because we had nothing else to do. You know, we got to entertain ourselves. And and yeah, and that, like that whole scene being so big. Really occurred to me whenever I got up here and there was like, Oh, yeah, Oklahoma and Texas. Like, they know what's up.
Thomas Mooney 46:41
Yeah, that it fascinates me. The the Oklahoma scene because, you know, population wise, Oklahoma is, you know, it's pretty sparse in comparison to Texas. You know, I think like, there's more people in the DFW area than there are in the entire state of Oklahoma. But even though like, y'all are spread out further, somehow, like that web is still like, probably more connected. And there's probably a little bit more support, I feel throughout that scene, specifically with red dirt than then down here in Texas. Because I just feel like that just the numbers. There's like, just an overwhelming amount of people down here in the scene, but you mentioned like, you know, the Miranda's in the cases. And being from from Texas and what I what I find really interesting. And this is like, probably this is the one of the few things that I feel like Texas and Oklahoma as far as this regional scene needs to work on is that they do such a poor job of like developing or I hate to say, keeping, because like, I don't think there's really keeping people here, or women artists or women songwriters here because I guess like long story short, what I'm saying is like it took Miranda and it took Casey and a bunch of other people going up to Nashville to become successful whenever like there, they weren't able to, I guess utilize the, or take advantage of the this regional scene the way that a lot of like male artists can or will have.
Zoe Cummins 48:24
Yeah, it is really interesting. I've thought about that so many times. And like, I can't, I can't figure that out either. At all seemed like, I don't know, maybe I'm crazy for thinking this. But they're you know, it is a lot of small towns, especially in Oklahoma. And it's, it's a hard life to be a musician, it's you know, a lot of hustle a lot of nights are not getting paid probably as much as you should be a lot of hours. I mean, I know whenever I go back home, like the standard gig is like four hours. So I think I feel like guys, you know, there's a lot of just women in general, I think and the scene that are like I could probably do something else with my time. And then I think like I think the industry is mostly in Nashville, at least on the large scale. So I feel like the people that really do commit to it, like male or female kind of have to make the commitment to move. And I don't know if maybe guys just have an easier time doing that and just kind of winging it. I don't know. I don't know. It's really interesting. I do think about that a lot though.
Thomas Mooney 49:42
Yeah, well, I think that there's there's a lot of artists who develop down here in Texas and then you start transitioning to Nashville and after like, I guess like putting off putting those hours in Texas versus putting those hours in Nashville. If you're if you're looking at like, I mean, I don't know, like Randall King or like flatland, Calvary, or any of the people down here that have kind of transitioned into also having that one foot that one leg in Nashville, and I guess, like they've been able to do that. Whereas, you know, some of these female country stars have have just kind of not been able to take advantage of that system where, you know, they, they're putting their eggs in the national basket first. And I don't know if it's necessarily one of those things where they thought that was the only way or, like, it just felt like they were not making any kind of headway down here. But now, of course, like, if Casey played, JC is like, bigger than the like the the Texas country people, you know what I mean? So yeah, I'm sure like, she's not. She doesn't like have any regrets or anything, but you know, it's just like, this really weird thing? I don't know. I wish like, there is a little bit more support, because like, of course, and this is like, probably, this isn't not probably it's a problem with any festival lineup. You kind of go in, you're like, oh, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy. That one? Yeah, artists. And then like, guys, and I don't know, maybe a little bit more diversity on the on that kind of stuff. If there was just, I'm sure there are artists here, who are women who are trying their hardest, but I don't know, maybe if it to me just kind of feels like they have a little bit of a more difficult time getting the same benefits, or benefits. Yeah.
Zoe Cummins 51:41
I yeah, I was actually having that same conversation with this group of people in the UK. Like through COVID, they put together this really cool thing where they set up live streams. And they were like, big concert fans, they would go to concerts together all the time. And they were like, Well, why don't we, you know, do something to entertain ourselves. Now let's maybe get some of these American artists like on on live stream and broadcast here and open it up for tickets and stuff. So it's been really cool to get to know them. But they were mentioning that exact thing I like it's really bizarre. how, you know, scares female artists. Not not how scared we are. But just like, in in the mainstream, like, American promotion, you know, world? I don't know. But they were saying that female artists in the UK are actually a lot more popular than the male artists. So yeah, I don't I don't know why they were like, Come play some shows in the UK, you'll definitely get a lot of things. So that's on my list for sure. As soon as we can get those gates open. But yeah, I don't I don't understand that. But hopefully, hopefully the trends are changing a little bit. And I've seen a lot of that. Especially It was like the country music genre widens. I think we see a lot more artists but but maybe it's like, how they're branding themselves to like, maybe some are more pop, or Americana. And a little less of that, like country read or thing? I don't know.
Thomas Mooney 53:23
Yeah, the, you know, obviously, I think like we've we've had a huge problem with, with gatekeeping what country is or what, you know, traditional country is and if you're not playing, you know, if you don't have a cowboy hat and boots on, then you're not country or if you're and put it into, like 2015 if you're not singing about dirt roads and, you know, tailgates, then are you really country, that kind of thing, and right, so it's so weird, because, like, That's such a small aspect of even thinking about being country if you're from the UK, or whatever the case is. But I think like, in my opinion what that's done is it's made, I guess, like it's stunted the growth of a lot of male songwriters. Because now all of a sudden, you have like, 4050 year old dudes singing about tailgates and like trying to like sing for like 20 year old kids where, you know, a lot of women songwriters are writing about real things like real, like relationship problems, or just like growing up or like, you know, actual things that happen in life. So I think in the long run in the long trajectory, you're seeing like a lot more successful women songwriters, and maybe that's why I like it. They're resonating more with the European crowd.
Zoe Cummins 54:56
Yeah, I it is interesting. I don't know because like you Yeah, you get somebody like Dali. And they will stand the test of time and like, oh, boundaries and everything. So, yeah, it's really interesting, but I guess we'll find out.
Thomas Mooney 55:13
Yeah. You mentioned how like, you know, obviously, this past year has really just been that paws on on life as far as getting out and touring and stuff. And you playing in Nashville a bunch before then what I guess like your plans going forward for like the rest of this year? As far as are you? Are you looking to get out and go on a couple of runs or anything like that?
Zoe Cummins 55:39
Totally. Yeah, I mean, I was trying to play in Nashville a lot before COVID. Just because, like traveling for gigs is kind of kind of hard, just because like, you're mostly not not even breaking even half the time until you get the right gangs. But, um, but yeah, I've definitely got plans to travel. I'm going back to Oklahoma in August, I think August 7, I'm just kind of making a guest appearance at a show that's already lined out. So I'll probably go play, play a couple songs for that. But it'll be one of my first times really trying to get into that scene. I feel like now that Oklahoma is starting to get a lot more venues and things that it's really cool and a lot easier to schedule more shows in my home state. But it's also so close. When I'm from Texas, that it's always like a really easy run, I used to do that. Like at least once a month when I was in college, I would hit Oklahoma and Texas and just make one big run. But definitely looking forward to and going to try to get you know, gets more shows back there planned. And like the the audience is just so different, like everybody comes to Nashville for music, but it's a lot of us like, you know, more singer songwriters, networking and playing to each other than it is the people from out of town because then you're diving into like, the downtown scene. And a lot of that is just cover songs. So it's not as complimentary for our writer. But, but it's like fans in Oklahoma and Texas love music, like they go to the venue because that's what they want to do. They want to listen to the artist and they want to get to know the artist and I want to hang out with the artists and have drinks with artists and stuff like that. So that's totally, totally a huge market. And something that's really important to me is like getting back for some shows there. So we're working on it. I would say in August, I'll probably start planning more seriously for those. But yeah, I'm really looking forward to that again. I mean, people are just the best fans in Oklahoma and Texas. It's really cool.
Thomas Mooney 58:02
Yeah, that's I think I've always been kind of a selling point for for Texas and Oklahoma. And I'll throw in Louisiana, even though I don't know, there's many of us out there. But you know, this area where it is that whole thing where if you go to a show, and you try, like there's a pretty good chance that you can meet that person who was singing on the stage. And that's maybe not always the case, if you're going to a big show that's coming through town in the the arena, you know that the arena size show, whereas if you're going to a local venue or a smaller venue, you're gonna be able to meet that person at the merge table. And I think like that's really I honestly think that a lot of people a lot of fans, that one on one connection. Like it makes them like the music more and makes them like, feel like they're investing in a person versus a product.
Zoe Cummins 59:01
Totally. Yeah, I mean, it's so it's so essential, I think like the shows are everything.
Thomas Mooney 59:10
Yeah, well, you have to if you're on your Texas tour, your Texas Ron, you out there come through Lubbock.
Zoe Cummins 59:18
I definitely will I still got some family out there as well. So I will definitely be in Lubbock.
Thomas Mooney 59:25
Yeah, well, yeah. I think that's a good, good spot to end on right there. It's been a great having you on and talking about music and in your story in the new EP. Yeah, thank you so much. It's been a lot of fun.
Alright, that just about does it for this one. Be sure to check out the new EP by Zoe Cummins. It's out this Friday, July 16. I really really dig it. I think you will as well. Go visit our partners over at Desert door and the blue light live stop on over at the merch store and Patreon. And yeah, I'll see y'all later for another episode of new slang
Transcribed by https://otter.ai