In 2012, Nicolle Galyon was one of the fresh faces (and voices) on NBC’s mega-series The Voice, where she honed her performance chops on Team Adam [Levine]. Just three years later –after her marriage to songwriter Rodney Clawson and the birth of their two children– Nicolle is one of Nashville’s most sought after new talents. The talented songbird has already earned two number one singles with Keith Urban‘s “We Were Us” and Miranda Lambert‘s “Automatic,” which also scored the songwriter her first Grammy Award nomination and a win for Song of the Year at the 2014 Country Music Awards (CMA’s).
With a catalog packed full of current and future hits, Galyon is one of the unstoppable forces in Nashville’s, often times overlooked, songwriting community. So when I had the chance to chat with Nicolle about her success, it was my hope –as it is with all my Songwriter Spotlight features– to shine a light on the true storyteller behind the music we love. We talked about her time on The Voice and how it may have prepared her for her current success, her favorite songs from her growing catalog and winning Song of Year from her living room couch.
Interview with Nicolle Galyon
Chris Vetrano: You competed on the sophomore season of NBC’s The Voice, where you were coached and mentored by Adam Levine. What do you prefer more: performing or writing songs? Why?
Nicolle Galyon: I’m purely a songwriter at heart. Performing makes me so nervous and does not come naturally for me. I feel like I can walk in a room and own the process of writing, but I feel so out of place performing. I’m a creative, not an entertainer. That’s why doing the The Voice was such a leap of faith for me – I’ve never felt more out of my comfort zone.
Chris: What did you take away from your experience on The Voice and how did it impact your success in songwriting once you got back to Nashville?
Nicolle: I think because doing The Voice was such a terrifying experience and I really surprised myself by making the show at all, I felt like it was so affirming. I came back to Nashville with a ton of courage and felt like if I can do that, I can do anything. Strangely enough, things really started to click for me as a writer right after that!
Chris: When it comes to writing, do you write specifically for one genre, or do you just see where it goes once an artist records it?
Nicolle: I am a small town Kansan. I don’t know how not to write country. My passion is the element of storytelling, which you really don’t get to do outside of country.
Chris: You co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s number one single “Automatic” and won Song of the Year at the 2014 CMA’s. Where did the inspiration for that song come from and how did you connect with Miranda?
Nicolle: We had all talked about the title “Automatic,” but were’t sure how to write it. Miranda started telling a story about how Patty Loveless had told her that back in the 90’s, artists had to carry quarters so they could pull the tour bus over and do their radio interviews on the side of the road at pay-phones. That gave us a concept and got us started with quarter in a payphone and we were off to the races after that.
Chris: You were unable to attend the awards that night due to having just delivered your second child five days prior. What was it like watching that moment on TV from your couch? What went through your head?
Nicolle: I’ve said [before] that I traded in one of the most beautiful moments of my life for one of the most beautiful moments of my life. My family will always come before and will be around long after music, so I think it’s cool that that’s the story the night told. But I can’t say I won’t always wonder what it would’ve been like to accept Song of the Year at Cowboys Stadium in front of 80,000 people!
Chris: You also wrote another number one smash for Keith Urban called “We Were Us,” which coincidentally also features Lambert. What was it like to learn that you had your first number one single?
Nicolle: You can’t describe it. It’s like God’s way of saying, “See? I was with you this whole time.”
Chris: Out of the many songs you’ve written that have been cut by another artist, which song was your favorite? Why?
Nicolle: I’m really proud of a song on Miranda’s record called “Babies Makin’ Babies.” That was written while I was pregnant with my daughter and you can imagine where the idea came from.
Chris: What song –out of your catalog of songs– that has not yet been cut is your favorite and why?
Nicolle: There’s a song called “BOY” that I wrote with Jon Nite. It was the last song I wrote before I had my son, and no matter what happens to it, it will always be my gift to my son.
Chris: You live and write mostly in Nashville. What are some of your favorite spots in Music City to hang out?
Nicolle: I have two kids, I’m lucky to get to a Sonic. Haha
Chris: If you could write with anyone living or dead that you haven’t yet worked with, who would it be and why?
Nicolle: Dixie Chicks – they are the reason I ever believed there was a place for me in this business.
Chris: You recorded and released an EP as an artist in 2012. Will your fans get to hear more music from you (as an artist) soon? And if so, tell us about it.
Nicolle: I will make more EP’s. I just write so many songs it’s about mpossible to find a focus for a project. But whenever I get a clear vision, I will do it. Stay tuned 🙂
For more information on Nicolle Clawson, visit her artist website at nicolegalyon.com and check back for more from Nashville’s most talented songwriters coming soon.