Cierra Louise: The EP was just a thought for a long time. Once I wrote “If I Never Knew You” with Sean Trainor, I knew that would be the song to jump-start the project. My main concern with this EP was to make sure that every song on the album spoke truth. Whether that was about my truth or someone else’s truth, I wanted every song to be relatable.
AJ: What was the easiest song to write of the five, and what was the hardest?
CL: This is a hard one! I’d say the easiest song to write was “On the Other Side of the Bed”. We first started the song with the intention of making it a love song. When we wrote the verses, it was unclear if it was a positive love song or not so we decided to twist the chorus to make it a break up song. Then the song wrote itself. I think “Bless Your Heart” was the hardest song to write. It was took a few writing sessions to finish it and we wanted to make sure it was the best we could possibly get it.
AJ: What is your personal favorite track?
CL: I love all the songs, but I think my favorite and the most fun to perform would have to be “Bless Your Heart”! “Bless Your Heart” is full of sass and always seems to get the audience moving. In San Diego, I didn’t grow up with the phrase “bless your heart” and when I moved to Nashville a year and a half ago I constantly heard people saying it. If you think about it, its really strange that people say “bless your heart” in a negative way to someone.
CL: Thank you! I think “On the Other Side of the Bed” is probably the cleverest song on the album. Sean and I were leaving for California and had one day to write and record the final song for the EP. We had all the verses and we thought this would be a happy positive song about loving that person that you wake up to every morning. When we got to the chorus we realized it wasn’t meant to be a happy song, it had to be about that moment when you realize that your significant other is really gone because they cheated and chose the other woman.
In your writing, there tends to be a lot of specificity, especially when it comes to identifying specific objects, like in “If I Never Knew You,” there are the lyrics “new strings on this old worn out gibson,” and “keys on a chain." Why do you tend to identify specific items when writing songs, and what do you think that does as for the effect of the song?
Lori Mckenna is one of my favorite writers and I try to incorporate some of her writing styles in to my songs. I love how specific she gets with details because it really puts you in the moment of the song. As for the worn out Gibson, we were writing on my mom’s old Gibson and the strings were super worn out on them, we thought it fit well with the meaning of the song.
As for the sound of the EP, what were you and your producer going for with the production? Were there any specific influences on the sound of the EP?
I like to consider myself a combination of Miranda Lambert and Emmylou Harris so we definitely had their influence in the back of our minds. I’m a sucker for pedal steel so I’m really happy we were able to make “On the Other Side of the Bed” such a stripped down song with just vocals, acoustic guitar, pedal steel and B3. Sean Trainor produced the album, as well as played multiple instruments and co-wrote all the songs with me. Sean is such a joy to work with and really made sure the final product was exactly what I wanted.
Cierra is in the works of putting on an EP release show in Nashville in late Feb./ early March, so be on the lookout for that! Purchase Southern State of Mind here.