Q&A: Audrey Spillman, singer-songwriter at the Island Hopper festival

The 2017 Island Hopper Songwriter Festival is underway in Lee County. Artists from around the country have ventured to Sanibel, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach to perform for the nine-day event. It kicked off last weekend with the first round of performers in Sanibel and Captiva; this week, downtown Fort Myers, and rounding off this weekend at Fort Myers Beach.
Many of the artists trend toward country music, but not all of them. Meet Audrey Spillman, 32, of Nashville.
Audrey Cover 5.2“Nashville is more than country music,” she said. “It’s expanded and grown so much. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of different people there.”
Spillman released her first full-length record, “Thornbird,” in 2016. With the birth of her son Cole, she’s been focused on soaking in the experiences of motherhood. But she’s already started work on her second album. Spillman’s sultry, indie voice combines a varied realm of genres and inspirations into a totally unique sound and original lyrics. She will be performing on Fort Myers Beach this weekend, beginning Friday at 8:15 p.m. at Matanzas on the Bay; Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Yucatan Beach Stand; and 8:30 p.m. at Nervous Nellies. This will be an artist you won’t want to miss!
(Check out her SoundCloud here)

When did you start playing music?

I was an only child, and we didn’t really have a lot of money, so my imagination was my outlet. I had a toy mic that I used to sing into and I’d make up these little melodies.
When I was in high school, my dad said I should write songs. He bought my first guitar at 16. I took lessons but my brain wasn’t interested in music theory, I just played what sounded good. I’m still like that.
I know chords, I can get by. But I just go with what sounds good. If it sounds good and it feels good, I’m on the right track. I try not to get in my head about it, I go with my gut feeling.
The first place I played was at this place called The 5 Spot during my time at Belmont University. There were probably seven people there, and they were probably all my friends.
My first EP was in 2008, called Fade. It’s got a Nora Jones vibe. Next was EP, Part of Me, and EP, Bombshelter Sessions. I was listing to a lot of Radio Head and Elbow then, which was influential.
In 2016 I released “Thornbird,” my first full-length record.

How would you describe your music style? What artists inspire you?

I’ve always had a hard time with that. Publishers ask me that. I was never able to be pinned down. I am whatever people can get from it. My music is definitely a mixture of indie folk blues jazz pop, those are the influences that go into it.
Amy Winehouse is my biggest inspiration. That sultriness, that soulfulness, I’ve always been attracted to. There’s a song called Amy, on the album, about her. It’s sultry. They used to call it torch singing, it’s very motive. She’s always been one of my favorites.
I listen to all kinds of music. I’m all over the place.
If I get in a place where I need to get inspired again, I listen to Jeff Buckley. His voice is so incredible. He’s hard to pin down, too.

What inspires your lyrics?

I’ve always just written from my own experience. Sometimes it’s things I get a feel off of someone else. Like I’ll be having a conversation with them and I’ll put myself in that perspective. But I’d say 80% of it is my own experiences and fleshing that out.
I’m working on my next record, but I really want to soak up that experience of having a child. So I’m just now getting back to the piano and the guitar. I try not to force it, I just let it come when it’s ready.

Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from and what’s going on in your life.

I used to live in St. Simons Island, Ga., and rural Kentucky until high school when we moved to Nashville. I consider Nashville my home town, but I try to visit St. Simons once a year.
I just had my son recently, his name is Cole, named after Nat King Cole. My husband, Neilson Hubbard, and I love old school music, vinyl and those older sounds.
I’ve always considered myself an active songwriter, but I’ve slowed down with Cole and have been focused on being a mom and soaking up that experience because I know it will go by quickly.
Neilson and I first met in 2008 when he recorded my first EP. Then in 2015 he asked me to be in a music video at a haunted home in Franklin, Ken. — We both love ghost hunting.
It just felt like, you don’t know what’s going on but you’re wondering why that person wasn’t always in your life. We started dating and married a year later, but I would have married him after the first date. He made me a mixed tape, who does that anymore?

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