It’s not everyday that you meet a mega-talented country singer from New Jersey. Yes, from the land of Snooki and the Situation, at least one person is keeping country music alive. She recorded her first EP “The Things You Left Behind” at Blackbird Studios, the home of Martina McBride and her voice and styling recall the likes of Martina & Sara Evans. We at Keepin’ It Country would like to introduce you to Apryl Evans. You may not know her name yet, but we promise you will.
KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you became a singer/songwriter?
AE: The story of how I ended up on this path actually starts way back when I was only nine years old and tried out to sing the part of Belle from Beauty and the Beast in a school concert, having no idea whether or not I even had a voice worth listening to. Well, needless to say, I ended up getting the part and my music teacher had no idea what kind of monster she had just created (laughs). For the longest time though, I just used my voice to sing at local concerts and high school/college events and what not, but that all changed the day I stumbled upon a songwriting group a few years ago and discovered that songwriting is such amazing therapy. Once that happened, I knew I needed to get my music recorded and share it with the world!
KIC: You’re from New Jersey, which isn’t exactly the breeding ground for country music. How did you get into country and develop your sound?
AE: I have always loved and followed country music despite the fact that there isn’t a huge market for it in New Jersey and I swear that I should’ve been born in the south. Not that I’m not proud of where I’m from – because I very much am – but I always felt a little out of place amongst all of the crazy hustle and bustle of the northeast. Country music comes from the heart – with some added sarcasm here and there of course – and that is exactly who I am and what I relate to. A bunch of people in the industry from the New Jersey area definitely tried to push me in the pop/dance direction of course, since that is what everyone there knows, but after dodging everyone’s not so gentle nudges for a couple of years, I sat back, refocused, took the reigns on my own career and recorded what’s truly in my heart.
KIC: You used the fan-funding site, SellaBand.com, to have people invest in your project where you had huge success. How did that come about?
AE: It was kind of random actually. I had seen an article about Sellaband years ago back when fan-funding was a brand new concept. I thought it was a really unique idea, so I checked it out and left it on the backburner for a little while until I could study it for a little while and fully understand how it all worked. Once I saw what it could do and how amazing it is, I decided to pursue a recording project and met so many amazing music lovers in the process. I am so blessed to have had so much support and success! I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
KIC: You recently released your EP “Things You Left Behind.” How did that project come together?
AE: After my Sellaband project was fully funded, I set forth on my mission to find the perfect recording studio for my music and actually stumbled around for a little while until I remembered a few friends of mine in the industry raving about the recording studios and musicians in Nashville. Being a country artist that was kind of a “duh” moment! Besides, I am the kind of girl who loves an adventure, so I figured why not look into it? Well, a simple Google search and a few emails later, and I knew I this EP was meant to be recorded at Blackbird Studio. Not only is the studio owned by one of my idols, Martina McBride, but I literally got goosebumps when I first browsed their website and every step of the way along the whole process of pre-production and production. One of my rules in life is to follow two things: goosebumps and butterflies. Hasn’t failed me yet.
KIC: What song is your favorite on the EP?
AE: I’d have to say my favorite is the title track, “Things You Left Behind”, which was written by ASCAP Country Song of the Year Writer Rachel Thibodeau. The first time I heard the demo of the song, I bawled my eyes out. I knew right then and there that I needed to record it.
KIC: Outside of your music career, you’ve been a Rat Rock Girl for the Jersey Shore Radio Station, 95.9 WRAT. What have you learned from that job that has influenced your own music career?
AE: My time as the Rat Rock Girl and the experience that has come along with it has proven to be invaluable. I could honestly write a book on everything that I’ve learned! But I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from the whole experience is just really how to relate to fans one on one. A lot of what I did with the station gave me the opportunity to really talk to the fans and get to know them – a truly humbling and amazing experience. I’ve also learned a lot about the behind the scenes of how radio works and knowing as much about the inner workings of this business as possible is the key to longevity as an artist.
KIC: Does your love of rock music affect your country sound? Should we expect the first ever ‘a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll’ EP?”
AE: (laughs) I absolutely love rock music but singing it just isn’t my thing. I do think that my love for it influences my lyrics and what I write though. That’s part of what draws me to both genres – the lyrics are so real in each of them although their sentiments are very different. I definitely carry some of that rock edginess over into my writing style though – and in what I like to wear! I love dressing a little crazier than what you’d expect from a typical country artist.
KIC: What artists would you describe as your biggest musical influences?
AE: Oh wow – the list goes on! I am one of the biggest fans of music in general so I take a little bit from each and every “true” artist that I encounter. As far as my biggest influences go, however, I would have to say Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Aretha Franklin – all women with big voices! I also grew up listening to Shania Twain, so her spunk and sass has definitely made its way into who I am as an artist too. I’m also very influenced by some of the more recent artists like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Adele.
KIC: What is your writing process like? Do you have a dream collaboration?
AE: I almost always co-write, so the writing process is very different depending on who I am writing with. Ideally I like to jot down some lyrics and song ideas before a session and then sit down with the team in a room and start throwing all of our ideas in the air and just hash out the song. Junk food and comfy clothes during a writing session are key (laughs). As far as a dream collaboration goes, I’ve already been able to have one of those when I wrote with Rachel Thibodeau and Jason Sever – those two are genius! So I guess the next dream collaboration I need to make happen is to pen a duet between myself and an idol of mine – Chris Daughtry – along with another one of my favorite songwriters, Kara DioGuardi. So I guess there’s your ‘little bit country, little bit of rock n roll’!
KIC: If you could tour with any act currently in country music, who would you choose?
AE: Miranda Lambert, hands down! Can you imagine the fun we’d have on tour? It’d be like the trouble causing, drinking whiskey and vodka til we fall down, girl power tour. And Blake would have to join us on a few tour stops too to add to the fun and craziness. Wait – I love this idea! Now I need to make this happen!
KIC: If you had to give up your entire album collection that you own, what one album would you hide somewhere to save?
AE: I’d have to say Adele’s ‘21’ album. I was obsessed with the entire album before it really got the notoriety that it did. The album covers an entire range of emotions and it’s so much fun to sing along to!
KIC: What’s one thing you’d like our readers to take away about you after reading this interview?
AE: My music playing in their ears (laughs)! Seriously though, the best thing about music is its healing properties so I want everyone who hasn’t heard my music yet to be better for having heard my art.
All time favorite country song? “Crazy” by Patsy Cline
Guilty pleasure: Coffee and lots of it
Go-to-karaoke song: “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
Last song listened to: “Love Like Crazy” by Lee Brice
Celebrity crush: Adam Levine – yum!
Favorite Holiday Tradition: Baking Christmas cookies!
What one gift do you want to find under the tree this year? Some mistletoe and a nice boy to go along with it (laughs)
Favorite Christmas song: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Check out April singing “Things You Left Behind” from her EP at New Jersey’s legendary Stony Pony!