As a teen rising up in Marin County, Alex Kline liked the Purple Sizzling Chili Peppers and the Grateful Useless, went to Reggae on the River along with her pals, taught herself to play guitar and spent hours writing songs in her bed room.
She dreamed of being within the music enterprise sometime, pondering possibly she’d transfer to Los Angeles and attempt to make it as a songwriter. She had a fantasy about taking part in lead guitar for a ska-punk band like No Doubt. She by no means imagined that she’d transfer to Nashville and develop into a trailblazing feminine nation music songwriter and producer in a enterprise that has lengthy been dominated by males. However now, at 35, after a dozen years of dues paying in Nashville, she’s making nation music historical past as the primary solo lady producer to have a prime 10 nation hit by a feminine artist.
“There’s a statistic that simply got here out that since 2012 solely 2% of the songs within the Billboard Sizzling 100 had any type of feminine producer,” she says, citing a stat from a 2019 study on the gender hole in nation music by researchers with the College of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “I by no means noticed numerous feminine producers rising up. It’s positively a person’s world, particularly in Nashville.”
Researchers concluded that while you look previous the success of stars similar to Carrie Underwood, Kasey Musgraves and Maren Morris, ladies creators are woefully underrepresented in nation music. Along with ladies making up simply 2% of producers, solely 16% of nation artists are feminine and even fewer — 12% — of nation songwriters are ladies.
“It’s positively a man’s membership, however I see it as a problem that I wish to conquer moderately than being discouraged,” Kline says. “My response to that — we’d like extra ladies within the producer function to interrupt out of these stereotypes.”
Earlier than the pandemic, she co-wrote and produced the highest 10, chart-climbing love track “Anyone Like That” from the album “Love, Heartbreak & All the things In Between” by up-and-coming singer Tenille Arts, certainly one of Nation Music Tv’s Subsequent Ladies of Nation and an Academy of Nation Music nominee for brand new feminine artist of the 12 months.
‘Little track that might’
“Tenille is a brand-new artist on an indie label and she or he’s a feminine in nation music, which makes it more durable to interrupt by means of,” Kline says. “However this has been the little track that might.”
Arts credit Kline for serving to form her sound and musical picture, saying, “She works more durable and extra hours than any producer I’ve ever met, and she or he’s a perfectionist in one of the best ways.”
Relatively than being holed up in Nashville throughout the pandemic, Kline and her canine, named after the nation legend Patsy Cline, have been been driving out the lockdown along with her mother and father, each retired attorneys, of their hilltop residence in Nicasio within the West Marin countryside.
“If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I’d have needed to be in Nashville,” she says. “However since individuals have discovered to jot down and file over Zoom, I got here again right here to be with my household and luxuriate in Marin County, my favourite place on Earth.”
When she was 14, she moved along with her household to Marin from her native Minneapolis. It was life altering for her. She grew to become immediately enamored with the great thing about the panorama and fascinated by the county’s wealthy musical historical past.
“Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and the music from the ’60s and early ’70s in Marin was tremendous inspirational,” she says. “After all, I went by means of a Grateful Useless section. One in every of Jerry Garcia’s final recognized residences is simply up the hill from the place we dwell in Nicasio. Supposedly he nonetheless haunts the studio in that home.”
As a child, she rebelled towards the classical piano classes her mother and father gave her. As a substitute, she fell in love with the guitar after being turned on by the finger-picked intro to “Below the Bridge,” a monitor on the Chili Peppers’ album “Blood Sugar Intercourse Magik.”
“I satisfied my mother and father to purchase me a crappy guitar,” she says. “I don’t assume they thought I’d keep it up as a lot as I did as a result of I hated the piano. I feel they thought this was a section.”
“However they had been clearly flawed,” she provides and laughs.
Drawn to Nashville
In 2003, she graduated from Excessive Faculty 1327, previously Sir Francis Drake Excessive Faculty, and spent a 12 months learning at Sonoma State. After taking a niche 12 months off to work in a surfer espresso store in Santa Cruz and journey in Europe, she enrolled within the Berklee School of Music in Boston, learning guitar and songwriting.
In her first 12 months at Berklee, she went on a spring break area journey to Nashville’s famed Music Row, visiting studios, attending clinics with Berklee alumni, observing songwriter rounds and taking in exhibits, the spotlight being the Grand Ole Opry.
“Though I didn’t develop up pondering I wished to jot down nation music, that’s after I realized that Nashville was the place the actually nice songs had been being written and that’s the place I wished to be,” she says. “I like pop music and different genres simply as a lot as nation, however in the case of writing, I feel there’s one thing about sitting down with an acoustic guitar and writing a track that tells a narrative. I felt what I did musically match extra in Nashville than wherever else.”
After three years at Berklee, she moved to Nashville in 2008 with some pals with the objective of turning into a songwriter. In Music Metropolis, nation and bluegrass exhibits on the Station Inn, an iconic venue that was featured on the latest Grammy Awards, impressed her to develop into a multi-instrumentalist.
“After seeing all of the unimaginable gamers on mandolin and banjo and dobro and all these grassy devices, I used to be like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve bought to get a mandolin and be taught to play that. I’ve bought to get a dobro and be taught to play that. I’ve bought to get a banjo and be taught to play that,’” she says. “I discovered simply sufficient to be harmful.”
Earlier than she broke by means of as a songwriter, she had her first style of success as a performer with the Lunabelles, an all-woman nation group that was signed to Sony Music and scored a success single with a track known as “A Place to Shine.” However after two years with the band, she realized that life on stage and on the street wasn’t for her.
“Being an artist will not be as glamorous as individuals assume it’s, particularly at the start,” she says. “Though it appears wonderful to listen to followers screaming your songs evening after evening, I can’t actually think about residing on the street 250 days a 12 months. I used to be type of on autopilot taking part in the identical handful of songs over and over. I used to be itching to be at residence extra, creating moderately than being on the street re-creating.”
After the breakup of the Lunabelles, Kline was writing songs and recording demos in her bed room when she bought a name from her buddy, singer-songwriter Erin Enderlin, asking her to supply an EP for her.
“I by no means considered myself as a producer,” she says. “I simply thought I used to be some particular person doing demos in her spare bed room. That was the primary second I noticed that possibly I truly was a producer.”
Hooked on producing
The EP, “I Let Her Discuss,” was so well-received that it led to Enderlin, with Kline by her facet taking part in guitar, making her debut on the Grand Ole Opry, a coveted gig that indicators that you just’ve arrived as a participant in Nashville.
“It was so cool being part of making another person’s dream come true,” Kline says. “From then on, I used to be hooked on producing.”
Not lengthy after, she started making a reputation for herself as a songwriter. Whereas working for Reba McEntire’s company Starstruck, she co-wrote a success single, “Rattling Drunk,” for nation star Ronnie Dunn that bought to No. 36 on the nation charts. From there, she he went on to jot down songs for McEntire (“The Bar’s Getting Decrease”), Mitchell Tenpenny (“I Get the Image”) and a slew of different nation artists.
After which got here her career-boosting affiliation with Arts. With Arts and fellow songwriter Allison Veltz Cruz, she co-wrote and produced “Anyone Like That,” a track about falling in love with the perfect man. It’s had greater than 65 million streams, debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes nation chart, spent three weeks at No. 1 on Radio Disney Nation and No. 1 on Billboard’s Effervescent Below Sizzling 100 chart.
In a couple of weeks, Kline will likely be returning to Nashville with a groundbreaking track below her belt and a promising profession in entrance of her as one of many uncommon ladies producers in nation music.
“Generally I can’t consider that with this track I’m the primary lady to have executed this,” she says. “I really feel like I’m blazing a path and I’m completely satisfied to do it, hoping it’s going to encourage different ladies to begin doing the identical.”
Contact Paul Liberatore at email@example.com