"I would stand behind any of these songs being a single": Kacey Musgraves on new album Deeper Well

In our latest issue, multiple Grammy-winning superstar Kacey Musgraves returns to the cover of Music Week to tell us all about her magnificent new album Deeper Well.

Already hailed by Interscope CEO John Janick as a "classic singer-songwriter record", it marks a return to the her roots after the more pop-leaning Star-Crossed album. 

In our huge eight-page interview, Musgraves reflects on everything from why she traded recording in Nashville for the “real as fuck” energy of New York, to the losses and life lessons that inspired her new songs, and her approach to balancing the duelling needs of her life as an artist with those of a real person that needs to "ride a fucking horse" every now and then. Musgraves also weighs in heavily on the music industry, on the risks the business needs to take, and the pressure of living up to her momentous Album Of The Year Grammy win with Golden Hour back in 2019…

“After winning something like Album Of The Year, it can go one of two ways,” she told Music Week. “It can go a route of pressure, where you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have to achieve that again.’ Or you turn inward and say, ‘I won Album Of The Year because I did nothing but follow my purest intention.’ That’s not to say I don’t have moments of second guessing, but that’s the route I chose. People can come to expect a certain sound from you. Personally, I love keeping them guessing. I also think it’s normal for a career to ebb and flow. Some of the best careers over time have had beautiful ebbs and flows. Not in quality, in visibility. It’s not super-normal to stay on top all of the time.”

Here, in an unread extract of our cover story interview, Musgraves takes us even deeper into the world of Deeper Well to talk songwriting, collaboration, gravity bongs and God…

Presumably, after Golden Hour, you had all the biggest producers and songwriters knocking at your door, yet you continue to keep a really tight creative circle. Why is that?
“I have some of the world's best songwriters in my own backyard. There's a community of songwriters in Nashville, and a calibre of songwriting, that is pretty hard to match. I am always open to trying out something new, because I think that’s how you find your current favourites. But I also believe if it ain't broke, don't fix it. As long as you feel inspired to keep returning to whatever you've been doing, why change it? I can be my most authentic self with these people that I have real relationships with. And I really love the collaboration process. There's hardly any other mediums where three brains or two brains are sitting down and taking pinches of their own experience and putting them into the pot – paintings aren't done that way! There's something really beautiful about that. And in the moment, it can feel really therapeutic for me, because we're stumbling through these ideas, unearthing them as we're also talking to each other about our own real lives. We're laughing together and crying together, and leaning on each other. So they come from a really heartfelt and real place.”

So maybe you couldn’t make an album as open as this without those deep, recurring songwriting relationships? There's a trust in the room…
“Oh, my God, when you're writing songs, you have to have the liberty to throw out some really dumb sounding shit and it be okay! And to know you're not going to be judged for it because it's scary. It’s terrifying [laughs].”

Your last album, Star-Crossed, dealt with your divorce and, as such, you saw parts of your life turned into headlines, which must have been incredibly tough. Rather than reacting by de-personalising your music, you've instead made another extremely intimate record. What was behind that choice? 
“Right. Well, the whole point of creating is to connect with people in the human experience. I think art and music and all mediums are a chance to feel you're not alone in this world. So for me, it's as important as ever to remain vulnerable and there's a lot of strength in vulnerability. It's one of the hardest things to really do. It can be easy to put walls up but, at the end of the day, you're not serving yourself or anyone else if you do that.”

When you're writing songs, you have to have the liberty to throw out some really dumb sounding shit and know you're not going to be judged for it!

Kacey Musgraves

On Deeper Well you talk about taking care for your soul, on Sway you’re searching for coping mechanisms, on Jade Green you're honest about dealing with anxiety. What does looking after yourself as a person and as an artist look like to you now? 
“Well, I heard a quote the other day that I really loved and it said, ‘The ultimate rich is being in tune with the flow of the cosmos.’ That's the ultimate rich. I was, like, ‘Wow’. I really liked that. Everyone is always focused all the time on attaining, attaining, attaining. There's something really cool about the idea of heaven and wealth being something that you already have inside of you, and maybe it makes you not want to chase things more. I've been lucky to have great therapists throughout my life, great teachers. I have an incredible group of friends. We really share our lives with each other and seek counsel with each other. That's really invaluable to have truth tellers around you, people that will be honest with you. I met all my friends almost 15 years ago, when I first moved to Nashville, and that's a community that you can't just take for granted. That old saying, ‘You can't make old friends’ – I really believe that.”

On the subject of old friends, the soul-searching The Architect sees you reunite with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. Was there any specific moment in your life lately where you were like, 'I probably need to speak to God right now?'
“Oh, my gosh, well, you could turn on the news any day of the week and find reasons to question why, if there is some sort of force moving life along, there so much suffering. I try to trust that the universe has my back, and that I just need to tune in and follow my intuition and follow my heart and that the universe will take care of the rest. The Architect has big question about is there a blueprint for any of this? Why can't we just have world peace? Is that the human ego? I would stand behind any of the songs being a single but I love that one. It's got a little bit of a lighthearted, almost Celtic chord progression. But there are lyrics there that make you think, if you want to go there.”

In your last Music Week cover feature, you spoke about how your lyrical approach has moved away somewhat from witty one-liners to focus more on speaking from the heart. Deeper Well very much holds true to that, but did you ever feel any lingering pressure to go back to that old style in a day and age where the industry is always hoping to go viral on a quotable lyric?
“I do still love humour in songs, John Prine was a great example of that. And there are a couple of moments on the record… The spoken part on Anime Eyes is fun. Or Deeper Well with the ‘gravity bong’ line. It's funny because when I play that live people really laugh at that part and I didn't expect that. I was like, ‘Oh, shit, that's funny!?’”

It's such a gorgeous song, you just don't expect to hear a lyric that could be straight from a Cypress Hill record…
“Exactly! See I love that! I love that juxtaposition, an unexpected melody, or an unexpected conversational lyric in a place that maybe you wouldn't quite expect it. That's my favourite. Those are my favourite little treasures to unearth when I'm sitting down to write a song.” 

Subscribers can read the full Kacey Musgraves cover story here

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