Jamie Lynn Spears Interview: Obstacles, Influences and Inspiration Behind ‘How Could I Want More’
On the day before Jamie Lynn Spears released 'How Could I Want More' to iTunes, she was a wreck trying to fight back a familiar anxiety. There wasn't much buildup for the release. Until Tuesday, she didn't do Facebook and not a single tweet or Instagram picture tipped her cards to fans or the media, until ... Whoop! There it is.
On Nov. 25, the country debut hit iTunes. "I felt like someone punched me in the stomach," she tells Taste of Country. "I thought I was gonna have an anxiety attack."
Spears -- Britney's young sister and the one-time teen star of Nickelodeon's 'Zoey 101' -- says she was nervous mostly because the song is so very personal. But she explains that each new step that got her to this point has come with that old familiar feeling. For five years, she's walked tentatively toward a goal of releasing country music.
Maybe now she can breathe a little sigh of relief. The fan and media response has been overwhelmingly positive. Most comments begin with "Wow!" or "Holy cow!" The haters and those who piled on during her pregnancy and baby daddy drama have been mostly silent since the song hit. There are still obstacles to overcome, but the 22-year-old seems uniquely qualified to handle them.
ToC: You said during your Twitter chat that getting through the song without crying was the hardest part of recording it. What it is about this song that's so personal?
Jamie Lynn Spears: I wrote this song (with Rivers Rutherford) about my soon-to-be husband, my fiance (Jamie Watson). Relationships go through ups and downs. This was a point where I'd just broken up with him and this song came right from such a vulnerable place that I was in, every time I sing it it just brings me right back there. And to look at where we are now ... So every time I go to sing it, all those emotions just come running back up and I just end up crying.
When I recorded the song, I completely cried in the studio. Thankfully, my producer didn't think I was crazy and he continued to work with me. But I think that translates through the song as well. You can hear the emotion behind it.
How did your fiance respond the first time he heard it?
Surprisingly, he just really loved it. He's like, "I really think it's a beautiful song." He was really proud that I put this whole thing together, and ultimately he was the reason behind it.
Some older articles written after you first introduced your country music describe the upcoming album as pop-country. 'How Could I Want More' certainly doesn't fall into that category. What changed over the last three years?
I think as an artist you go through a lot of stages .... and in a writing room it's basically a guitar and your voice. So when you work with a band, it can go any direction. And I think when you're working with different players … you have to ultimately figure out who you are as an artist. When I got together with Corey (Crowder), my producer, this is what the music needed. These songs call for a more traditional take. I think that's kind of going to be more my way of doing my music. More of a traditional country.
But I do have some fun songs! You need those. Everything can't be a 'How Could I Want More.'
Did you have an "ah-ha" moment when things clicked?
Yes! They always said once the music is there everything else will come. I worked for years trying to find the sound, and the moment when I worked with Corey he … he really heard the story behind my voice and he put the music around that. And I think the "ah-ha" moment was the first time I sat down with him and he told me what he heard for these songs. It clicked then and I knew I'd finally found the right direction.
How were you introduced to country music?
My father [laughs]. That's been a big part of growing up. Me and my dad, we'd go to the dirt bike races every year. I mean we'd go probably too much every year. And he would make me listen to all country music. He always told me (in a deep, southern twang), "My baby is gonna sing country." He always said that. And I was like, "OK, Daddy." I'd be like eight years old, like "Be quiet. Stop, Dad." It's just been a part of my childhood.
Who were your favorites?
I loved the Dixie Chicks. They were always so fun. When you're younger, and they have all those fun songs ... I loved them.
What do you listen to now?
I listen to every type of music there is, and I also have a little girl, so I listen to ultra-fun Disney stars music, as well. I probably know those songs better than I know other songs. I really like Holly Williams. I've said that a bunch, but her song 'Drinkin',' I just love it.
Is your album finished?
No, it's not all completely done, but we definitely have a direction and everything. We've got some of the songs completely done.
Do you think the song 'I Look Up to You' (about sister Britney) will make it?
We haven't finished that one, but I'm sure. I definitely think we'll put that one on there.
How about (the Casey Aldridge-inspired) 'Miss Mississippi'?
We're still up in the air with that one. I don't know for sure.
It seems thematically that would be interesting because 'How Could I Want More' is about your current fiance and 'Miss Mississippi' is about your ex-fiance.
[laughs] Hey, isn't that what country music is about? The drinking, the ex-boyfriends. So I think if the song is good -- it's about relating to the fans, too. There are some fans that are gonna relate to that song.
Have you written any songs about your little girl?
Yes. Tons. I haven't found one that I think is perfect enough to actually put on the album yet, but I've definitely tried to nail it on the head 100 different times.
Is it fair to label you as a pop artist who is crossing over to country music?
No, because I never had a pop career, ever. I never released a song or anything. When I was younger I was on a Nickelodeon show, and ever since I was 16 years old I've been back home in Louisiana, and after I had my little girl moved to Nashville and started writing. So this is ultimately my first real chance at music at all. Not just country music, but all of it.
Will some people still have that perception?
Yeah, and I understand it, too. Because there's Britney, this pop princess. And they assume … they're like, "Oh you don't live in L.A.?" I'm like, "No, I never have." But I understand it. It makes complete sense. I would probably think the same thing if I didn't know better. I can't expect people to know my every move.
As you move forward into the business of music, is that going to be an obstacle?
I think I just expect to have to explain that. And I'm completely OK with that. It's not really an obstacle, it's just something I have to deal with. Every artist has something they have to deal with and that's just one thing that's really not that big of a deal. I just do have to go be face-to-face with these people and explain who I am, because there is a misconception of where I'm coming from and where I've been.