There are some people that spend their entire lives searching for what lights them up and gets them going everyday, only to one day pursue it as a career… Arkansas born and raised Mae Estes is not one of these people. The singer/songwriter always knew that she wanted to move to Music City and pursue a career in country music – stepping in the right direction with the release of her debut single “Naked” on August 2nd. Mae called heirwaves from Nashville to chat about chasing her dream of being a country music singer.
Estes followed the traditional route and graduated from college in Arkansas because she felt it was the responsible thing to do. Looking back, she recalls chomping at the bit to finish her degree. After finishing a four-year degree in just three years, she was finally off to Nashville.
The magic of Nashville only heightened Mae’s desire to be a musician – so much so that she was willing to work three to four jobs at a time to save enough money to record her own EP, fitting in co-writes along the way. “I have all of the support in the world from my friends and family, but I don’t come from money so anything I’ve gotten, I’ve had to bust my butt for and often have worked up to three or four jobs at one time most of my time here. They were little odd jobs to make scheduling work where I could write with those published writers during the day,” Estes says, describing a struggle most musicians have often pushed through to make music. Her passion for the craft is evident in every word she shares.
In the early years of Estes’ time in Nashville, she spent a lot of time writing and working to learn who she is as an artist. After years of hard work, she had managed to save the funds for an EP and began to record some of her favorite songs out of her catalog. About a month before she went in to record the EP, she sat down with Marti Dodson and Josh Matheny and wrote “Naked.” The track describes the beginning of a relationship, where you are really getting to know someone and are hesitant to show them every aspect of who you are. It tackles the sense of insecurity and vulnerability that comes with really getting to know someone.
Estes has known her co-writers since she first moved to town, and felt that knowing them not only as co-writers but also as friends help the song just “fall out.” “It was one of those shorter writes, kind of how those good songs come out. You don’t have to try really hard!” Estes adds. She recalls going into the studio to record the song and referencing the worktape, which was just done on an acoustic guitar. “Going into the studio was so new that I had no idea how I wanted it to sound with a full band. We had just written it with an acoustic guitar melody and so we started to play stuff with the band in the studio and it turned out even better than I could have imagined,” she shares.
“‘Naked’ stemmed from my actual relationship. I’m a pretty closed off person when it comes to relationships, so I was feeling it in my real life that I was going to have to choose to let this guy see all the good, bad and ugly and have the opportunity to have a real relationship or I was going to have to keep that inside and never get to experience the real thing because it could potentially end badly,” Estes admits, adding that it worked out, as she is currently engaged to be married.
She knew immediately the song was something special and shares that as an artist, she always wants to be the one who says what people are scared to say or confronts a feeling that people may not be comfortable talking about but can universally relate to.
Estes credits Josh Matheny and Justin Klump with guiding her through her journey here in Nashville. “Josh was the only person that I knew when I moved to Nashville, and I don’t know that I would be in town today if I hadn’t met him,” she says, noting that the two grew up in the same part of Arkansas and their families knew each other. Matheny has been involved in everything Estes has done in music since- acting as a co-writer, co-performer, producer, and band leader. Estes says Justin Klump has been another godsend to her, also helping guide her on this musical journey. “I have been so blessed to have both Josh and Justin, they have made it happen and have been the biggest blessings to me,” she adds.
Between growing as an independent artist, songwriter and musician over the last four years and also growing on a personal level, Estes shares that most importantly, she’s learned what she truly wants to say. “I’ve decided to that the only way I know how to be is just to be me, and the only music I know how to make is whatever comes to me naturally,” she says, concluding that she’s embraced that her journey may take longer than others, but in the end she is happy with the release of “Naked” and the music she has made for her forthcoming EP.
“Naked” and Mae’s newest single, “Too Much” are available for streaming on all platforms.
*Photos by Benjamin Martin Photography.