UK Country-Pop Artist Kelsey Bovey talks to Maxim Mower about her journey to Number 1.
Hi Kelsey! You recently released your Not Scared Anymore EP, which shot to Number #1 on the UK iTunes Country Chart. How did it feel seeing yourself above big names such as Luke Combs and Dolly Parton?
That was a shock in itself. The single, ‘Magnetic’, got to Number #2 as well, which I was really excited about. Seeing Not Scared Anymore at the top of the charts was such a personal achievement, especially looking back at 15-year-old me, thinking I wanted to give it all up and never pick up a guitar again. Seeing Not Scared Anymore with my name next to it, at the Number #1 spot, made everything make sense for me. Also, having Not Scared Anymore as the title, it hopefully shows people that these kinds of songs can get far, and these songs can be relatable to people. Writing about mental health can be seen as uncool, but seeing that message at the top of the charts is what I’ve wanted to reach for so long.
I absolutely love the title track. How did ‘Not Scared Anymore’ come about?
This song was actually a cowrite with [UK Country artist] Danny McMahon. He came to me with the first four lines, and said, ‘I think this is the perfect song for you’. He knows all about me being bullied at school, and it's made me really passionate about the whole topic of mental health. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff, so I know what people want to hear when they’re going through a difficult time. Danny has two sisters as well, and growing up as a female today is hard with all the expectations society puts on you. So we both put our knowledge of those experiences into the song.
What do the lines ‘Written in stone/You can build a home/Anywhere that you feel secure’ mean for you?
When I wrote that bit, it was about going through life and someone not being nice to you, and everything not making sense. But if you stay true to yourself and make sure you're a good person, you'll find the people you know will help you in life. You can build a home in someone and put trust in them if they respect you.
'The mirror’s reflection is senseless/Don’t think you have to change for those magazines'. This really captures the heavy expectations that the media can put on people in presenting an ‘ideal’ image. Where do you stand with social media?
I'm 50-50 on it. The bad side of it is that a lot of content is edited, which means not a lot of stuff is real on social media. But if you find the right people to follow and connect with, they can encourage things such as body positivity. The main thing is looking at people and making sure you’re not comparing yourself. I do think social media is a great place where you can find people you can relate to, and I’ve heard from people that have made friends through my music. People can be nice on social media, but it needs to happen more often.
You have an uplifting thread woven into a lot of your music. ‘Define Me’ and ‘Positivity’ from your It’s My Time EP are really powerful and have a really buoyant, optimistic message. ‘Positivity’ should just be the theme song for our whole magazine! Has it always been a conscious goal of yours to create songs that listeners can use to give them a boost when they’re down?
When I was about 12 I wrote a song about helping people. That was the first song I wrote, and I was just on my own in my bedroom. I was about 15 when I was bullied, and I’d listen to songs mentioning bullying, people not being nice to people, and so on. I realised the importance of what that kind of music holds, and how crucial it is to people’s lives and mental health. Even if it’s just a break-up song, or a song about falling in love, it can take you anywhere. I think it’s so important for mental health to sit back and listen to the lyrics. It can help you to keep an open mind, rather than a closed perspective. With mental health, you can overanalyse it, but when you take time to sit down and rationalise everything, it makes a lot more sense. Growing up, I didn’t realise how crucial the songs I was listening to were, until I went through that difficult time. If I can be that person to other people, then that’s all I want.
If you could go back to your 15-year-old self going through that period of bullying, what would you say to her?
Things will get better. When I lived in that time, I was doing my GCSEs, and I was bullied for about six months. When you’re in an environment where everyone is saying horrible things about you, you can’t help but wonder, ‘Is this going to be my life with new people as well? Are they going to spread the word, and then more people won’t like me?’ But I’d tell myself that things come back around. Things will get better. There are good people in the world. Now, three or four years on, I’m still finding the right people for me, but I’ve found people since I was 15 that are great. I now try to go through life with an open mind, and not expect new people I meet to not be nice to me.
"Things will get better. There are good people in the world"
And finally, what are your three favourite songs with an inspiring theme or message about mental health?
1. ‘Mean’, Taylor Swift;
It just rationalises the whole situation. I’ve heard from people who were bullied before, about how ten years down the line they see the bully working in a miserable job. This song tells people to stay true to themselves and not give up. I’ll always try to stay true to myself.
2. ‘High Horse’, Kacey Musgraves;
The message is so powerful, and it directly addresses the other person, saying ‘what are you doing?’. She lets them know you can’t live your life tearing people down.
3. ‘GIRL’, Maren Morris;
I love this song, because she’s singing about having a friend, and listening to it just makes you feel safe.
Kelsey Bovey’s Number #1 EP, Not Scared Anymore, is available to stream now on all platforms, and check out her ‘Not Scared Anymore: Your Story’ interviews about mental health on Facebook.