As the daughter of country legend Lee Ann Womack and songwriter and musician Jason Sellers, Aubrie Sellers was born with music in her DNA. The songstress has an angelic voice like that of her mothers, yet has carved out a space all her own with her musical melting pot she calls “garage country.” Following the release of her glowing sophomore album Far From Home in February 2020, Sellers felt compelled to release an EP six months later aptly titled World on Fire as a way to remain musically connected during the COVID-19 pandemic – all while pursuing a degree in political science.
In this edition of Female Friday, Sellers chats with Sounds Like Nashville about her under-the-radar passion for acting, how she developed the term “garage country” and why the pandemic inspired her to finish her degree.
What are the biggest similarities and differences between being an actor and a musician?
I started taking [acting] lessons when I was eight in Nashville. I’m a very introverted person and for some reason, it always felt easier to me to hide behind a character, to be in front of people rather than be myself. So when I actually had to start performing as a musician, it was a little hard for me because I felt pretty exposed on stage and it took me a little while to get comfortable with it. So acting for me was a more natural outlet I think in some ways, but music is such a part of me that I could never get away from it.
Both of them are outlets as far as emotional expression. Songs always come from a personal, emotional place for me, something I’ve been experiencing or felt, and acting is just another way to channel that. The difference is as far as music, I write my songs, I produce my music, sing, so I’m very much in control of pretty much every aspect. But as an actor, I think most actors are plugged into a bigger picture that’s not necessarily your vision or your project, so it’s a little bit of a step back I would say in that regard. I think you have less creative control over the whole thing and only really control over that little narrow scope of what you’re doing. I would say [music] in a lot of ways can be more naturally collaborative.
You’ve developed a term called “garage country,” which is such a great description of your sound. How did you come up with that title?
When I was getting ready to put out my record and had been developing my sound [for] my first record and figuring out exactly what I wanted it to be, I felt like I had so many different influences from rock to traditional country to blues music to bluegrass, and one thing they all have in common to me was this raw soul. I thought to call it country or rock or Americana would not be describing what it is because it’s all of those things, so I felt like “garage country” was a great description for it. I didn’t have any acoustic guitar on my record, they’re all electric, and so it felt like that was a way to bring all those elements in and give it it’s own term.
You released your album Far From Home in February. What inspired you to release this new EP, World on Fire?
This is something that I had recorded with my boyfriend, Ethan Ballinger, we co-produced it together and he plays in my band and played on my last record, and we had been wanting to go in the studio just for fun. We didn’t have any intention of what we were going to do with it, we were like, ‘let’s go record these songs that I love.’ I had a vision for how I wanted it to sound and do it for the fun of it. He had a hard year and we had been living apart because I had been going back and forth from LA and we were like, ‘let’s do this just for the enjoyment.’ So we went in and did that at the end of 2018 and we had just been sitting on them. Even though I just put out a record in February, it feels like such a weird time warp because everyone’s been at home and we haven’t been able to tour and play this record, so it felt like the right thing to me to put more music out there and keep connecting with people this year. Since we recorded it in a hard time and it helped us, I felt like it could be good for some other people in this time, so that’s why I chose to call it World on Fire. There’s a song on there, “Somebody Was Watching,” which is about getting through hard times and realizing later that somebody has your back, so it felt like the right time to put it out.
What inspired you to go back to getting your degree in political science?
I love to read and I love learning. I was homeschooled and I think that instilled a huge love of learning for me. I think it’s something that’s good for anyone to do if they can and it’s been an interest of mine forever. I think one of my passions has been spreading that love of reading and education and I think that’s why political science and international relations were a draw to me because I see the opportunity to study how nonprofits work and education policy and all that kind of stuff, that’s what drew me to it. I have no idea what I want to do with it, but I’m a huge fan of Imagination Library that Dolly Parton started, which is a great charity that sends free books to kids. I’d like to be more involved with things like that and I think it would be good to be educated in that area and know a little more about it.
If you had to pick three songs that you’ve written or recorded that truly define you, what would they be and why?
I would say “Far From Home” off this record. The reason I decided to call the whole record Far From Home was because not only was I physically far from home traveling for the first time as a solo artist; even though I’ve been around the music business a lot, being a solo artist, is a little bit different. You’re experiencing it from a different angle and no two people I think have the same experiences in this business, and so I was learning a lot both personally and overcoming personal hurdles and business things and just learning tons of stuff. So I think that “Far From Home” encompassed that feeling of I’m always learning and growing and discovering myself and I think that’s something that we all experience.
“Light of Day” off my first record was one of the earliest songs I wrote for the record and was the first track on the record. I think that sonically and vibe-wise, it really established what I was doing. I wrote it with Adam Wright who was one of the first co-writers that I really hit it off with and wrote a lot with and he played guitar on both my records as well. So I think “Light of Day” is another song that’s a defining song in my career so far for who I am as an artist.
“One Town’s Trash,” which is the last song on this new record, is about leaving one place. I imagine it as a song for people who maybe feel like they’re stuck in their hometown or stuck in a place or around people that maybe they feel like they don’t fit or belong or don’t understand them, and then going someplace where maybe they do and finding new horizons. I think that song, especially now in this last few years of my life, would be something that feels really personal and true to what my experience is.