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March 18, 2021

Interview with Kidd G

Together with American Songwriter, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kidd G over Zoom video! 

With a rare gift for turning his hometown experiences into natural melodies, Kidd G has found tremendous success by staying true to his roots. As a kid...

Together with American Songwriter, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kidd G over Zoom video! 

With a rare gift for turning his hometown experiences into natural melodies, Kidd G has found tremendous success by staying true to his roots. As a kid growing up in small-town Georgia, he first started creating his own songs at the age of 15, and soon arrived at a gritty but melodic sound equally inspired by classic country and hip-hop. On the heels of his chart-climbing breakthrough single “Dirt Road”—an October 2020 release whose video surpassed 5 million YouTube views in little over a month—Kidd G has now shared his debut EP; the powerfully heartfelt Teenage Dream.

Born Gabriel Horne and raised in the town of Hamilton (population 1,130), Kidd G got his start singing at the age of 11 with the full support of his music-loving family (his great uncle played bass in Fleetwood Mac, and both his parents are hobbyist singers). Within several years he’d set up a makeshift studio in his bedroom and started recording with his friends, partly mining inspiration from new age rappers like Juice WRLD. One of his first viral moments was his video, “Letter to Juice”, a minute-long verse over a melancholic beat paying homage to the late artist. But while early tracks like his debut single “Sorry” lean toward traditional hip-hop, Kidd G later brought an element of old-school country into his songwriting. “I love country because it feels so natural to me, and you can really tell stories in the songs,” he notes, naming Hank Williams Jr. among the artists he grew up on. As he continued posting his music on SoundCloud, Kidd G soon amassed a dedicated following undeniably drawn to his down-home charm and the honest detail of his lyrics. With the arrival of “Dirt Road,” that following grew exponentially as Kidd G saw the nostalgia-soaked track gain serious traction on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and land on coveted Spotify playlists like Fresh Finds Country and Next From Nashville.

Teenage Dream is a perfect showcase for Kidd G’s sound and sensibilities, merging potent beats with earthy guitar work and his warm yet dynamic vocal delivery. On the EP’s title track, for instance, Kidd G shares a poignant portrait of high-school love, beautifully capturing each memory in his bittersweet drawl and masterful flow. “That song’s about my truck, my ex-girlfriend, the place where I live,” he says. “I love my town because it’s simple and slow, but there’s always something fun going on.” Although he collaborated with producers like Morgan O’Connor and Bonnie Dymond on Teenage Dream, most of the EP was written solely by Kidd G, who purposely avoids putting any pressure on his creative process. “I really just go off my emotions and whatever I’m feeling at the time, then start laying down some ideas,” he says. “Once I come up with that main hook for a song, the whole thing comes together.”

Thanks to that deliberately laid-back approach, all of Kidd G’s music unfolds with a carefree energy that lightens any mood. “A lot of my songs come from me just getting stuff off my mind, and I hope it helps other people get through the day and get through their problems—maybe make life a little easier for them,” he says. But as Kidd G reveals, the ultimate test of a song’s power invariably happens in his hometown. “Most of the time when I’m making a song I’m thinking about how my friends will react to it,” he says. “That’s when I know something’s good: when I’m working on it and I start thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get back home and show this to my friends.’” And as he looks to the future, Kidd G plans to maintain that hometown spirit while massively expanding his musical horizons. “My goal is to get a platinum record,” he says, “reach No. 1 on Billboard, sell out arenas, and perform in front of millions of people.”

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 We had the opportunity to talk to Kidd G over zoom video, Kidd G tells us about where he grew up and how he got into music. He talks about how his brother got a card at 15. He couldn't quite drive it yet. So him and his brother used to sit in the car and listen to CDs. And that's where you kind of learned a freestyle. His friends told him how good he was and he decided to start throwing his songs about tick-tock. And that's when he started gaining some traction. One day he woke up and just like, you know what? I think I'm, I'm going to try to do a country song. So he writes this country song. His grandma loves it. She's like, you know, this is it. You know, you needed to be doing this. His friends, you know, had already been telling them, this is what you should be doing. He throws That song up on tock. 1 (1m 9s): People started using the sound. It goes absolutely crazy. This is attracts the attention of the record labels. He ends up making it on to the billboard charts as a country artist. So he tells us all about that and the success of his song, Dirt Road. You can watch our Interview with Kidd G on our Facebook page and a YouTube channel at bringing it Backwards and follow us on Instagram and Twitter at bringing back pod. We'd appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcasts, wherever you listen to podcasts, we're bringing it Backwards with Kidd G. Cool. Well, thank you so much for doing this. Our podcast is about you and your journey and music and how you got to where you are 2 (1m 52s): Today, for sure. 1 (1m 55s): So you want to first tell us, where were you born and raised? 2 (1m 58s): I'm born and raised up in a Harris County and a K Hamilton. We didn't live in here. When I came from Columbus, I moved around a lot, moved to Alabama at one point, but the majority I'm like we're on the County Harris County. 1 (2m 13s): Are you, you said you lived in Columbus, 2 (2m 15s): Ohio? No, no, no. Sorry. Columbus, Georgia. 1 (2m 18s): Okay, cool. That was coming. I have a family in Ohio, so I heard Columbus when I was like, Oh, maybe it may be the same. Okay. Right on man. So Georgia. That's awesome. Yeah. It was that like, like how did you get in a museum? 2 (2m 29s): I'm really just messing around my friends. My uncle used to play guitar a lot with it. I was little and sing around me. And so I guess that has a little bit to do with it, but I'm really add up. And so we would just start off, like, I don't know, the one day and me and my brother who would just show me around like, let's freestyle. So we started freestyle for fun. And like, we, we noticed that it's fun to do when you're like ATD. So I started getting out of my friends and like, I started getting better and better than they were like, Hey, why don't you actually try this? I was like, I'm not, 1 (2m 58s): I'll write a whole, how old you, when you doing that? I mean, you're still fairly. Yeah. 2 (3m 3s): A, I started freestyle on my brother. Let's see when I was 12. Oh, wow. You know, you know, I was 12 or 11. Yeah. 1 (3m 11s): And where were you doing this? Just like it around your house? Like how, how did people start? Yeah. 2 (3m 15s): Yeah. Well, it started with me and my brother just started freestyling. So the reason I said that he had to do the math on that because he's four years older than me, 11 to be 15 at the time. At that time he got his first car, but he couldn't drive it yet. You know what? It's like you to get your first deal, but you want to sit down and listen to music, are you sure? Because he wasn't twice at 16 yet. And so we would just sit in the car. We would always listen to music, you and I think we were Cool. Like, Oh, he can drive. Anyway. We just started messing around in there and surfers down in there. And then we moved to the high school. That's middle school. And so it wasn't like showing nobody on the freestyle. And then we just, we just started messing around, around my friends, like kickbacks and stuff like that. And they were like, wow, you can, you can rap. 2 (3m 56s): I was like, appreciate it. 1 (3m 58s): Wow. Okay. Well, tell me about this car experience. So you guys were just like your brother to be like, okay, I want to get used to it. Like when a new car, I don't want it to sit in there and really absorb it. And he would just join him because you are as young as well. 2 (4m 11s): Well, actually it was me who like throwing that, threw the idea out there because I guess it would just, I would always watch like crazy YouTube videos. Okay. Like I started seeing Juice World freestyles, and then I had all that. Wow. I'm like, what? And then, so we just tried to start trying it ourselves. And then my brother, he was like, never like the best at it, but like, we still just do it just to mess around. 1 (4m 34s): Okay. That's funny. Well then, so was there a moment that you realize like, okay, I'm actually really good at this. It was this when your friends were like, yo like you, you're a pretty, pretty talented. 2 (4m 44s): Yeah. But I didn't, like I had so much going on at that time. I'd been playing baseball before I showed my friends. I'd been playing baseball for like 10 years, like Are wow. And then, and then I was fishing to like, it, it was just, it was just like, OK, this is like a hobby, you know what I'm saying? And never, I never thought I can take you like to a serious level for sure. 1 (5m 4s): Sure. Yeah. I did read that. You, you want it to be a fishermen, Right? It was that kinda your lashes. 2 (5m 10s): And at one point I just want to be successful. So that's why I went from baseball for so long to fishing and then to music, because I just want to get the career path. That's going to be best for me then. And then I discovered it, like music is fun and it can be successful with it. Sure. 1 (5m 25s): Share it with a, I'm curious what the fishing thing where you, like, where would you, like, what type of fishing were you? 2 (5m 31s): Oh, that was more or less or a fresh water. Fish and fish tournament's for the high school. Yeah. 1 (5m 37s): Oh, wow. You see it like a fishing team on your high school and your high school and say, Oh my gosh, I've never heard of that. That's amazing. 2 (5m 46s): Yeah. It was just, it was different. And then I qualify for a while. I was a two ton stakeholder, the qualifier and then one time national qualifier. Wow. 1 (5m 56s): So you were like really awesome at this. How do they play? I know we are going to kind of a weird tangent here. We were just curious, like, how did you know, they just judge you based on like the size of the fish he would catch or how does it 2 (6m 6s): Is your best foot fish over all through the day? We are certainly. And however, however, the weight of the pound is over those five fish put you in the bracket. 1 (6m 18s): That's cool. That's really cool. I've never like, again, I'm from San Diego that wasn't even a thing where like we had a surf team, which is probably weird to you, but yeah. 2 (6m 28s): But it's different. It sounds fun. 1 (6m 29s): Yeah. That's right. Okay. So tell me, so how do you, you gain the attention of, you know, record labels? I did read it. It, it was, you had like a song kind of pick up on do really well on Tik TOK. Is that kind of where it all? 2 (6m 44s): Yeah. Tik TOK had a big role in it. And so after I decided to do all of the music stuff, my mom was like, I didn't it. Then it becomes a point at Christmas time, whenever you were growing up, you don't know what you want. You know what I'm saying? You feel like, you know what, you're getting an order to, like, there's not really much you could get. And I was like, why not get a studio set up? And so I did that. And then six days later I dropped the song and it started going like at all, like Tik TOK, I put a big roll. It just like it was consistent. And the videos, the videos that I was doing, there was always consistent. People liked them. And it took that attention from ticktock move over to SoundCloud and get my views of it. So like from there it just started getting consistent, started climbing. And then I woke up and decided to do a country song because you know, like I was born in the County, like it's all around me. 2 (7m 28s): Like, that's how I was raised. You know, I was like, okay. And it was, I had never, ever we'll look. Well, that's a, that's a lot, a one time I tried to do a country song and it was actually a friend who has been trying to get me to do it. The, as we were doing it, the wifi cut out and we didn't save it. So I was like, I'm done with this. Like, I'm not going to try it again. And then it just woke up and was by myself, my friends who are going to be over their, in about an hour. And I was like, I'm going to start a country song. So I give them out on this ex a lot of my first real country song I ever wrote. I wouldn't, you know, just like the first episode of this that I've ever wrote. And so it's trying it out and my friends get there and they were like, wow, like it was just go and we keep paying it back because we keep playing that back. My door's closed and my grandma and box on the door, he was like, Gabriel. 2 (8m 10s): And he was like, Oh, what do I do? She was like, yeah, yeah. I thought it was in trouble. And then she really likes the song. So it just kept up with it throughout the day. And I've never had a song that went back to, to finish it. Usually if I finish it, like if I'm recording the song and you have to finish it dead on, am I coming back to it as the first song that I ever left, because I just wanted to listen to it. They just want to have my truck and listen to it. And it was all like a minute song and saw, I just listen to it. And then I got back from hon that afternoon I went back in and I just kept like finished the song and then post it a clip of it on Tik TOK started going crazy. 1 (8m 43s): Okay. Well, prior to that, you, you said you were just putting out videos on Tik TOK and kind of linking it back to your SoundCloud. Were those songs that were nothing. I mean, did you, where are you just like top lining over bits that you found? Like, how are you getting the music for the songs? 2 (8m 57s): Oh, we just picked a random beats and then a freestyle on camera. And the two people have like a good, like good reaction to the videos. I'll make a song out of it. Oh, wow. 1 (9m 7s): Okay. So you were kind of testing it out on Tik TOK and seeing if people Yeah. 2 (9m 11s): Yeah. So I'll take this serious, you know, I got, I got a whole nother career path going on. Like I don't want to see people standing on this and like, see if I have to have a chance, you know what I'm saying? 1 (9m 20s): And sure enough, he did. And your grandma's Right. She loved the song and I mean, it goes in Charts on the country to you. 2 (9m 26s): Yeah. I know that it blew my mind. I woke up, I'd never woke up to a a hundred thousand views overnight big to me. That was my first big step, but yeah, it's a song thing to change and a lot more. But I remember whenever I woke up and saw a thousand views on there and I was like, wow, that was my first time he dropped out. I was like 8,000 views. So that like that, that's a, yeah, it's a huge step. And it got me a lot of tension. Yeah. It definitely. 1 (9m 52s): So with that, with that song, that's the Dirt Road, correct? Yeah, that's what I thought. Okay. So with that as well, you said you woke up one night or woke up in the morning, you had a, a a hundred thousand views. Do you know how that was? It just somebody found it and they shared it and, and, and they were like, do you know, like kinda, yeah. 2 (10m 6s): And I told them, so I let it go and take talk. So people started using the sound. So I started getting around it, it just started using, it sounded like crazy, and I dropped it. And if you had just started sharing them, because they've been waiting for the song for so long. And so I linked my SoundCloud through my tape, talk about it. Some people I know now that I leave my Instagram through my team, talk about it. So they had to go through my Instagram to get the link and I'll have a smart, yeah, yeah. It was like a little tactic anyway. And so they got them to my SoundCloud and then you, it was just take talk during the same. Wow. 1 (10m 42s): That's so cool. And With when you get a a hundred thousand views and then you're like, okay, wow. This is something I should, you know, really, you know, pursue here. And then at that point, like how do you get to, you know, you get involved with, With Geffin and how did that all kind of happen for you? It was, it all just, you know, at this point we were a bunch of labels being like, yo 2 (11m 2s): Will get what's going on, but we're getting, has been keeping me like they were watching her for a while. So they've been watching me and they said like, you know, they like my music and everything. So we actually been talking for a while, so yeah. And they've been, you know, they just been watching me That. 1 (11m 19s): And where are you with that? Like when you wake up with a a hundred thousand views and then like your phone must be going crazy, and it, are you getting like a millions of followers at this point in your life? Like, how do you have a need? Is your phone explode like you in? 2 (11m 33s): So I'm going to start exploding. I actually got like 600,000 followers on Tik TOK, not that night, but over time. But that over that night, I've got like 60,000 pounds on Tik TOK thing, like 18 K on Instagram. So yeah, it was just going crazy. 1 (11m 50s): Wow. And like, that must have been just such a mind-blowing moment for you. You are looking down and you're like, Oh my gosh, like the weather at one point we were like, is this for real? 2 (11m 59s): I know I was crazy. It was, it was a shock, you know, it's like, when things happen to pass, but you really can take it in. And it's like, okay, a a hundred thousand not sitting there, like, Oh, like an unappreciative, but like, you just want to see and get that next level, like, all right, what is he going to now? You know what I'm saying? Sure. That's what I just waited on. And I was waiting for the next step that happens. So it hit me so fast and you can't really take it in the past 1 (12m 20s): So crazy that it must it's, I I've never had that experience, but I can imagine it's similar to almost like a, like a Vegas, have you hit, you were like, Oh my God. Okay. Now I've got a, a, a a hundred bucks and like, put it on. I'm going to do, you know them all in and now you get 200 bucks or whatever. Yeah, 2 (12m 36s): Exactly. That's exactly what I was like. Yeah. 1 (12m 39s): That's amazing. So, and then obviously the video is awesome on, on, on YouTube as well. Tell me about putting the video together. 2 (12m 47s): The video. It was fun. So it was my first time working with a crew filmed it, so it was crazy. It was just really, there was no crazy play into it. We were like, okay, this is what we were going to do. We, we planned it in the day before. Like, literally not even in the day before we didn't have a whole 24 hours a week, we probably plan it at five o'clock that afternoon. You sit in there as I got there, and this is our first time meeting him in everything. All right. What are we going to do in Israel? I was like, look, he's like, you just give me some ideas and leave it to us. And so we planned that whole music video, but it really wasn't even the plan. Like it that's the crazy part. There's no way to explain it, like working with drew and my, my team in my friends, like, it was just like, we just have fun and do with an actual. 2 (13m 35s): Sure. So it, it was just, it wasn't easy. I don't want to say it as easy, but it was, it was like a battle. Like it was one of those phone battles than you do. And then when you get it, then you're like, Oh, they were like, all right, let's do it again. You know what I'm saying? 1 (13m 48s): That's so cool. Well, I'm sure. Hi. How are you, how did you speak of your friends? And they must have been like, how did they react when you were like, dude, look at this, this, this is, so this is insane. 2 (13m 58s): And they will, they always, I don't want to say that I work with no, we are going to happen, but that's what they've always told me that they saw it and I didn't see it. So it was nothing surprising to them. And so that they don't freak out and stuff like that. They're just like, all right, just keep going. Just keep on going, just keep going up. And they're there for like a, a a hundred percent all the way to help me out with stuff. That's so cool. That's a really cool lesson. It's a blessing. 1 (14m 21s): Sure. The last thing I love that with that, like, okay. So where were you at when, when like the Corona virus hit and everything shut down, was this all pretty post, like lock downs or win? When did the traction start happening? Like where were you? I know what you're up. Probably in high school, 2 (14m 37s): You know, I can't even tell, you know, I was, yeah. I don't really remember it. I think he, I don't remember when that happened now that thing, but feels like so long ago 1 (14m 53s): Was like, yeah, like a, like a little over a year ago. 2 (14m 58s): Yeah. That a year ago I was doing school work a lot. That's where we had just got out of school and we were doing schoolwork a lot. And then I had extra time in my hands. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was doing school work a lot. And then the next year came around and I was like, all right, I want to take music series this year. So we went online school, so I did online school. So I was at home. And then, yeah, it kinda started for me because you have a choice, you go to score course at home as well. So I started doing schoolwork at home, but at the same time, I was also like right in and doing schoolwork. 1 (15m 28s): Okay. And when did you already have the studio at this time? And you're in a way. 2 (15m 31s): Yeah. So you got it. Okay. 1 (15m 35s): And then we were like, with the studio, how did you know how to use the equipment are like, how, how did that process start from like YouTube videos? 2 (15m 42s): Well, really it's just like trial and error, you know what I'm saying? So I just learned about myself for the most part. And then when I had a friend who had to teach it to me, but I can never like them. So he did the, I can never sit down and like actually get it. And I'm like, finally, I'm like, all right, I'm at home, finish my school work. Like, what am I going to do? I can go out with my friends at school. It was like, I don't want to know how to do this. So I did it. 1 (16m 4s): So, yeah. So you were able to kind of fully immerse in it since you, you know, it can't be out any way, right? 2 (16m 10s): Yes. Yeah. And like, I was also just want to make music and I was like, all right, you want to make music? I've got to really learn how to make like, or go ahead. I got it. And sure enough with it. Yeah, 1 (16m 20s): Sure, sure. I mean, wow. That's amazing. And so Dirt Road is out. It's done. Awesome. I mean, three weeks, I mean, you were on billboards, Hot Country chart. I mean, from wrapping in your, your brother's car to now, you're in a Country chart. That must have been great. I mean, that in itself says a lot for you 2 (16m 38s): And in your career, this is different. Definitely. It's crazy. 1 (16m 44s): So with that, like what what's, what's next? What do you have Next going on here? Are you going to put out a record or a, a, another single, like how, how are you going to, 2 (16m 53s): We're just trying to get, like, we're just trying to get as much tracks as we can right now and make like smarter snakes mood. And so we are just like observed in our like observing and what we should do and checking stats and looking at everything, but what they were just trying to keep me in the studio right now and just keep doing it to do and just getting better at the music side of it. 1 (17m 12s): Sure. Sure. With the, with that song though, Dirt Road, was that recorded in your studio at home? 2 (17m 17s): Yes, sir. I engineered at and recorded it and wrote it. Oh my gosh. That's amazing. Yes, sir. 1 (17m 23s): And where that, that is so cool. So I'm sure that they're going to let you do that again. Have you had a chance to go in and record it in like a official, you know, pro studio? 2 (17m 33s): Oh, of course. Of course they did. Was that experience like, you know, it, it's just, it's fun and it's definitely not the end back at home according, But like you meet new grade people, you meet people who are just amazing, you get to hear. So if you never heard before you learn things you never learned in, you're just, you're in a whole different mindset at that point. Yeah. 1 (17m 57s): Was it an intimidating being around like these, you know, pros who had been, you know, running the equipment and doing these things for her for a long time now? 2 (18m 6s): I mean, for a second, but that I had it to myself, like I'm here for a reason, you know? And like, I just got to have to keep doing it, to get there. I love it. 1 (18m 16s): Kidd. She thank you so much Mann for hanging out at me right now. I really appreciate it. Of course. I do have one more question for 2 (18m 24s): You. What would, 1 (18m 26s): What would, what advice would you give to an aspiring artist? 2 (18m 30s): I'm like someone that inspires me or like 1 (18m 34s): You get a kid that was watching you and like, ah, I want to know how, you know, I don't want to be a rock star. 2 (18m 42s): I just tell them that if their friends tell me to keep doing it, keep doing it. And if you love it, you just do what you feel like is best for you, but always keep your head down, stay humble. Don't don't tell your son like self down from what other people say and there's lots of opportunities.