Big City Cowgirl Takes Inspiration from Chris Stapleton with Dreams of Breaking Out: Interview
With her first EP release City Zipcode, Country Heart, Big City Cowgirl is on her way to making a name for herself in country music and in her eyes there is no better time than now. With shows like The Voice that have helped musicians get back in the game and big names like Chris Stapleton who have also is gained notice as an older artist, there is no doubt that now is the time for Big City Cowgirl to shine.
After years of working on music as a teenager, Big City Cowgirl, born Sondra Toscano, decided to hang up her country boots for a bit and go to school. During this time, Toscano earned her law degree and started working as a public service lawyer in her home state of New York. It wasn't until she had her daughter that she was finally inspired enough to dust off her guitar and start pursuing music again.
With a passion for country music her entire life and more experience than when she was younger, Toscano started writing more maturely and with an eye on the prize of gaining success. With balancing work, being a mother and a singer Big City Cowgirl has finally released her first EP City Zipcode, Country Heart and she couldn't be more excited to be getting back into the game and for what's to come with her music career.
Music Times: When you were younger you had done music but then you decided to become a lawyer, so now you're getting back into music and everything what's it feel like to get that second chance?
Big City Cowgirl: It feels terrific; you know one of the struggles I've had all along was trying to balance everything together -- I thought I couldn't do it all together. I thought I couldn't have a family and a mainstream career and also do music as a career and give the proper attention to each aspect and now I've learned that I could. It's really fantastic because I really miss being involved with music it's just a part of me and something that was always screaming to get out when I couldn't do it.
MT: It's awesome that you've been able to find that balance -- not everyone gets that. What would you say is the biggest difference between the music you are writing now and what you wrote when you were younger and who are you finding your music is appealing to the most now?
BCC: I think that the stuff I write now is more mature, and I don't mean it as an insult to anyone younger, but I think my perspective on things is more advanced and maybe more balanced. Back when I was younger, I was writing as though I was a badass and I realized as I got older that you don't have to write stuff and try to project yourself in a certain way. Instead, you can project yourself in a positive way and get fans. Now that I'm older, I always thought the stuff that I'd write would be appealing to older people but it really isn't. I've found that when I'm playing when my music, which is playing on jango.com, the bulk of the people who have become my fans is really teenagers and I was a little stunned by that. But, I really find that the music I'm writing has progressed it's more full bodied, I have a better grasp and view on things.
MT: You grew up in New York, so how is that you got into country music and who inspired you?
BCC: It was my mother, she was always a really huge country fan, and I remember when I was a little girl that it was primarily the only thing we would listen to. The thing she said she always liked about it was the fact that there was always a story, like other music might be more lighthearted and the lyrics would be less clever and less storytelling and she always thought it was so great that there was a story in it. She started listening to it at a very young age and she just got me involved in it, and I loved it for the same reason. The great thing about country music is it's pure and it's real, and I think that when people hear these stories they can relate to it. I just feel that country music really speaks to the heart and the mind.
MT: What is your favorite song on the EP and what was your inspiration behind it?
BCC: "Country Music in My Heart" is my favorite song, because one day I was messing around on the guitar and everything fell into place. It started out sounding very Johnny Cash, which is how Johnny Cash's name ended up in the lyrics and it just sort of progressed from there. It was kind of a topic that was near and dear to me, I was always told don't write songs about being a songwriter, but it just kind of happened and it's the only song on the EP that's actually about me. All the other songs are written about people who told me stories and I wrote about them, but this is really an anthem for anyone who loves country music and it's really my love song to country music.
MT: Getting back into the industry can be hard for anyone, what have you done to get your name out there and what are your plans on continuing to gain recognition from people?
BCC: You know, I think the only way to do that is to is to start playing out and start touring around which is what I plan to do. My daughter was really into music, and she's who got me back into it. I would kind of sneak off when she would go to sleep and write, and that's when I focused on the EP, but now I'm really focused on getting out there because performing is really important and I think people really need to see someone live to appreciate what they have to offer and I just love it, I just love being out there and the energy from people when you're playing live.
Recently, my husband and I saw Dustin Lynch at The Paramount. I was standing and watching but I was also kind of dancing around and singing, and I was thinking if I could just step on that stage for two seconds and show them... I really think the best way to do it is to get a band together, and I'm going to start auditioning and getting people together and hopefully we'll start touring around and I want to write more songs and try to see if I can and do more videos and I find that I'm starting to get a fan base and I'm hoping I can grow that with touring and writing additional stuff.
I feel like you can really come from out of nowhere if you get your songs placed in films and so forth and that's what I'm going to do as well, I'm going to start to put my films out there and maybe get them placed in films. I mean look at this guy Chris Stapleton, I mean he was songwriting for years and nobody gave him any attention and all of a sudden he just came on the scene and started winning awards and he's fantastic.
MT: Do you think you would ever do a show like The Voice which has been able to help get people recognized that are just getting back into the music industry or have taken time off?
BCC: I never gave that any thought, but a lot of people have told me to do that. A lot of people said to me that we think if you went on a show like that, you'd probably do really well, and I guess that's something to think about. It's certainly mainstream. The only difficulty doing something like that right now is balancing family and music you know my issue is I have a 4-year-old daughter and I have a career, I'm a lawyer so it would require a lot of me, rather with me touring around where I can take short spurts and go out and do things I think it requires a great length of time.
MT: If you could go back in time what advice would you give your younger self?
BCC:I would say don't stop doing it, don't give up and don't listen to criticism. You can handle this and you can balance it all out. I would tell myself you're terrific and just keep it up. I had an uncle who was always into music and he recently passed away. One of the things he said on his deathbed was he regretted that he never really pursued music how he wanted to he waited until he was much older, he played the recorder and he would do these classical pieces and play them out and was in all these shows and he would do a whole bunch of stuff on Long Island and he really wishes he would have pursued it earlier and in a much bigger way and so I often think about that lately because if I was going to go back and tell myself something, don't walk away from music you can handle all of it
MT: What should people expect next from you?
BCC: Well I'm definitely going to be writing more because I took a few months off. What I could say for people to expect is that my real strong suit is in performance and I think that people should expect a very powerful performance when I start playing out. I think people will be very impressed by how I present myself onstage.
Check out Big City Cowgirl's EP City Zipcode, Country Heart out now.