Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1806, the city in the modern era has become known as a bastion of music in America. When you say “Nashville,” the music that comes to mind carries a certain twang to it. For decades the city has been known as the thriving Metropolis of country music. From Johnny Cash to Faith Hill to to Dolly Parton, some of the patron saints of country have occupied the city and released iconic songs from within. But the Nashville of today has evolved. It’s still home to some of the best that country has to offer, but the city’s thriving music scene is no one trick pony. Some of the best young artists in rock, R&B, and pop have put their roots into the city and created stunning works. This current movement isn’t limited to one sound, and it’s offerings are as wonderful as they are varied. If New Nashville can have any one face, it belongs to brother and sister Brett and Brigetta Truitt, the pop duo Truitt who are poised for rapid accession.
When I talked to the two over the phone in September, they were deep into a multi-day writing session. This isn’t unusual for Truitt, as the intensity of their work ethic comes through even from hundreds of miles away. “We try to fill up pretty much every day, about four or five days a week of writes,” Brett tells me. The proof of this can be found in the steady stream of singles the two have released over the last two years, one of which we even premiered here on Substream. Th singles show a huge range for the young artists, from triumphant anthem “Thrones” to the electric slide of “Touch.” After releasing their debut EP at the tail end of 2016, Truitt have spent 2017 releasing even more singles and working with numerous other artists, many based in Nashville. They released a song with Brooks Brown earlier in the year, worked with producer Light House on bop “Tokyo” and had just wrapped working with Nashville alt-pop gem Phangs the day before I called them. As Brigetta puts it, voracious songwriting is just part of “the day-to-day Truitt life.”
Like many of Nashville’s most hallowed icons, Brett and Brigetta are not native to the city. They were born and raised in Lakeland, Florida. There’s a lot less going on in Lakeland than in Nashville. Brett remembers that people in the neighborhood they grew up in got excited when a Chili’s restaurant was built. Needless to say, the activities for two kids in adolescence were slim pickings. Music filled that void for them. As is true of any artist who starts out while still a kid, those first songs had some growing pains to work through. “The first song I ever wrote, I was 14 or 15 and it was called “Sex on the Beach,” it was about the drink that I had never had, I just thought it was a funny title,” Brett laughs while reminiscing. While her older brother was making songs about alcohol he had never touched, Brigetta was singing along to Michael Jackson and other pop luminaries and coming up with lyrics on the fly. “I’ve always loved taking songs and creating new lyrics with them,” she says, and living in the same household it was only natural that the two would begin working together.
Brett serves as producer for Truitt, a development that also came from his time in high school. “I was 16 and I wanted friends to be in a band with me, but no one wanted to be in a band with me,” he says. While that might be discouraging for some, Brett just decided he would do it all himself, picked up Pro Tools, and taught himself how to play everything he needed to. Once he got the hang of it, Brigetta came to him with a song that she had written that she needed someone to produce. Since that moment, the two have worked as a team on their music.
Each day brings new inspiration and a fresh start for creative endeavors. As Brigetta puts it, the writing sometimes can stem from something as simple as “the vibe in the room.” Writing usually begins with Brett creating the framework of a track, and the two go from there. “Sometimes one word, you’ll just have a word that really sticks with you, or a concept,” Brett explains. No matter how it happens, the siblings both emphasize that they have an absolute blast doing it.
Having worked together for years, you can immediately tell that Brett and Brigetta’s relationship is incredibly strong. Numerous times throughout the interview the pair both began to answer a question in the exact same way before one of them deferred to the other. That strong bond helps in their writing as well. “Brett knows my personal life, he has to experience it on a day-to-day basis,” Brigetta says with the sort of humor that is born from living with a sibling’s ups and downs. She continues by explaining “he already knows what’s happening so its easier to almost write and him going in the right direction.” This also determines who takes melodic and vocal lead on the tracks, as whoever’s emotions or experiences have influenced the lyrical content of the track is naturally suited to sing about it. They both agree that it’s a huge advantage to know what the other is thinking in the writing process. It’s also one of the biggest differences in when they write for themselves and when they’re writing with other artists in the room. As Brett explains, Truitt have to take a step back while writing for another artists, as that other artist’s experiences and emotions are most important in those sessions. “Ultimately, if it’s their project, something for them, you’re there to make them the best version of themselves,” he says, showcasing the veteran songwriting poise and practicality that both siblings clearly already possess.
On “Throne,” arguably Truitt’s biggest hit, the message of self-love and acceptance shines through. Both siblings are adamant in their belief in those principles. Brigetta grew up as social media and the glossy veneer it can create became the cultural norm, with all the good and bad that carries with it (Brett, like myself, carried a flip phone in middle school and was a few years older when social media happened). Because of this, they feel it’s even more important to let people know they don’t need to measure themselves against anyone. “I think it’s an important everyday goal to have to know who you are and that you’re different and to accept it and be proud of it,” Brigetta proclaims. This social media presence also extends to outside the songwriting process, as they have active Twitter accounts for themselves as a band as well as one for each sibling that often interact with fans. “I love personal relationships and interactions,” Brigetta explains “… Anyone whose supporting me and I don’t get to face-to-face see them, it’s so important to get to talk to them online.” The two aren’t completely on the same level of interactivity, as the four and a half year age different has left Brett a little less social media savvy than his sister, a fact he acknowledges with good humor. “Sometimes I’m like Brigetta is way better at social media than I am, and people get her on social media more than they get me,” he says with a laugh, although he also interacts with fans on a frequent basis.
Truitt also mused about how technology has made many aspects of music easier and more accessible, even from the fact that we were talking crystal-clearly from hundreds of miles away. With the rise of Pro Tools and similar advances in hardware, studio time is no longer a necessity to putting a song together. “In Nashville, we’re kinda bedroom producers and pop is king… most of these great records that have been coming out of here in pop and alternative rock have all been in people’s bedrooms or basements, which is pretty cool,” Brett says. He also jokes that between recording in fellow Nashville artist Jon Santana’s closet and their own apartment closet, most of the vocals on the Truitt EP were recorded in the splendor of a closet somewhere.
Not all of Truitt’s interactions and relationships in Nashville are with the new guard, though. They first moved to Nashville at the behest of one of the cities most venerated members of the old guard, Bobby Braddock. Braddock has been a songwriter for decades, writing hits for country stars like Toby Keith, Tammy Wynette, and George Jones. On a more personal level to the siblings, Braddock is also from Lakeland. As Brett tells it, “he heard our music and really encouraged us to move up here and that’s what kinda gave our parents confidence to let us move up here.” The two moved up to Nashville in January of 2015, and despite their relatively young age at the time (Brett had just turned 21, and Brigetta was 16), the two settled into their new home just fine. “It was a shock, but obviously it’s nice. it’s fun having things to do and being in a city,” says Brett. Brigetta further adds that it was big revelation to them that they were now surrounded by other people making music that they could work with.
Truitt not only work with other up and coming Nashville artists, they’ve created a platform to show them to the world as well. The two started the New Nashville playlist on Spotify in order to let people know what’s happening in the city. With the perception of Nashville shifting from just a country city to the cornucopia of genres and styles that it currently is, the two spotted an opportunity to spread the message far and wide. Brett says “We had all talked about it would be nice if there was one place that people could hear what Nashville sounds like. Obviously country gets a ton of exposure here, everyone knows Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, they’re huge stars. But there’s also this whole other scene that isn’t doing country music and we thought it was important and there’s tons of outlets for that, but we wanted to form our outlet that was curated by artists in the community.”
Truitt love elevating music with a traditional outlet’s need for page views or clicks, and they don’t just hog the list to themselves. Each week a different Nashville artist curates the list, insuring that the love and exposure are continuously paid forward. At the time of this writing the list is being curated by R&B artist Peter Manos and features other rising Nashville R&B luminaries like R.LUM.R. hip-hop from Santana, and all the different varieties of pop you could ever ask for.
If you’re ever in Nashville and are looking to see Truitt live, you’re in luck. The pair have just begun playing live shows in earnest, and like every other step of their musical journey the two are doing the vast majority of the work themselves as team. Brett describes their shows as “it’s just Brigetta and I right now, which I think is really cool, so I do a pseudo half-DJ, half-instrumentation. I’m playing the keys but I’m also messing with filters and doing different things and then she sings.” What little lighting they do have at the moment has been controlled by their manager on an iPad, and Brigetta jokes about making sure that he knows when a certain song mentions a certain color so the lighting changes can match. Like they’ve done with all of their work, Truitt hope to hone this DIY show setup into something truly spectacular.
As the phone call wrapped up it’s hard not to get as excited as Brett and Brigetta are about their city, their music, and their future.While they couldn’t share specific details, the two are hard at work on their own music and many collaborations, and there’s no signs their work ethic is slowing down at all. Truitt believe in the thriving expansion of what music from Nashville means to people, and they’re determined to lift up as many fellow musicians as they can along the way. 2016 and 2017 were just a preview of what Truitt have in store, and you should be prepared to hear their name much more going forward. The music of New Nashville is taking over, and Truitt are leading the charge.