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Hitmaker Lindsay Rimes Opens The Door To Nashville For Aussie Writers

March 19, 2024 - News

Sydney-born songwriter and producer Lindsay Rimes is the toast of Nashville, having written hits for Kane Brown, Nate Smith, Kelsea Ballerini, Lo Cash, Luke Bryan, Tyler Rich, Dylan Scott and Restless Road.

He’s also worked with Aussies Kylie Minogue (Golden, the title track of her biggest-selling album in ten years), The McClymonts (Piece Of Me, which was named Country Work of the Year at the 2013 APRA Music Awards and led him to produce their albums), Busby Marou (Days Of Gold, which was a win at the 2016 APRAs) and Troye Sivan (Fun) from the TRXYE EP (2014) which entered the US charts at #5.

Two of his songs made country music history. Kane Brown’s Heaven went seven times Platinum in America, making Rimes the first country music songwriter to join the Billion Streams list.

Nate Smith’s album, which he also produced, yielded two hits, Whisky On Me and World On Fire. The latter was #1 for ten weeks on the Billboard Airplay Chart.

Says Rimes, “It’s apparently the biggest country song on radio of all time since Billboard’s Airplay Chart existed in 30 years. Which is pretty crazy, an Australian boy who went to Nashville and wrote one of the biggest country hits of all time!”

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Melbourne To Nashville

 

Music rights management organisation APRA AMCOS invited Rimes back to Australia this month to curate its ‘Melbourne to Nashville’ SongHub between March 19 to 21 on a picturesque farm setting on the Mornington Peninsula.

Ten Victorian APRA AMCOS members have been chosen to write songs. Also featured at the sessions are Grammy-nominated, CMA, and ACM award-winning singer/songwriter Jon Nite, in-demand songwriter and producer Danielle Blakey, and Alabama-born country rock singer Tyler Braden.

Rimes knows how well such songwriting camps can work. Hooked, a Top 5, Platinum-certified hit in the USA for Dylan Scott, started out at APRA AMCOS’ inaugural SongHubs in Nashville.

His collaborators for that day were Seth Ennis and Morgan Evans. At the time, Evans was dating Kelsea Ballerini, who was in the charts with Peter Pan. As a joke, Rimes suggested they write a sequel to it called Hooked after the story’s Captain Hook character. But the title stuck, and the song was finished that day.

Heaven came out of a songwriting retreat hosted by Sony Music Publishing, during which Rimes was teamed with Shy Carter and Mark McGinn. Brown, who was working on another song (What’s Mine Is Yours), heard Heaven through the floorboards and was instantly struck by how it reminded him of his fiancée.

It was a single off Brown’s re-released debut album. After storming the country and pop charts, it went on to sell 10 million units in the US, over 200,000 copies in Australia, and 560,000 in Canada.

Five of the participants from the ‘Melbourne to Nashville’ SongHubs will get the chance to continue the sessions in Nashville, with Rimes curating the sessions, again joined by other Nashville hitmakers. 

Their flights and accommodation are covered, mostly by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria’s Music Works program.

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Take The Plunge

 

Rimes and his wife Danielle have lived in Nashville for almost ten years, and last year took out dual US/Australian citizenship. Rimes’ advice to any Australian creative who wants to make it in America is to take the plunge and move there.

“Nashville is not as crazy as New York or Los Angeles; its community is unique and awesome. It’s a place of opportunity – not just for country music, but for pop and rock and Americana – where you can work yourself to the bone if you want to because there are so many great people to work with. But you have to become part of the community, not just flit in and out.”

There are a myriad of Australian music folk working behind the scenes in Nashville. 

“The Nashville scene is well aware of how passionate Australians are about country music. The acts that play CMC Rocks come back saying how much energy they have and how they know all the lyrics to their songs even if it’s their first time.”

Rimes has two main pieces of advice for younger writers and producers at workshops.

“One, if you’re going to be a professional songwriter, the best thing you can do is to turn up on the day, no matter how you’re feeling. 

“There’ve been times when I haven’t felt like writing either, and then turn up and write one of your famous songs. It’s not groundbreaking advice, but the amount of songwriters who come up with excuses not to turn up is more than you’d think.

“Secondly, always look for ideas everywhere. Awareness is really important for a songwriter. Ideas are floating in the air. They can be terrifying and mysterious. Maybe a co-writer could be inspired to pick up on your idea and make it into a hit. The whole process is magical and mysterious, and you have no control over it.”

As for writers trying to recreate their success by rewriting their past hit, he’s not impressed.

“It’s human nature, I suppose. But to make that same connection is not that simple. You can play the same chords and sing the same way. But you might end up with a facsimile that is empty and not special. Audiences are too smart to fall for that.”

In The Air

 

Rimes usually has a number of projects in the air at the same time. He writes every day in his home studio. The sessions start at about 11 am. Sometimes, there’ll be a recording session that goes on for six or seven hours.

Until five years ago, Rimes was a rarity in Nashville: someone who was a writer AND a producer. When he’s writing a song with others, he’s also creating a demo and playing most of the instruments.

“The demos are pretty close to masters and releasable. The two Nate Smith songs were virtually the demos we recorded on the day. We didn’t need to add a band. There are different working models; there’s no right or wrong. My philosophy is: if it sounds good, then it is good.”

When Rimes arrived in Australia for the APRA AMCOS sessions, he first went to Brisbane, where CMC Rocks’ promoters threw a dinner for the cast and crew at the festival site.

When in Melbourne, he’ll attend the Grand Prix for the first time. “I’m a big Formula One race follower. I have a racing simulator at home. Every day I get on and have a drive, it’s a great way to unwind.”

If he had the time, he might have caught a rugby match or two. He wanted to become a professional rugby player. He got a sports scholarship to the University of Sydney, where he got a degree in visual arts, majoring in painting.

“I played for the college and then for the Under-19s, but an injury knocked me out of playing rugby. At that time, I was also writing music and recording songs in my home studio. So, I switched to making that my focus.”

He visited Nashville a couple of times before settling there. Was there a pinch-me moment?

“Yes, early in the piece when I’d just moved there. I worked with Kylie Minogue on Golden. I didn’t know her before, but she was awesome. I remember thinking, ‘I’m working with an Australian icon in Nashville. I’d never have had that opportunity in Australia. 

“So, it struck me, OK, that moving to America was the right thing to do because of the opportunities it gave me.”

Minogue was in Nashville for two weeks because her new label wanted some country tracks on her next album. Rimes was not to know that on the night before sessions began, Minogue was in an upstairs bar with friends, looked at the heavens, and begged, “Please, please, just give me one song while I’m here.”

Three songs from Nashville made the cut. The Golden track, which she co-wrote with Rimes, Liz Rose and Steve McEwan was produced by Rimes. It was the title song of the album.

Lyrically, it was fighting back at the journalists who asked her when she released her previous album, “Aren’t you getting too old to do this?” Golden was released as her third single on 28 May 2018, on Minogue’s 50th birthday.

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