More times than not, young artists and songwriters who are new to Music City have a period of discovering themselves, their sound and their vision for what they want to say. For anyone releasing music it can be a roller coaster of finding what's authentic and resonates with music listeners. Christian Yancey has quickly molded into his own as he has found his sound, is a top tier songwriting and is putting out real and relatable music. Christian is one of the top rising artists and songwriters in Nashville and is bound to find success for years to come. Recently Yancey signed an exclusive publishing deal with Round Hill Music. For an individual who is wise beyond his years and has a great head on his shoulders, the sky's the limit. I sat down with Christian and talked about being a college athlete, making the transition to music, how meeting a solid group of friends early on helped keep him grounded and his favorite artist of all-time.
Get To Know Christian
"Music has been a part of my life for the longest time. One of the first things my parents made me do was get into piano. I took lessons for about 5 years. I hated taking lessons, and after 5 years switched teachers. I found out I didn't know how to read music. I was playing by ear. My parents wanted to start me over; I was like "absolutely not". I get the love for music from both sides of my family. I grew up in church and went to private Christian school for my whole life. I was leading worship at chapel during high school and church on Sunday morning. My granddad on my dad's side was a choir singer that did trio competitions and was pretty good at that. My mom's dad has done music full time his entire life. He's been a session guitar player and recorded with a ton of different people in the studio. He bought me my first guitar.
I'm someone who, when I do something, I do it 110%. I went off to college and was running track so that's what I focused on. I didn't pick up the guitar much during the 4 years I was running. My 5th year, I had one more year of school left and didn't have any eligibility left. My classes were getting hard and I wasn't enjoying them. It was great knowledge to have. I majored in managerial finance. It was an accomplishment to get my degree, but I knew I didn't want to sit in an office all day. I don't want to be a finance guy. So I took the time to step back and think about what I loved to do. I loved sports and I really loved music but I had never thought about doing it for a living.
I started writing songs. I was dating a girl at the time and she would always say "I don't know how you feel about me", "do you like me like I like you"? So I wrote a song and sent it to her. She loved it - it was great. My dad was the manager of a car dealership in Atlanta at the time. He had a customer come in and was talking to him. Dad asked what this guy did for a living. He was a producer part of a band called Third Day, the Christian band. He was the guitarist for them. My youth pastor was the lead singer of Casting Crowns. I’d grown up around Christian music so I knew of them. My dad mentioned to him "hey my son started writing songs, would you mind if I showed you some of his stuff?" and he said "of course". He showed the artist the songs I’d written and he really liked them. He messaged me on Instagram and said he would love to work with me. The more I wrote, the more songs I would send him. He really believed in me and introduced me to people in the industry. Seeing someone believe in what I was doing really helped me take that next step. I was living in Georgia and would make trips to Nashville to play writer's rounds and play my music in front of people. After playing once or twice, I knew I wanted to move to Nashville, co-write and meet new people. I moved to town in August of 2021 right after COVID and started co-writing with people. I fell in love with songwriting even more than I thought. I love writing for myself, love writing for other people and love being able to put my influences into songs I'm writing."
An Anthem For The Radio Waves
Whether it's a long distance relationship, not seeing your significant other for a while, or just simply missing them, "Hatin' Missin' You" is the song you need that wraps all those feelings into 3 minutes and 7 seconds. From the jump, it pulls you in with catchy lyrics and melodies, and flows nicely from the verse to the chorus with Yancey's Rock influences shining through. You can feel his passion and emotion throughout the entire song, and it has you grasping for what's coming next. It’s a prime example of mixing different influences, while still allowing "his sound" to be at the surface. A powerful song that you'll have bouncing around in your head all day.
Inspiration Behind "Hatin' Missin' You"
Written By: Johno Clayton, Kenny Whitmire, Christian Yancey
Produced By: Jake Parshall
"I wrote it with Johno Clayton and Kenny Whitmire over FaceTime. Funny enough, I hate writing over FaceTime, but Johno had gone back to East Tennessee and we still wanted to get the write in. I had the title in my phone and I think it was "Missin' You". There was a girl I was talking to who wasn't living in Nashville. I was like "I love what we have here, but I hate that I miss you all the time". We started writing this song and I think Kenny popped out with "what if it's like while I'm doing what I got to do, I'll be craving, chasing and hatin' missin' you" and I loved that. We tied that together and as soon as we wrote it, it became one of my favorite songs. It became a favorite amongst our friend group and other people that heard it. I knew I wanted to cut this one.I felt this song really sums up what I want my sound to be as an artist."
Q & A With Christian Yancey
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I was seeing all these writer's rounds at Live Oak and didn't know anything about how they happen or anything about them, but knew I wanted to be part of it. I'd been writing songs in my room in Georgia and wanted to have an opportunity to showcase these and see what people thought. So I emailed Live Oak and said "hey, I don't know who I'm supposed to talk to or if y'all were the right people to reach out to, but I see you put on these writer's rounds. How do I get to be a part of one of these things"? They responded really quickly and said "I love that you're excited about this, here's the list of people who do writer's rounds and here's their contact information. So I followed up and DM'd everybody they sent. Magic Hills - Tracie Moore was the first one to hit me back. She got me on a round down on Printer's Alley at a place called Whiskey Shot. It was the first one I'd ever played. I drove up that night and played a couple songs and immediately I met Callie Prince and Will Dinnat, Conner Hicks. They were all great, came up to me and said I was great and asked about me. The light bulb moment wasn't about playing, because I knew I wanted to do it. It was more the move here because of the people. It's been so welcoming and has continued to be that way. Everyone is such a big fan of each other."
Q: Since your move to Nashville, so far, what have been some positive experiences and some lessons you've learned along the way?
A: "For me, the most positive thing that I've learned about myself is that it helps to surround yourself with people that, in your opinion, are better than you. Whether it's true or not, you always hear "if you're the smartest person in the room, you shouldn't be in that room". I constantly want to see my friends succeed and we are always pulling each other along. That's been a positive thing for me; meeting these people and networking and making it and coming up together. One of my good buddies is Austin Snell. I was his first co-write when he got to town. I was supposed to be working my job that day but didn't have a lot to do so he came over to the house and was writing with my roommates Kenny and Brett Bone. They asked me to jump on. I wasn't supposed to be there that day. I found I wrote really well with Austin and eventually we wanted to write something different. Out popped "Excuse the Mess". It was one of those crazy moments, where we were listening to Nirvana in the truck on the way over to Presley Aaron's house. That's how it unfolded.
One of the tough things about being in town is you start to see people have success and know you're working as hard as they are or even harder. There are these moments when you're so excited for them, but at the same time you question yourself and ask "why am I not having success"? "why am I not getting to play this venue? why are they not giving me the time of day"? You wonder about those things. What I have learned from that is, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what the person next to you is achieving because it doesn't define your success. All you have to do is keep your head down and work hard and things will start to fall into place. When you start worrying about what everyone else is doing you start stressing yourself out. People say "I'm not cut out for it", but the problem is, people don't give themselves enough time."
Q: Who are some artists and songwriters who influence your music?
A: "Growing up on the southside of Atlanta, my taste in music is very diverse. My dad was the Rock’ N Roll guy. The first concert I ever went to was Def Leppard, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Bon Jovi. My mom was more into Country and Pop music. Rap was also a big thing for me. I was growing up in the primetime of Atlanta Rap, when they were controlling everything outside of Lil Wayne. The Rap game had a big influence on me. My favorite artist of all-time, to this day, is J. Cole. Most people don't know that about me. I love good guitar players like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Mayer. All these people are amazing artists, but also incredible guitar players. I strive to at least be close to those guys. As to Country Music, Brad Paisley was a big influence for me, and of course Alan Jackson - him being from Georgia. Luke Combs was the big thing that brought me back to Country Music. I still listened to Country Music, but it was newer stuff. It was the 90's and 2000's, maybe early 2010's. Then came HARDY, Morgan Wallen, Cody Johnson. Another influence, as far as writer's go, is HARDY. Someone else I love is Wyatt McCubbin. Many of my most influential songwriters are my friends. Seeing my friends write and how their brains work, that's my biggest inspiration."
Q: What's something that most people don't know about you?
A: "I think what I mentioned earlier - that J. Cole is my favorite artist of all-time. I don't think that will ever change. I started listening to him around the time of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album. That album itself, to me, is the best Rap album of all time. He took a genre that's about one thing and made it about something different. He made a whole album that made it real and talked about real things. It's not full of "bangers"; he wasn't worried about that. He didn't have any features on that album. It was a big thing that he went platinum with no features."