We cannot begin to tell you just how much we LOVE Adrian Brannan! If you're not following her on Instagram, you don't have her latest album (swoon), or you don't have her Dear Cowgirl book, you really are missing out! To say that this cowgal is a creative genius, is an understatement--her "Make America Cowboy Again" line of apparel has to be one of the hottest collections going.
In the paragraphs below, Adrian gets real about her writing, her travels, her music, her ambitions and exactly what fuels all her creativity and inspiration. AND next week, we are kicking off a giveaway featuring prizes from Adrian and Savannah Sevens. Read on and stay tuned for the launch to get entered!
Did you have the dream of being an author and/or singer as a child? Or did that develop overtime?
I remember when I was 14 and approached by the amazing folks who helped me with my first album Highway 80. I sang two songs on an open mic I had written, and the Vanderhoofs heard me - and literally changed my life in one day. They asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and at that point it was somewhere between an opera singer, a bull-fighter/cowboy or a trapper. I loved music, I couldn't get enough - so it made sense when they said I needed to make an album. But I hadn’t considered it in a real way till then...I was too busy still playing outside and being a kid! I had done this small production of Pirates of Penzance with the local collage opera group, and I remember thinking that was basically Broadway! I’d hit the BIG TIME! It was a huge deal to me, and because of how seriously the other performers took it, I realized some of them did this as work. That blew my mind, but I didn’t really consider something outside of classical opera until the Vanderhoof’s asked about what else I’d written. So music-wise I think I always knew I was going to be loud for a living in something, even if I wasn’t completely sure what it was until that first record. I learned a lot during that process, and it is amazing to me still that I’m blessed enough to have found my passion and career so early on.
As for writing books, I thought I would write something but wasn’t sure what it was. Then Dear Cowgirl happened, and I was like “Oh yes! This is something I have to do!” I hate to make it sound “easy” because it really was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was also one of the most natural things. The words weren’t difficult, just the process..and it continually amazes me with how it is able to spark a dialogue between folks about difficulties in their lives, abuse, pain, joy. All the emotions everyone experiences, but never talks about. I just wanted that book to be the honest discussion about the things we all go through, and in return it has blessed me over and over again.
How did you get up the courage to pursue your dreams? (because they’re quite far outside of society’s box)
Well I used to really care. I used to let hate mail and mean folks and people’s opinions really dictate what I did and also, how I thought of myself. I don’t honestly know when that changed, it wasn’t an “ahah!” moment,.but when I went on the road and just lived out of that blue truck something shifted. I guess in some ways I know what it is like to be unhappy, and everyone to think you’re living your best life. And now I know what it is like to be thought of as “weird” but to be ridiculously happy...and I’ll take weird any day of the week! I think the biggest thing people need to remember about pursuing their dreams is that you’re never going to feel fully “ready”. Sometimes you just have to pick up everything and GO make it happen, and damn what anyone else thinks. This is your life, and you only get one of them. Make it beautiful. Make it wild. Make it count.
What gave you the idea of your clothing brand?
#MACA actually started out as a little bit of a joke! I thought it was hilarious how upset folks were about the color combo of red and white, and how fights could break out over a hat. I figured if folks just calmed down and roped something they might feel better, and “Make America Cowboy Again” was born. It’s led to a lot of really funny discussions, and I love seeing how much folks love it! It sucks when people rip it off and then write you nasty messages when they’re caught, but I don’t worry too much about that aspect. I like to create things, I like coming up with the “next” thing...and they can’t even imagine what is coming next! I’m stoked about this summer, we’re changing a ton of things with the store and hopefully I can bring some more folks on board to help out - because the brand has outgrown me! That's a good thing for sure, and it is a super fun and completely different creative outlet that allows me to push myself in other ways.
How do you consistently navigate so many different avenues?
I honestly feel like I am JUST now figuring it out! Last year I majorly burned out, had a breakdown and cried on my mom’s kitchen floor. I was so stressed and overworked and didn’t know how to handle how full my plate had gotten. I wasn’t sleeping, and I didn’t know how to juggle it all. So then I took a step back, wrote out what I needed and realized it was time. I hadn’t had time off since I was 14 and didn’t realize most folks didn’t do that. So I took a few months off for a break, bought a ticket to Scotland and just went and wrote. I walked around where I was raised as a kid, saw old friends, had lots of lovely adventures and kept them mostly to myself. That was nice, to have an experience and not be stressed about work, to just breathe. Then I came back and said “Ok I need a plan for how to handle this!” I’ve been able to create that, and although being organized isn’t easy for me as an artist, as a businesswoman it’s saving me a lot of heartache. Balance seems to be my big word for 2020!
Do you have a next goal in mind or something else in the works?
Yes! Always! I have goals and lists on top of goals...but for now I’ll just say I’m ridiculously excited about this next project. I’ll be able to talk more about it in July! :)
Do you plan to write another book?
Yes! I am so excited, Dear Cowgirl Vol. II will be published sometime this fall, and I have something really exciting planned for its release....and a book tour! But I can’t say too much yet.
Now that your music career has taken off, do you plan to focus more on it and less on other things?
I’m excited about 2020 because there are some incredible opportunities for me to go on tour with some bigger bands, work with some new artists and push myself creatively. I never plan on what to focus on “more” because I’m constantly writing new material, thinking of new tours and wondering what to try next. But music-wise this year I’ll be on the road a lot more in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and back east...I haven’t done an eastern tour before, so that is super exciting!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
This is going to take WAY longer than you think….and it is completely worth it!
Don’t just talk about it, write it. Sit yourself down in a chair and write it. Also, don’t skim on editors. You can have the most incredible ideas in the world, and if they’re not delivered in the proper manner your words will fall on deaf ears. I am so lucky to have an incredible editor that keeps me on track, because a lot of the time I have an idea that I just KNOW will be perfect - but my grammar is terrible. Or I forget to add something important...she helps me corral the insanity. Just don’t give up, keep writing. Don’t let other people’s responses not matching your excitement tear you down - you’ve got this.
Do you have a specific process that you do to get you into a creative and productive mindset?
YES! I have to be awake and drinking coffee. No joke. That’s it. I write a lot when I’m driving, or riding, or playing the piano or in the shower or painting...there is no set process for me because my mind is always going constantly anyway, it is getting it to slow down that is the problem!
What is your writing process? Is it different for books versus music?
I honestly have NO idea! For music it is so fluid. These days I write predominantly on the piano for my music, and let the words and melody come to me. I don’t force anything. I do “morning pages” of my thoughts in the morning, where I just sit down with my coffee in my slippers and dump all my thoughts on the page. I used to write only by hand, but now I throw words on the page with my computer and then go back later to see if there is anything there. For the book, it was a little different. I had a rough collection of poems that I had already released online, and they were such a huge hit. It shocked me. I wrote the book while on the road, and then in a cabin in the Utah wilderness. I went in between feeding cows, and being horseback to writing a page, then hauling drinking water up from the river in a bucket. So that process felt very unrushed and calm. I liked that a lot, and in writing Dear Cowgirl Vol. II I want to capture that kind of peace again. I have a lot of it done, but I’m pushing myself to do more with this volume so it will take a lot more of a “push” on my part. This move to Texas is exciting for me because my new home is just beautiful, and secluded but not remote. I could tell I would be able to work there the second I saw it, so I am excited to see how things change once I am creating in that space.
Do you plan to start touring more across the country with your music? I’d love to see you!
Yes! 2020 is getting pretty booked up and I am excited to get on the road...it looks like around May/June things get really crazy for me. I can’t wait to see y’all down the road!
5 things on your “bucket” list that you want to check off in the next 5 years?
These are totally random, my “goal” lists are different than my bucket lists, but I usually call them plans! They seem more doable that way. I checked off every “bucket list” goal I had except two in 2019, and that felt AMAZING. 2025 I’m planning on all 5 of these being
- Win a grammy (I’m not kidding)
- Skydive/bungee jump (My poor mother)
- Get my pilot’s license (I’m a better driver in the sky I swear)
- Travel where needed/allowed to entertain American troops (If you know how, tell me!)
- Perform for the President at the White House (Ultimate goal)