Let’s Call It Love: An Interview with Folk Artist Bailey Bigger

Interview, Conducted by Brittany Ashley



Bailey Bigger grew up in Marion, Arkansas just outside of Memphis, Tennessee. She’s been writing and performing seriously since the age of 14 and has received national acclaim since then. You can listen to Bigger’s music on Spotify and Apple Music, or pre-order on vinyl at baileybigger.com. Her first full-length album, “Coyote Red,” debuts on March 25th, 2022.


Q: Why are you passionate about music? What led you to choose this career?


A: I mean everything is a bit of nature and nurture. Music is in my bones, so part of me wants to say I didn’t have much of a choice, that it was the only option for me, in a spiritual-calling sort of way. But of course, there’s the undeniable fact that my parents had a huge role in my love for music starting from my birth. Neither of them are musicians, but their passion for it is pretty equal as if they were. My dad was especially into poetry and songwriters. He’d make me pay close attention to lyrics from an early age; would dissect metaphors with me, nurturing that natural writer in me early on. I started writing poetry when I was about five, based on the world around me and my interpretation of it. It just kept going from there.


Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?


A: I think I’m constantly drawing some sort of inspiration or more so observation from everything around me involuntarily, both good and bad. The things I feel inspired to create and write about are always experiences, even if they’re not necessarily mine directly, but a friends’ or a strangers’ I witnessed or felt second hand. If I’m feeling empty though or lost in my own skin, which is often, I go into nature. That’s what inspires me to keep on going and keep hope for life. I can’t feel out of place in the wild. It’s nice to know that it's there when I need it.


Q: What do you hope/want your music to do for/to people?


A: I hope my music makes people feel something, whatever that looks like. I want them to know those feelings from some part of their own human experience and get that sense of truth that we’re all one. I just want it to connect and relate in the most genuine way it can.


Q: In your music and your social media, it’s clear that you are very close and appreciative of the natural world. How has that relationship shaped you, how do you cultivate it?


A: The natural world has shaped every part of me. It’s hard to narrow it down, but I think for the most part it humbles me and keeps me in the space I want to exist as a human who is responsible for her and what happens to her. I say her as in Gaia. I think honestly it’s really helped me dive deeper into my divine femininity as well and figure that out slowly but surely and learn to love how I was created in the form of this planet. It’s all the same. The natural world has kept my heart in check too. Compassion, generosity, humility, empathy, peace, and chaos at the same time in balance with each other. I have so much to learn from her. It’s hard to talk about because it’s honestly nothing but awe and difficult to express the magic in her roots. I think the biggest way I cultivate my relationship with the natural world is through seasons, moon cycles, understanding the wheel of the year and the way it’s affecting all of us on a daily, hourly basis; how I can learn to honor her and work with her on the natural terms and cycles that I’m only a speck of. Simultaneously honoring my body and the elements within it. I moved to the country two years ago and that has been a privilege I am forever grateful for. You can’t be out of touch with her out here. Her presence is forced upon me every time I walk out my front door. There’s a lot of weight that comes with the magick too. But it’s all beautiful because it’s so natural and ancestral.


Q: What’s an average day like for you?


A: Well I work two jobs, one with plants and one with music, so it depends on the day. But any good average weekend day for me would just be spent outside. I love waking up for the sunrise, but I don't do it as often as I want to. I feed my chickens scratch grain and grit; collect eggs. I let them free range when I’m home so I can keep an eye out for hawks. Maybe I’d go for a horseback ride on the levee. If it’s summer, I love to go catfishing on the lake a few miles away. Bring home dinner for the evening and it lasts weeks to come. There’s a bald eagle's nest over on the edge of that lake. Sometimes it’ll fly above us as the boat races across the water. I always have a small garden in the summer too. Anything that gets my hands in the soil is a perfect day.


Q: Part of living in a digital age, and I’m sure it’s even more so for someone in the performing arts, is being defined and put in boxes based on interests/personality/vibe… how would you define yourself?


A: I really don’t like defining myself because I’m constantly growing and changing and when I put a label on myself and then decide two months later that it doesn’t speak to my soul anymore, I have these miniature identity crises. I think that’s one thing I’m actively practicing these days is to stop boxing myself into any definitions at all and just be. I’m also practicing self-forgiveness. That goes hand in hand for me. There are things about myself though that are pretty certain, like my need for sacred space. I’m a dreamer. And I care a lot about other people and other life. I’m a hard worker. I’d say I’m an introvert for the most part. I’m a family person. And I really love life.


Q: What’s a lyric you’re most proud of?


A: Overall, I am really proud of one song I wrote on my last EP, “A Lot Like I Do.” It was really easy to write but really difficult to get to the headspace where I was able to express it. One line I’m really proud of in that song is, “Harvest moon, my old friend, how it’s been so long. Still think of you long after summer’s gone.” That line is about a specific time in my life where I was truly happy. It’s something that haunts me to this day, and I had to do a lot of self-work to let go of it and understand that I can be happy in this new version of myself too, and that I had to let go of those memories because they were holding me back from my higher self and true peace. The harvest moon represents a lot of things. That time was September of my senior year of high school. The harvest moon was a real setting for that era in my life and a romantic, ideal visual to remember. Yet it also represents a person who was heavily involved in my life at the time as, “my old friend.” But it simultaneously represents who I used to be too and finding that girl again in the woman I am now.


Q: If you ever feel stuck: creatively, in life, etc. how do you start moving again?


A: Nature is really it for me. Normally when I feel stuck, it’s due to being in an environment that’s not great for my creative voice, which can sometimes be a busy social life. As much as I love my friends and family, it’s hard to balance spending time with them and spending time with my creative voice as well. It takes a moment of sitting in solitude and reflecting before I can begin the writing process. So, if I really want to write to the best of my ability, I have to soak up silence for quite a while. Nature definitely speeds up that process for me.


Q: What writers, visual artists or musicians do you find intriguing/beautiful/guiding?


A: As for writers and songwriters, Mary Oliver, Joni Mitchell, Wendell Berry, John Denver, and many more. I think those are some of the major ones for me. Most of them have that deep connection with the natural world that leads them to write freely of its impact on them. And I love how differently it comes out each time. With Joni Mitchell, I just admire how honest she is, how humanly unperfect she is. She doesn’t ever seem to be afraid of anything in her writing. She says it like it is, but with such grace.

One of my favorite painters is actually local. John Robinette. His paintings really inspire the child in me who grew up around the visuals he captures. Giant moons over tiny white churches in a southern field. Water towers over a full moon. Really beautiful, dark colors. I think he paints it as a feeling.


Q: Do you have any advice you always give, or words you try to live by?


A: My grandmother actually showed me a quote not too long ago that has really stuck with me about how I choose to live this life I’ve been given. It was from Stan Rushworth, an indigenous Cherokee elder. He said, “the difference between a western settler mindset of ‘I have rights’ and an indigenous mindset of ‘I have obligations.’ Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I was born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations, and the planet herself.”


Q: What does rebellion mean to you; how do you challenge or subvert expectations?


A: Rebellion for me means to be so honest, be so true to yourself that it scares people, and hopefully inspires them. I’m obviously still working on this. I always will be. But slowly but surely, I’m working on taming those fast heart beats that keep me from speaking my truth to the bully. It’s hard, but it’s worth it every time.


Q: How do you honor your intuition?


A: Everyone’s intuition comes in different forms and speaks in unique ways. Mine is in my gut and my heart. I can physically feel the signals from my body on all aspects, and 99% of the time, I listen. When I don’t, it never works out. I think something that helps me honor my intuition and keep it strong is grounding myself in many ways. My favorite version of this though is walking barefoot. I love taking long walks barefoot, on grass, mud, concrete, gravel, whatever comes along on the walk. I’ve done this since I was a child. I remember I’d walk blocks in my parents’ neighborhood for miles barefoot on the asphalt. My Pop always laughed at me, “girlll where ARE your shoes?? My feet just hurt lookin’ athcha!” I loved that.


Q: What does freedom truly look and feel like?


A: This is a hard one for me to speak about. I’m not sure if I know what “freedom” looks like because it’s so different to everyone and we all have unique experiences of our freedoms being taken away from us in ways due to gender, sexuality, race, religion, disabilities, and so much more. There are a lot of perspectives I will never understand but I try to hold space for them when I’m considering the idea of freedom. I’m constantly working on gratitude for the freedom I do get to experience too in my everyday life that a lot of people in this world don’t. If I’m thinking on an earthly level though of what makes me feel free, I would say existing in a space with wildlife. The first time I saw the Tetons, there was a very large herd of Bison in the field below. I was close to them. Not dangerously close of course, but close enough to hear them breathing and see detail on their fur. That felt like freedom in the shadow of that mountain range. I feel it too at home on summer nights. Sometimes I’ll go outside in the dead of the night and walk into the horse pasture. Normally one of them will approach me slowly, and it's so dark you can only really see the reflection of the moon in their eyes. Then the warm air of their breath brushes on your face. I just sit there with them, listening to the train. That feels like freedom.


Q: Where does your power come from; is it given, created; how do you use it?


A: My power comes from my intuition which comes from nature and my ancestors. It's given from them and Gaia, but it’s created from me taking what I’m given and making something from it in the shape of my perspective. That’s what I love about human creation. We’ll never stop learning from each other; the ways we see the world.