Tanner Adell Is Making Country Music for Everyone

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It’s hard to believe that Tanner Adell has only been releasing music since 2021. In the past three years, she released her first mixtape BUCKLE BUNNY, was featured on Beyoncé’s album Cowboy Carter, and has quickly become one of the most exciting new voices in country music.

On the day that we meet, we’re sitting in her trailer at Hangout Music Festival—where she’s just performed a medley of all her hits like “Buckle Bunny,” “Whiskey Blues,” “Backroad,” and “See You In Church.” And she’s got more new music on the way. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on her debut album, which is due out this year, and teased a new song from the project during her set.

And this summer, amid various performances and a CMA Fest appearance, she’ll also be featured on the upcoming Twisters film soundtrack. Suffice it to say, she’s been putting in the work. Here, she tells ELLE.com about the long road it took to get here and what fans can expect next.

What was the inspiration for today’s Hangout Fest performance look? I loved the ribbons.

Thank you! The ribbons are vintage and sourced from eBay. My mom was a rodeo queen, so she’s got a lot of winning ribbons. And I’ve been wearing ribbons in my hair for the last year. For my Stagecoach performance, Levi’s reached out and said they wanted to custom-make my outfit. I was the first artist that they had ever collaborated with for that festival. I told them that whatever we do, we need to incorporate these ribbons. So we designed an outfit that incorporated the ribbons with the shorts. So now it’s my thing. I’m going to be wearing that in different colored shorts and ribbons throughout the summer for a lot of my performances.

Since this was your first time performing here, what was it like being onstage?

I love it here. It’s hot as hell, but it’s great. We had a really good turnout and luckily we weren’t in direct sun. But I just love the energy and watching people sing the lyrics back to me. And I like looking like a million bucks up there.

The crowd really went up for “Whiskey Blues.” How does it feel to have that type reaction to such a new song?

It’s really crazy. I was in Atlanta the day before yesterday and they were screaming along to it. And here, the same thing. You see engagement online but it’s very different when it’s in person. It’s amazing.

You got a similar reaction to “Buckle Bunny.” Why do you think that song is resonating so greatly for people?

Unless you like country, you probably wouldn’t know what a buckle bunny was, but the song takes this very country term and turns it into something that anyone can listen to. It’s empowering. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or where you’re from. I don’t care. You go put on some boots, put on your hat, and come on over. Country music has been kept in a box for so long and as much as I respect traditional country, I think there is a place for country music anywhere—Japan, Italy, Greece, Morocco. Everyone should feel like they can put on a hat and be country for a night. They say country music is three chords and the truth. It’s the story of real people. When I do it, it might be a different kind, but I’m still telling the truth. Every single song that I’ve released since the beginning of my career has told a story, just in a different way than is expected from country music.

Everyone should feel like they can put on a hat and be country for a night.”

When you performed “Love You a Little Bit,” you mentioned that it was the song that started it all for you.

I love that song. That’s how a lot of people found me. That was the first real surge in attention and recognition. That song is the softer side of me. Love songs are really hard for me to write. I have a hard time letting my walls down and being vulnerable in that way. I’m working on that. “Love You a Little Bit” was a big growing point for me personally as a person and as an artist. That was the start of me feeling like, “Oh, I can really do anything.” Because I know I’m that bitch. I know I can do “Buckle Bunny” and “Trailer Park Barbie.” I can talk my shit. But I like challenging myself to show that softness.

tanner adell

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So do you feel more comfortable writing the bad bitch anthems?

It depends on who’s in the room. Up until maybe a year ago, I was struggling to find the right people that I could really trust and say, “This is what I went through and I don’t want to sugar coat it.” I can say I found that now and last July was when I really started diving in and going into these deeper parts of me, which are going to be presented on the album. I’ve written a lot of songs alone that I haven’t shared. I won’t say the title of it because it’s also the name of the album, but I wrote a song about two years ago that touches on a very recognizable part of me and a few of the deeper reasons of why that’s a trademark. I don’t want to say too much. I haven’t told any press about it yet. But I am really excited for it.

Is the album coming out this year?

[Smiles and nods]

During your performance, you sang an unreleased song called “Silverado.” For your fans who weren’t there, how would you describe it? And will you release it as a single?

“Silverado” is the story of my beginning in Nashville. I sold everything that I had to move to there. The song is something you could hear at the club, but the context is not that. I was really down bad. I didn’t know how I was going to make it from point A to point B. At the time, I didn’t have a car at all. I was making my way around Nashville in the middle of winter on a scooter. This song is really the beginning of me telling my story and stories that people haven’t heard. I think it’ll be unexpected and people will be shocked to know a lot of my stories that I’m currently writing. It’s a little teaser off the album, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a single. For right now I’m just letting it live and touch people that it needs to touch.

Many people were introduced to you this year because you were featured on Beyoncé’s album Cowboy Carter. Since “Blackbiird” has been out, what effect do you think it’s had on you and your career?

I just wanted to be in the right place at the right time when a little blessing would fall on my head. I’ve been working extremely hard writing, making content, doing shows, and showing up as much as I can. Now I’m reaping the rewards of really hard work. I’m seeing the fruits of my labor. So shoutout to Bey. Thanks, mama!

I read that you, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts all got matching tattoos to commemorate the song?

Yes! We all did it in our own different style. None of ours look like similar at all. I do lots of fine line tattoos and I just wanted a sassy little bird.

Whose idea was it?

[Laughs] Mine. The girls wanted to do a video of us singing the song and I was like, “Or we could go get tattoos!” Tiera already had a teeny tiny one, but this was her first real tattoo. She has this little blackbird with a cowboy hat on it. It’s so cute. It was a lot of fun and now we’re all just thriving.

Do you often get tattoos to commemorate moments like that?

Yeah, for sure. For example, my dog Lola passed away last year, so I have a tattoo of her. Maybe this is unhealthy, but I need the pain. I need something that’s gonna leave a mark and I need to feel that hurt because I’m feeling it in here and I don’t really know how to process how I’m feeling on the inside. I need it to hurt a little bit on the outside. So, tattoos have been very therapeutic for me. I came out of a two-and-a-half year long relationship, had no tattoos at all, and the second day out of that relationship, I went and got nine in one day. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna go all in. Then I went back the next day and got eight more. And I don’t regret any of them.

And as we gear up for the summer, what are your plans?

I’m so excited to go out [on stage] with Breland. He’s just so good. His vocals are incredible and he’s a sweet spirit. He invited me for a lot of shows and couldn’t do all of them, but I was able to pick out a few. I’m really excited about that. I’m also going to Faster Horses, which is a huge country festival. And I’m also performing at CMA Fest next month. I got a slot on the spotlight stage!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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