When I first heard that Lady Antebellum had teamed up with noted producer Audien for an EDM collaboration, I choked on my water a little bit. EDM… and country? I mean, the idea wasn’t totally ridiculous; Florida Georgia Line have basically cornered that market already. But, as I started listening to “Something Better,” I realized that this collaboration has been within Lady Antebellum’s wheelhouse since “Need You Now” began playing on the pop charts.
Five replays later, I finally decided that this was something worth talking about. Taylor Swift notoriously killed it when she moved from country to pop, there are talks of Justin Timberlake going country, and Sam Hunt is Sam Hunt, so why wouldn’t EDM be something country experiments with, too?
I got on the phone with Nate (aka Audien), and Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood to talk to them about how this whole thing started, what the response has been, and whether or not we should expect Lady Antebellum at Electric Daisy Carnival next year.
Noisey: How did this partnership start? How did you guys hook up with each other?
Nate: First of all, I think I reached a point in my career where I really wanted to do something unexpected and different. I was making a lot of songs that were a little predictable, but still good I think, and I knew that I wanted to do something that was still my signature sound, but in a different vein. I thought, let’s do something with a duet, something like with Lady A, someone with the same level of emotion, and I just had this idea. The label hooked us up, and it came together really quickly and really organically. It was a very easy process, and they’re just great people.
Dave: From our end, our manager played us the song and told us about the opportunity, and, gosh,once we heard the song, we immediately fell in love with the lyrics, the message, the melodies. Like you said, having a male and female lead singe,r you’re allowed to cover both perspectives and it really seemed to fit what we do as Lady A. It really was kind of a natural fit for us, and it really felt like a song that just stands great on its own, by itself, and something we could would even do for our record. It was cool—he’s got such a great talent with production, and such a great ear for dynamics in songs, and like he said, everything came together pretty organically. It just felt natural and felt like a great fit.
Have you guys been into EDM for awhile, Dave? Was this move something you had considered before you were approached by Nate?
Dave: I mean, we do love all styles and all genres. I think it’s funny that the perception probably is that country artists mostly just listen to country, and for us as a band, we always had so many different styles that we love. Before our shows, we’ve played all kinds of stuff, and after the shows, late night, that’s kind of when you start cranking up the EDM for the after show party. It’s fun, man; I love that style and that format. It’s taking great songs and elevating them to a huge production, with huge climaxes in the song; it’s really neat to watch. And I love people who are so talented at producing like Nate, and it’s an honor to work with him, and an honor that they thought of us for this collaboration.
Are you worried that it will alienate your audience in any way, considering you’re such a big country artist?
Dave: You know, I don’t think so for us. Over the years, you really build this long-term relationship with your fans, and I feel like, after a while, once you earn their trust, they really will go with you wherever you go, and I feel like this is no exception at all. I mean, we kind of stretched ourselves here, and have obviously gone outside the format, but the response from the fans has been that they’ve just been in love with this song, and discovering more about EDM and Audien’s stuff and it’s fun to hear their reactions be so positive. And it shows that, hey, we can stretch ourselves’ we can take a step outside of what we do day in and day out, and still have it resonate with our core fans.
Nate: Same on my end. I was worried, you know, because whenever you take a risk and do something different like this, you get a little worried that your core fans are going to be like ‘What is this?” but truly, I haven’t seen any bad comments at all actually. It’s weird, I haven’t seen anything bad, like zero. And all of my fans were really receptive to it. I think that’s good for me as well on another note, because now I can keep doing weird stuff and people will like it. I like having fans who are open to versatility. and this is definitely a version of that.
I know that EDM has such a huge party culture associated with it, a lot of drugs and that sort of thing. Dave, are you worried fans will sort of chastise you for working within a genre that has a drug culture attached to it?
Dave: Oh, gosh, for us? Well, country music is all about some drinking and partying, I can tell you that. That’s a part of our format for us—gosh, you listen to the radio and it’s party central in the country world right now! Regardless of how much we try to angle it and position, though, it it’s just a great song, and I really feel like great music just wins in the end. I think if it felt forced—if it really felt like we were trying to do something that didn’t feel natural and organic and right—I think that people could see through that.
Nate: I know what you’re kind of getting at in that question, and I can tell you from my perspective, after playing almost every festival this last summer for dance music, I do feel like dance music is getting a lot better in terms of drug-related stuff. I don’t feel like it’s so overdone these days. I think that more people are coming for the music. I know that it’s always going to be present in every style of music, because dance music and rock music, and I don’t know about country music, maybe, but you know, you’re always going to get some people wanting to party just that much harder. And so I guess country fans would be able to understand that and relate.But circling back dance music has become a lot more about the music every year, just the music, and I wanted to contribute to that because it’s a very musical song and I wanted to show that dance music can be very musical, not just synthetic songs.
Dave, do you see Lady Antebellum playing EDM festivals in the upcoming years?
Dave: Y’all just tell us when to be there, and we’ll be there. I think it would be so much fun to figure out a way to perform this live together. We haven’t done it yet, and I think we can’t waste a great opportunity. It would be so much fun to be able to be there, all on stage together the four of us, and do the song together. That would be an honor for us to play this live, and if you’ll let us bring a bunch of whiskey to an EDM festival, we’ll be there.
Nate: Yeah, on my end, I really seriously hope we get to do it. I’m going to try and plan something out, because I think it would be really cool and maybe our tours would cross paths and it would make sense—or maybe we’ll just do it in some bar, who knows! Dave: A big festival at an underground bar, that would be great!
You guys could be the great unifiers of EDM and country music that we’ve been needing.
Dave: Yeah, sure.
Annalise Domenighini is riding down a dirt road to Twitter.