An Interview With The Austin-Based Trio, NOBODY’S GIRL!
Posted On 21 Sep 2018
Austin singer-songwriters Rebecca Loebe, Grace Pettis and BettySoo have each performed for years at Texas’ beloved Kerrville Folk Festival; in fact, that’s where they met and quickly bonded in 2008, the year BettySoo become a New Folk Competition winner.
By 2011, all three had earned that honor. But even though they’re all Star Trek-loving sci-fi fans, they never dreamed that if they fast-forwarded to 2018, they’d wind up beaming onto a Kerrville stage as a hot new tight-harmony trio called Nobody’s Girl. A trio that had signed a record deal, recorded an EP, Waterline, and launched a tour before its members had even picked a name.
They signed in January 2018, recorded Waterline with producer Michael Ramos in February, printed it in March, went on tour and released their debut single, the rock-edged pop tune “What’ll I Do,” in April, played Kerrville in May, and scheduled more dates around Waterline’s release — along with a 2019 European tour.
“It’s honestly like something out of a movie,” marvels Loebe (a cross between Deanna Troi and Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan, according to BettySoo — who’s described by her band-mates as a Capt. Picard type).
Onstage, Loebe and Pettis play acoustic guitars; BettySoo plays electric guitar and accordion. In the studio, they were backed by A-listers David Grissom on acoustic and electric guitars; Glenn Fukunaga on bass; J.J. Johnson on drums; Ramos on keyboards; and Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel.
For three friends who started out planning to round-robin their own tunes and back each other up a bit, Loebe says their unexpected transformation into a joyful creative partnership “feels like a magic trick.” It’s especially dazzling to her because she hasn’t collaborated much — and wound up being offered a solo deal with Blue Corn Music just as Lucky Hound was signing the trio. In late 2018, she’ll also receive a grant from Black Fret, an Austin foundation that provides professional development funds to 20 carefully selected artists or bands each year. (Pettis, meanwhile, has an unreleased album in the can, and the Fayettes are polishing a new recording with Charlie Faye.)
But back to that magic trick. If one breaks it down into simple physics, it might be described as an energy transfer between types of matter. For Loebe, that’s what Nobody’s Girl represents: an energy shift. A new dynamic. As the name suggests, this trio’s music is “a little defiant, a little edgy.” Maybe a little risky — like boldly going somewhere you haven’t explored before, then discovering, upon arrival, that transporting your energy to this different place isn’t really a trick at all. But it certainly can feel — and sound — like magic.
Connect With Nobody’s Girl Here:
Learn more about Nobody’s Girl in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Rebecca here – I’m spending today painting props for a music video while BettySoo and Grace are in Nashville for Americana Fest (divide and conquer!)
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year?
This is the first year we’ve actually been a band and it’s been bananas… In 2018 we signed a record deal, recorded an album and went on our first tour – in that order!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Has anything surprised you about this ride so far?
Well, originally we were just three friends hitting the road for a single tour, but then Grace and BettySoo suggested we try writing together. The Studios at Fischer invited us to use their artist suite for a mini writing retreat, and while we were there we wrote three songs in 36 hours – What’ll I Do, Queen City and Riding Out the Storm. In the morning, we played the songs for the folks who owned the studio and they offered us a record deal. It was surreal, like a scene in a movie… Until that moment, we hadn’t really thought of the project as anything more than a single tour, but our fans were really excited about it and suddenly there was a label wanting to make an album… We are all really busy with our solo careers (and BettySoo is in about a billion bands as a side player) but decided that we wanted to follow the momentum and see where it led. It’s been a really fun and, yes, very surprising ride so far.
How did you come up with your band name? Was it hard to agree on something that you felt was right? What other names were you considering?
Picking a band name was an interesting challenge that, as a solo singer songwriter, I had never faced before. The three of us tend to have strong and different opinions about, well, everything, but we all agreed that this was something that required consensus.
Adding to the challenge is that during the time when we were picking a name, I was on tour in The UK, BettySoo was on a painting trip in Cuba and Grace was playing gigs at home. We kept a very active text and email chain, each coming up with long lists of ideas and pulling favorites from each other’s lists. Gradually we narrowed it down to a few choices and Nobody’s Girl stood out to everybody on that list.…Not a very sexy tale, but if you wanna know the truth about how it came together there it is!
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
Well, we’re all from different parts of the South, and all feel influenced by the music and scenes where we grew up. Grace is from Alabama, and draws on her childhood there a lot in her writing. BettySoo has lived in Texas since infancy and is pretty well schooled in the legendary Texas writers and. I think, draws on their influences masterfully in the stories she crafts. I grew up playing at open mics in Atlanta. As a high school student I’d go out on Monday nights to hear touring songwriters from all over the country play their best two songs in front of a packed room… Every night I’d go home and stay up into the wee hours writing, trying to make my songs better and better. I think those open mics are what taught me how to write.
Why do you think that Lucky Hound Music is the right place for this group and your music today?
I’m not sure we’d even exist as a band if Lucky Hound hadn’t given us so much encouragement and support! They’ve been with us every step of the way so far and have been very loving and enthusiastic partners in building this band.
Later this month you will release your “Waterline” EP. What does that feel like? What did it feel like the first time you heard it all the way through? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of putting this collection together? I understand that the writing for these songs came really fast. Why is that exactly?
Well, the writing came from a couple of writing retreats. The fun thing about the retreats was that there was no expectation – we weren’t trying to write for an album, we were trying to write something as a group that we could play together on our tour. We all brought little ideas we had been holding onto – concepts, pieces of lyrics, melody fragments – and every line had to be approved by each of us before the song was done. It was a hard bar to meet, because we’re all opinionated and stubborn! But, as a result, I think that the songs are water tight.
Hearing the album straight through for the first time was powerful – a few months ago this band didn’t exist and now we have a record that at the same time feels like each of us but like nothing we’ve ever done before. It’s exciting.
How do you three go about writing music? Is it something that you do altogether or separately?
I tend to write mostly solo. BettySoo and Grace also write a fair bit solo but are more experienced co-writers.
If time and money were not an issue, what would your dream music video look like? Any plans to shoot any music videos for the songs on “Waterline”?
We’ve got a video coming out soon for the title track Waterline and it’s pretty darn dreamy! I love to travel, so someday I’d love to make a music video that incorporates locations all over the world and illustrates how similar people are all over the world – we all want the same things… Food, water, love, acceptance. If you’ve got a budget for me, let’s talk 😉
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere? Do you have any upcoming tour dates this fall in support of your album? How excited are you to head to Europe next year?
I can’t talk for everyone on this, but I can say that my favorite part of the process is performing songs live onstage in front of people. That moment of hand-delivering the song to their ears and then leaving it for them to sit with… it’s a powerful moment as a performer, and it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
We are psyched to go to Europe! This will be my fifth tour in Europe in the past six years, and I’m really excited to be bringing a new configuration this time! BettySoo has also performed in Europe many times, and this will be Grace’s first time – so it’ll be a fun combination of introducing each other to our favorite spots and exploring things for the first time.
How do you think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? What would you say is the most challenging part about it?
The most challenging part, hands down, is scheduling. We all have busy solo careers that are pretty travel-intensive, so it can be hard to get us in the same room for a gig, rehearsal or interview (as illustrated my the fact that I’m conducting this interview solo from my kitchen table in Austin while the other two ladies in my band are tearing it up in Nashville).
The most joyful part of the project, for me, is when we’re onstage and hit our three-part harmonies full-tilt. There’s just no other feeling like it.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? Or do you think it doesn’t? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
We talk about politics a lot in the car. How can you not? It’s on everyone’s mind right now. As a group, we’ve only written a few songs together and none of them are on that topic, but I think it’s something we’ve all approached in our solo songs, which we bring into our group shows. We’ve got songs that touch on immigrants rights, wage inequality, gender disparity and other social issues that are dear to our hearts.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope that our songs can help people celebrate on good days and help them cope on bad days.
Where can our readers connect with you today?
As a group you can find us at www.wearenobodysgirl.com
We are also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
We’ve all got solo websites as well with information about where we’ll be touring individually, at