We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.
Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
Nicolle Galyon, small-town Sterling, Kansas native started off as a bonafide country superfan, driving 6 hours with her mother to catch The Dixie Chicks in concert and joining fan clubs in order to secure that coveted artist autograph. Today, she is not only a mega-hit songwriter, producer, and president of a brand new all-female label, Songs & Daughters, but she works day in and day out to remain authentic to and impress that little girl who used her fandom to follow her dreams.
Understanding how much time and dedication goes into being a superfan for a specific artist, or for a genre, really lit a fire under Galyon to make her way to Nashville for college. Attending Belmont University, she told family and friends back home that she wanted to work at a record label or manage an artist. In addition to majoring in Music Business, she gave piano lessons to kids, something she learned from an early age, which ultimately led her to work as an assistant. Before long, Galyon found herself sitting in the middle of Nashville guitar pulls filled with songwriters and artists who had publishing and record deals.
“I always knew who Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, and Craig Wiseman were, but it wasn’t until I sat in on a guitar pull that I really understood what that job was,” Galyon explains.
Once she started writing songs, she found herself terrified to perform them in front of anyone, something you must do in order to give your words any traction. After years of writing and honing in on her craft, she realized that writing something that she thought an artist would like or emulating what she heard on the radio was keeping her creativity in a box. It was three or four years into pursuing songwriting before she truly started writing songs for her, and those songs that showcased her honesty were some of the very first songs recorded by artists.
Since then, she’s written many hit songs including “Automatic” for Miranda Lambert, “Boy” for Lee Brice and “All The Pretty Girls” for Kenny Chesney. Most notably, Galyon contributed to co-writing the chart-topping song “Tequila” for Dan + Shay, which has gone on to win not only a Grammy award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, but also both Single and Song of the Year at the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards.
Just last week, Galyon joined Dan + Shay on tour when they played in Chicago and for the very first time got to hear “Tequila” performed live by the duo. For the incredible highlights, and to see a glimpse of that fangirl moment, click here for her Instagram Stories.
Galyon tells us about that moment saying, “I am by no means too cool to be that superfan. When being a superfan is no longer fun for me, then I probably need to find another job because why go through all of this trouble, why endure all of the failure and all of the no’s if the yes isn’t going to be truly enjoyed as if you were still 17.”
Looking back, we asked Galyon if she could go back to her first few days being a songwriter what would she tell herself and she poetically says: “To trust myself more. I think that’s exclusive for me, but there is a time to listen and learn and that never ends. Whoever I am writing with tomorrow, I will learn something from them, whether they are a veteran songwriter or they are 19-fresh-off-the-bus, if you quit learning from people you quit evolving and you take yourself out of the game because you have to change and evolve.”
We discuss how her roles are now changing as she steps into a new position as label head and president of Songs & Daughters, an all-female label in partnership with Big Loud Records. She says it’s a little like being a senior in high school again, in the best way, “I was the girl that would go play volleyball but right after the game I would grab my yearbook camera and take pictures of the football team, then I would go play saxophone in the pep band and I thrived when I had that much going on,” she laughs.
“Now that I am at this part in my career it’s very natural for me to be in a writing room, but then step out and approve a music video in a bathroom then jump back in, finish a song, then do an interview in the pick up line while I am getting my kids and to me that’s thriving, it makes me feel alive and always a little bit nervous and that makes me feel good.”
Her success as a songwriter has brought her to this next phase of her career, but one thing remains certain, she is a creative and will always be a songwriter first. Her flagship artist is Madison Kozak, a rising female singer-songwriter that we have loved for the past few months with her songs “Graduation Day” and her first single to radio, “First Last Name”.
Galyon explains that she is excited to help develop Kozak’s career, “I want to know what it feels like to stand back and really propel someone else because there is only so much of that gratification that I can get by bringing attention to my self and my own achievements. It really feels like there is a whole pool of goodness that I get to dive into when I extend it to other people.” She hopes to guide Kozak in wanting to push herself and bet on herself, always remaining true to the person and artist that she is.
One of the things Galyon claims has guided her through this career in the music business is her way of decision making. She has learned to ask herself what would she tell her daughter to do or ask for if she was brave enough to want something. Charlie, who is now six years old plays an active role in the music industry, attending number one parties and standing side stage taking it all in. She gets to see the glitz and glamour as well as the hard work that her mother puts in to create the life she always dreamed of.
“I feel like I always want all of the parts of my life, that I love, to feed into each other. It’s too hard to compartmentalize,” she explains. “It’s beautiful for Charlie to get to listen to new mixes in the backseat and her to tell me what her favorite song of Madison’s is. It’s really cool to be at a Madison show and Madison dancing in a corner with Charlie. I like it when the lines are blurred between personal life and work a little bit, because I can’t turn my heart on and off, that way I don’t have to, I just keep my heart on in every room I go in.”
As usual, we finish our conversation by asking what advice our Woman of the Month would give to any young people looking to pursue a career in the music industry and boy did she deliver some prolific enlightenment. “My advice is to trust yourself and trust your taste, I think that’s really what creativity is. One thing that I would tell Charlie is that, if there is something you have a little bit of an ego or an opinion about, follow that, that’s how I got here as a songwriter. I always had an opinion about what song I wanted to come out as the next single. I always had an opinion about what the cover of a record should look like, even at a very young age,” Galyon says.
“That’s what I would tell young female creatives. If there is something that you have a little bit of an ego about, don’t be ashamed of that. That might be your self’s way of telling you what you should be putting your time and effort into. Your ego, if handled responsibly, can be your compass to what you should be doing with your time and creativity.”
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