Kelsea Ballerini FAULT Magazine Covershoot And Interview

Kelsea Ballerini x FAULT Magazine

Kelsea Ballerini photoshoot

Photographer: Jack Alexander

Stylist: Luci Ellis @ The Wall Group
Make-Up: Jacinta Spencer @ The Only Agency

Hair: Liam Curran @ The Only Agency using Balmain Hair Couture

Nails: Chiara Ballisai at The Only Agency

Styling assistant: Chessie Lulli 

Special thanks: Four Seasons London at Park Lane

Words: Fabio Magnocavallo

Honestly, what hasn’t Kelsea Ballerini been able to achieve? 

The singing superstar is undoubtedly one of country music’s biggest and best crossover artists, managing to capture audiences with her storytelling on a global scale. Over the course of eight years, the 29-year-old from Mascot, Tennessee, has produced four studio albums, nine platinum-selling singles, collaborated with some of music’s most celebrated names from Shania Twain to Kelly Clarkson, been nominated for three Grammy Awards, taken home two CMA’s and a Billboard Women in Music award, became the youngest member inducted into famed Grand Ole Opry since being founded in 1925, and is one of the most played country female artists on the radio today. And with all that in mind, she just made her Saturday Night Live debut on March 4. No biggie!

The world of music isn’t the only industry she’s been able to conquer as Ballerini has made time to broaden her horizons. In November 2021, she put out her debut poetry collection. Titled Feel Your Way Through, the book touched on a variety of subjects, including teaching those how to practice self-love. More recently, she became the newest face of the iconic cosmetics brand CoverGirl. Did somebody say easy, breezy, beautiful?!

As one of the most driven and hardworking stars in the game, Ballerini has been keeping fans fed with a hefty amount of material. Following 2022’s Subject To Change, which dropped in September, she surprised fans with a new EP and short film last month, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, which serves as Ballerini’s most vulnerable and personal project to date. 

Just days before her biggest headline tour across the UK, Ballerini spoke to FAULT on the set of her luxurious shoot in London about the creative process behind her two latest bodies of work, what she’s manifesting next in her career, and how it felt to wear one of her inspirations most iconic outfits.


You dropped a surprise EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, on Valentine’s Day, which also serves as a short film. Throughout the years in your career, had producing a visual project ever crossed your mind?

As a writer, I’ve always thought that bringing it to life as a visual is another way for people to interpret the song differently. And so every time I’m writing, I always have something playing in my head, whether it’s my life experience or some kind of an over-dramatised version of it. And for this piece in particular, I just have never released something so bare bones and I wanted to be able to put a visual piece that kind of explored that emotion further.

In addition to writing the songs, you also wrote and co-directed the film with Patrick Tracy. How was that experience?

I’ve written video treatments before. I wrote the treatment for “Miss Me More” and “Heartfirst” but I had never really been the one that was like, this is how I need this to look, this is the exact metaphor, this is like the coloring on all that stuff. For this short film, I wrote it down from top to finish and I send it to Pat and I was like, “Will you help me bring this to life?” It was great. I think obviously this project is really close to my heart and close to my chest, and so I feel a big responsibility to make it the most honest that I can be.

Kelsea Ballerini photoshoot

Subject To Change, your fourth studio album, came out in September while this EP followed six months later. How freshly written are the new songs?

You know, the album came out in September, but it was finished much earlier in the year. And so it kind of bookmarks my life from 26 to 28 and you hear a lot of it in the songs. Within those years, there was so much self-reflection and inwardness and kind of evaluating my relationships with myself and with the people in my life. A lot happened since I finished that record, obviously. And so this EP kind of feels like a sister project.

You must feel like you’re at your most creative after putting out two personal albums so close to one another.

I do, I do. I think songwriting is just how I process my life and so much life has happened. I feel like being able to lean on that through life’s big times and changes have been consistent for me since I started writing songs when I was 12. There’s been a lot to write about and it’s been like pouring out pretty effortlessly.

Kelsea Ballerini photoshoot

After putting out Subject To Change, what did you want fans to take away from it? I get a sense of hope listening to it.

I was in such a season of growth writing that record. From the visuals to the production, I wanted it to feel sunny. Like, I’m wearing a yellow dress on the cover. I wanted it to feel like sunshine and there’s also motion on the cover. I wanted it to feel like growth but growth isn’t always easy or pretty, you know? So I think there’s a lot of contradicting thoughts and feelings on that record, and that’s the point. That’s how you discover yourself and that’s how you discover who you’re gonna continue to grow into. I love that it kind of sounds like that in a lot of different ways and you hear it all on the 15 songs.

Kelsea Ballerini photoshoot

Do you have a personal favourite on the album? I have a top three: “Marilyn,” the album title track, and “Doin’ My Best.”

I am aligned with you on “Marilyn” and “Doin’ My Best.” They’re polar opposites, kind of. “Marilyn” is my solo write-up on the record, so it’s like my baby, just ‘cuz it’s untouched. With “Doin’ My Best,” I wrote this book of poetry I guess a year ago now and it was just the first time that I was like unabashedly honest and unfiltered. I went there on a lot of subjects matters that I hadn’t touched on before. I loved what confidence that gave me ‘cuz the reception of that was really beautiful and handled with care from people. It made me feel like I could go there the same way in my music and I feel like “Doin’ My Best” was that song on that record that was an extension of the book.

On the record, we hear you team up with Kelly Clarkson and Carly Pearce on “You’re Drunk, Go Home.” This isn’t the first time you’ve collaborated with empowering women as you have also worked with the likes of Halsey and Shania Twain. What has it been like being a part of this movement where women are really supporting women in music?

I honestly collaborate with people that inspire me, that I look up to, that are my peers, that are my friends, and they happen to be women. I like to collaborate with really talented people that are pushing boundaries and changing the game and they’re usually females.

Talking of Shania, what was it like wearing the actual dress she won a Grammy Award for in 1999?

Oh my gosh! I remember we had the idea and we couldn’t get the dress until the day before, so it was just a lot of crossing our fingers that it would fit because I’m also much taller than she is but it zipped right up and we all kind of looked at each other like, oh my gosh. And then when I saw her the next day, ‘cuz she obviously gave the blessing to take it outta the Grammy museum and ship it over, I had this photo of her reaction and she was just like, “Oh my God!” And it was a really sweet moment for her to even let me do that, to honor her. It was kind of a full-circle moment, I think because we’ve had such a beautiful mentor, mentee relationship for a while now. She’s just really involved me in her knowledge of the craft and her journey and to be able to like actually physically wear something of hers felt like another way to honor her in a way that was more than just the music. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from another artist that has really stuck with you?

I mean, there’s different advice for different things. I would say that when I put out the Kelsea record the week, the world shut down because of the pandemic and I remember I was sad for the world. I was sad about the music that I was making, I was in such a bad place with it. I remember Brad Paisley called me and he was checking in on me and making sure I was okay. He said, “Because we’re all stuck at home, you’re gonna see people go into drought and you’re gonna see people with a fire hose just keep watering the grass.” It was such a simple metaphor, but I think about it so often because it’s just about consistency and letting your journey be your journey and not comparing. I think that that’s probably the most simple poetic advice I’ve I’ve ever been given.


You’re about to start a tour across the UK. How do the crowds here differ from the States?

Rather than just being so single-oriented, which I feel like we are much more in country music in America, there seems to be a love for projects and albums here that is pretty unparalleled. For me, as a songwriter, I’m a psycho for putting an album and a track list together with a story and a concept. So to know that the fans here dive into it like that and appreciate that is really beautiful.

On March 4, you are going to be making your Saturday Night Live debut. How are you feeling? You must be buzzing!

SNL is one of those things that you hope as an artist you get to do one day because it’s just so prestigious and really credible. It’s been on my goal list since I started and it’s really incredible that it’s aligning right now with this new music. I’m excited to bring these songs to life for the first time on that stage.

You’ve done and achieved so much in your career. What is one new thing you wanna be able to add to your list of accomplishments?

I wanna win a Grammy. I love the glittery part of what I get to do, but at the end of the day, I’m a songwriter and I’m in the studio and I’m making the records, you know, it’s my craft. And I think certain things like getting SNL or getting a Grammy, those are things that fill that pot, but not the glitter pot. That really matters to me.

Where are you keeping all the plaques and awards that you’ve won?

I just moved to a new house and I decided not to put any plaques up. I only have awards up if I have a human memory attached to them. I have my Grand Ole Opry induction trophy, one of my three CMAs, and my No. 1 Hot Country Songs “Peter Pan” award. I’ve chosen to only show a couple that I have really vivid memories attached to as they warm my heart. The rest are in the storage unit.

What is your FAULT?

People pleasing. I’m really working on it and I feel like I’ve kind of metamorphosed. We’re gonna make it out of it more than I ever have in the last year and I’m proud of that. Something that I think is a filter is that before I react to anything, I question, who and what feathers am I gonna ruffle and whether it is worth it. I’m learning that most of the time.