Singer-songwriter Chance McKinney has come up with a creative, although somewhat unusual strategy, for building his brand and sharing his music. “We’re releasing around nine EP’s in the next three years,” says the former school teacher. “This is an aggressive way to get outside the usual business model.”
In keeping with that idea, McKinney has released his most recent EP project, “I Squared,” and the distinct title is also an appropriate one. “I have a math background,” he explains. “And everybody does a self-titled EP so I thought this would stand out a little.” The EP features his new single, “Backyard,” an ode to the simple pleasures of life, where home can be just as enjoyable as a night on the town. The tune was pitched to him, and he immediately jumped on board because he heard something universal in the lyrics. As the song perfectly lays out in the first verse, “We don’t need no reservation/No cover, no lines tonight.” McKinney remembers, “They demoed it for us, and I was all in right away.” Now, he’s finding that the song resonates across all lines. “When I play it for audiences, it gets an identical reaction, but for different reasons,” McKinney says. “Guys hear it as a summer song, where girls hear it as the perfect date song. People relate it to their own lives.”
For McKinney, the “Backyard” message literally hits home. “I travel a ton,” he notes with a laugh. “So, every once in a while, I just want my own backyard. I can create the perfect date right there. We don’t have to go downtown or a fancy restaurant to have a good time.” The song’s accompanying music video, which has just been released, further captures that good-time feel, depicting a neighborhood backyard party in all its glory.
Actually, McKinney doesn’t get back to his home in Washington state as often as he’d prefer. He comes to Nashville on a regular basis to hone his songwriting craft. “I’m in Nashville about a week every quarter of the year,” he says. “I love going there, I make my writing appointments and I have my favorite guys that I like to write with.” Like many of his musician peers, he had to learn that co-writing was the way it’s done in Nashville. Growing up in Montana, McKinney found that there weren’t many opportunities to collaborate. But he knew that he wanted to write country songs.
“Country is predominantly what I grew up on,” McKinney says. “What I’m trying to do is mix country lyrics and a country vibe with some pop structure. You might hear some metal guitars on a few of my cuts,” he adds with a hearty laugh.
By all accounts, then, McKinney may not be your typical country artist, and not only because of background and style. He also has some out-of-the-box ideas to market himself, as evidenced by his EP release strategy. “I kind of did that out of necessity,” McKinney shares. “I’m jammed way up here in the Northwest corner of the U.S. so I need to have constant product. And these days, people want more content from an artist. You can’t wait for a long period between songs. Our strategy helps us keep track of what people like. We are using what they tell us.”
As he heads out on the road this summer, McKinney will have plenty of opportunities to perform “Backyard” and other tunes like “Why” and “Be Real,” the song that propelled him to a win on CMT’s Music City Madness competition in 2009. He has his hard work cut out for him, but he’s more than ready for the challenge. “I’m like the Rocky of country music,” he says with a hearty laugh. “If people want to think of me as an underdog, that’s fine. It’s a crazy ride,” McKinney adds. “But it’s fun to be on.”
McKinney’s single “Backyard” is available now. For more on this artist, visit his website and follow him on social media.