Erin Rae Is Part Of A New Wave Of Feminist Country Musicians

Photo by Marcus Maddox

“Drop the ‘female’ songwriter descriptor. Just say ‘songwriter.’”

When Erin Rae was 18, she was given a guitar for her high school graduation. Imagine an alternate timeline in which she gets a duffle bag, or a laptop, or a mini fridge. Now be thankful you don't live in those timelines, and instead live in the one where she is readying to put out her second album, Putting on Airs.

“I started messing around with songwriting at my first semester in college, then I quit going to school," Rae tells me down the line from Chicago, where she was finishing up a run of three nights opening for The Mountain Goats. “I dropped out and started learning guitar and taking voice lessons. Every week, I'd write a song and go play it at open mics around Nashville."

Nashville breathes out country music. Johnny Cash gets played out of speakers tucked into the street lamps. The city's most hallowed venue, The Ryman Auditorium, began its life as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The genre's relationship with the city is more akin to religion than music. However, musically, there's more to the city than the slick, varnished pop-country coming out of Music Row, and Rae is one of many from Nashville's edges whose classic songwriting, combined with a broader production palette, is helping her push toward the mainstream. “I don't think I'm a pop-country songwriter," she says, “I wanted to try it out a little while ago, but it wasn't my thing. You kind of realize there's room for a lot of different ways to be successful."

Where Rae's country influences most clearly lie, other than the Southern lilt present in her voice, is in the depth and narrative quality of her songwriting. On her track "Bad Mind," she addresses an experience in her own childhood when, in 1996, an Alabama court ruled her aunt to be an unfit mother solely because she was gay. This could be the roots of a country song by itself, but Rae weaves it with her own experience growing up in the South in the '90s and beginning to understand her own sexuality. "I don't wanna have a bad mind," she sings in the chorus, trying to reconcile her feelings with this family trauma. “For a lot of people growing up in the South, but also in general, there's still a lot of work to do as far as people getting to be who they are without a ton of judgment. There are certain crowds where sometimes I'll say more about clearly what it is, like, 'This is a song about growing up in the South and being afraid to be who you are.' Or sometimes I'll say, 'This song's about anxiety, ha ha ha.' I don't wanna force people to go on this emotional roller coaster with me if they don't want to."

It's a song that is staggering both in its detail and its directness. A narrative that so many will understand and connect with, but one that hasn't really been sung about all that much, particularly in country music. “I grew up in an environment where I was encouraged to process things emotionally, and not everyone has that experience," Rae explains. "The responsibility for me is on a personal level, for each person to connect to their own experience so we heal whatever gets in the way of us bringing good into the world, y'know?"

Throughout our conversation, Rae is keen to mention fellow songwriters in and around her scene whom she is able to count as collaborators and friends. “A few years ago, we started getting together and having these women's songwriter nights. So we'd have snacks—must have snacks!—swap songs, sing on each other's stuff. It'd be like 20 to 30 women who are all incredible. That's been super-special." In listing the names of the people involved in this scene—Lily Hiatt, Margo Price, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Liz Cooper, and Becca Mancari—it becomes clear just how fertile it is. “To see Margo Price on SNL a couple years ago, and seeing her do her three-night stands at The Ryman where she had a bunch of us girls up to sing with her. It's inspiring to see that it's possible for this to go well!"

There is a sense that this strength in numbers is partly a reaction to country's issues with misogyny, and harassment, too. “I got introduced at this festival by a radio DJ one time a couple summers ago," Rae says. "He was like, 'Up next, let's hope her voice is as pretty as she looks in that dress!' It's like, Jesus Christ. Thank you, sir!"

In addition to stories like this, earlier this year, Nashville-based Rolling Stone journalist Marissa Moss published an expose of the history of sexual harassment and misconduct in country music radio. If anything could be said to mark the beginning of country getting its house in order, that article is surely it, but plenty is still to be done for the industry at large to properly reflect the reality on the ground; Rae says, “Where I would like to see it go is: Book more women and drop the 'female' songwriter descriptor. Just say 'songwriter.' I was talking to somebody who runs a festival, and there's still this belief that female musicians won't make as much money for the venues. But I just don't think that's true."

It used to be that country music defined itself through the mantra of “three chords and the truth," but with this new wave breaking, it might be time to broaden that definition out. As well as channeling the influence of The Carter Family, Doc Watson, and Nashville's storied history, the genre now seems to be pushing on its edges, testing its limits, and going beyond them. It still sounds like country, but it's looking forward, not back. They say a rising tide raises all boats, and Erin Rae is sailing in a particularly strong fleet right now—you feel this is her time to crest.

Below, see the exclusive NYLON premiere of Erin's new video for her album track "June Bug." Directed by respected filmmaker Josh Shoemaker (Hurray for the Riff Raff, Shovels And Rope, Alabama Shakes) the film is the perfect visual for Erin's unique psychedelic folk rock/country sound.

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale


These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Getty Images for Topshop Topman

We'll miss you

According to Business Insider, Topshop will close multiple Topshop and Topman locations in a step to avoid bankruptcy, including all 11 of its U.S. stores. In total, 23 stores will be shuttered globally.

This decision follows Topshop's recent filing for bankruptcy in the U.S., and a string of controversies surrounding the chairman of Topshop and Topman, Sir Philip Green. Last year, Green was investigated for sexual assaulting and racially abusing employees. Business Insider notes that though the brand thought it would fare much better in the States, it has not grown as quickly here as it expected. This is likely due to the successes of less expensive U.K.-based online retailers like ASOS.

Topshop stores first arrived here in 2009, and were met with crowds and excitement—for a time. The brand's dwindling success in the U.S. and declining revenue globally has been chalked up to a "challenging retail environment, changing consumer habits, and increased online competition," according to Ian Grabiner, the CEO of Topshop's parent company, Arcadia Group.

Arcadia Group is also submitting a restructuring plan for approval, which would involve negotiating lower rents for its shops and cutting pensions for employees in half. These proposals have not gone into effect yet. Grabiner said that the restructure and closings are a "tough but necessary decision for the business."

If you live in the U.S., you'll still be able to shop from the retailer online and at its wholesalers, such as Nordstrom—but it won't be the same as stepping into its stores.