Interview: Priscilla Block Loves Hard, Breaks Harder on Debut EP
Raleigh, N.C., native Priscilla Block was set on making a career in music from a young age -- so much so that she packed up and moved the 500 or so miles west to Nashville right out of high school. It was a dream inspired in part, she shares, by Taylor Swift.
"A huge reason why I moved to Nashville was because of Taylor Swift," Block shares in a phone call. "I mean, her songs were the first ones that I learned on guitar [and were] why I wanted to write songs, why I wanted to do it."
Block struggled during her first year in Music City, though: "I was this 18-year-old girl, had no clue what I was doing," she recounts, and working full-time at a yogurt shop and attending community college at night left little time for furthering her long-term career plans. But just as she was ready to give up, the universe sent her a little sign.
"It was the day that I had a full on, like, 'I should maybe go back home' call," Block remembers. She was headed from the yogurt shop to a nighttime class, wearing a Swift shirt, when -- no joke -- Swift drove by.
"She saw me walking across the street and pulled her car over and waved me down and was like, 'Hey, oh my gosh, I love your your T-shirt,'" Block recalls. "And it was -- I mean, it's absolutely crazy. And, I swear, I looked at her and I was just like, 'Thank you so much' -- like, 'Thank you from the bottom of my heart.'
"And I went to class that night ... and I was sitting down in class, and I was like, 'All right, I'm going to do it. And I'm going to quit my job, I'm going to quit school. And I am going to go give music a legit shot,'" she concludes. "So, that was it."
In another twist of fate, when Block signed her major-label record deal in 2020, she signed with the Nashville division of Universal Music Group -- Swift's label home since 2018.
That deal, too, followed a period of struggle for Block, who, in 2020, found herself "broker than I have ever been" and forced to move out of her apartment. "I was just grinding," she adds, explaining that she even went as far as making up a fake booking company and pretending to be a booking agent working on her behalf to try and get a leg up.
"I was writing my butt off in Nashville, I was working every odd-end job, I was playing every show that anybody would let me play," Block adds. "I'm just kind of, like, doing the thing."
Left without opportunities to play live due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Block began uploading some of her songs to the video-focused social media platform TikTok. Users were more than receptive of songs such as "Thick Thighs" and "Just About Over You," the latter of which fans helped fund the recording of, then pushed up the all-genre iTunes chart upon its official release.
"It's overwhelming. It's like, 'Oh my gosh, people get it and people see it,'" Block admits of that sudden success. "You know, it's like, I believed in myself and in this for a long time, but it's -- until you get that validation and the excitement from other people, that's really when it feels like it's paying off."
"Just About Over You" is one of six songs on Block's first major-label EP, a self-titled project, released on Friday (April 30). She co-wrote all six songs with a set of close friends: Stone Aielli, Robbie Artress, Josh Beale, Kate Hastings, Sarah Jones and Emily Kroll.
"None of them have publishing deals, [so] it's really cool for all of us to see this come to life. And even with my producers, this is their first label project, and so it's really exciting for all of the people involved," Block notes. "[After "Just About Over You" took off and I signed my deal], it was like, 'Why switch it up now?'
"I'm so excited to go into rooms with amazing, super-successful songwriters," she clarifies. "But I think there is something in the songwriters that I am working with right now that that creates the music that I need to put out right now."
It's easiest to describe that music by using one of Priscilla Block's song titles: "Sad Girls Do Sad Things." That's not to say that the EP is full of melancholic, downtempo material -- but there's a lot of heartbreak.
"I am the kind of girl that, I love so hard, and I break harder. And these songs were all kind of written around the same time of my life: just being really, really heartbroken," Block says, noting that the heartbreak wasn't only of the romantic variety, but also of the "heartbreaks of life -- you know, when you think things are going to be different than they [turn out to be]" variety.
"I think it was important for me to show this side of myself to the world," Block continues, "because, you know, I put out songs like "Thick Thighs" and "PMS," and if I am a 'what you see is what you get' girl, I want to be able to put out the super-vulnerable stuff, too."
Block will celebrate the release of her new EP with another major milestone: She'll make her Grand Ole Opry debut on Saturday (May 1).
"I am a mix between 'super-duper excited' and 'I might throw up' -- like, I'm so nervous," Block admits. "I'm honored that I even get to have this opportunity. This is something that I've dreamed up since I knew what Nashville was."
The Priscilla Block EP is available to stream and download now.
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