Many Pretty Little Liars viewers know Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery, a loveable and quirky Rosewood high school student with a penchant for poetry, feather earrings, and scone-crushing. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering how the 24-year-old recently won a 2014 People’s Choice Award for her vibrant portrayal of the vulnerable character. However there’s a lot more to Lucy than starring on a hit ABC Family series. For starters, she’s as humble and sweet as homemade pie. When she’s not chasing down A on the set of PLL, Lucy is usually raising awareness on important issues, making time for fans who’ve supported her along the way, and joking around with her best pals.
Then of course, there’s the thrilling new chapter in her life: a debut album with DMG Nashville/Bigger Picture Group, which showcases both her powerhouse vocal abilities and prowess as a writer. Lucy actually began her career as a singer and even competed on the reality TV competition, American Juniors, which was hosted at the time by Ryan Seacrest. (FYI, Lucy won!) Now, many years later, after taking a detour into acting and achieving mega stardom in television and film, the Tennessee native is right back in the saddle, exploring the very reason she moved to Hollywood: her passion for music!
We caught up with the country darling to gain more insight into her songwriting process and catchy tunes, and to get the scoop on her upcoming adventures. Check out the exclusive interview below and head on over to Lucy’s official site for clips, videos, pics, and more! (Oh, and be sure to order her first single off the album, lovelies. We guarantee it’ll have you tapping your foot and clapping your hands in no time!)
Alloy Entertainment: Honestly, we don’t even know where to begin congratulating you. Your single landing at #1 on the charts? Your PCA win? The PLL premiere? You’ve had a great week!
Lucy Hale: It’s been such a whirlwind. It’s a good week for sure!
Alloy Entertainment: We’re sure you’re freaking out over performing at the Grand Ole Opry, but we are also freaking out on your behalf. So many country legends from Dolly Parton to Loretta Lynn have played there! Do you have any specific memories of the Opry that still resonate with you to this day?
Lucy Hale: Aww! So you appreciate the Opry too? A lot of the performance I caught on radio, but I recently just visited it for the first time. I’ve obviously watched videos and I know the whole history of the place, and who’s performed. Actually, the first person I saw perform there was Carrie Underwood. We were sitting at the sides of the stage and I’m like, “Wow! I can’t wait to hopefully get an opportunity to perform here.” So I was on a plane yesterday and I received an email from my manager notifying me that I had been invited to sing there in February . I was by myself so I couldn’t scream or cry with anyone, but I’m pretty sure I got a couple of looks from nearby passengers probably thinking, ‘What is this girl’s problem?’ (laughs) For me, it can’t get any better than this. I can’t believe it!
Alloy Entertainment: Honestly, we can’t stop listening to your songs. Not only are the melodies fun and memorable, but the lyrics are so genuine and self-reflective. Is there a particular lyrical moment from the album that you’re especially proud of?
Lucy Hale:Thank you for saying that because that’s why I enjoy country music — these are songs that tell stories and songs that make you feel any emotion. They stick with you for a long time. As for a favorite lyric off my album, there’s a song called “Road Between” and it’s sort of the one that’s most personal to me [and] kind of describes where I’m at in life right now. But to be more specific, there’s a lyric in a song called “Nervous Girl,” which is another favorite of mine, that says: “I’m beautifully strong and tragically confused.” That perfectly describes me too. At the end of the day, I’m still figuring things out and growing up.
Alloy Entertainment: We love that you mentioned “Road Between” because there’s a lyric in there that really struck a chord with us: “I’m still getting to the good part / the breaking down / learning how to write my story.” Based on that coming-of-age revelation, what’s one thing you let go of in 2013 and one adventure you’re looking forward to in 2014?
Lucy Hale: One thing I learned in 2013 is that you are who you walk with, and I spent the year surrounding myself with people who only bettered me. I think a lot of people’s goal in life is to try to be the best possible version of themselves, whether it be in a relationship or with friends, or decisions that you make…you know? It’s sort of what “Road Between” is about.
And one adventure I’m hoping to have? Well I’m kind of on a dream musical journey right now. Although we’ve been working on the album for a while, but everything is starting to happen now. Actually my resolution for this year was to slow down and enjoy every single second and soak it all in. I had a fantastic year [in 2013], but I tend to worry a lot and think in terms of the future — which is good, but it also makes you miss those little special moments. For example, this past week [January 7] was unbelievable, and I’m happy that I was able to pause every now and then and appreciate every bit of it.
Alloy Entertainment: That’s such a lovely philosophy! Can we also just say how nice it is that you share snapshots of these adventures with your fans on social media? It makes everyone feel like they’re on this incredible journey with you.
Lucy Hale: Well that’s the thing. I started out in music because I love it, but if it can appeal to people, that’s the cherry on top. And what’s cool is that I have all these supporters that know me from PLL that have been [cheering] me on and it truly is like our little journey. I would absolutely not have this opportunity if it was not for the viewers watching the show, buying the songs and tweeting me. The album is for them as well and I think the songs speak to them.
Alloy Entertainment: What message or theme do you hope listeners take away from the album?
Lucy Hale: Ultimately, I just want people to get a better idea of who I really am. “Nervous Girl” says it so clearly. We’re all trying to figure ourselves out and a lot of people think I already do. Doing what I do, you have to act like you have it all together, but sometimes I don’t. I struggle with the same things as many other girls.
Alloy Entertainment: Our favorite song that you’ve released so far is “From the Backseat.” The imagery is vivid and the overall sentiment is beautiful. Will the album feature any more heartfelt stories about your childhood and growing up in Memphis?
Lucy Hale: Yea! There’s a song that will be included as a bonus track and it’s titled, “Feels Like Home.” It’s about my roots and how everyone needs a little bit of home sometimes.
Alloy Entertainment: If you don’t mind us asking, when you think of “home” what are three things that spring to mind?
Lucy Hale: Humidity for starters (laughs). My grandparents’ cabin. And my mom scratching my back.
Alloy Entertainment: Now for some rapid fire questions! During her Red Tour, Taylor Swift goes into this monologue about her favorite “hairbrush song” — the track she loves to belt out while getting ready? What is that song for you?
Lucy Hale: (with a slight country twang) “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain. It’s a go-to song for sure. The guys even sing it!
Alloy Entertainment: Have you had any funny fan interactions while on tour so far?
Lucy Hale: The band and I were playing [a concert] in Nashville and this girl brought me this huge, inflatable unicorn head. She carried it in a box and started to blow it up so that by the time she got to me in line, it was already ready to go. So that was cool. (laughs) It’s still in my apartment!
Alloy Entertainment: Your PLL co-star Sasha Pieterse is also a country artist. Would you ever consider recording a duet with her?
Lucy Hale: Yea! I think that she’s super talented and I just love music so I would collaborate with anyone. If she was willing to down the line, I could see that as being a possibility. And you know what? She’s so supportive of me and is just a doll. I love that girl to death. We’ve created a cool little family [on set].
Alloy Entertainment: Not sure if you’re aware, but there are tons of fan tributes on YouTube dedicated to Ezra and Aria (among other PLL couples), and these videos are basically montages set to an awesome song. If you could create a video for any fictional couple on television using your song “You Sound Good To Me,” who would you pick?
Lucy Hale: Wow! It’s hard for me because I don’t watch that much TV, but definitely not Aria and Ezra, that’s for sure! (laughs) [However,] I’ve seen some of the Ezria videos and they are great.
Alloy Entertainment: How about we narrow it down a show you’d love your music to be featured on? Do you still watch Nashville?
Lucy Hale: I haven’t watched it in what feels like forever, but heeeey, if Nashville wants to use my songs, I’m not going to be mad about it. Let’s just say that because it goes with the theme.
Alloy Entertainment: While we’re on the topic, what are your top three favorite places to visit in Nashville? Have you been to Santa’s Pub yet?
Lucy Hale: I’ve never been to Santa Pub, but my friend lives in Nashville and that’s the first thing on my list next time I’m there. Well mainly, the first thing I do is visit my family because they all live in the area. There’s also this really great coffeehouse called Fido, which I thought was a pet store for a while but it’s not. It’s near the Pancake Pantry, which is amazing as well. As for my third choice, I’d have to say Blackbird Studios. It’s where we recorded some of the album, but I would totally hang out there. It’s so vibe-y and has all this Beatles memorabilia — it’s a wonderful place.
Alloy Entertainment: Ha! We can already envision a scene set at the Bluebird Cafe! And now are you ready for the most random question ever? You presented at PCA 2014 with Joseph Morgan who stars on one of our other shows, The Originals. Fans a.k.a. me want to know what it was like hanging out with him backstage?
Lucy Hale: (laughs) Basically you’re like “It’s mainly for me…” But to answer that, he’s so cool! I haven’t caught his show yet, but people are obsessed with him. And he was so kind. We chatted for thirty minutes beforehand and he had just gotten into town and had to fly back to Atlanta after the event. You never know how people are going to be like in real life….especially really attractive guys! You just never know. [However,] he was super down-to-earth and he has that fabulous British accent. I have only nice things to say about him.
Alloy Entertainment: And of course our last question is PLL-related. In the winter premiere, we saw Aria at Ezra’s cabin, acting all emo and standing by the window and staring at her reflection. Can you tease anything about her storyline in Season 4B?
Lucy Hale: (in a cryptic voice) It only gets daaaarker. Aria especially is in a very dark place for the remainder of the season, which for me was exciting to play as an actress — to show a different side of her — so things get a little emotional. I’ll just say there’s a lot of things that she’s dealing with and I’ll let you take that as you will.
What’s your favorite thing about Lucy Hale? Which of her songs are you currently have on replay? Tell us in a comment below, and be sure to check out Lucy’s smash hit “You Sound Good for Me” and follow her official twitter account, @lucyhale, for more updates!
Theo is a television enthusiast/digital editor and avid fang fan at Alloy Entertainment. A conspiracy theorist at heart, this Greek gal is constantly on the look-out for horcruxes and is still trying to make sense of Lost Season 6. Follow her musings on entertainment at @theodorag13.