After graduating from college, University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna Brina Kay packed her bags and moved to Nashville to pursue her passion for singing. Two years later and a slew of music under her belt, Kay released her newest single “Ghost of Christmas Past” on Oct. 31. The eerie pop track brings listeners both a feeling of Halloween and Christmas reminiscent of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Kay said she came up with the lyrics of the song in 2019, but she and her co-writers decided to make it Christmas themed, using the “Ghost of Christmas Past” to represent a hypothetical ex, after hearing a friend play a Christmas song at a songwriter workshop.
Co-writer of the song Olivia Frances said she and Kay didn’t purposely have the goal to create a Christmas-Halloween song; it just happened to be a happy accident that they came up with the peculiar sound.
“That's the fun of songwriting — you start with an idea, and then you'll end up with something similar that you started with or totally different or something that takes on a new meaning or a new message.”
Kay’s friend and producer of the song Mike Anderson said in an email that working with Kay is always productive, and her dedication to her work is what helps get their projects done.
“Working with Brina is quite pleasant overall,” Anderson said. “She is patient and dedicated, which allows us to achieve the results we desire, even if there is an obstacle or complication to overcome. Some instances we might find ourselves frustrated with the process but manage to work our way through it as a team.”
After sending “Ghost of Christmas Past” into the world, Kay is taking a break from releasing music in order for her and Anderson to produce her debut EP.
When Kay first arrived in Nashville, she said she felt a little nervous moving to a new city knowing no one there, but she soon found company in a UNL alumni group called the Nashville Huskers, a group in which they do what every Nebraskan does: watch Husker Football on Saturdays.
“I remember the first game I went to, and it was like an entire bar full of people and all in Husker gear yelling ‘Go Big Red,’ and that made it so much easier for me,” Kay said.
Kay’s advice for aspiring musicians is to follow your passion 100% and not wait around for opportunities, but create opportunities to further one’s career.
“I think music is something that you have to dive into, and you're going to make mistakes. You're not going to know what you're doing, but you have to take the initiative and take the action in order to get yourself there,” Kay said. “If you wait around for the perfect time, the perfect time will never come. You have to take control of what you want your career to be, and you might not know what's going on, but put yourself in the position and the places where success is possible.”
To hear more of Kay’s music and find out how her life has been since moving to Nashville visit her website.
This article was modified at 7:40 p.m. on Nov. 18 to clarify the lyrical message and writers of "Ghost of Christmas Past."