CMT Interview: HARDY On His “Hixtape” Series, Getting Willie Nelson And Post Malone On A Track, Plus More

"I want to have some level of responsibility in every track being as great as it can be," says the singer/songwriter/producer

Though the second volume of his collaborative, mixtape-inspired “Hixtape” series is three-and-a-half months into its weekly, track-by-track release cycle of 33 artists on 14 tracks, HARDY — the multi-hyphenate singer-songwriter-producer-curator behind it — is already, when asked by CMT, thinking about the next creative level of excellence he’d like to reach in the series’ creative process.

“I want a pop star or hip-hop artist on it next. The song has to be right, but that’s what I want. It doesn’t matter who, but that’s what I’m thinking,” he says. Pop-to-country crossovers typically err in the vein of a polite co-sign bearing a tongue-in-cheek nod to the awkwardness of the crossover. However, if a pop or rap star were to work with HARDY, that’s not likely.

“Linkin Park’s [2000-released] Hybrid Theory is, front to back, one of the best albums ever,” he says when pressed to name a few essential pieces of his artistic inspirations. “It was released when I was nine years old,” says the 31-year-old artist. “I didn’t even understand what was being said lyrically, but rock music that was — though I didn’t realize it then — in the pop world,” spoke to me.

The “Hixtape” concept is proof of two things. Foremost, HARDY may be the most collaborated with songwriter and producer in Nashville. Moreover, it also offers — from everyone from Dierks Bentley and Marty Stuart to Ashland Craft, Lainey Wilson, and Breland being featured — a sense of the dynamic breadth, depth, and scope of styles and sounds Music City has to offer the country, Americana, and pop environments. When and where they best meet, at present — more often than not — impressively bears something of HARDY’s musical imprint.

In this conversation with CMT, discussing the creative inspiration behind the series, working on it amid quarantine and touring in support of Jason Aldean, plus how vital a mixtape series can be to the past, present, and future of country music, are discussed.

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