When Scarlett Burke had the idea for the star-studded Make It Up As We Go podcast, she never imagined that the concept would resonate with so many people, including celebrities. Starring Miranda Lambert, Dennis Quaid, Bobby Bones, Billy Bob Thornton, and Lindsay Ell, Make It Up As We Go is a scripted country music series, with Scarlett playing the role of Charlotte Sayles, an aspiring singer-songwriter in Nashville.
Scarlett, who is also an established actress, singer and songwriter, also writes and performs the songs on Make It Up As We Go, which makes sense since the idea was born of her desire to release more music.
“I’ve been going to Nashville for years,” Scarlett told Everything Nash. “I would go like once every six weeks, and do a week of writing. I was coming back with music from wonderful Nashville songwriters and I didn’t really know what to do with the songs; I knew they weren’t like mainstream radio. But the person who I created this project with, Jared Gutstadt, said, ‘Let’s record the songs.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know why we would record them. I don’t really want to tour at this point in my life.’
“I was so afraid of speaking my truth, and I spoke it and there it was,” she continued. “The whole idea was, ‘What’s a different way to release music and get music out there, just through what everyone holds in their hand all day, every day — our phones?’ He had just finished doing a project with T-Bone Burnett and Bob Dylan for a podcast called Bear and a Banjo, and it was a similar concept. And so we took the songs that I had and created a story arc around them. The songs were written long before the podcast.”
Even in Scarlett’s wildest dreams, she never imagined having so many celebrities agree to appear in Make It Up As We Go.
“I don’t understand how we got so lucky to get this incredible ensemble of actors,” Scarlett shared. “With Miranda, I think she related to the character, moving from Texas to Nashville and taking that leap. And then I think also with the music, I think she related to that too. She’s definitely been a huge inspiration in my songwriting, so I hope that she heard it and it reached her.”
While 2020 might seem like the perfect year to launch Make It Up As We Go, since artists were forced to be off the road, she says that the idea was appealing to the celebrities in spite of the need to find another outlet for their creativity.
“I think wherever you are in your career, I think that actors or artists, they like things that are new and different, and they like creating,” Scarlett explained. “And that’s where I think we were able to get this cast. We got most of them before the COVID shut down, but then once everything shut down, and they weren’t doing anything, we dropped microphones off in nice, sanitized packages, and it was like a done deal.”
While Scarlett has plans to extend Make It Up As We Go beyond the inaugural season, she does acknowledge there’s a special nostalgia to the scripted series, especially now.
“It’s like an old radio play, and I’ve always been fascinated with them since I was in seventh or eighth grade speech class,” Scarlett recounted. “During this time of year around Halloween, my teacher would play these old radio plays from the ’40s. And it was like four scary stories, but it was all scripted and it was terrifying because the lights were off. I think when your imagination paints the picture, it makes it so much more … it’s like reading a book.
“But I think being able to hear it and hear the music, it’s just like listening to a genre series,” she added. “So after that, I was always fascinated with it, and I would go look for old radio plays. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d been doing one with Miranda Lambert and Billy Bob Thornton.”
Lindsay is making her debut on Make It Up As We Go on Thursday, November 5. A new song, The song “Here’s Lookin’ At You” by Scarlett is also now available on the soundtrack. Make It Up As We Go can be found via Audio Up.