"Instagram is filled with people posting their highlight reel and constantly smiling and never admitting to their faults," the rising country singer-songwriter says. "I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I really attempt to be authentic"

By Tricia Despres
June 03, 2021 02:40 PM

Spencer Crandall knew that he shouldn't be on that football field. After two shoulder surgeries to address a slew of injuries that the Colorado native had suffered throughout the years, Crandall knew that one more big hit could mean the end of his football career.

Or, perhaps the end of so much more.

"The doctors would say, 'Yeah, that's fine, you can keep playing, but eventually you won't be able to do a pushup or throw the ball to your kids one day, so please stop," remembers the former football standout in a recent interview with PEOPLE.  "It was heartbreaking, and it was a loss of identity. There was definitely a period of time where I had to really figure out who I was."

Spencer Crandall
Spencer Crandall
| Credit: Nina Long

But in a way, this dire diagnosis paired with the mental pain of losing the career he once envisioned turned into a new, somewhat beautiful beginning for Crandall.

"I don't know if things are meant to be or whatever, but it's almost crazy how there was this guitar sitting in my dorm room that I had stared at for a whole year," remembers Crandall, who ended up never suiting up as a football player during his time at Colorado Mesa University. "At the moment, I was bored and didn't know what to do with my life. I picked it up."

And everything changed.

Soon, Crandall found himself re-learning the chords he toyed around with back in high school and started booking shows at various Colorado dive bars that would ultimately showcase his unique brand of music. After moving to Nashville in 2016, things really opened up for the independent artist as he found a fanbase over his various social media channels.

Spencer Crandall
Spencer Crandall
| Credit: Nina Long

"People, especially today, are starving for authenticity," explains the accomplished singer/songwriter, who has already built an audience of over 1.6M followers on TikTok. "Instagram is filled with people posting their highlight reel and constantly smiling and never admitting to their faults, and if you ask me, I can't relate to that stuff. I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I really attempt to be authentic and be quirky and say weird things and try to just show people who I am, because I think it's so much more relatable."

And from the sounds of it, this authenticity paired with his unique brand of music just might have him on the cusp of country music stardom. His new five-song EP Lost in the Wild includes re-imagined versions of a few fan-favorites from his album Wilderness, including a somewhat organic version "Things I Can't Say" (feat. Julia Cole), a stripped wedding version of fan-favorite "My Person" and an absolutely addictive EDM remix of the fresh-sounding "Delete All." 

"I think it's almost exhausting trying to mirror or copycat what others are doing," says Crandall, who has already notched two No. 1 album debuts on the iTunes Country Chart during his still-young career. "It gets sniffed out pretty quickly."

So, he remains true to his authentic self — and so far, Nashville and everyone else is loving it.

"Nashville is a place where people intentionally lift each other up because they want to see each other win for no other reason than to just watch somebody win," concludes Crandall, who has already shared the stage with everyone from Chris Lane and Dustin Lynch to Josh Turner. "Creatively, you can write as many songs as you want in your dorm room, but there's another level of creativity that's happening in Nashville. And I'm so glad that they embraced me and welcomed me with open arms."