Kerry Degman is literally a country boy at heart. Despite wearing designer fashion in campaigns for Armani, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren and being featured in GQ, Vogue, Elle and People magazine, the 28-year-old model’s most comfortable in some flannel and jeans, strumming a guitar as he pursues a new passion as a country music singer.
After growing up in Beaverton, Oregon, just outside Portland, Degman quickly found himself traveling the world for modeling shoots. He’s lived in New York City and Los Angeles, where he was also looking to break into acting.
But Degman’s now found himself in the spotlight in Nashville, Tennessee, where he’s establishing new roots as a recording artist–and fulfilling dreams like getting the chance to open for iconic country bands like Alabama. He still finds himself hitting the road, this time to promote and perform songs from his first album, “Red Light.” Check out the music video for Degman’s song “Stuck in My Head.”
LA and Nashville are similar in that they are full of transplants from all over the world trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I'd say the big difference is the extracurricular activities.
With his sound influenced by his country faves Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks, Degman’s hardly done with modeling, recently appeared in an editorial spread for Cosmopolitan with Nick Bateman, Tyson Beckford, River Viiperi, Levi Bradley and Kevin Johnson.
In between gigs, Marriott Traveler caught up with Degman for the column Model Traveler, where we ask the industry’s top models for their best travel tips, favorite places in the world to visit and whether life in front of the camera is really as glamorous as it seems.
Why did you want to pursue a music career?
I have always really enjoyed music. I started playing trombone in middle school and then piano in high school which later lead to me picking up the guitar because it was easier to travel with.
I grew up listening to country music so when it came time to write my own songs, country music is what came out and I really enjoy the process. I guess pursuing it as a career is just what felt natural to me.
You moved to Nashville from Los Angeles to become a singer. They seem like two very different places. How would you compare the cities?
LA and Nashville are similar in that they are full of transplants from all over the world trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I’d say the big difference is the extracurricular activities. In LA I was going to the beach and chasing surf patterns up and down the coast. In Nashville I’m either hunting or fishing.
What were your favorite places to go in L.A.?
The best spot in LA to catch live music is Piano Bar in Hollywood. You can catch Austin Hanks (tours with ZZ Top) on Sundays during the summer and he often has guests show up to join him including Billy Gibbons, himself.
Now that you’ve gotten to know Nashville, what do you recommend people do there when they visit?
Nashville is best known for their hot chicken. There are a lot of places to order it but if I had to pick the place to order it, go to Hattie B’s. There is usually a very long line at the downtown location so I suggest you trek out to West Nashville at their Charlotte Pike location. It’s bigger and has more seating with smaller lines.
You’ve been all over the world with your modeling career. What are some of your favorite places?
I shot in Majorca, Spain, a few years back and had the time of my life. I had my longboard with me and winding down these narrow mountain roads overlooking the ocean around every turn was just breathtaking. I’m not saying you have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy it either. It just had some of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen.
I also love traveling within the continental U.S. I think a lot of people take for granted just how beautiful this country is. Take it from somebody that has filled his passport and seen the Eiffel Tower and the London Bridge. It is very worth a camping trip in the Grand Canyon or an overnight whitewater rafting trip down the Deschutes river.
Where have you been recently that really impressed you?
I’ve been traveling a lot throughout the South and Southeastern states recently for my music and it’s been really interesting as a guy born in the Northwest to see the history of my own country. They’re really good at posting signs at historic battle fields or the homes and birth towns of our forefathers. I remember being very intrigued as a kid learning about it in American history but actually getting to visit the towns and locations has been really awesome.
I think a lot of people take for granted just how beautiful this country is. Take it from somebody that has filled his passport and seen the Eiffel Tower and the London Bridge.
What is that one place everyone should go?
It’s really hard to answer that as everybody has a different idea of way vacation looks like. For my wife it’s a sunny white sand beach whereas I think sitting on the beach all day doing nothing is incredibly boring. If it’s a beach you want, Majorca, Spain.
If you’re like me and enjoy a thrill, rent an OHV and climb Black Bear pass in Telluride, Colorado. The danger level is as high as its altitude with breathtaking views.
Since you’re always on the go, give us some of your best travel tips. How do you like to travel?
I like to pack very light. I’ve had the airline lose my bags far too many times to check my luggage any more. If it doesn’t fit in my backpack, it’s staying at home.
Staying fit is a requisite for models. How do you do that while traveling?
I base my hotel choices off of their gym. My physical fitness is very important in my field and it’s a lot easier to stay fit with weights. Cardio can be done anywhere. I prefer to jump rope ever since my buddy and fellow model, Chad White, challenged me to get 100 double jumps in a row. He claims he got it already. Doubt it.
You’re still modeling while you’re doing the music thing. How do you balance the two?
That is what my managers do for me.
What are your thoughts on modeling? People think it’s glamorous but do you even get time to explore the places where you shoot?
It’s one of those things where you have to be optimistic and make the most of it. The first time I was in Paris I was able to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night—through my cab window on my way back to the airport.
Most of the time it’s in and out to your next job. If by glamorous you mean spending every day of your life by yourself in foreign countries where you don’t know anybody, then sure. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a blessing to work as much as I do. But sightseeing isn’t usually on the schedule.