Brett Young started his country career at a venue that helped Katy Perry begin her pop career. In fact, the two would occasionally share a stage.

Young tells Taste of Country that Perry, Mandy Moore and Colbie Caillat are three stars who played Hotel Cafe early in their careers. That's where he learned his craft.

"If you were a dude or a girl with a guitar and you could write songs, you could get that room," he says during his Taste of Country RISERS interview. "I mean it maybe does 100-120 people ... but in L.A. if you can get 120 people out with just you and your guitar, you're doing well."

The venue books each night 45 minutes at a time, so some nights he'd play either before or after Perry and Moore. "It was kind of the springboard for me kind of getting comfortable performing songs in front of people," he explains.

Young says his songwriting has evolved, but not changed dramatically since his early years in California. It was singer-songwriter material then, which made it easy to transition to country later. As for the pop star he'd love to collaborate with today? Yep, it's another singer-songwriter — a guy he's been fortunate to call friend.

"Gavin DeGraw, his first record is the reason that I wanted to start writing music," the Cali-native says. "The way that he says something that everybody says on a regular basis but he says it differently. It makes you kind of perk up and listen."

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