Named one of Billboard's Top 10 Country Artists to Watch in 2014, singer-songwriter Ryan Broshear recently released his new EP, Paint It Red. The Kickstarter funded record blends both traditional sounds with more contemporary ones on it's six tracks which include his new single, "Spin Me." As the tune begins to make waves at radio, Broshear kindly took the time to speak about the EP, the single and what's ahead.
Your current single “Spin Me” is a really clever take on the beginnings of a new relationship.
I’m really excited about the song, which I was lucky to write with my producer and longtime friend Daniel Agee. “Spin Me” is the first song I recorded where someone else started the idea of it. I knew I wanted a song that talked about the early stages of a relationship and young love, but I didn’t have anything. So I went into the writing session saying what I would like to write about, but also being open to see what flowed. Turned out, Dan had something along those lines written, so he played what he had so far and I absolutely loved it. I jumped in with him and we were able to finish the song; when we were done we knew it would be an awesome element to the album. We’re real excited about how it came out.
The song is one from your latest EP, Paint It Red, which was funded via Kickstarter.
The EP came out this past summer and the fans helped raise the money for it to come to life. I was scared when we set it up because if you didn’t completely fund it, you received none of the money. But over 190 people directly funded it through Kickstarter and then dozens more helped with different things like raffles and drawings in their own communities. In the end, we met and succeeded our goal.
Initially I wanted to do a twelve song album, but we didn’t know if we could bring funding for it so we scaled it back to five songs and as we were going along we found out we could make six work, which ended up being a pretty good sized EP.
Congratulations, that really speaks to the fan base.
You wrote or co-wrote five of the six tracks?
I wrote all of the songs on my first album, with co-writes from my wife Amy, and a goal of mine with this one was to bring in songs I got to co-write with Dan. We ended up with “Spin Me” and “Friday Night in A Small Town,” which became almost like the title track to Paint It Red. I had that song in a writing folder, and shared it with him and he came up with the funky music and helped me finish it up. The one song I did not have a hand in writing is “Boots.” Justin Michael Weaver who plays lead guitar for Wynonna wrote that song with Dan. It’s a song I’ve been playing live for the last couple years and has become one of my crowd favorites, so we knew we had to cut it for this EP and it came out awesome as well.
Tyller Gummersall’s passion for music began at an extremely young age. Growing up in an artistic family on ranches in Southwest Colorado (where he still rides and helps at branding, and roundups), Gummersall got his first guitar and won his first talent contest at age eight - and from there, there was no looking back. Gummersall started taking lessons from national flat pick champion Gary Cook, fronting his own band and traveling to and from Nashville to sharpen his craft. Recently, he released his fourth album, Long Ride Home, which was produced by Lloyd Maines. Tyller graciously took the time to call and chat about his musical roots, working with a legend, the album and more.
At age eight you got your first guitar, and your path just seemed totally set.
(Laughing) I was singing since I was a little kid, like a song or two here and there with an adult band, then, when I was eight I started taking guitar lessons, and at fourteen or fifteen started playing in country cover bands and writing my own songs.
I always knew music was what I wanted to do in life, I just needed to figure out how to do it. I come from a very artistic family; my dad is an abstract painter, my mom is a photographer, my one brother is an actor and my other brother is a producer. I grew up in that type of artistic environment, so when I showed interest in pursuing music I had plenty of support to chase that dream. Not every family is encouraging in that way, so I feel very fortunate to have that.
The new album is traditional, and for being so young it’s like you have an old musical soul. Did you grow up listening to classic country?
I identified with the rural lifestyle and the rural music that went along with it from a young age, but I grew up listening to lots of different stuff. In the studio, my Dad would listen to B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Miles Davis….my middle name is even Miles. My brothers listened to Tom Petty and The Beach Boys. In terms of country, Garth Brooks, George Strait and Hank Williams Senior are huge influences; “Hey Good Lookin” was one of the first songs I learned.
At fifteen you started having experiences that most people only dream about. Lessons from Gary Cook, working with members of Ryan Adams’ and John Prine’s bands and being mentored by Tony Arrata; all leading up to working with Lloyd Maines. How did this all come about?
Between the ages of fifteen and twenty, I really started going for it as a professional singer-songwriter. I kept going back and forth to Nashville, and meeting people like Tony Arata [Garth Brook's "The Dance"], who became a mentor to me. My mom took photos of Robert Earl Keen for Cowboys and Indians magazine when he played Durango, and we got to talking with his manager, asking her who were the good guys in the business to work with. She gave us Lloyd Maines' email and we started a correspondence, which has been going on for six years now.
I kept checking in with him while I continued to work on my songwriting and travel back and forth to Nashville, where I did a lot of songwriter’s rounds. For a little while I thought maybe I just wanted to be a songwriter, so I inserted myself in that scene. But at the end of the day, what I wanted to write wasn’t necessarily what was getting played on country radio, and if you want to write in Nashville, that’s what you have to do. So I decided I could say what I wanted to say better being an artist and performing my own material. Then about a year ago, Llyod asked me to send him some songs. I sent him thirty, and he picked out eleven, which was a huge deal to me. From there we started the process of moving forward and making a record.
Being such a young artist and working with someone so revered, was it exciting, nerve wracking or a mix of emotions?
Working with Lloyd was just on a whole different level. I practiced every day before I went to Texas [to make the record] because I knew this was a big honor, and I wanted to be ready. I wasn’t necessarily nervous, but I was definitely excited and aware of what it meant to be working with someone like him. He gave me so much guidance and I learned so much from him and all of the musicians that he brought around. Both Lloyd and Pat [Manske], who played percussion on the record and engineered it, are just laid back super cool guys who were a great hang as well as incredible musicians and well put together artists. I wanted to find the good guys who do a great job, and they’re both of those things. I feel really lucky.
Growing up in a conservative environment coupled with years of art school, traveling and busking has provided the backdrop for Laura Jean Anderson’s honest songwriting, which is filled with wisdom, heartbreak, and hope. In advance of the release of the singer-songwriter’s new EP, Righteous Girl, Anderson kindly took the time to call from California and chat about her roots, those life experiences, and the EP.
Your vocals are both strong and edgy, yet ethereal. How long have you been singing and was music what you always wanted to pursue?
I’ve been singing for a while, but nothing professionally until recently. Music had always been a passion, but I didn’t grow up with a family of artists or know anyone in my community where music was their reality, so it was always kind of a far-fetched dream. Like, ‘Oh I would love to do it, but I don’t know if it’s possible.’
For a while, I just wanted to travel, experience life and be a potter or something, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. When it comes down to it, music is my tool, my way of communicating about life and experiences and feelings
Initially, you attended art school, then you did get to do some traveling. How did your time in South America influence the decision to pursue music?
I moved to California after high school and graduated college in 2013. After a while I just kind of hit a wall, so I bought one-way ticket to Ecuador. I just decided to get up and go, not having any plans - just traveling. I ended up in Peru and had all of my money stolen. I really couldn’t call anyone, especially my family, who were already like, ‘You’re crazy to take off like that.” I had brought a guitar with me and really had no other option but to play music in the town square for money. Normally, not much happened in the town [Huaraz], which is at the base of the Andes, but it just so happened that it was Peruvian independence week and the town had all of these Peruvian tourists from the bigger cities coming there. So I busked every day, all day, untiI I made enough money to go back home. During that time, something told me ‘Alright, this is what you were born to do’ and I knew I had to do music once I returned [to the US].
Already being hailed as a contender for “Americana Debut of the Year,” singer-songwriter Dori Freeman is preparing to release her self-titled, and self-penned, debut album on February 5th. Mining heartbreak, Freeman explores the push and pull of relationships via varied musical landscapes, all unified by her versatile, pristine vocals. Ahead of the album's highly anticipated release, Freeman graciously took the time to talk about her roots, the record and more.
Your voice is immaculate. How long have you been singing and when did you decide to pursue music?
First of all, thank you that’s really nice. I've been singing pretty much since I was a little kid. I didn’t do anything serious until elementary and middle school when I was in the choir. That became my main way of singing and performing until I was about nineteen or twenty when I started performing in front of people on my own. I always had the idea of singing in the back of mind, but I never knew if I would actually be able to do it. I sort of took the college route for little while, but eventually, I realized that music was what I really wanted to do.
There are many different musical styles represented on the album. Is that representation influenced by the way you grew up in Appalachia, what you listen to, or a combination?
Yeah, I think that’s largely in part to the way I grew up. I grew up in a small town in the mountains of Virginia, called Galax. The town and my family definitely had a huge impact on my style of singing and songwriting. My dad and granddad are both musicians and both were big influences on my love of music. Dad teaches traditional music for a living and plays the mandolin and fiddle [Freeman herself plays guitar]. He exposed me to many kinds of music at an early age by playing a variety of music on the record player: jazz and swing, old country, and bluegrass. My family also runs a frame shop where every Friday night there would be a traditional music show. I grew up surrounded by seeing people play bluegrass, old-time, traditional folk and mountain music. I’m very proud of where I’m from and I try to always have a touch of that in my music one way or another.
Darius Holbert is a multi-talented and multi-faceted singer-songwriter who has performed with, directed and written for Wu-Tang Clan, Bobby Brown and Everlast, among others. In addition, he is a sought after, award winning composer for film and television whose works have been featured on American Horror Story, Grey's Anatomy and Making A Scene with James Franco (season two of which he is currently scoring). As a solo artist, Holbert goes by the moniker, dariustx, and on December 11th, he released his latest project, DARIUSTX V. THE ANGELS OF GOLIAD. The new release, mixed by Ryan Rees (CeeLo Green) and mastered by Adam Boose (Dawes) is a personal, seventeen track collection that successfully blends many of his influences into an exciting and ear pleasing listen. Holbert graciously took the time to talk about the making of the record, finding the time to write, the stories behind the songs, and more.
It has been five years between this record and the last, which is a little bit longer than the typical album cycle. Was it simply a matter of finding the time, as you are an insanely busy individual.
(Laughing) Yeah, I guess so. My main gig these days is composing for film and television. I’ve really been busy and haven’t had a whole lot of time to devote to this solo project, so I snuck in some writing time and little sessions in between other gigs to get it done.
Did you do anything differently with this record, being that it is your fifth?
Yeah, it’s slightly different than the albums I’ve done in the past. The whole approach to this one was one where I leaned more heavily on my Texas and Louisiana roots. It’s not necessarily a country record per se, but it is what we like to say “country adjacent,” or “y’allternative.” There’s a lot more fiddle, there’s a great pedal steel player and a lot more of a southern country- ish vibe I guess I would say.
It definitely has that country-ish vibe, yet the listener can hear so many varied influences. You work with a lot of pop/rock artists and score tv and film, but you must appreciate many different styles of music. Where do you draw from or what inspires you?
I listen to pretty much everything. I’m not really genre specific, I love all music. I had a piano teacher growing up who said it didn’t matter what kind of music you listen as long as it’s good. I like good music and that comes from a lot of different places. I love Shostakovich as much as I do George Jones and Jeff Buckley. I love playing country and Bach and gospel stuff, it all kind of informs everything I do.
Critically acclaimed chart toppers Randy Rogers Band, whose fan base extends much farther than their home state of Texas, return with their new studio album, Nothing Shines Like Neon, on January 15th. Recorded at Cedar Creek, produced by Buddy Cannon and released on Rogers own Tommy Jackson Records (in conjunction with Thirty Tigers), the album is filled with fiddle, guitar and from the heart lyrics in classic country songs that will surely please. In anticipation of it's release, Rogers graciously took the time to talk about the album, his friend Kent Finlay and more.
The first track, "San Antone," which name checks your buddies Reckless Kelly, feels like a song you would have written....but it's a Keith Gattis tune.
I try to write as many songs as I can of course, but I was sent that song and I fell in love with it immediately. It's one of those songs where I heard it and was like 'Why didn’t I write this song myself?' I couldn't believe that I didn't write it, so I cut it.
Is there any particular reason why you chose that one to open the record?
There’s five of us in the band and we would just argue about it, so I left it up to Buddy [Cannon, the album's producer]. He picked the order.
"San Antone" has the line, “This highways sure been good to me.” Being that the road is a huge part of your life, after 200+ dates a year and 15 years, do you still enjoy it?
It's a way of life and there are better days than others. To a young songwriter, the best advice I could give is to be careful what you wish for. You know, what was my hobby turned into more than a full time job. We all still love being on the road obviously, but it hasn’t been easy and there’s been a price paid for sure, on our families and children. But we're out there playing our shows and just feel really lucky to have jobs. We have been doing this for fifteen years now, and it's all good.
You guys remain pretty consistent with your songwriting and melodies, there’s no surprise Rap or EDM, but “Rain and The Radio” has a bit more of a sultry, bluesy feel. Was that a conscious thing that you and Sean did when writing?
It was on purpose. You gotta push the envelope, to try and reinvent yourself, so that song is kind of a throwback, a nod to the sounds from 80's and 90's that I enjoyed. I love Ronnie Milsap. I love that country music that’s kind of funky and dancey, bluesy and sexy; although it's kinda hard to pull off because I don’t consider myself a very sexy person, but it's definitely an attempt! I really like the song because it stands out, it's different than some of the other stuff we’ve done. I know my wife when she first heard it was like, 'I don’t know about this' and now it's like her favorite song on the record, so I kinda hope the response will be in line with that.
The day you started recording the record was the day Kent Finlay passed. I know he was very beloved by many, but what did he mean to you?
Well, you know he was first person, besides my family, to believe in me, give me a shot, a stage to play and an opportunity. He opened the very first door I ever walked in in the music business, so he meant everything to me. We also became really close friends and for many, many years he was someone I went to for advice, somebody I told things to that I didn’t tell anybody else, a mentor of sorts. Personally, he was one of the dearest and closest people to my heart.
Gil Polk did not set out to become a songwriter, but the songs came and he gave them life. The NYC actor who started writing songs some twenty years ago in Seattle, was forever changed in India and Nashville and has recently come into his own with numerous songwriting awards. In 2015, he was NSAI’s “Ones To Watch” not once, but three times. Polk kindly took the time to chat about his journey as a songwriter, his numerous awards and what’s ahead.
You describe yourself as a "late bloomer" in terms of becoming a songwriter. When did you begin writing songs & decide songwriting was something that you wanted to pursue?
I grew up around music and have been in vocal groups all my life, but songwriting wasn’t something I ever set out to do. Songs just started coming to me about twenty years ago. I moved to New York from Seattle in 1999 with some money that I had saved and not knowing why, I just kept writing. In 2003 I entered one of my songs in the Billboard World Song Contest which was the biggest contest at the time. Months went by, and I forgot about the contest, when one day I received an award certificate in the mail. I was really excited when I saw on the certificate that I was in the top 500 in the world in Pop. I wasn’t sure what that meant, or if it was good, so I called them and asked. The woman chuckled and said ‘Uh that’s really good.’ I came to find out that quite a bit of people entered the contest and when I did the math, I learned that I was in the top half of 1% in the world. That got me thinking that maybe I was doing something right.
For more than twenty years, Sister Hazel - Ken Block, Jett Beres, Andrew Copeland, Ryan Newell and Mark Trojanowski - has built a solid musical connection with fans via their numerous albums, hit songs and live shows. They return February 19th with their thirteenth release, Lighter In The Dark, which was recorded in Nashville’s Tin Ear Studio and produced by their longtime engineer Chip Matthews. In advance of the release, Jett Beres kindly took the time to answer some questions via email about the album, the songwriting process & more.
Not every band has the longevity in the business that Sister Hazel has had; what is the key to staying together for twenty years?
Patience, Gratitude, and Acceptance: Patience creatively, professionally, and emotionally; Gratitude for the opportunity we’ve been given to make music for a living; Acceptance for who we are both in the band, and in our lives outside of it. It’s a marriage, and just like anyone married that long will tell you…It’s WORK, but if the high’s outweigh the low’s, it’s totally worth it!
Sister Hazel often had a country and maybe, Americana, feel. Was it conscious from the beginning that this record would be country or did that happen after you had the songs completed?
There are peices of all of it that make up who we are, and what our music has come to mean to people. We are five very differently influenced musicians with a love and acceptance of a wide variety of music. We understand the industry’s need to put music in a category, but after 20 years of making records, I think you should get your own category. This one is called “Hazelfied.” We play our own blend of music inspired by our Florida roots. It is Country. It is Americana. It is Rock, and pop, and Alt. Don’t put Baby in a corner.
What if anything did you do differently with this record from the other twelve?
We wrote, and wrote, and wrote for 5 years, longer than any other record. We collaborated with some of the best songwriters in the country to learn different approaches to song crafting. We opened our minds to different approaches of recording. We let go of the reins in order to stop overthinking the process. Finally, and several senses of the word, we Listened to each other.