Why did you want to get into music?
I think music was always part of what made me who I am. I was enamored with music since I was a baby and when I was a kid I walked around hearing and humming melodies everywhere. My parents played melody-driven music for me and my brother when we were young, like the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Melody was so interesting to me and it seemed just as belonging in the world as air was. I started playing guitar around 11 years old and fell in love with it. The marriage of my love for melody and love for the guitar was the perfect recipe for my then growing adoration of songwriting. So I think the best way to say it is I didn’t get into music, but music got into me and then it just became part of who I am and I hung on to that with devotion ever since.
What was your first musical experience?
I was only a baby at the time so I don’t remember this, but my parents told me that they used to put on Sports by Huey Lewis and I would move around like crazy while crawling on the floor. It’s pretty funny because even when I hear “The Heart Of Rock & Roll” now, it still gets me moving. I do have early memories of my parents’ record player and a lot of rock and roll. I also think hearing my mom play the piano and sing and knowing that she also wrote songs was something that deeply affected my love for music early on.
Who are your favorite names in music right now?
Lately I’ve been listening to Joey + Rory a lot. Their story is so touching and tragic, but it’s so beautiful how their music lives on and their songwriting is just pristine. I’ve also just gotten really into Chris Stapleton. My friend in Nashville told me about him some years ago before he got famous and I heard a few of his songs and thought, yes, he’s real. I was at the Grammys when I saw him win his awards the past couple years and his journey has been inspiring to me as an artist. But I just got into his music on a deeper level recently and I keep wanting more. I also know one of my favorites, Jonny Lang has a new album coming out this year so I’ve been listening to some of his older albums and just love his soulfulness.
What was your first concert?
My first major concert at an amphitheater was Hanson when I was about 13 years old at the Shoreline in Mountain View, California. They’re still one of my favorite bands and songwriters and I’ve enjoyed watching their journey as independent artists and entrepreneurs. I remember that concert well because I was overwhelmed with excitement of hearing and seeing them on such a huge stage. Their energy was incredible and I think in hindsight it must have been significant for me to see kids my own age doing what they loved on such a large scale. I’m sure it lit a fire in me to want to perform live and how amazing that seemed.
How does music make you feel powerful?
I love this question because if there’s one word I would use to describe music, it’s powerful. Two scenarios come to mind. The first one is the process of songwriting. During the creation phase when I’m writing a song, that is the time when I feel most connected to God, to a higher power that is beaming inspiration to my head and heart and to my voice and my fingers on the guitar, so to speak. This is an incredibly powerful feeling because while I’m writing a song, it’s a very healing experience. No matter what the subject or vibe is, if the emotion is there, there is power in the healing aspect of songwriting. In a second scenario, being able to take that creation and share it with others, performing it live or translating it from a recording to someone’s ears, is also a powerful exchange because I feel like I’m passing on the healing that I’ve received to someone else. The song might make them cry or smile or just tap their foot or relax for a minute, but I’m grateful that something that I created can actually make someone feel something and possibly be healing in turn. If I hear a lyric in someone’s song that makes my memory flash to something personal in my life and feel something because of that, that’s pretty powerful, and what it means is we’re forever connected. I think there is a interconnection with people on a soul level and music is a fast and sure way to latch on to those wavelengths of oneness.
What is your next release going to be?
I’m so excited about my next release! I’m currently working on recording my new full-length album, which is an all-originals Christmas album. I’ve always wanted to record a Christmas album, but I was waiting for the inspiration to find me so that I could make something really special since the holiday is something close to my heart. I originally thought about recording a few classic songs, but I just kept writing and it turned into an all-originals album, which I’m really excited about sharing. This is the creative fire I was waiting for. Some songs are stylistically way outside of what I’ve done before so it’s really thrilling for me to be in the studio right now and bring these babies to life. I kind of can’t wait to shock some people! The album, Home Sweet Christmas, will be released this December.
What is most significant to you as an artist?
The most significant thing to me as an artist by far is staying true to who I am. That means, following my muse wherever it takes me and evolving naturally instead of trying to fit myself into a box. The industry can trick you into thinking you’ve got to do things a certain way or put a label on every little thing, but on my journey I’ve learned that if it doesn’t feel right, it’s simply not right. If it’s exciting to me, then that’s the way I want to go. If it’s scary to me but still interesting and promising, that’s a risk I’ll take. If it’s making me stressed out in a negative way though, forget it. Everyone is an expert in this business, right? They can tell you what’s “right” and “wrong” until the cows come home, but as an artist I’ve just got to stick with what my heart is telling me, take risks, and make music that I’m proud of. At the end of the day, I’ve learned everyone has an opinion but it doesn’t mean you always have to listen to it. And that was a learning process. Deep down I was finding out who I am and that’s important to me because God gave me my voice for a reason and it’s a precious thing, something I like to keep protected and valued. There are a lot of artists that are quick to compare themselves to others, but that kind of thing always makes me feel uneasy. You’re you so you’re not anyone else. You’d think that would be a simple concept to grasp. We’ve got to embrace that, no matter what our path is, and I hope the industry can become more accepting of that too. I trust that if I stay genuine in everything I do, there will always be people who get it. Life is meant to be good and fun so the older I get, I try not to worry about anything and just enjoy the wonderful opportunity to make and share my music with a grateful heart.