Kansas native Erik Dylan didn’t travel to Nashville with pocket aces, rather he had to work to make his dream of being a songwriter and artist a reality. However, it’s his years of hard work that make his songs jump off the page and come to life. His songs are ones that you’ll be able to connect with on a deeper level than just tipping back a cold beer. Dylan knows what the listener wants to hear because he’s been in their shoes. He’s a fan of the genre as much as you and I and that right there makes him one of the most talented young songwriters in Nashville. In part one of our interview with him we discuss what goes into writing a song, working with Kip Moore on what could be Moore’s next radio single, and more:
When you’re writing songs are you trying to convey a common message?
It changes with the day. Sometimes the song shows up in the room because you feel something, maybe you’re going through something good bad or indifferent and so that happens and you just write what you felt that day. Those are the songs I love the most – when you walk away feeling like the song wrote you rather than you wrote the song.
I grew up in Northeast Kansas in a farming community, so that’s really close to my heart. I try to represent the people who grew up around me too. The main thing that I try to do is make my songs relatable. So if you grew up around me in my community you’d be able to relate to it. The one thing that bothers me is hearing a song on the radio that doesn’t represent the listener. And I love party songs, but I think we have to give the listener more credit. The genre is big enough to have a wide array of songs, we’re not always feeling like having a great time. Some people want to know more about their life – they work hard and they want to hear songs about that too. I try to think about my listener, and the worst thing in the world would be someone listening to my song and as I’m trying to represent them, I’ve stereotyped them into something they’re not.
That comes from people I grew up listening to – Guy Clark, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle. They proved to me that the best songwriting is always when you’re honest with yourself and the listener.
Kip’s really good at that too. When you see his crowds, he has a loyal following – he relates to them.
Speaking of Kip Moore, you wrote a song with him on his upcoming album correct?
It’s a song called “Comeback Kid.” I spun my wheels in Nashville, for seven years while my wife worked the day job and I was out trying to figure out how to break into the industry. It’s a song about having somebody behind you who will always support you.
He’s from Georgia, and I’m from Kansas, but we’re very similar other than the geography. We both grew up in middle class families and watched our families work hard. That’s the main thing about the song, it’s a tribute to the underdog. That’s what Kip loved about it too, and when I asked him to write the song with me we both fell in love with it. I’m really proud of the track and I can’t wait for the fans to hear it.
Is this a track you think could make it to radio?
The hope as a songwriter is to write a good song that gets cut. That’s where we’re at now. If you read interview with Kip, he’s regularly stating that this is one of his favorite songs that he’s ever written. I know the label likes the song, so when we talk about radio it comes down to the listeners saying that they want to hear. I hope it’s a single and I’m just glad it’s on the record. That’s a win, itself.
Is Kip then your favorite person to write with?
Kip is the one person who broke me into the Music Row industry in Nashville, by helping me out. He saw me playing at an open mic night, when I had no contacts in Nashville, just trying to get heard. So he liked it and introduced me to the people that he works with, and that’s how I got my publishing deal.
I don’t write with Kip as much as I’d like to because he’s on the road 150 days a year. There are other songwriters I love working with. I write four days a week, so I can’t name them all, but the ones that stick out off the top of my head are: Randy Montana, Victoria Banks, Troy Verges, Logan Mize.
You just played with Logan on New Years Eve right?
Yeah, we’re both from Kansas and we’re both outward about supporting where we’re from. We’re proud of where we’re from – I love the Northeast too, but I think we say thing about where we’re from that and you guys can relate to it in different ways. You might not be farming, but you’re still trying to figure out how you’re going to pay the rent. We’re just trying to be honest with our writing. As writers and artists we find the people we parallel with and support each other. It’s not a competition. You know as well as I do that, country music listeners are the best people out there because they just support the music they like – they don’t see it as a competition.
Kip’s fans are big supporters of me, because he’s told them that he believes in me and Logan’s fans are the same way. I’m the same way too, if I believe in someone I tell my listeners because I want them to hear it too.
You have some music out right now, what can you tell about your stuff?
Brett James produced those tracks with Andrew DeRoberts at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville. What I wanted to do was release five uptempo songs, that could fit the format on radio right now with. So my plan as an artist is to continue to release five songs every six months and give the people new music to listen to all the time. Rather than release a twelve song record every year and a half. I think we’re in a generation where people want to do things quicker and they’re ready for new music faster. SiriusXM and radio stations have been supporters of my music, so my goal is to have my listeners force radio to play my songs. I’m trying to have an army of people who love what I do and tell the world about it because I think that’s the strongest form of publicity you can get.
I see 2015 being a really great year. If the right record company comes along and it’s perfect I’ll sign that contract. You have to have people understand what you do and don’t try to make you into something you’re not.
Part two of our interview with Erik Dylan can be read here!
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