From Small Town Dreams to LA’s Melodic Highways: The Journey of an Americana Visionary

Photo credit Tammie Valer
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In the heart of Los Angeles, where the glimmer of stardom mingles with the echoes of dreams, resides an extraordinary songwriter and musician with roots tracing back to the serene landscapes of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Their passion for storytelling and a lifelong love affair with Americana music have sculpted a unique sound blending folk, rock, and classic country, painting vivid emotions with every chord they strum. Join us on an intimate journey as we explore their musical influences, delve into the inspiration behind their latest single “Reno,” and discover the heartfelt connection they forge with their listeners. From the poignant lyrics that capture the ebbs and flows of love to the essence of their upcoming album “Shadowboxing,” this is a tale of an artist who breathes life into melodies, crafting a soulful symphony that resonates deep within the hearts of those who lend an ear.

Please tell readers about yourself (background, etc.), musical influences, and your current projects—basically, what you would most like for them to know. 

I’m a songwriter and musician based in Los Angeles, CA. The music I make lately is Americana with elements of folk, rock and classic country.

I was born and raised in Eau Claire, WI and spent several years in Minneapolis before moving to Los Angeles. I started playing guitar and writing my own music as a teenager. After playing in a band for a few years, I went on to record a solo EP and a full-length album. I just finished work on my second album, Shadowboxing. Reno is the first song off of that record. 

Photo by Ellyn Jameson

One of the things I love most about music is the ability to share stories, build worlds, and connect with people. Some of the best moments in my life have centered around music whether as a performer, collaborator or listener. I hope it is something I’ll be able to do for a very long time.

Tell us about your new single ’Reno’ and the inspiration behind it.

Reno was written with my friend and longtime collaborator, Jordan Ruiz. He shared the initial song spark and it immediately grabbed me. We decided to finish it together and it became one of the first songs written for the new album. 

My partner (and now fiancé) is also a musician who does a lot of touring. The opening lyrics that Jordan had started really reminded me of what that long distance can feel like, and we went in on that feeling as we wrote the rest. The result was a song about the ebbs and flows in a relationship and the magnetic pull that you feel toward someone when you know what you have is special.

What was the songwriting and recording process?

After Jordan and I finished the song we made a demo and took it up to The Music Box in Idyllwild, CA. From there my partner Eric Cannata and friend Jon O’Brien produced the track. It was a sweet experience being able to work on the song with Eric because I had been thinking about our relationship while writing it. He ended up singing on the chorus and pre-chorus which was pretty special.

Overall the recording process for this song was a little different than the rest of the album because we did a few more pieces remotely. We did some recording at The Music Box, but ended up recutting a lot of the parts at home later, because we decided to move the key up a bit.

Jordan recorded guitar, bass and pedal steel and Eric and Jon added some additional elements like rubber bridge guitar and mellotron. One of my favorite elements was some of the ambient sounds that we created by running the mellotron through Jon’s Roland Space Echo. 

The drummer on the track, Dan Bailey sent in the drums he recorded at his home studio. It was Dan who had the idea to go halftime in the final chorus. That ended up being one of my favorite parts of the song. I love how it drives home a really cinematic lift at the end, like the soundtrack to the final scene in a movie. 

What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?

This has evolved over time. On my first album, I really needed a place to sit with heavy emotions and the weight of loss. Grief and grieving are very personal, unique experiences, but as the years went on I was comforted to know that those songs were able to sit with others in their grief as well.

Photo credit Tammie Valer

Lately and on this new record, I’ve allowed myself to explore a wider range of emotions. I hope people will enjoy the songs and maybe find pieces of themselves and their experiences reflected along the way. I also hope people will find joy and connection with others through the songs. If it’s a love song like this one, it would be so sweet to know that someone somewhere received it with a note that says “thinking of you”.

When did you first pick up guitar and what drew you to that instrument?

The first time I picked up guitar was as a sophomore in high school. My Dad was learning to play and his acoustic was often sitting in the living room. Singing was my first love and I really wanted to perform in the school talent show. A friend of mine offered to play guitar for me and when he backed out last minute, I decided to learn how to play the song myself. 

Once I had that very rough first performance out of the way, I was able to use the chords I had picked up to start writing. I had been writing and saving lyrics for a long time, and picking up the guitar unlocked the door to turning them into songs.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Growing up my Dad played a lot of music, some of his most played records were Van Morrison, Tracy Chapman and Patty Griffin. My mom loved pop country among other things and when she was picking the soundtrack there was a lot of Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow. Looking back on that now, I definitely see how all those artists show up in the music I make. As I dove deeper into music as a teen I developed a love for rock, and played in a pop rock band in high school. In my adult life I really grew to love artists in Folk, Country and Americana like Conor Oberst, Dolly Parton and Brandi Carlile.

What’s next?

I’m looking forward to releasing the next single off the album and sharing a lot of music and videos in the coming months. 

At the end of the month, Jordan and I will also be starting work on the next project — revisiting some of my favorite songs that didn’t make it onto this album, and exploring sounds for the next record. 

It’s a little funny to be starting work on the next album before even releasing this one, but it helps give me something to look forward to. I can’t wait to see what is going to come out of those sessions.

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