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Interview: Dylan Schneider talks Nashville Meets London, songwriting and new music

We chat to the rising US country star ahead of his upcoming UK tour.

Dylan Schneider
Credit: Dylan Schneider

Dylan Schneider may still be relatively unknown here in the UK, but he’s about to be the next big thing in country music.

After performing on stage with Brett Eldredge and gaining attention through a series of cover songs on YouTube, Schneider released his debut EP, Wannabe, in 2016. He’s just sent his latest single, How Does It Sound, to radio and next week will be heading over to the UK for his first tour here, including a headline performance at Nashville Meets London festival in Canary Wharf.

Ahead of his visit I spoke to Dylan about the festival, UK fans, his songwriting process and plans for new music.

How would you describe your music?

I get asked this question a lot and it’s always kind of interesting to me to talk about, but definitely it’s influenced by everything. Especially not only the stuff that I have released but stuff that I’ve been working on lately. It’s a lot of pop influence as well as rock heavily on some of my songs. Big, big sounds with a little sprinkle of pop. And then the lyrics and songwriting and stories are always very country. They go back to that aspect. So it’s got a little bit of everything. And some of the melodies and the rhythms are very hip-hop-inspired, but heavily country in the lyrics and the singing. But the music is rock and pop, for sure.

What can people coming to see you on your UK tour expect?

It’s gonna be really cool because it’s how I first started out, playing acoustic. I’m actually gonna do a lot of those shows acoustic by myself. And that’s kind of how my whole thing got started here in Indiana – just playing whatever I could with my acoustic guitar but still being energetic and as entertaining as I possibly can. So they can expect to have some fun and hopefully hear some music that they really like, good music, and just enjoy themselves. It’s gonna be really cool. It’s my first time over there.

How has the reaction been from fans in the UK?

Great, great reaction. It’s really cool because actually there’s a lot going on. Besides the US, the UK is in the top two, top three I think of the countries that interact with me and know what I have going on. I’ve already talked to a couple of people about am I bringing merch or am I bringing any CDs or anything like that, and they’re all super-excited to come out and see the show and meet somebody from so far away that’s finally gonna come over and hang out for a minute. It’s gonna be really cool.

 

You’re headlining Nashville Meets London while you’re here – how did you get involved with that?

I think what happened was the buyers of the festival contacted my agency WME and hooked it all up, and said they’d like to have me over there because they’d noticed I had some buzz and there was a couple of people over there who’d noticed what was going on. So they linked it all up and I got the call and the word ‘do you want to possibly go over and play a show?’ and I said, ‘oh, absolutely, I’d love to’. Summer break, July, I’m gonna take my older brother and my cousin and a couple of other people with us too and just go and enjoy London and experience it for a minute.

Do you find festival audiences are different compared to other shows you’ve played?

They can be a little different. It’s just all about the crowd and how they interact. Regardless of how it goes or what’s going on in the show, everywhere I go, even over here in the United States, each city, each state in general has a different feel. The people, the way they interact, especially meeting them at shows, it’s just very interesting to see. So I’m excited to go over there and see how they are and how they take to it. Especially with people that don’t know who I am, it’s something new and hopefully we can catch their eye and they’ll really, really like it. But it’s kind of across the board as far as the show goes and I’m just excited to go back to the acoustic thing where I first started out and do it all over again.

Your current single is How Does It Sound – can you tell us more about that?

Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of a funny story. So I had been in Nashville for about a year around the time that I actually released the song. I was writing non-stop down there, had released three little small EP projects, and wrote a lot of songs for those. And I kind of got to the point where I was burned out and I wasn’t really writing songs that I liked it, and it was discouraging to come out of these songwrites with songs like ‘oh I wouldn’t sing this, I don’t know’. So I kind of wanted to take a break for a second.

I ended up just going back at it with two of my favourite songwriters in Nashville, Jaren Johnston from The Cadillac Three who’s pretty big overseas which is crazy, and Corey Crowder as well. We went in and we wrote this song and just like that I snapped right back. We finished it in about an hour. We just wrote it. It was this cool idea about asking somebody that you love or somebody that you think you’re falling in love with, ‘what is your ideal night with me? What do you want to go on? How does it sound? What are you hearing?’ It was a sensory thing. Are we hearing the rain on the roof of the F150, obviously. Are we downtown, you can hear people screaming, you can hear people dancing, you can hear people singing along to songs? What is that scene you would want with me? It’s just a really cool way to bring that whole sensory thing in and ask a question like that. But it’s a song that I really loved, that really caught my ear and I felt like it had a great, great vibe and place on country radio.

Do you have a typical songwriting process?

It depends. Every day is different for me. Sometimes I’ll walk in and feel great and we’ll knock something out really quick. Sometimes I’ll walk in and it’ll take a little while. It will be a difficult process but we’ll end up coming out with something great, and that’s also fine. But then there’s those days where nothing is coming or you’ll write something quick or it’ll take a while and it’s not that good. It depends on the people that I’m with and the environment I’m in and everything like that, but it’s across the board, for sure.

What’s the one song you wish you’d written?

I would say probably… shoot. I actually had an answer for this question the other day and I can’t remember what it was. Let me think for like five seconds. I think it was… Die A Happy Man is one of my answers previously to this question. I’ve been asked this question a couple of times and I had a good, good answer but I can’t remember it off the top of my head. But a little while ago I said Die A Happy Man because it’s just kind of a timeless song and everybody loves it. I feel like even from a girl to a guy’s perspective it means something to each one of them. So that song, just being so powerful and having such a great message, is one that I was like, ‘man, I would definitely love to write that one’. Even if I didn’t sing it, even if it was Thomas still singing it, I would be totally fine with a number 1 song like that with an artist like that singing.

You started out doing YouTube covers and still post clips on your social media channels. Is there a favourite song you like to cover? And who would you like to cover one of your songs?

Yeah, I do. One of my favourite covers I ever did was Make You Miss Me by Sam Hunt. I also like the song H.O.L.Y. from Florida Georgia Line. When that first came out I covered it and the video went over really well, it got a lot of views. I’d love for them to cover one of my songs. I actually just wrote a song with Tyler, the lead singer from FGL, the other day and probably gonna end up recording that down the road. I’m super-excited about it. It’s a party song. But to answer your question, H.O.L.Y. was one of my favourite ones we ever put out and got a great response.

How did you get into music, and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?

So this was two separate times in my life. I was young when I really first got into music. Growing up I listened to everything from rock to hip-hop – I still love hip-hop so  much. I love it all. I never stopped liking any of it, I just got into a little country thing and kept singing there. But Nickelback was actually a huge inspiration to me when I was younger. I just loved Chad Kroeger’s voice and the banging drums and everything like that. It’s just cool music. So I kind of wanted to be a rock star when I was younger.

And then when I was about seven or eight my dad got me an electric guitar and I went to start taking lessons and everything like that. I did that for a couple of months. I think the problem was then I was so young I didn’t really have the patience, so I took a break from it for a while.

Then when I got into middle school, by the time I was 14, 15 I really, really fell in love with country. I met a lot of new friends and they liked to listen to that, so I was introduced to it. I’d always been a singer of this and that in school and I always liked to sing, so when I started singing country I found that it fit my voice well and a lot of the songs I really could relate to and wanted to live that life that they were talking about. So I stuck with it and ended up getting an acoustic guitar this time around, started teaching myself and I met one of my favourite artists, Brett Eldredge, who’s from 20 minutes from where I’m from. That was kind of the moment where I realised that I wanted to do it and go for it for real, and here we are.

What would be on your career bucket list?

Show-wise I would want to 100 per cent become a headlining artist, and hopefully do something like Kenny Chesney with all those people. I feel like that’s everybody’s dream, to headline a stadium and one in particular – Lucas Oil Stadium up in Indianapolis, because I’ve been to concerts there and it’s close to home and I’ve been to Indianapolis so many times it’s like I live there as well. So something like that would be amazing.

In terms of people to work with, Chad Kroeger from Nickelback is somebody that I would love to write with or collaborate with on a song, to have him sing with me. That would be an incredible moment. And also somebody like Justin Bieber or Post Malone. We could do a really cool cross-genre thing. Somebody like that – people I look up to and I respect, and it’s been so crazy to see guys like that who’ve been down in the industry go become the biggest things of their time and in their style. Those are some people I’d love to work with, and like I say hopefully someday get to headline a stadium show.

What does the rest of 2018 look like for you? Will there be new music at some point?

Definitely gonna be new music. I don’t know if it’s going to be a full-length album yet or not, but we’re writing right now. We’re actually gonna go down to the beach right after I get back from over there in London, and we’re gonna go write down in Alabama and hang out. Then trying to get some stuff put together for this next little project. So new music will definitely be on the way, hopefully by the fall at least. And if not we’ll have something out. But just working, trying to make sure it’s right. We’ve had so much music out so far that some people are still discovering it and it’s new to them. So we’re just kind of riding it out, meeting new people, playing our show and doing our thing with what we got, and we’re gonna release some new stuff when it’s right.

See Dylan Schneider on tour in the UK this July:

Wednesday 25th July – Bodega Social, Nottingham
Thursday 26th July – Louisiana, Bristol
Friday 28th July – Night People, Manchester
Saturday 28th July – Nashville Meets London, Canary Wharf

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