Silverado records artist and writer Zack Dyer caught up with us recently. As someone at the very start of his career it was fascinating to catch up on his views on song writing, Nashville and how he manages it all.
You moved to Nashville in 2015 – how different is life there than back in Minnesota?
Life in Nashville is quite different now than in Minnesota. I currently live in East Nashville with two roommates and my days consist of songwriting 3-4 times a week, playing songwriting rounds around town during the evenings, playing hefty cover shows downtown for the Nashville tourists, and then working my job as a videographer/photographer. It never stops but I love it. My social life and business have really meshed since 2014 and I can’t complain.
What are the best and worst aspects of Nashville living?
The best part of living in Nashville is being surrounded by amazing individuals who have the same dreams and goals as me. Everyone is so driven and motivated to get to the next step which ultimately steps my game up. Also, the food. I can’t forget the food. So many good places to eat in this town. The worst part of living in Nashville is probably being away from my family and friends back home in Minnesota. It’s also easy to get discouraged here so keeping the faith is important. This place is full of “ups” and “downs’ living here but I love it. They call Nashville a “10-year town”.
You have appeared on a couple of reality TV music shows. What were those experiences like? What did you learn about yourself?
I have been featured on American Idol however you will not find my audition on Youtube. I was one of those “will this contestant make it through to Hollywood or go home?” features and all of America voted on me. It was a pretty surreal experience and I was pretty damn nervous. I’ve also been a casting finalist on “The Voice” and was in LA for a week for that. Hanging by the pool everyday was the best part. Honestly, those opportunities are not even in my highlights of music career though. I’ve always wanted to grow my music career grass roots style without getting famous on a singing tv show. That’s why I love this town. Nashville is about the song. You really learn what a great song can do and how it can make you feel something.
How long have you been writing songs? What’s your inspiration?
I have been writing songs since I was 12. The first song I wrote was for my Grandma called “Ode to granny” It was so bad but she loved it. I learned a few things from my father who was a songwriter for my sister Brianna when she was signed as a Christian artist. In high school I was heavily influenced by Jack Johnson and John Mayer, and I would start writing acoustic jams and copying their licks. As a writer now, I look back to even 3 years ago and notice how much work I needed. I think we consistently evolve as writers and are constantly being influenced by everything. I consider myself a chameleon writer because I’ll write everything–Pop, Country, Soul, Funk and RnB etc.
What does your song-writing process look like? Alone? Co-writes?
My songwriting process usually consists of many steps. Everytime I go into a co-write, I have to bring an idea to the table. If I don’t, I hope to God someone else does, otherwise it can be a long day. Co-writes usually consist of 2-4 writers. Sometimes you’ll only get a verse and chorus idea after 4 hours so another session gets booked for a later date. Every write is unique. Sometimes, I’ll start a song with other writers and finish it by myself that night and text a voice memo to everyone. Somedays you write smashes and some days you talk about writing smashes. Writing a good song is tough.
We are loving your EP with Silverado. We particularly like ‘Wishful Drinking’. Tell us how that one came about?
Thank you! Wishful Drinking’ was originally written by myself and Aaron Chesling but we never finished it. About a year later, we went on a writers retreat to Gulf Shores, AL and finished it up with Mitch Mallahan and Tony Winkler. We knew we had something special when we finished.
Do you see yourself as a writer who can perform or a performer who can write?
That’s a tough question. I’d like to think I’m a performer who can write… but I’ll take either. I think to really make it in this industry, you need to be able to write. A great song will make anyone stand out.
Who are your musical influences?
MY influences are all over the place but they range from Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Jack Johnson to John Cougar and Weezer. Every time I get asked this, a new name pops up.
What does your 2017 look like? Plans etc? Ideally where will you be this time next year?
My 2017 plans consist of writing and putting together plans for an independent release and honing in on a publishing deal. I think you’ll see a change in style musically from me as an artist. I’ve been teaming up with some talented writers and producers and cannot wait to show the world what we’re working on. Meanwhile, I’m still in the trenches writing and working on some friends projects to help their careers. I’m looking forward to every moment of it!