In the spotlight – Tyler Gelrud is a singer/songwriter based in the Bay Area (USA).
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
“My name is Tyler, it is not just my stage name, and I am currently living in the Bay Area in California. I grew up in Southern California though, and I think being so close to Los Angeles essentially forced me into music. It is difficult to grow up in that region and not have a love for some sort of art, and the energy in that space is a nice blend of fierce competition and unwavering support.”
What started you off on your musical journey? Was there anything or anyone in particular that sparked your musical fire?
“I was playing in “bands” since elementary school, but those bands consisted of creating a band name and taking a photo, there was no actual creation of music (thankfully). When I was about 17 or so, a few friends and I decided to attempt an actual band practice. When we all got together in the rehearsal space, the singer flaked (shockingly) and I decided to give singing a go. Originally slotted in as the guitarist, I quickly fell in love with singing. I am grateful the singer did not show up that day because it pushed me into a space I was so reluctant to step into. That truly was the day that the musical fire was started, I dove headfirst into singing and it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”
Over the years you’ve played in several bands/projects. What’s one thing you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
“Everything you think is wrong with the music industry is hundred times worse than you can imagine, but also, enjoy the ride and the moments as much as possible, and do not take yourself so seriously. Also for about six months I had a rat tail, which is a hairstyle you should google if you do not know it already, and I wish I could tell my younger self to NOT have done that…”
How do you feel about the current music scene?
“I love that artists have the chance to release music on their own terms. Any individual or group can put music on streaming platforms which is really fantastic, with some clever marketing as well, who knows where any one song could go. I also have been anti-album since at least 2008, so I am glad the industry is finally shifting to singles or EP-styled releases. Artists used to drop 14-song records with two good songs. Now releases are shorter, both song length and release style, which I LOVE. It is a way to respect the listener and their time/money. It also means artists have to put out consistent bangers!”
Did your sound develop naturally over time, or did you push it deliberately in a specific direction?
“It absolutely developed over time, although it has always lived in the same realm of pop/alternative. I think the influence of time, practice, and other musicians really helped me grow creatively. You need other people in the room to help challenge you and pull you into spaces that you never would have naturally ended up in.”
Do you have any hobbies that contribute to your musicality?
“I saw a massive shift in my songwriting when I picked up reading. I became a bookworm back in 2015 or so, and I mean a HUGE bookworm. I love the quote “You put good in, you get good out” as I think it applies perfectly to this. The more incredible literature I consumed, the richer my lyrics became. I actually think the three songs I released in 2016 are the most complex, lyric wise, though I do think I may have gone a bit extreme in a sense when I look back at those tracks. I have now married the two sides in a way that my lyrics are deeper without coming off too strong, if that makes sense.”
I always love hearing about the song writing process. What can you tell me about yours?
“I am one of those songwriters that can never force a song to come to me. I am envious of those who can just summon a song on command. For me, songs just appear, usually in entirety, at one moment. I have to scramble to write down the lyrics or the chords, or sing the melodies into my voice memo app on my phone. I have noticed that some songs come from personal experience, a way to conceptualize memories or moments, and sometimes they come from what I imagine I would feel in certain circumstances. The more personalized I can make the song, the more emotion I can put into it. I always like to leave breathing room for listeners to insert themselves and their experiences into the music as well. I never like to speak on the full meaning of a song, because I do not want to shatter the image of a song that a listener may have constructed.”
What inspires your writing? To what extent do you draw influence for lyrics from areas outside music?
“I tend to pull inspiration from everyday events or daydreams, honestly. I have never used politics, religion, etc as sources to pull from though. I know some fantastic artists, like U2, have made a living off of using politics and war as a source of inspiration, and I admire it. Of course I am locked in on what is happening in the world, but I cannot connect the dots between those issues and my music (for now at least).”
What social issues are you most passionate about?
“I take mental health very seriously, and it is a social issue that is far more impactful than most people realize. If I write a song that involves my struggles with mental health, or the struggles of others around me, I do so with extreme care and ensure I am not furthering the stigma behind mental health in general. The world is a scary place, and music is an amazing escape in so many ways. I want people to feel comfortable when they listen to the music I craft, even if the lyrics speak of not-so-happy topics, there is a way to do so in a respectful manner.”
What qualities do you admire in other artists?
“I love artists that respect their listeners and fans. It may sound silly, but I do think some artists take a LOT for granted. You can see when a band or artist gives their all in a song or a performance, day in and day out, and that is my favorite quality; gratitude.”
Do you ever invite people into the studio and ask their opinion or do you trust your instincts?
“When I was younger I would bring friends into the studio with me, but a lot of that was purely for support and validation, they never gave feedback. Nowadays, I like to be alone in the studio, along with the other songwriters, musicians, producers, of course. I think staying focused with the group that is involved in the process goes a long way for me.”
What was the best bit of advice, whether it be to do with music or otherwise, that you still follow today? And who gave it to you?
“A friend of mine told me to never view life in terms of finish lines, instead, view life in terms of checkpoints. This advice was given to me right after I obtained my first publishing deal, which was coupled with a cash advancement to begin work on an EP and live show. At that moment, I did feel like it was the finish line. It was the most momentum I had ever felt, it was the first time that strangers were investing in my music, it was a huge breakthrough. My friend sensed that I was feeling a bit complacent, and that advice really shattered the world around me. It is easy at a young age to feel like you accomplished things fully, but the motivating thing is, each accomplishment is a checkpoint, not the end. I am so glad I got that advice at a young age, because even today, I know there is so much left to strive for. Even if things get difficult, we just have to cross the checkpoint and look ahead to the next!”
What is the most rewarding part of making music? How would you define the word ‘success’?
“Being able to connect with people from all over the world is by far the most rewarding part of making music. I think being successful means you are motivated and excited to create and share music with the world. I know it makes my entire week when I hear from a listener that they enjoyed a song, or they connected with a lyric or moment within a track. It really is a special feeling knowing a song impacted someone on an emotional level.”
What are you currently working on that you can share with us?
“Now that ‘Young In Love’ is out in the world, I am shifting my attention to a three song EP! It is in the very early stages, but I plan to get some tracking done this winter!”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
“I truly enjoyed every single song, so picking one feels unfair! I will say, ‘The Line, Pt. 2’ by Haunt the Woods really caught me by surprise. The vocals are strong and reminded me a lot of Nothing But Thieves, a band I really love!”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“Loren James – ‘Lulabella Cinderella’. Loren is such a talented musician and I am entering the studio with him this winter to work on my new EP. ‘Lulabella Cinderalla’ is such an incredible track all around. The entire EP that song comes from is a must listen. Loren crafted every element of that EP by himself, meaning he recorded every instrument, mixed, and mastered it. So damn impressive! I am looking forward to the flavor of production he will bring to the future EP, and I highly recommend his tunes!”
(Photos by Jake Tuff and ‘Julia’ cover by Christian Pennisi.)
Written by: leancool20
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