Interview: Musician Wes Hutchinson Shares Inspirational Stories.
by Daniel Haim
Wes Hutchinson was first introduced to us by Billboards’ Underground program. With fantastic guitar and an original sound that few musicians are able to find he is here today for a great interview at Bloginity. It’s hard to find an artist that penetrates today’s music with an undeniable timeless quality in voice and authenticity like Wes Hutchinson. His songs are saturated with melody, heart felt lyrics, and music that bridges pop & rock sensibility.
Daniel: Your music has been featured on MTV & Gossip Girl? These are huge platforms for exposure. How did these come about and how has it helped your career?
Wes: “I had two songs on Laguna Beach, which were “Beautiful Life” and “Things We Need the Most.” My co writer for those two,Reed Foehl, happened to get them in the hands of Jon Ernst who was music supervising for Laguna and found a fit for them. Gossip Girl used “Move On” and Jeremy Barnett from Buddy Buddy Music had gotten my album ‘Down In Flames’ in the hands of Alex Patsavas at Chop Shop and they found a fit for it. As far as the exposure goes, I definitely had more fans contacting me thru my website, Myspace, and downloads definitely increased. It put my music out there where the fans of those shows became fans of mine and that was a really cool thing. It was right at the time where songs in television were being used to help break artists…Grey’s Anatomy etc. Even though it was on a smaller scale for me, I’m very thankful for this exposure because it reached fans on a broader scope that I never would have reached unless I’d toured where they could have seen me play or had radio play on there stations where they lived. I’ve received emails from fans in Japan, Europe, and South America, which pretty cool too.”
Daniel: When did you realize that music is what you were meant to do?
Wes: “I was really a late bloomer with this. I didn’t pick up a guitar until high school and really didn’t push to start writing and singing until my first year in college. I’d taken a few piano lessons when I was a kid but quit to play soccer. I really wish I’d followed thru with my mom’s request to learn piano and guitar early on but I had excelled so fast with soccer that that became my passion. I enjoyed listening to music from an early age and it was a deep connection but simply hadn’t come to fruition by way of writing and singing. Everything happens in due time I guess. But I’d say that something was stirred in me my first year in college that lead me to really wanting to pursue music someway somehow. At that time I didn’t exactly know what that looked like. I’d always had a knack for writing songs and figured I’d start there. That turned into writing more songs, starting to sing, perform, and then make records and eventually moving to Nashville, TN.”
Daniel: Are there other licensing deals in the works?
Wes: “Yes. I’ve recently reconnected with Jon Ernst and a few other sups who are looking to possibly place a few more tunes if they find a fit for them. Jon is currently working on The Hills, Jockeys on Animal Planet, and a few other shows I believe. I’ve also started working with a company called AngelWerks, which is a producer friends company that has joined forces with a very successful music supervisor in the Nettwerk Music Film and TV department.”
Daniel: What influences and motivates you to write music & who are you major influences?
Wes: “What influences and motivates me to write is something that can’t be bought or sold. It’s an undying passion to reach and connect with people thru music, melody, and lyric. That is what has kept me going and knowing that no one can touch that gift or take it away from me is a beautiful thing. People can criticize the art or the performance, but they can’t touch what moves and stirs inside you to create. I’m also an optimist too which seems to work out well or seems to be what is needed to be successful in this business. I’ve had some great highlights in my career but for all the times things have worked out and come thru I’d say that there were twice as many times that things didn’t work out. Keeping the view that when one door closes another one opens, you end up making the best of what’s around and finding new opportunities to move forward. At least that’s the way I see it.
My artist influences would take up about 20 pages so I’ll spare you. I listen to a wide array of music, but my biggest influence would be songwriters. It could be simply the people who just write songs or those who are the artist and the songwriter.
Where the songs came from and how and who they were written with is what turns me on about music. It’s what keeps me enthused about continuing to create music and write songs and tell stories in those songs. Since I was a kid buying records, I’ve always been more interested in who wrote the songs. Was it the lead singer, the guitar player, the whole band, outside writers? And because of this curiosity, I think that’s lead me to being influenced heavily by the writers behind the songs.
I think I’ve also had such a good grasp on the fact that artist come and go although obviously the big ones stick around and have longevity. Songwriters can write one song or many songs that can be sung by many artists in different decades and end up being the ones that get paid the most out of the whole deal. Not that it’s about the money, but it seems to be the smartest way to make it if you have the option or talent to write.
It’s almost like you’re the brains behind the project and you let the artist go out and hash it out on the road while you stay at home, drink coffee, and write more songs in your underwear (ha) and probably get to live a little more leveled and normal life. I had the opportunity at a young age when I moved to Nashville to write with some of the most amazing writers on music row.
They’d always tell me that writing was the real estate of the music industry and I always noticed they were the ones with multiple houses or cars while the artists were out on the road barely getting by sometimes. That always stuck with me and was major influence on how I approached music, writing, and the industry.
Daniel: You released a DIY album this past February. What are the pros and cons of having done this all on your own?
Wes: “Pros- You control everything. You make all the decisions from how many albums you want to press, give away, and to how many you want to sell. You get to see the profits directly and not have to split them with a label etc. There’s a certain amount of respect and pride in that.
Cons- You control everything. If you want any help you must outsource which can be a little intense and costly at times. You have to pay for the promotion, for the pressing of the CD, and you have to constantly be out there working it. That can be very tiring and time consuming and sometimes all the work doesn’t add up when the results come in.”
Daniel: Have you started to work on a follow up?
Wes: “I recently have started writing for a new record. But I write so much with and for other artists and projects too that I never really know when it’s time for me to start working on a new record for me. But recently I’ve been working with some amazing musicians based in New York City (Marc Slutsky, Jon Cornell, Jay Barclay, and Chris Lopresto). We formed a band called ‘reel by reel’. Everyone is a super professional sideman so the musicianship is of the highest quality. It’s a great group of guys and they’re very creative and passionate. We’ve based the beginnings of it around new tunes I had already written or co written, but absolutely plan on writing some tunes together as the band develops. We just went in the studio for a few days and knocked out two songs. Check them out at www.myspace.com/reelbyreel
Daniel: What are your hopes for the next album?
Wes: I’d love to see it picked up and distributed independently but on a level where it’s promoted properly, maybe some airplay in different markets and available to those fans in those markets. Hopefully it’d allow for some touring! I’d also like to see continued placement in TV shows. My writing tends to fit that mold and I’m happy with that. I make more money from placements than I ever have from playing shows or selling records. The biggest goal for the next album would be to have a major placement with one or more new songs in a major film. That would make me happy.”
Daniel: How has the music industry changed since you started and how has your perspective about it changed?
Wes: “The industry, as you know, is ALWAYS changing and I think the biggest thing that’s changed since I started is record sales. I’ve never been on a major label so the impact that it has on artist that is used to selling millions of records won’t have the same impact for guys like me selling CDs online and out of their car at shows. With the goal being to still get your music out there and still get paid I think now, more than ever, we have to find other outlets and I think I’m well into doing that with all the placements I’ve had on television shows in the last 5 years and the placements that I intend on getting in the future. Obviously Myspace and sites as such are very encouraging to artists that are DIY because it helps bridge a gap between those DIY’s and those multiplatinum sellers and we all get a chance to reach out to listeners that may have only been reached by the major label machinery 5 to 10 years ago. My perspective is a positive one on these changes. I’m going for film and television at the moment so that’s what I’m completely focused on right now.”
Daniel: What has been, in your eyes, your greatest accomplishment so far?
Wes: “I think that my greatest accomplishment is the fact that I’ve been in the ‘Music Industry’ for 11 years officially and I’m still in it and finding ways to make a living. Whether that means getting placements, writing songs for others, or playing guitar for other artists on tour (which I enjoy too) and continuing to pay my rent and bills. I see to many people move to NYC or big cities to try and get a record deal and not succeed in a years time or something and end up getting out of the industry to do something else. This industry is about rejection and getting knocked down a lot and only those who truly love it and do it because it’s what consumes them get back up to fight and stay in it to win it.”
Daniel: Where do you see yourself in a year? five? ten?
Wes: “I see myself putting out more records. The next one hopefully with ‘reel by reel.’ I see myself continuing to get better at my instrument, my craft, and my art. I might experiment here and there with joining other bands, but I mostly see myself as one of the most sought after songwriters in the industry or in the world. Whether that’s other artists cutting my songs or me writing with or for them for their records or just getting bigger and better placements which will only help turn people on to what I do as an writer, artist, and performer.”