In music, originality is what allows the cream to rise to the top. When an artist stays true to themselves, that allows fans to get to know them on a deeper level.
Grayson Michael has spent that last three years exploring who he is as an artist, and has delivered the first glimpse for fans with “Runaway.”
Hear from Grayson about his journey from a concert pianist to the release of “Runaway,” and how he defines the music he is making.
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Grayson Michael: I have a journey unlike most. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a country music star. I grew up in a small town in Middle Tennessee, and actually played piano. That’s how I got into music. I started taking classical piano lessons at age 7, and figured out that I had some musical talent in me. That was the beginning for me. For a long time, I was a concert pianist. I was 13 or 14 when I won a talent show, which got me onto a radio show, which was a country music show. I grew up listening to country music, but I had never played it. I ended up on the show as a band member, and the rest is history for me with my love of country music. It was made up of old Opry stars, so they kind of brainwashed me into liking all of that old stuff (laughs).
PC: You mentioned you got your start in music at seven by taking piano lessons. What was it about music that spoke to you that early in your life, and what has kept you hooked ever since?
GM: Honestly, I don’t really know. I remember the first time I touched a piano key, it just clicked. It made sense, even at a young age, and I realized during the first minute that I just got it. At this point in my career, I’m focused less on the broad spectrum of being versed in all music, and more on who is Grayson Michael. As an artist, I’m more focused on my side of what I do, and not so much on anyone else and what they do.
PC: You’ve talked about your deep background in music. Was there a moment along the way that you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
GM: I honestly didn’t even know that you could do music for a long time or as a career (laughs). I’m from a tiny little town, and I just always knew that I was good at it, and everyone always told me that I was the best around. Keep in mind, I’m from a town of about 3,000 people, so I always wondered if I was just a big fish in a little pond, but the pond kept getting bigger, and I was still good. It was kind of just understood. Even at a young age, music wasn’t cool, but everybody knew that I was the music kid.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were leading up to the release of “Runaway”?
GM: I put out my first record three years ago under my real name, and that was a “can I do this?” record. I spent the next three years pretty much writing, gigging, and figuring out who Grayson Michael is; not what I love, but who do I want to be as an artist. This song has been a big hit as we’ve been playing it around. It’s a fun song, and for a radio-styled song, I think this is a good representation of me.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Runaway”?
GM: There’s a funny story about this song. You hear people say it sometimes, but I wrote the first verse and chorus in a dream. I woke up, and literally just spit it out. I almost couldn’t write it fast enough. I sat on that for a long time, I went into a write, and we fought with it for a couple months. We’d bring it out a couple times, but we never could get it right. I really wanted to get this song right, so we finally buckled down and did it. We’ve had it for a while, and finally got it how I wanted it, so I’m really proud of it!
PC: “Runaway” taps into the classic country sounds, but also has hints of a more modern sound as well. Is it at all important to you to showcase that level of artistic versatility at this point in your career?
GM: I definitely want people to understand that I produce my records. I’m very involved. I’m not a hands-off singer, I know what Grayson Michael is going to sound like. I’m even playing on the track. I really focused on what that sound is. I’m not a big fan of the term “traditional country,” I truly I call myself “true, modern country.”
PC: You’ve shared the stage with Chris Young and Bobby Bare. What can you take away from those experiences that can help you in your career?
GM: They’re complete opposite artists, but both very well-respected. What I like about both of those guys is that they both do what they do, and it’s unique to them. They don’t try to be anyone but themselves, and I think that’s the best thing for us young artists that are trying to make it. There’s a lot of noise, especially when you live in Nashville. There’s a lot of people around you with a lot of talent. Everyone wants to be the next big thing, but if you’re not focused on what you do with your sound, you just sound like everyone else.
PC: In the three years since you released your first album, you have mentioned that you’ve been exploring who you are as an artist. What have you learned about yourself in that time?
GM: I learned that I love country music on a deep level. I was always a history buff guy, so I know it’s important to know where you come from to know where you’re going; in any aspect of your life, especially musical. I like to Listen to Hank Williams, and I like to listen to what’s current today. I try to blend what I think country music should sound like in 2019. I listen to the radio, but I don’t let that affect my sound. I try to do what I think is the best sound I can get.
PC: What are your plans after “Runaway”? Do you plan to add it to an album, EP, or album in the future?
GM: We’re planning to stagger out a couple singles in a row this year. We might bundle it on an EP, but there’s some other stuff that’s going to happen, but I can’t talk about it yet!
PC: What are you plans for the rest of 2019?
GM: We’re looking to book a bunch of shows. I’ve been playing a lot by myself in surrounding states, so I’m hoping to take a band around more, branch off and get further away and bring music to people!