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ASM Interview: Singer James Dunn - page 3

By Rich King on January 31, 2008

James Dunn, pictures, picture, photos, photo, pics, pic, images, image, country, music, singer, albums, lyrics, interviewsASM: How challenging is it being an indie artist? What have been some of the biggest challenges for you personally and how do you handle them?

Dunn: It is very challenging, yet the possibilities are really endless due to technology and the ability to find new music on the Internet. It's an exciting time to be an independent musician, because with a computer and an Internet connection, you can access music from someone anywhere in the world. However, with that accessibility, there is a lot more to choose from, which can make it tough to be noticed. For me, the toughest thing about being an independent artist is determining exactly how I should spend my own money to promote my music. With so many different marketing/distribution channels out there, you really want to maximize your time and investment in regards to telling people about your music. That's where good old fashioned touring comes into play — that is the best way to get fans, but that can very challenging from a financial perspective and keeping yourself in a state earning money and not losing money. Earning the money enables you to continue to record, etc. — it's an endless cycle. But I think it is a great time to be out there as an independent artist.

ASM: Tell me about your creative process when it comes time to write and record.

Dunn: Well, it's different every time, for every song. Typically, anything I write comes out of some personal experience, at the core. From that point, I begin writing ideas and try not to think about it too much. It's funny, I find that writing early in the morning, when I am really only half awake, brings out the most real thoughts and music, because you are operating on a level where you are not thinking about all of the 'real world' obligations you must attend to. You are just writing from your how you feel... and that often produces the best song ideas and melodies, in my experience. Some songs come very quickly, within 30-40 minutes, because they are really just poems that you set to music. Other songs can be crafted over a few years. You have a basic melody, and then you just build the song over time. Hopefully, at the end of the day, you have a few good tunes!

ASM: It's been said that it's difficult to classify your music genre. How would you describe your music?

Dunn: Big Americana... that's the best term I could come up with (laughs). When I was talking with one of my producers about what we wanted the record to sound like — it was hard to describe, so we just said "Big Americana" — Americana music from a lyric perspective with some rock vibe to the sound. Many of the tracks on the new record have a rock-n-roll feel...the first record is more Americana in it's style.

ASM: Is being classified a challenge for you when seeking a record label?

Dunn: Well, there are so many different genres and small labels these days that you could probably find a label that would suit any type of music. But, yes, for the major labels, they are definitely seeking one definitive sound, and for MTV or CMT, one particular look, in my opinion. Just turn on any FM format station and the songs all sound somewhat similar.

ASM: How do you overcome what the industry deems marketable?

Dunn: Hopefully, the lyrics and songs I am writing will appeal to a large audience, because they are topics that anyone has dealt with and or experienced at some point in their lives.

ASM: You've received some great exposure from CMT in the past, most recently being selected as one of America's top unsigned country/Americana/rock acts. How important is it to be recognized, particularly as a relative newcomer? Is it almost like a shot in the arm to keep the dream alive?

Dunn: It always feels great to have people notice your music, no matter who it is. Having a big TV network notice is great, because they have a large audience and it gets your music to a lot of people quickly, which is always a good thing.

ASM: Tell us about the first single from the album "Long Ride Home" and the meaning behind it.

Dunn: The first single is "Find My Way." I wrote this thinking about someone who has stood by you in tough times and it is about friendship. The older you get, there seems to be fewer and fewer people who remain in your 'inner circle' of people you trust, and I think that is just the way life is. Those people hold a special place in your life and this song is about that.

ASM: Are there advantages for you being a little older heading down this path now? With age comes wisdom perhaps?

Dunn: I don't know about that! (laughs) I really didn't start writing and playing until after college, so this is still somewhat new to me. I'm sure there will be many peaks and valleys in the journey, but that is what makes it interesting.

ASM: Most of your music seems to have a positive message attached to it. Is it important for you to be a positive role model?

Dunn: Sure, anything that can be positive is a good thing. I've always listened to music to escape from my own world and think of things in a different way. As far as being a role model, if my music were to ever make someone think positive about something or someone, then that would be great.

ASM: Tell us about the making of your new album. What can fans expect?

Dunn: I went out to Nashville with the idea of taking my sound to another level, compared to my first record, "Lonely American Dream." I wanted it to sound louder and thicker, sonically. Recording with more advance technology enabled us to do that. The album really has a bit of everything, from Americana to rock to pop to folk-type rock. I wanted to get as many different styles on there as possible to showcase my songwriting, yet still have a cohesive sounding album, where all the songs 'fit'.

ASM: Who did you work with on the album?

Dunn: I worked with Brian Layson and Tres Sasser as my producers. Brian and Tres spent quite a few years on the road with rocker Will Hoge. I had seen them play quite a few times and I was a fan of their musicianship. We got in touch and decided to work together on the record. They have been doing a lot of producing lately, and we all seemed to think alike in regards to what kind of sound was needed for the songs I wrote, and we made the record. David Henry at TrueTone Recording recorded the music, while Justin Tocket mixed the record (Marc Broussard/Radney Foster) and Richard Dodd mastered the record (Tom Petty, Wilco, Roy Orbison).

ASM: Will you be touring in support of the album? If so, where can fans expect to see you?

Dunn: I am in the process of setting up a tour and looking for some management based on this record. There will definitely be tour dates coming soon, so please check my Web site

ASM: Where are you at with the labels currently and how difficult has that process been?

Dunn: Right now, I am unsigned and seeking a deal with a label that will allow me to get out on tour to promote this record, and then hopefully cut a new record in late 2008 or early 2009. It's a tough process trying to find a label, but I hope that once the word starts to spread about this record, things will take care of themself in regards to getting signed.

ASM: What other goals do you have for the future?

Dunn: I'd like to continue making good records and expanding my audience and somehow have an impact on people's lives through music. Music has made a big difference in my life in regards to how I view the future and how I approach different areas of my life. Hearing other people's songs is inspiring, and it opens you up to see things from different points of view. It would be great to have one of my songs become a song that becomes ingrained as part of the American music landscape... just one of those songs that comes on and you instantly know who it is and remember where you were when you heard it — that would be the ultimate, to write a 'great American song' one day.

For more information on James Dunn, be sure to visit his official Web site —