You might have heard of Eli Young Band. Or Kelly Clarkson. Or One Tree Hill. If you have heard of any of these, chances are you have met Blu Sanders and have loved Blu Sanders. Blu Sanders is a singer/songwriter from West Texas who has shared his talent with the masses with such songs as a guitarist for Eli Young Band and writer of “Get In the Car and Drive;” writer of Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill‘s “Don’t Rush;” and One Tree Hill season 7, episode 2′s “Hands.” We got the chance to sit down with Blu and talk to him about his career, life, performing, writing, and even his “not safe for work” texting … Read on to learn more about this multi-talented artist who we were so fortunate to get to know!
KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you became a singer/songwriter?
Blu: Well…the super short version is I discovered I could sing when I was a senior in high school in El Paso, TX. That led to Austin for college and then New York as I had a few friends who made the jump there. I had met a producer when I first moved to Austin named Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead, Patty Griffin). We recorded a few songs together. Years later he was in Nashville producing a Jack Ingram record and they ended up cutting a song of mine from that old session for the record. It didn’t make the proper album but found it’s way to Texas radio and indirectly got me a publishing deal. I never really considered myself a “songwriter” until then. Probably some days still don’t.
KIC: How would you describe your musical style?
Blu: I always say “white guy/acoustic guitar”.
KIC: We know that you are busy writing for other artists, but do you plan to still release your own music as well?
Blu: You know in a perfect world that’s all I’d do and people would record songs if they liked them. And of course I’ll always do that. But it’s been a while. I’m way overdue.
KIC: When you are writing songs, from where do you draw your inspiration? Do you prefer writing alone or with someone else?
Blu: I suppose I draw inspiration from the standard songwriter well: relationships I’ve ruined, girls I can’t let go of, and the rare streak of optimism for humanity. If I had to choose I’d choose to write alone, but sometimes co-writing can be really fun and the results even better. Some of my favorite songs are songs I wrote alone, and some are co-writes. Kinda depends on the day. Sometimes co-writing can dilute your personal message, so you just have to decide what you want out of a particular song.
KIC: Tell us about your song writing process. Do you write with a particular artist in mind or do you write the song and then shop around for an artist?
Blu: In the songwriting business you’re told who is looking for what, but really you try and focus on writing something decent. Some people still believe that a good song will find it’s place. Some days I believe that, some days I don’t.
KIC: Your song, “Don’t Rush,” is going to be on Kelly Clarkson’s Greatest Hits album and was performed by Kelly and Vince Gill at the CMAs. How did Kelly and Vince end up recording your song?
Blu: I’ve known the Kelly camp for a while now. My old and dear friend Aben Eubanks plays guitar in her band. Over the years I’ve thrown songs her way. For whatever reason, something clicked with Don’t Rush. It happened literally in about a month from the time she heard it to the time she recorded it which is crazy fast for the music world. I was fortunate to be able to have her hear it at all.
KIC: We know that you are multi-talented and perform as well as write. How do you decide which songs you are going to perform yourself and which songs you are going to shop around to other artists?
Blu: I don’t really make a distinction. If it feels good and makes sense for me I’ll play it.
KIC: Specifically, you, The Eli Young Band, and Ashley Arrison all recorded “Get In the Car and Drive.” How did that song make its rounds?
Blu: Within my little universe, that’s hands down the most popular song of mine. I’m not sure what it is about it. It’s simple. Not crafty. Just something honest that some people like. I started working with EYB when they were signed to the record label of my publishing company. I played a bit of guitar with them on the road. That’s how that happened. Ashley is married to Aben from Kelly’s band so that was how that happened.
KIC: What have you found to be the major differences between life on the road as a performer and life as a songwriter?
Blu: A lot more sleep in proper beds in songwriting.
KIC: Have you had to work any odd jobs?
Blu: I’ve squeaked by for the last ten years or so doing mostly music. I left Nashville in 2010 to go home for a sick Dad. I’m just getting my sea legs again in the music world. I was the P.A. on the Miranda tour last year. That’s been great to get me back in touch with everyone and to get revitalized. I’ll do that again this coming year while I figure out what in the world comes next.
KIC: What has been the biggest “pinch me” moment of your career so far?
Blu: Standing behind Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill as they get ready to sing my song at the CMAs for sure.
KIC: If you could record with anyone in music, who would be your dream collaboration? If you could write for anyone in music, who would be your dream artist to record one of your original songs?
Blu: Let’s just say Bono all around for every musical question ever.
KIC: If your life was a movie, would would play you? (And would it be called “50 Shades of Blu”?)
Blu: Ben Foster and god I hope not.
KIC: What is the one thing you want our readers to take away from this interview?
Blu: They don’t know I’m a noncommittal gemini so not that.
KIC: Is your real name Blu?
Blu: Almost. My full name is Bluford Bradford Sanders III.
KIC: All-time favorite country song?
Blu: Probably I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit. Reminds me of my dad.
KIC: What does your last text message say?
Blu: “Oh ok. Then Kinkos.” A few before that was much better but NSFW.
KIC: Guilty pleasure?
KIC: Favorite pie?
KIC: Favorite sports team?
Blu: USA Soccer
KIC: Would you rather be rich or famous?
KIC: Favorite reindeer?
Blu: Rudolph I suppose
We would like to say a very special “Thank You” to Blu, who took time to speak with us! Everyone head over to iTunes and check out/purchase Blu’s music!