Here at Keepin’ It Country, we pride ourselves on introducing our fans to new country talent. We were recently introduced to Dustin Vye, a super talented musician who went from competitive gymnastics to country music. We talked to Dustin about everything from his inspirations and dream collaborations to performing country music in NYC and his forthcoming EP.
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 began performing?
DV: Performing in general has always been a significant part of my life. It really began at the age of 8 with competitive gymnastics and evolved over the years from gymnastics, to musical theater work, working with Cirque du Soleil, busking, and singing in church (I still do!). While I enjoy acrobatic work, the connection you make with an audience when performing live music is incomparable.
KIC: What is the writing process like for your music? Where do you get your inspiration from?
DV: Well, I wish I could say that I’m able to dedicate, say two hours a day to writing. It just doesn’t work that way for me. I write whenever the beginning of a song pops into my head, wherever I am. I recently wrote a song on a scrap piece of paper while riding the A train. I prefer to have a pen and paper in hand, but will also dictate lyrics and melodies into the voice recorder on my phone and later take it back to my guitar to get the music and lyrics on paper. My inspiration is the world around me, my relationships and experiences, and observations of others–both the good and bad.
KIC: I read that you went from competitive gymnastics to country music. Can you talk a little about that switch and why you settled on country?
DV: I grew up in a household that played various genres of music and country music was prominent among them. I was also introduced to mainstream country music in the mid 90’s and absolutely fell in love with it. Country music became a mainstay in my life when I sustained a back injury while competing for the Canadian National Gymnastics Team. The injury took me out of the competitive scene for a while, and I needed to channel my energy somehow, so I picked up a guitar and learned how to play. The very first songs I learned to play were by Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Alison Krauss. After a few off-the-cuff performances, I was encouraged to find a singing teacher, which eventually led me to formally study voice. Graduate studies brought me to NYC and although I trained classically, my heart was always connected to country. I found myself itching to write and perform country music. And while my back injury has long healed, I’ve kept up with my acrobatic skills, aiming for a big stage show where both the athlete and singer in me can really entertain an audience.
KIC: Have you held any odd jobs in addition to pursuing music?
DV: Oh man, what haven’t I done? There have been many–from leading bike tours, serving tables, bartending, working on a ranch, being a library assistant and personal assistant, to personal training–lots of it! I can teach anyone how to do a great squat (an essential component to independent living and one of my favorite exercises!).
KIC: You’re releasing your debut EP soon. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
DV: Yes, the EP will be released in early January. I’m really looking forward to getting it out there! There will be 5 tracks including “Country Life” and we are in the final stages of recording. I say we, because this process would not be possible without my good friend and colleague Danny Chait, who, in addition to being a very fine musician, is a master at his craft of producing and mixing.
KIC: You just released your first video for your single, “Country Life.” What was the filming and release of that like?
DV: The filming was a blast! Who wouldn’t have fun making a video for one of their songs?! We had great, hardworking people involved including the Director and Cinematographer John Ha who did a fantastic job of capturing “Country Life.” It truly is amazing how much work, time, effort, and production goes into just three minutes of a music video.
We recently brought together a bunch of folks and had a video release party before the video went live. We got a lot of really great feedback and good energy leading into the release. I am very proud of the video and excited to have people view it. I hope they like what they see!
KIC: You play shows all around NYC. What kind of reception do you receive and what’s it like being a rising country artist in the Big Apple?
DV: It really depends on the venue. It’s always a warmer reception when people are expecting to hear country music. One place I recently played had a rapper do a set right before mine, and a metal band after! It was an eclectic crowd that night which is so very NYC! We definitely changed the tone of the evening, but even the crowd that was there for the other artists appreciated our music. I read somewhere that NYC recently ranked #1 in the nation for country music sales. Country music resonates regardless of where you come from.
KIC: You can tour with two other artists – who do you put on the bill with you?
DV: Wow, it would be an honor to have Country greats Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks share their stage with me (though perhaps they are a little out of my league just starting out!). And you know, I’ve always dreamed of performing the song “Something Special” with Dolly Parton one day.
KIC: What does the rest of 2013 and 2014 hold for you musically?
DV: Lots I hope! I will continue to play in and around the city, write new music, and release videos of a couple live music performances. I also look forward to arranging some existing material. Who knows what else!
KIC; What’s one thing you’d like our readers to take away about you after reading this interview?
DV: What you see is who I really am. I’m not trying to be a persona. I love to have fun, love to laugh, and am not afraid to work hard. I hope people see that, connect with my music, and spread the word.
All time favorite country song: Not an easy question! I would say “Navajo Rug” by legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Ian Tyson. It takes me back to happy memories of early childhood and my folks throwing on the old 33 of his album, Cowboyography. And of course it’s a great song!
Favorite song to cover: “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson!
Guilty pleasure: A heaping pile of chicken wings in hot sauce.
TV addiction: I wish I had time… but I catch as much Homeland as I can…
Favorite Fast Food: You can’t go wrong with a good juicy burger!
Favorite Venue to Play: That would have to be Madison Square Garden – ha ha … Not yet! Definitely Le Chéile, an Irish bar in Manhattan, and anywhere a fun crowd can be found!
Favorite Pizza Topping: The last question is the easiest! BACON! Hands down… BACON!
Check out Dustin’s video for “Country Life” here: