Exclusive Interview: David Fanning

Although you may not know the name David Fanning just yet, chances are if you’ve turned on country radio recently, you’ve heard a song he’s had his hand in. Since arriving in Nashville seven years ago, he’s been working behind-the-scenes, but now, he’s confidently making the leap from one side of the microphone to the other.  And he’s got Justin Timberlake‘s endorsement.

Before moving to Nashville at the age of twenty, David Fanning grew up in Admore, Alabama, which is on the Alabama/Tennesee line, and was always surrounded by music. His family sang 50’s & 60’s Acapella music on weekends, while it was his older sister who listened to country music. In typical younger sibling fashion, David idolized his sister and wanted to be just like her. “She was in the Bryan White fan club, so I had to be like her and be in the Bryan White fanclub.” He laughs, recalling his intro to country music.

David tells us that he played shows whenever the opportunity arose, and at the age of twenty, he packed up and headed to Nashville. Upon arriving in Nashville, he met Rich Redmond, Tully Kennedy, and Kurt Allison, members of Jason Aldean‘s touring and recording band. The foursome began New Voice Entertainment and began writing and producing for new acts. Together, they’ve produced hits such as “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?,” which David describes as one his first steps into professional production.

In addition to the Thompson Square mega-hit, David also produced songs by Parmalee, including the #1 hit, “Carolina.” He laughs, recalling his earliest days in Nashville working with the band, “We wrote ‘Musta Had a Good Time’ in an RV in a parking lot…and here we are, a few years later with ‘Carolina’ being a #1 now.”

Although he’s spent the last few years writing and producing for other people, David is now turning his attention toward his own career, reflective on his time of working with others. “A lot of passion goes into working with other people,” He says. “I’ve grown by producing and I can hear what’s a hit, what’s not a hit…Every time I write with a big songwriter, I grow more.”

As he takes the leap in front of the microphone, he admits that performing was always his ultimate goal. “I’ve always had the passion for the artist…to be the star, to be on stage and have my voice heard. Everything kind of happened backwards for me with producing first.”

His voice has already been heard on SiriusXM with his acclaimed version of Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away.” However, that was never a fully intentional release. David says he received a call from Storme Warren, asking him to record a country version of the song, and it all happened in a whirlwind. “He called me up on a Tuesday morning and I cut the track that night. Then I left town to play some shows and came back on Thursday,” He recalls. “I recorded the vocals on Thursday night, sang it and mixed it. They played it for Justin on the radio on Friday morning.” Although it happened quickly, David says he feels that was for the best. “The good thing was that I didn’t have time to overthink it, which made it come across real and authentic.”

On top of David himself being happy with it, the song has been endorsed by Mr. Timberlake himself. “It is a cover so we made sure he was okay with me putting it out,” David says. “We got permission from his crew and they support it. He heard it and he loves it which is the coolest.”

When it comes to his own music, David promises a unique sound. “It’s a little bit of what I’d call modern country, but it’s a little more raw. I love all types of music, and on my favorite genres is 90’s rock, like the Goo Goo Dolls,” He says. “That’s where I’m going with it. It’s going to sound a little different than what’s out now, but in a good way. I think there’s a cool way to fit in and yet stand out.”

Although he’s currently focused on writing songs for his forthcoming debut album,  he admits that he’s open to others recording them. “I just feel like, if you write a great song that people can relate to…If an artist hears it can relate, that’s who I want to record it.” When asked who he’s love to record one of his songs, he names Tim McGraw, Justin Timberlake or someone like OneRepublic.

As he heads into 2014, he’s writing and recording for an album he hopes to release sometime in 2014. In addition, he plans to head back out on the road and play shows later this year. “The timing is finally right for me,” He says, hoping that people who hear him will both relate and opine. “I’m ready for people to actually hear me, my voice and my passion for music. I just want to put out songs that people can relate to – songs that make them happy or make them cry.”

Really, he just wants to be a country star for the people. “All of my songs have meaning and value to me,” He says. “I just want everyone who hears me to relate to what I do.”

Listen to David Fanning’s “Drink You Away” here:

*Photo credit Robert Chavers.