Interview | FFS 5 with Kyle Daniel

Photo courtesy of Baby Robot Media

What’s there to say when you’ve conceded to the hardships of life? Kyle Daniel wrestles with this question throughout his sophomore EP, aptly titled What’s There to Say?. Delivering his message via bright melodies and a wall of electric guitar, Daniel navigates the trials and tribulations of being a working musician, failed relationships, being surrounded by addiction and growing up in modern-day America. Wearing his heart on a tattered sleeve, he pairs everyman lyricism with a rusty vocal akin to Blackberry Smoke, Will Hoge and Chris Stapleton, bristled with a warm guitar bravado. It comes as no surprise that he’s road-dogged as a guitarist for Clare Dunn, Jimmy Hall and Casey James, as well as opened for the likes of Jason Isbell and Miranda Lambert. These are rich, authentic stories told from the perspective of someone who’s wrestled with the ups and downs of being a touring musician.

His new project carries with it tremendous gravitas, particularly in a time when truth is under the microscope. Daniel draws upon the uncertainty of an ever-evolving music scene, currently in a state of transition especially in the age of streaming. “You learn to take the victories as they come and be proud of those,” he says, considering the weight of his new music and the past year of his personal life. “Born to Lose” ignites the set from inside out, as he turns his gaze on the taboo topic of addiction and its omniscience in our everyday lives.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

I am originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky and I started playing music after a sports injury when I was 16 years old. When I caught the bug, it took over my entire life and it’s really all I thought about doing. Obsessed would be an understatement. I constantly listened to guitar players and tried to emulate what they did. I practiced hours on end to hone my craft and try to get better. I think some of the most defining moments in my career were when I placed in the finals at the International Blues Challenge at 18 years old, when I got to play the Grand Ole Opry for the first time, when I went on tour opening up for Bob Seger and Miranda Lambert, and when Rolling Stone showed this current project a ton of love last year including the title of one of the “Top 10 best country EP’s of 2018.”

As an artist, how do you define success?

I think as an artist, I find joy in celebrating all of the small successes as they happen. It’s a tough game we play and sometimes it can be very uninspiring to feel stagnant, or that your career is not going anywhere, so it’s good to reward yourself emotionally as positive things happen. One thing I would consider to be a great success would be to jump across the pond and play all over the U.K.!

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

Getting people to listen. We live in such an on demand world, it’s hard to catch someone’s ear because there is so much content to be discovered. My newest record is roughly 15 minutes long, and you’d be surprised how hard it is to get someone to carve out that short amount of time just to take a listen.

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?

My goal is to reach as many people as possible with a positive impact. With all the negativity in the world, I just hope to be a small piece of positivity in everyday life (even in the sad songs). I think being able to relate to people is one of the most powerful things we can do as human beings. I hope that I’m able to help someone through a tough time, uplift their spirits when their down and give them hope that if they’re in a valley of their life that there is a mountain right around the corner that they will conquer.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

I think being in nature really helps to ground me and gives my mind an opportunity to think on a very basic level about songs and emotions. I especially enjoy watching the sunrise on a new day, because I can feel everything start to come alive as the sun shines. Living life can be hectic sometimes, so I try to get in the woods whenever I can to clear my head.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)