Country Up and Comer Dillon Carmichael Talks Nashville, Musical Influences and More — A CMM Exclusive Interview

There is a large array of raw country talent out there and when I find one that gives me the WOW factor I take note. As I was preparing for my Country on the Beach trip for the T.J. Martell Foundation a young artist was added to the roster, Dillon Carmichael.

I had not heard that much about him but after checking his music out on Reverbnation.com I knew this kid had it. Once hearing him live and spending time with him on the trip he has truly garnered a new fan. This Kentucky native, who now resides in Nashville, comes from a musical background deep into the family roots but that does not always make the journey to start your own career an easy step. So sit back and enjoy my chat with Dillon and take the time to see what I mean. He is well grounded and has the WOW factor.

CMM:

We are always looking to showcase new talent and after meeting you in Key West in October and hearing what you have to offer I knew it would be a win-win to bring you to our forefront.

Many may not know this but you come from a long line of family musical history.  Your Grandfathers on both sides played music throughout the 60’s and 70’s, one in Gospel and one in Country. Your uncles Eddie and John Michael Montgomery followed behind with successful careers.

Growing up in that atmosphere were there many lessons to learn that you still carry with you?

Dillion Carmichael:

There are many lessons learned growing up in a family of music. I’ve learned about the troubles with traveling on the road and the good things that come from doing something you love. Another thing is learning about building the team that will be behind you in your career. The “do’s and don’ts” is the best way to sum up the lessons I learned early on in life as I started playing music.

CMM:

You started out with your first guitar at the age of 11 becoming a self -taught student. As a teen you started your first band.  What was the name and was that a tough road being so young and still in school?

DC:

At 14 me and a friend of mine who played drums each grabbed a dictionary. We had to close our eyes and put our finger on the page and whatever word we each got was the band name. He landed on “Random” and I landed on “Theory.” Even though “Random Theory” was an odd name, it definitely got some attention that ended up making each of us 4 members $1000 one summer! Being a southern rock band was the hard part, because I wanted to be a country singer, and everyone else wanted to be in their own unique genre. We split up after about 2 years. We all learned a lot from that, and all but one of the former member’s still play music.

CMM:

After the band disbanded you took to songwriting your own music.  What was the biggest challenge to make your songs unique and ones that someone would want to hear?  You did get a break shortly before high school graduation in meeting a music publisher from Nashville who was interested in working with you after graduation.  You had to have a feeling of elation at that point.

DC:

After the band broke up I decided not to form another one just yet. But I still wanted to play so I started playing solo shows with my acoustic guitar. It was hard getting the crowed pumped up without all the guitars and drums, so I figured I’d connect in a different way with my own lyrics and melodies. Even though they were pretty good songs they weren’t quite “there” yet. I met my publisher at a bar in Nicholasville, KY called Momma’s Last Chance Saloon, and they offered me a publishing deal on the spot, but I insisted that graduate high school first. I graduated, moved to Nashville, and when I got there I started writing with seasoned writers, and started to understand better the process of writing really good songs. It was, and is, a great feeling to have someone behind me like that.

CMM:

In 2012 right after graduation you moved to Nashville.  Were things as you expected and was it a learning curve to find who you could trust and who was supportive of what you truly wanted to do?

DC:

Yes. Nashville is a magical place where the streets, and places are named after music. Amazing…it is literally like living in a dream town. It’s like if someone who loves golfing had their house in the middle of a giant golf course, that’s all they did day in and day out. It was a learning curve on who I could, and couldn’t trust, just like in anything else. It takes time to completely understand who you can trust though, but for the most part there are great people in Nashville.

CMM:

You are working with other songwriters as well as fine tuning your own songs for a recording project.  Do you feel your career is taking all the right turns?  When I first heard you live I thought I was listening to your Uncle Eddie but with a younger twist.  You have been blessed with the Montgomery talent so how has that impacted your career?  Is it a tough challenge to step out of that mold and just market yourself and your sound?

DC:

The songwriters I’m working with really know what I am needing for my album, and it’s good to have that extra advice. They really have a lot to do with my career. Due to the work done by my Manager, Publisher, and Booking agent, I feel certain my career is going in the right direction. I have heard many times that I sound like my Uncle Eddie, but I personally hear a lot of people in my family, in my voice too… even family not many have heard before. I have also heard that I have characteristics in my voice that are just different. I just sound like me, to me. To step out of that mold and to be myself, that’s easy! However, I’m very proud of my heritage in many aspects.

CMM:

Country artist Ray Scott recently spoke about you saying,

“I think Dillon Carmichael has a great future ahead of him. A voice that good with the background and sensibilities he has makes me feel like the true roots of traditional country are in good hands. It’s a tough road for guys like us these days; I’m pulli’n for him.”

How great of a feeling is that to get acknowledgement and praise from a fellow artist?

DC:

That’s awesome! Thanks Ray! It is a cool feeling to know artists got each other’s back like this. That is how I was hoping this industry would be, a family; and that it is. I am a huge fan of Ray Scott.

CMM:

You also have a sound similar to Jamey Johnson. I find it especially in your songs “Blame It On The Truck” and “Keep Comin Back.” Is that someone you look up to as inspiration?  Who other than family are your strongest influences right now?

DC:

I connected with Jamey Johnson, because of his innovative ways of creating a sound that is like the music I grew up on, with a new twist. Yes. Jamey Johnson has been a huge inspiration for me, and especially in a sense of songwriting.

CMM:

I heard you and your Mom Becky sing in Key West.  It was so well received. Are there any plans to do a song with her?  Your song “Thirsty Weather” is getting some airplay.  How much of a boost is that for you?

DC:

Mom and I will be doing some stuff together in the future. There isn’t anything planned right now, but we’ll do something. “Thirsty Weather” is getting some airplay, and it’s getting requests too! This song is getting me so many new awesome fans and there is nothing better than that!

CMM:

What more do you have in the works for the future and how soon can we expect more music released?  Right now where can fans find your songs?

DC:

I am currently putting things together piece by piece, but mainly I am working on writing the perfect songs for the BIG full length album. I’m not sure when this album will be finished, but I will keep everyone up to date. My CD’s are sold at almost every show, or you can find them, along with some bonus songs on Reverbnation.com.

It was my pleasure to talk to Dillon and encourage you to learn more about him at http://www.dilloncarmichael.com/

Written by Mary Kay/CMM Contributing Writer

Find me on twitter @monroemk

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