Guitar Pop Art
This electro-pop artist is steeped in bluegrass. Which knew? Dillon Hodges is a well known singer, songwriter, and guitarist whoever current album firekid (Atlantic) could be the vanguard of a stealth campaign to bring bluegrass music into the public. The soft-spoken, 25-year-old native of strength Shoals, Alabama, who occasionally produces music on his Gameboy, recently stopped by the AG workplace in Point Richmond, Ca, without his firekid band, to tape an Acoustic Guitar Session, playing solo acoustic with a Gibson J-45 at hand. He flatpicked their means through three original pop tracks, while displaying an extraordinary command of bluegrass plus jazz. That bluegrass link is certainly not incidental: in 2007, at age 17, Hodges became the second youngest individual win the prestigious nationwide Flatpicking Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.
I sat straight down with Hodges following the program to share his electric guitar playing.
Followers that understand you against the electro-pop-oriented firekid project could be amazed that you’re steeped in bluegrass.
“Yeah, these days, we don’t have as much Americana fans as pop music followers. The pop music followers hear me personally playing my electric guitar reside and state, I Was Thinking you're playing a banjo.’ I simply say, That’s bluegrass songs that you’re hearing.’ The truth is, most people don’t understand what flatpicking is. Which was the entire aim of the project, to expose more individuals to level selecting.
Just how did you enter flatpicking?
I was 11 years old and wished to play guitar. My moms and dads weren’t therefore sure about that, but on my 11th birthday celebration my uncle gave me a guitar he’d bought at a-year sale. A neighbor offered to provide me no-cost classes. I needed to understand to play Nickelback or Creed [laughs], therefore I brought a book of these songs towards first lesson. He put it in the rubbish and said, ’ we perform bluegrass and when you want to just take classes from me that’s just what you’re gonna find out.’ Thus I had no alternative. But I’m therefore grateful to him. He took us to bluegrass festivals regarding vacations and began entering me personally in flatpicking tournaments. Once I happened to be 17, I’d won the nationwide Flatpicking Championship at Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas—the big one. It became a life’s goal for me personally, to make the message of flatpicking my peers.
What did friends consider your success?
We returned from Winfield to my senior school and told people, ‘Hey, I won the nationwide Flatpicking tournament” all of the women stated, ‘What’s flatpicking?
How performed preparing for the competitions inspire you as a person?
It made music a sport, in all honesty. It’s one thing to sit in your room and write songs that maybe only your mom hears and it’s another to be thrown head-to-head with adults who are the best in the business. It definitely makes you a better player. I mean, for five to six years straight I played eight hours a day. I would find ways to play at school. I would bring the guitar in the car. I played at the dinner table. I played while I did my homework. And in front of the TV.
Bluegrass may be a blood recreation, can’t it?
it is like a rate competition often. Playing within the contest world made me so severe, so it kind of took the enjoyment out of it. I happened to be carrying it out to win, to kick somebody’s ass and feel good about myself. That’s opposite of the thing I really thought and wished off music. But I’ve today gone into the contrary course and taken the weather that i enjoy from bluegrass as well as the elements I feel are universal and I’ve introduced those over to the music we make now. The melodic side, a few of the lyrics. We use those elements regarding album a whole lot: “Magic Mountain” [the first single from firekid] is all about the Magic hill theme playground, nonetheless it features this rootsy sounding thing and we’re singing about a mountain nonetheless. As well as the melodies really arrived on the scene of old folk tracks and blues. Pop songs accidentally draws from that anyhow so it wasn’t an excessive amount of a push.
What about the jazz part?
Growing up in Muscle Shoals I was exposed to the music of WC Handy, the father of Blues. There’s a festival truth be told there in the honor each year and contains a jazz camp. I experienced wished to take lessons and learn to play stone ’n’ roll. My parents responded that they would deliver us to jazz camp. [laughs] I happened to be already having fun with the senior high school jazz ensemble and now have since sat in with some professional jazz ensembles. It’s maybe not my powerful suit—I’m seriously a bluegrass guitar player, but I can get a hold of my means around an archtop. And I love it. It’s like talking two languages, like being bi-lingual to play bluegrass and jazz. The jazz part raises its head inside my live solos.
Incorporating those elements should have shown challenging.
It was tough because there’s such material to drawn from in jazz and bluegrass and pop. It’s like sifting liquid through rocks to create something and select the elements being many universal. On top of that, this has to appear cohesive and sound like art.