BY BRE CURA
We recently got to chat with S. Grant Parker, a 22-year-old singer/songwriter from Nashville, TN. Currently finishing up school, Parker has masterfully balanced both academics and a promising music career. With two singles currently out on Spotify, Parker tells us a little about his writing process, where he pulls inspiration from, and his “DIY” approach.
How did you decide to pursue music?
Parker: “Well, I grew up in a musical family, singing with my two brothers and my dad everywhere we could. My dad has always been a worship leader at churches, so I was exposed to a capella gospel music really early on. I played in bands in high school and such, but nothing crazy serious. I think the moment that it moved from a hobby to taking it seriously occurred right before I graduated high school. I wasn’t planning on going to college, and if I had to, I would’ve gotten some business degree or something. However, Lipscomb University in Nashville announced a Contemporary Music program, led by Charlie Peacock (look him up !!), and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to study with him.”
What has your journey in the industry been like so far?
Parker: “It’s honestly kinda funny to think about myself as being part of “the industry”. With today’s world of streaming and self-starting, “the industry” has expanded to anyone who has a laptop and $10. I’ve spent most of my time in the DIY scene, which means booking my own tours, recording on my own dime, but also getting to do whatever I want creatively. I like the freedom there. It’s definitely difficult, and just because it’s accessible does NOT mean you’re guaranteed success. I’ve been lucky, though. The people I have met and worked with have been encouraging and honest people. Everyone is on the same team!”
You recently went on a tour in December, tell us what that was like!
Parker: “OH MAN OH MAN. The greatest. I love touring so much. And touring with your best friends is even better. Jac and Carly are amazing, and I felt so at home with them no matter where we were. I actually didn’t know Carly at all before the tour (Jac and I met in school and have been best pals for a while), but when just the two of us had to drive 12 hours to Houston to meet Jac at the beginning (of tour), we got a head start on our friendship :’). Back to the tour though! We played mostly house shows, which are so much fun. Everyone is like a big ole family sitting in a living room together.”
So, you have two singles out right now; can you tell us a bit about “No Fire” and “Late Love”?
Parker: “No Fire was a mess. My production team and I went through 3 or 4 recorded arrangements, and when we settled on one, went through like 18 mixes (poor Benjamin...), and finally scrapped the whole thing to start over. I was fed up with it, I guess. I just wanted the song to be released. SO, I bought a cheap tape recorder meant for classrooms in the 90’s and tracked it in one take in my bedroom. I decided to just let the song and performance speak for themselves, because the recording quality is TERRIBLE. Late Love was a bit different. We tracked that once, then scrapped everything but the bass part and built it back up. It was just my engineer and myself in the studio for most of the recording process, which was super freeing and fun.”
What inspires you while writing music?
Parker: “I think I start with real life situations, and then let the song find its own way. My songs aren’t necessarily autobiographical, but they certainly begin there. Both (the sound and lyrics) are equally important. I don’t want to say something in a song that I’m not 100% sure of, and I don’t want to play something when I know there is something better out there. (When writing music) I start with real life situations, and then let the song find its own way I think I’m still on my way to finding my style. The more I write, the deeper I dig into my own pool of creativity.”
Do you see your personal taste in music influencing the pieces you write and perform?
Parker: “I try to write and perform like my heroes, but my individuality keeps me from ripping them off, if that makes sense. One of the biggest influences on the way I conduct the business side is Nordista Freeze (look him up too!). We’ve been best friends since little league baseball, and he is the DIY KING in Nashville. Sonically speaking, Zac Swann, Jac Thompson, Blake Mills, Taylor Goldsmith, Dave Rawlings & Gillian Welch, and Harry Styles. Just to name a few.
Blake Mills is my all-time favorite artist for SURE. He changed the way I think about lyric writing, arranging, guitar playing, and nearly every other aspect of my own musicianship. I listen to his records on a weekly basis at the very least. I’m also a huge fan of Dawes, Henry Jamison, Cass McCombs, Vulfpeck, Kurt Vile, and that new Kacey Musgraves record is KILLER.”
Parker assures us that more music is on the way! (And to keep an eye open for upcoming shows!!) Besides singing and songwriting, Parker is also a gifted guitar player. Evident in both “No Fire” and “Late Love”, his use of electric and acoustic guitar produces a poetic combination of both modern and vintage vibes. You can check out his music here.