INTERVIEW with talented musician and industry professional Drew Ryder Smith

Drew Ryder Smith is a talented musician and industry professional who has made significant contributions to the country music genre. He has an extensive background in music, having started playing guitar at a young age and writing his first song at 12 years old. Drew has cited a range of influential artists in shaping his own music style, including Merle Haggard, Steve Earle, and John Prine. Drew has achieved a great deal of success in his career, having toured extensively and opened for major artists such as Merle Haggard, Don Williams, and Lady A. He has also written songs that have been recorded by notable musicians, including “She Got The Best Of Me” by Luke Combs and “Smoke A Little Smoke” by Eric Church. Additionally, Drew owns his own recording studio, Gray Sound Recording Services LLC, and has helped many up-and-coming artists produce their own records.

One of Drew’s most significant contributions to the music industry is The Before You Record Course, which he created to help new artists prepare for their first recording sessions. The course is designed to give aspiring musicians a comprehensive understanding of the recording process and help them avoid common pitfalls that can occur during their first studio sessions. Drew has stated that he created the course to help other artists avoid the mistakes he made during his own early recording sessions. Overall, Drew Ryder Smith is a talented musician and industry professional who has made significant contributions to the country music scene. Drew paints the picture of bittersweet memories of a past relationship in his new song “Calling Me Back”. Co-written by Adam Seran and Rob Crosby, The country track beautifully describes the yearning and pain of a heartbreak through alluring lyrics and a distinct melody.

  1. Can you tell us about your journey as a singer-songwriter and how you got started in the music industry?

Drew Ryder Smith: I started playing guitar at 10 and by 12 years old, I was starting to write songs. In my early 20s, I started playing writers rounds in Nashville and then eventually started playing downtown. Through networking and just continuing to show up, I was able to start getting in rooms with decision makers in the industry. That eventually led to me getting my first riding deal.

  1. How do you balance being a solo artist, a producer, and a senior mixing engineer at Gray Sound Recording LLC?

Drew Ryder Smith: The balance gets pretty tough sometimes, but all of those things are always going through my head. So when I’m writing a song, I’m already thinking about the production, and then how you reproduce that sound on a live stage.

  1. You have performed alongside some of the biggest names in country music. What has been your most memorable performance so far?

Drew Ryder Smith: My favorite performance so far was playing at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. There’s nothing like being on that stage where so much history has been made.

  1. Your trilogy of songs, including “Calling Me Back”, “The Bottom Of It” and “Don’t Wake Me Up,” have been released on all streaming platforms. Can you tell us about the overarching theme of this trilogy?

Drew Ryder Smith: I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a theme to The Trilogy. I really loved how we recorded those songs and how they sounded together. All three live in their own space, sonically. I love having the freedom to do that.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Drew Ryder Smith: As a writer, I think you inherently want your lyrics to resonate with listeners. But I want people to feel things musically as well. We work really hard to put as much emotion into the production and the music as what the lyrics have.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?

Drew Ryder Smith: I don’t think anyone’s looking at my website or social media to check my political stance. Nobody cares. If I’m gonna talk about things not related to my music, I’m gonna talk about things that aren’t talked about enough: animal welfare, the growing mental health crisis; things like that.

  1. You’ve had songs recorded by notable artists such as Randy Houser, Merle Haggard, and John Schneider. Can you describe the feeling of hearing your songs performed by others?

Drew Ryder Smith: It’s an incredible feeling – there’s nothing like it. And then seeing other people sing along to it… That’s a whole other level.

  1. You are also the creator of The Before You Record Course. Can you tell us about this course and how it helps aspiring musicians?

Drew Ryder Smith: Yeah, I basically walk you through the entire process of recording and prepare you for your first time in a recording studio. It’s a wild experience and it goes by super fast. So if you’re not prepared, it can be extremely overwhelming. I’ve been there and I know that feeling. I want to help other musicians and artists be comfortable and fully prepared in that scenario.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Drew Ryder Smith: I’ve dealt with a lot of adversity in my life, mostly self-induced. My song “The Truth” pretty much details most of those moments. A certainly didn’t overcome those things alone. I’ve been really blessed to have a lot of amazing people in my life that genuinely want the best for me and have never turned their backs. I’m a lucky guy.

  1. What would you consider the most successful, proud or significant point in your career so far? 

Drew Ryder Smith: Getting my first gold record was a huge thing for me. It’s still hard to believe. But there’s still so much I want do, and so many boxes I want to check off.

  1. Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?

Drew Ryder Smith: “The Truth” is the most honest song I’ve written. It’s kind of a full-blown confession set to music and really marked a new beginning for me. I’m really proud of that song, and I’m really proud of me.

  1. You’re a member of the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International. How important is it for you to be part of these organizations, and what benefits have you received from being a member?

Drew Ryder Smith: Ha! Well, I’ve got health insurance for the first time in about 15 years. They’re all really great organizations and they’re important in their own way. Being an ACM and CMA member really help you get much closer to the inner workings of the industry.

  1. Which aspects of the current modern music scene excites you most, and which aspects discourage you most?

Drew Ryder Smith: The style and sounds of modern country music have started to shift over the last couple of years, I think due to guys like Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson – guys like that. I think it proves that people are still hungry for substance in country music, not just songs about trucks and beer. That excites me.

  1. You have worked with a wide range of artists in your career. Is there someone you have yet to collaborate with that you would like to work with in the future?

Drew Ryder Smith: That’s a big list. Steven Tyler, Slash, Dolly Parton, Eric Church. There’s so many great artists I’d love to work with in any capacity.

  1. Can you tell us about your collaboration with Adam Seran and Rob Crosby on “Calling Me Back”?

Drew Ryder Smith: Yeah, that was a fun day. Rob had used the phrase “calling me back” just in conversation and we ran with it. That was one of those songs that kind of wrote itself. That doesn’t happen very often, so I’m always grateful for the times that it does.

  1. How do you stay authentic and true to your musical vision in an industry that can sometimes prioritize commercial success over artistic expression?

Drew Ryder Smith: I think I’ve been around long enough now that I just don’t care as much anymore. Like, I’m not afraid of it not being commercially viable. People are either gonna love it or hate it and I don’t have much control over that. So if I like it, if I believe it, and it makes me feel something, I’m gonna put it out.

  1. Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?

Drew Ryder Smith: That’s a great question. Tough question, though. I constantly yearn for both. I’m in love with the whole process – writing, recording and performing. There’s really a lot of great energy in all of those things, and I’m not sure I could pick just one.

  1. Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?

Drew Ryder Smith: Fortune favors the bold.

  1. Can you tell us about the role of technology in your music production process, and how it has impacted your music?

Drew Ryder Smith: I think it’s great. I can cut guitars and vocals and anything else I need to record in any state I’m in and fly it back to my co-producer here in Nashville. Conversely, he works on some of our stuff while he’s on the road. I love the sound of analog tape, but there’s no mobility in that. We can cut records anywhere in the world. What a cool time to be alive.

  1. What can we expect from Drew Ryder Smith in the future? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you can share with us?

Drew Ryder Smith: Lots of music this year. I’ll be putting out a couple of EP’s and several singles in between. I’ve not been this excited to make music in a long time.

You can learn more about Smith on his website at: Follow Drew Ryder Smith on social media to stay updated on new music @drewrydersmith by the links below:

Headline Photo Credit: CB Photography.

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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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