Video series: smallsongs: Tyler from Diners

Listen & Watch small songs

‘smallsongs’ is a YouTube series brought to you by Americana Highways with small & stripped down performances on the streets of different cities around the world, featuring musical acts at their rawest.

The very last ‘smallsongs’ that I got to shoot before the city of Denver went on lockdown was with Tyler from Diners. He borrowed a strapless acoustic guitar from his buddy, and we met at Fluid Coffee Bar before walking to Benedict Fountain Park for some ‘smallsongs.’ In his retro Mickey Mouse sweater, Tyler performed “Diane” & two songs off his brand newly released album “Leisure World.” They were “Big Moon” & “So Blue.”

I asked Tyler some questions:

Q: When did you first start playing music & why?

A: I started playing music in 2003 after becoming enamored with a Billy Idol’s greatest hits CD. I was 11 years old when I started playing the electric guitar and I was obsessed. 

Q: What does your songwriting & creative process typically look like?

A: My process is so scattered-brained! Feels I’m always fiddling around with a hundred unfinished songs. My goal is to just try and do as much stuff as possible and not worry about perfecting everything in the moment. I try not to worry about time too much. Some songs will come together in 15 minutes and others will take 15 months. I’ll just kinda mess around with a melody or a chord progression until the rest of the song begins to reveal itself. It’s just gotta feel right. 

Q: Who are your artistic & musical influences?

A: 60’s/70’s pop songwriting is where my heart lies. Brian Wilson, Katy Davidson, Paul McCartney, Haruomi Hosono, and my friends. The new stuff from Mo Troper, Belly Belt, and Iji really get me going. 

Q: Tell me a little bit about your new album “Leisure World.”

A: Leisure World was released just a little bit ago on April 24th and I’m darn proud of it. It’s an eclectic record that might make it a little bit harder to define what I do, but I really love that. I think of myself as a pop songwriter trying on all kinds of different genre outfits. There’s parts of it that remind me of Prefab Sprout, Frankie Cosmos, Orange Juice, Jerry Garcia, Randy Newman, and the music from Mr. Rogers. All over the place for better or worse. 

Q: What all are you working on now/during these times?

A: Right now, I’m just trying to record demos from home. Given the amount of time we all have now, I’d love to release another record this year! I’ve got the songs, just gotta find a way to record and present them in a way that feels good. It’ll be interesting, since booking time in a recording studio isn’t really an option during the pandemic. Gives me a chance to get better acquainted with my home recording set up, I suppose!

Go check out his beautifully whimsical and sonically diverse new album “Leisure World” on Spotify, or Apple Music, or wherever you’d like. I included the lead single off the album in my new timeless indie playlist’ below.

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