Americana Highways is hosting this video premiere of Steve Hartsoe’s song “Your Time Now,” from his recently released album King of Small Talk. The album was mixed and mastered Kevin McNoldy at Cphonic Mastering in Raleigh, NC. It was produced by Steve Hartsoe; mixed and mastered by Kevin McNoldy at Cphonic Mastering in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Your Time Now” is Steve Hartsoe on vocals, electric 6 and 12 string and acoustic guitars, bass, and percussion; Eli Hartsoe on drums; Kevin McNoldy on keyboards.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Hartsoe and talk about a few things. The video appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: What three artists or bands had the most influence on you and would you say we can hear that in your new album?
Steve Hartsoe: The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Tom Petty – artists with solid guitar parts and genius songwriting. I’ve always gravitated toward music with a strong rhythm guitar and clever lyrics. Some of the first music I ever heard was my mom’s Everly Brothers’ 45s with the killer acoustic guitar rhythm – “Wake up Little Susie,” “Bye, Bye Love.” Then I heard Lennon’s rhythm guitar on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and Richard’s guitar on The Stones’ “Brown Sugar.” I’ve been hooked on rhythm guitar since.
And Petty’s lyrics are so penetrating: “I’ve had enough of all this hardcore loneliness/I don’t think pain is so romantic” (“Finding Out”). Can’t express hard times better than that. I’m not sure if any fraction of these elements show in my music, but I’m always aiming for them.
AH: Tell us about your songwriting process.
SH: I’ve found that inspiration is best when I am at one of two extremes emotionally – way up or way down. Song ideas tend to lack passion if I’m somewhere in the middle.
I almost always start by strumming an acoustic guitar or unplugged electric 12-string and look for interesting chord progressions and a vibe. If I can get that, then I’ll start humming a melody to it. I’ll strum and hum over and over and hope a lyric idea or phrase drops on me. Usually, something will. I’ve got hours of those ideas muttered into my iPhone voice memo recorder. Other times I’ll turn on a drum loop in Logic Pro and record chord progressions with my Telecaster or Gretsch electric 12-string. Turning ideas into finished songs is the hard part.
AH: What inspired your new single”Your Time Now” along with the storyboard for the video?
That’s one that started on my acoustic guitar. I was thinking about shopping my songs in Nashville. I don’t know why, but I thought, “What would I write for Darius Rucker, a fellow rocker with a country bent?” The A2-Bm-G verse chords and groove came fast.
Lyrically, the song was inspired by my wife, Shannon, overcoming numerous challenges to pursue a career in communications after our kids were older. Despite constant autoimmune issues, she’s powered through and worked at the highest levels – Apple, Cisco, etc. Her grit has inspired several songs of mine.
For the video, I mentioned the song and its theme to my friend Alvin Sloan, a Raleigh filmmaker who created a video for my song “Ocracoke” in early 2022. I think he came up with the idea of making the video for “Your Time Now” about an aspiring singer-songwriter who’s stuck in a dead-end office job, then quits to pursue what she really wants to do – music. Alvin then wrote the storyboard.
My friend and co-worker Amanda Frederick knocked it out of the park as Jen, the disillusioned office worker who finally steps out to chase her dreams. I think Alvin’s ideas, filming and editing fit the song perfectly.
AH: What was the making of the video like?
SH: We had a great time and learned a lot from Alvin. We borrowed a townhouse owned by my friend and bass player, Wahba, to shoot all the at-home and green-screen footage. I spent the time carrying equipment for Alvin and babysitting Wahba’s dog while Alvin guided Amanda with her shots. He even let me yell “cut” a couple times and catch the coffee mug she threw across the room. Ha! Amanda never played guitar before so I showed her a simple Em chord. I think she did a great job fooling the camera that she knew how to play. Then Alvin shot Amanda’s open mic scenes as she lip-synced to a Sia song at the local Niche Wine Lounge where I live in Holly Springs, North Carolina. The Niche folks were great and let us do whatever we needed with their lights and stage area.
The next day Alvin shot my performance scenes at an abandoned restaurant his dad owns. It was a miserable 85 degrees and no AC. I had to stop and drink water after lip-syncing each verse and chorus to avoid passing out. That’s why I look so tan – it wasn’t makeup.
AH: What do you hope folks will take away after listening to the song “Your Time Now”?
SH: It sounds cliche, but I hope “Your Time Now” inspires people to pursue the things in life they are most passionate about, regardless of the challenges and commitment it takes. Even if that doesn’t result in money or notoriety, the real reward is being faithful to yourself.
AH: What’s something about you outside of music that readers might not know?
SH: I’m a former college pitcher and reporter/editor at newspapers in California and at The Associated Press in Raleigh, North Carolina. I now work in media relations at Duke University.
Thanks for chatting with us Steve!
The video features Amanda Frederick as “Jen.” The video was written, filmed and directed by Alvin Sloan (http://www.alvinsloan.com). Time flies, as we all know too well. And in “Your Time Now” we take a walk with discontent, and “you’ve got a heart shaped soul heading for a crash” just before there is finally a whole new path to choose. Hartsoe has certainly mastered Petty-style heartland rock. Listen while you muse today.
Find lots more information here: http://www.stevehartsoe.com