Nowadays, Country Music is a melting pot for blending all different kinds of genres and I think that's what makes Country music so special. Colton Venner is a little bit Country, a little bit Americana and he also brings that singer-songwriter vibe. Music City is all about discovering your own sound which separates you from all the talent in this town. And Colton sure as hell has done that. I sat down with Colton and talked about his single "Sundance Square", how the quality of a song is so important and how his music journey started in both church and in a hardcore band. A great musician and even better guy.
Get To Know Colton
"I'm from Grapevine, which is dead center between Dallas and Fort Worth. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life. Got my first guitar when I was in 6th grade and have been playing music ever since. I was in my first band during 7th grade. Moving forward from that, I was in a metal band for about 5 years. The thing I liked most about that was it was my first taste of a music community; everyone knew each other and enjoyed what we were doing. Now, being in Nashville for just two years, it's similar. Going to a random writer's round, you may know or have heard of a lot of the people playing. I also played music in my church growing up, that's where I actually learned to sing. I graduated from high school in 2012. I started to actually write songs when I got to college. Throughout college I would play and write music and my friends would give me feedback. Eventually, during college I put out an EP that is now nowhere to be found. I think there may still be like a hundred CDs left in my closet. The last four years I've really started to take music seriously. I didn’t even start co-writing until 2018. Most of the songs I put out are still solo writes, though I try to co-write with people 3-5 days per week. In 2019, when me and Leah got married, I figured out that I wanted to focus on songwriting and that's what brought me to Nashville."
The Story Of His Life... Literally
Country Music is famous for its storytelling and that is such a big reason people like me fall deeply in love with the genre and is a part of who we are. Colton Venner shares a raw, emotional and honest side of himself in his music that so many of us feel deep in our soul. Listening to Colton is like sitting next to him having a conversation. Each line and every lyric is so intimate and comes from a place of experience and emotion that was felt, not just what listeners want to hear. A catchy beat is cool, but a song that grabs your attention and brings you back to a moment in time, acts as a time capsule to your past and brings out those past emotions in present time is special. It is something Colton Venner consistently does with his pen. To some, the name Colton Venner may be a diamond in the rough and may be a new name on your radar. But to many, this man is the next best thing in music. "Sundance Square" has surpassed 60,000 streams on Spotify and is climbing.
Inspiration Behind "Sundance Square"
Written By: Brian Douglas Phillips & Colton Venner, Produced By: Brian Douglas Phillips
"I brought this idea to Brian and it's pretty straight forward. It's the story of me and Leah. We moved to Nashville because she said "hey, you should go be a songwriter". Being out with a bunch of friends is my speed, but that's not hers at all. Leah has a small group of close friends. She has the capacity for like 4-5 intimate relationships and I have 500 fairly okay relationships. She has expressed - a lot - that she misses home, her family and friends. Especially because of COVID, it took us much longer to adjust to Nashville. I was thinking about that and other things. When we were dating it was long-distance. She was in Austin and we would hangout in this tiny town around Houston, close to where I lived. The two of us would go visit family in Dallas and Fort Worth and there were all these specific things that happened in each place. When we were dating, it wasn't necessarily the place we were, but more of what was going on around us. It was fun to pick specific things for the song, almost like a road map of Texas with different experiences. For example, in the chorus it goes "if I tell you I love you in the stairwell does the stars in the skyline change". The first time I told her I loved her we were walking back from our friends house at 11pm and I told her there. One time we kissed on top of a parking garage but we could see the whole Fort Worth skyline. And that is where the first line came from "kissing on the rooftop, maybe we can see sundance square". Brian helped me write the song and we reworked several things in the song. It was done pretty quickly, that guy is the best and can bring anything to life."
Q & A With Colton Venner
Q: What was the "light bulb" moment you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I went to a small school in Dallas, Dallas Baptist University. They did this open coffee house thing where musicians would play. My sophomore year I played the last slot of the night. After that night, I didn't know I wanted to do Country Music specifically, but I knew I wanted to do music. Getting feedback inspired me too. The first time that I played strictly originals and got good feedback from everyone, I realized there may be some merit in the songs I was writing. The fact that people could connect with what I was trying to say was really cool. Since then there have been similar moments here and there. I will put out a song and some person I have never met will DM me and say that they really connected with the song and it had an effect on them. I also really enjoy the creative process of songwriting and playing music."
Q: If you could go back 5 years and give your younger self advice, what would it be?
A: "For music, I would say it's worth it to spend money on the song that you like. My first EP I paid $500 for six songs total and it sounds so bad. Since I started actually putting money into my songs and giving the song what it actually deserves, I have never regretted what I've put out. Hindsight 20/20, I should have done that right away, because I really enjoyed those songs, but the production just wasn't there. For life advice, I would say to invest and be smarter with my money, because even now I rarely save money."
Q: What's something most people don't know about you?
A: "I'm pretty obsessed with some random hobbies. I'm really into disc golf. I play it fairly often and follow it professionally when I can. I'm trying to think of what Leah would answer for me. Another thing people probably don't know is that I sang in a hardcore band for many years. I have permanent shoulder damage from back in those days."
Q: Who are some artists and songwriters who influence your music?
A: "The first person I will say is David Ramirez, he's awesome. He's the first songwriter I've heard that when the song finished I knew I had to go back and listen to the song again right away. That was my freshman year of college when I really got into his music. I really like Chris Knight. He has a ton of awesome songs. If I had to say someone more traditional, I would say Johnny Cash. I did a book report on him in the sixth grade and thought he was really cool. Currently, many of the people I have met here are the people I listen to. They are a lot of my friends or people I write with and they have songs that I really like. My favorite songwriters in town are Brett Sheroky, who I don't really know and Steven Wilson Jr.. Those two guys really inspire me to be a better songwriter. A couple artists who I think are just going to be massive are Jenna Paulette and Hardy. Both are crushing it right now."