Although UPstar. Music focuses primarily on Country Music, I would be lying to say I don't love all genres of music. I appreciate how each genre has a special identity that can make you feel a certain way. Before Country Music took over my life and became a true passion of mine, I first listened to Pop and Rap/Hip-Hop. I grew up on Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justin Bieber… whatever came on the radio. Over the years, I've learned to appreciate all genres of music. For me, at the end of the day, if a song has something to say and/or can bring you to memories- good or bad - in your life, then the artist must be doing something right. I ventured outside the Country Music realm and sat down with Damian C. We talked about his single "Cashmere", how he hopes his music can be a "mood elevator" for people and how Music City is welcoming all types of genres and artists, not just Country Music.
Get To Know Damian
"I'm from New Jersey, an east coast kid. I got a guitar for Christmas when I was 6 years old. My dad got a guitar for his birthday a couple of months before and he played. When you're that young, your dad is "the guy" - there is nobody else. He wanted to play guitar so I wanted to play guitar. I've played ever since and never really stopped. I had waves where I was more interested in or less interested in playing, but I never put it down.
I didn't start writing songs until I was in college. I was a huge music fan and always admired the art of songwriting. I saw it as two people twirling a jump rope and you have to figure out how to jump in there. I would come up with chord progressions and that was like the jump rope in my head. I was like "how the hell do I start writing". I started writing when I was thrown into it for a college class which focused on songwriting. It was an elective, but it made me start writing because I had deadlines. We had to come up with a song and had to present it to the class. When I presented the songs to my class, they seemed to enjoy them."
No Fist Pump Or Griddy... Just A Smooth Sway To A Masterpiece
Like I said, I love all different genres of music outside of Country and GOD DAMN does Damian C know how to pull you in and serenade you with his soft and smooth voice. He has a melting pot of incorporating hints of Soul, R&B and Jazz with an overlay of Pop. "Cashmere" is a song of internal struggle that we have all faced in life - deciding between two things that are important to us. In this case, a struggling traveling musician has to decide between playing music and doing what he loves versus a nice steady girl at home who is, in fact, soft and warm like Cashmere. Damian C is making sure Pop Music is alive and well in Nashville, Tennessee.
Video By: Neon Leaf Media (The Promise of Music)
Inspiration Behind "Cashmere"
Written By & Produced By: Damian C & Mark Diedrichsen
"Since moving to Nashville, I've done a lot more co-writing, but initially I did a lot of lyric and melody writing on my own. One of my best friends is Mark Diedrichsen, who goes by the producer name Farco. He's a super talented producer and audio engineer. We would bang out tracks like it was nothing, because we would get a chord progression down with me playing my guitar or keys. Mark would go ham engineering, producing and building up, while I would write the whole time. It was a perfect utilization of time. He would bounce melodies off me and I would bounce lines off of him. We've made 60 songs together. I used to live in LA before I moved to Nashville and Mark's out there as well. We decided to take a trip to Montana in September of 2020, because we were going insane in LA with Covid going on. We did a road trip, hit some national parks, got a sweet AirBnB out in the middle of nowhere with mountains and a creek. We brought everything - keyboards, guitars, mics and shacked up for a 5 day writer's retreat. We were in Montana when "Cashmere" got done. We made 4-5 songs while we were there. I heard some Hall & Oates on it. That's where the chorus melody came from.
We recorded "Cashmere" and loved it. We sat on it for two months before writing the rest of it in LA. I just wanted to tell the story of a guy who's a "down on his luck" traveling musician, who's not making a ton of money and always on the road playing so he's not home that much. But when he is home, he has this girl. There is always that internal battle of his love for music, but also for the comfort of this girl. And she's not stoked he's not home all the time. For the musician she's soft and warm like cashmere. I like telling stories that aren't necessarily from experience or true, but tell a good story."
Q & A With Damien C
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "There was literally one light bulb moment...one. I was visiting Nashville to record a song with this guy John Willis, who I linked up with through some friends. I got in the Uber to go to the airport and one of my best friends was with me. We had a pretty wild weekend. It was our first time in Nashville and by the end of the trip, we weren't talking in the Uber because we were tired. This song comes on the radio. It was by theThe Brook & The Bluff who I've been a huge fan of since hearing this song. I was sitting in the Uber so hungover that I didn't even want to ask what the song was. It wasn't coming up on Shazam and though I was googling the lyrics, nothing was coming up. But I love the song. As the song was about to end, I asked the Uber driver what it was and he told me it was The Brook & The Bluff. At the time I had no idea who they were. I ended up following them on Instagram. That was the “light bulb” moment for me. Before then I thought everyone who was making music for a living was famous. Discovering that band made me realize you can chase a dream, pursue music and play shows without being nationally recognized."
Q: What have been some positives and negatives of putting out Pop Music and living in a predominately Country Music centered city?
A: "I love this question because I want it to be known, for those non-country artists who are thinking of moving to Nashville but push themselves away because they feel like there isn't a place for them here, that it's not the case. I can't really think of any negatives about living in Nashville. I feel like a lot of people who host writer's rounds and showcases are very open to getting different genres on their lineup. Because there is so much Country Music, it's refreshing for people to get a variation of music. Ward, from Whiskey Jam, is so good about that. He puts other genres up on stage that aren't country. There's also these "sub-culture" rounds and locations that don’t do country music at all. You get some Pop, R&B, even Hip-Hop folks and other different stuff at these cool places."
Q: Who are the influences that you put into your songwriting and artistry?
A: "I love 70's music like The Bee Gees, Earth, Wind & Fire and Hall & Oates. I even love old school Soul and R&B like Marvin Gaye, Sam Cook and Al Green. I approach my music in the vein of groove and soul vibe with a pop twist. My melodies are more Pop, but the composition of my music is more R&B and Jazz chords. I want people to be moving with a little sway. John Mayer is a big influence. He's Pop, but has so much Soul and R&B. I gravitate to music that's easy listening and smooth stuff."
Q: When you're writing and putting out music, what do you want people to take away from it?
A: "For me, music is such a deeper experience than just throwing a song on. I love listening to all the ins and outs of a song, I guess that comes from producing. I love the weirdest part of a song that nobody else would resonate with, like a little change in a melody or a horn part that's deep in there or a guitar lick that is mixed so well. I hope people can get into my music and forget about stuff and start grooving. I want my music to act as a "mood elevator" for people.. I want my stuff to be fun, easy listening, and for people to enjoy themselves."