Posted On 13 Jul 2017
Bryan Stave grew up in Greenfield, Wisconsin (just outside of Milwaukee) in a home filled with sports. Playing football and basketball from an early age, athletics were Bryan‘s first love and after his playing days ended, he spent three years coaching high school basketball and working different universities’ camps throughout the summer of 2012 and 2013. It was those summers on the road that helped Bryan discover his true passion for music, often spending hours playing his guitar and singing in his assigned dorm room between camp sessions. Building up his cover base to over 175 songs from memory, he developed a knack for identifying catchy melodies and rhyme schemes which led to him begin writing songs and performing around his college town of Madison, Wisconsin.
Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bryan went to work for Epic Systems (a large healthcare software vendor) and began working on his first EP which was completed in the summer of 2015. After departing Epic in August of 2016, Bryan again spent several months on the road staying with friends across the country and living out of his car while he figured out where he wanted to settle next. After more than 10,000 miles, hundreds of hours of busking, and many nights of either sleeping in a hammock or cramming his 6’4” frame into the back of a Toyota Camry, Bryan settled on Nashville, Tennessee as his new home, and shortly thereafter, connected with producer Christian Davis of Sony Records.
Throughout the early part of 2017, the two worked on producing completed tracks for three of Bryan‘s songs…“Monday Song”, “Chasing Platinum”, and “Shiny Toys” and Bryan set out promoting his new material and raising funds to complete his album.
Learn more about Bryan Stave in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
-No problem! It’s finding me at work (LBMC in Brentwood, TN). Still working my way to the point where music is all I do, so for now, I’m very thankful to have a great day job. Always got music going! Most recently it was Oh Wonder.
How is 2017 treating you so far? Did you approach the start of this year any differently than you did last year? What have been some of the highlights for you this year?
-2017 has been good! Definitely a year of change for me. I moved down to Nashville from Wisconsin in mid-January and have spent a ton of time working on my project. In addition to finishing up final versions of the first three songs of my album, shooting my first music video for “Monday Song” (to be released June 26th) was a definite highlight!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your first musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
-Well I’ve always loved music and thought being a musician would be the coolest job in the world, but for the longest time I just wasn’t any good. I remember I would always be singing around the house as a little kid and since I was already taking piano lessons from our neighbor who was a music teacher at a local high school, my Mom asked him about voice lessons too…to which he politely recommended I just focus on piano. I started teaching myself the guitar a few years after that but it wasn’t really until after college when I started writing stuff that I realized I may actually be able to give music a shot. Obviously, since that initial rejection from voice lessons, I’ve put a tremendous amount of time and effort into improving as a singer, and while I’ll never be an elite vocalist, it’s been fun to watch the improvement over the years!
Let’s talk about your debut single “Monday Song.” Where did the inspiration for it come from? How do you think it prepares people from your upcoming album?
-The inspiration for “Monday Song” actually came from a mid-December blizzard in Wisconsin. I was hanging out at my parents’ house while they were on vacation and we got about a foot of snow so I was running in and out shoveling all day. When I finally cleared off the last bit of snow, I was cold and tired and wanted to write a happy song so I could pretend to be in the Caribbean and “Monday Song” is what came out. I think it’s a strong lead into my music because, for the most part, I’m a happy, positive guy and I want my music to reflect that. “Monday Song” doesn’t have the lyrical or intellectual substance of some of my other tunes, but it’s hard to listen to it and not have your spirits boosted at least a little bit. I think if people look at my first three songs as a whole (“Monday Song”, “Shiny Toys”, and “Chasing Platinum”), they’ll get a good feel for who I am as an artist.
Has anything surprised you about the music-making process yet? What was it like finally connecting with your producer Christian Davis of Sony Records? How has it been working with him on your new songs?
-The biggest thing that has surprised me is how many people go into creating one of the songs that you’d hear on the radio. In a lot of cases, you’ll have the artist (who may or may not be the writer), multiple producers, publicists, record labels, independent labels who control radio play, etc. It’s big business just like anything else which has both positives and negatives in terms of the actual artwork that ends up being produced. It was great connecting with Christian and getting to work with someone of his caliber. He’s really an incredibly talented musician and just an all-around good guy to work with. We just started production on the next three songs so I’m really excited to see how those come together from acoustic, singer-songwriter track to fully produced record.
I’m curious to know how you think that your background in sports has influenced you and your music career? What about your work at a large healthcare software vendor?
-Outside of my family, there’s been no bigger influence on my development as a person than my time as an athlete and coach and the life lessons I’ve learned have helped me tremendously in this music pursuit. In sports, we deal with injuries, losses, disappointments, and other types of adversity all the time, but the important part is learning how to bounce back. Building a career in music is full of all kinds of pitfalls and disappointments and knowing how to handle those and remain positive is absolutely imperative to one’s success. Sports are also a confidence builder as you see yourself improve through hard work. I wasn’t born able to dunk a basketball, but it was a goal of mine so I kept working and kept work and eventually could get up there and do it. In the same way, music isn’t something that came real naturally to me, but I plan on continuing to work at it until I reach that goal as well.
Working at Epic was great because it gave me the financial stability to give music a legitimate shot. When I graduated from UW-Madison, I had $30k in student loans and was able to pay those off in just under 2 years. Once I was debt-free, that gave me the flexibility to pursue what I really wanted to do which was make music.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
-Far and away the biggest influence on my music is Ed Sheeran. He’s just a freakishly talented writer and performer, and by all accounts, is just a genuinely good guy. He incorporates a lot of different styles into his music which is definitely a goal of mine so he’s a great artist to try to learn from. Obviously, I’d love to work with him in the future but I’d also like to work with some hip-hop and reggae acts. I think the No. 5 Collaborations album is one of the coolest things Ed Sheeran has done in his career, and I’d love to work with rappers as well on a collaborative project because I have such a great respect for hip-hop as a genre.
What advice would you give to a young person who is considering getting into this music career path?
-I’d just say immerse yourself in music, study the work of some of your favorite artists, and keep writing until you’ve got some material you feel confident about. The biggest turning point for me in writing was when I just started learning tons of cover songs. Last fall, I memorized over 175 songs from all different genres, and when I went back to writing original stuff, the quality of my work improved exponentially because I was so much more familiar with fitting melodies to chord progressions and coming up with rhyme schemes.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
-Art is created for people to enjoy so that’s really the only thing I want people to get out of my music. There’s no one overriding theme or any specific message I’m trying to get across, I just want the songs I write to bring joy to people and mean something to them. There’s so many songs I associate with different events or people throughout my life where the artist will never know how important it is to me to have that soundtrack attached, and I’d like my music to have that same impact for others.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
– Um, not really…just want to say thanks to anyone who checks out my music and I hope y’all are digging the tunes! I’m definitely putting everything I’ve got into this project and there are many more songs in the pipeline so I hope music fans follow along with new releases and really get enjoyment out of them.