Six Questions With Canyon City
Welcome to “Six Questions With…,” a series of interviews with emerging artists, musicians, and bands focusing on the music scene and how they live within it. It started as a quick, fun project, but has quickly gained serious interest, so we’re making this a permanent feature on the site. Over time, the questions may change, but the sentiment will stay intact. This is a way for independent artists to be discovered by new fans on a global scale.
Within in each post, you will find all of their social media links, and also either a link to their music, or the ability to stream at least one of their tracks or videos, depending on the availability.
We hope you enjoy this series, and if you know anyone that might be interested in being part of it, please have them reach out to us for more information.
Next in the hot seat is Nashville-based indie songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Paul Johnson, aka Canyon City. We have not had the privilege of featuring Canyon City here on the pages of Indie Minded, so we are thrilled to bring you this short interview. If you’re not familiar with him, sit back and enjoy! This is what is great about this series – the discovery of new music.
For those who may not be familiar, please tell us about your music: the type of music you play, where you are from, and how you got started?
Canyon City is an indie-folk project that I started in my home studio here in Nashville around 2015. At the time I had been writing in a couple other projects, and before that was doing some work as a session musician, but didn’t feel like I had the outlet to make the stuff that was really pulling at my heartstrings. So I initially just started making music for myself again, treating the music that would become Canyon City as sort of a “safe haven” to really make the stuff I’ve always wanted to, in the way that felt most inspired. After the first full-length, Midnight Waves, came out, Spotify supported the music with a couple playlists and then it snowballed from there. I feel incredibly grateful that the decade of projects and bands that I played in before this kind of folded in a way that steered me towards the most authentic, enjoyable music that I’ve worked on yet, and now get a chance to share every day.
In which ways do you enjoy interacting with fans (i.e.: social media, back stage, on the street), and do you find that this is an important piece of your career?
It always lifts my day when someone sends a shout-out or shares their story on social media, but I think my favorite venue for getting to know fans is at the shows. On the best evenings, you can feel everybody on this same wavelength for a moment, and for me that communal emotion and experience is really moving. I also love just getting to meet people and chat before and after. I think it’s fascinating how our shared feelings in the music can bring together people from all kinds of backgrounds; it’s really a blast!
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
The music business is currently in a really exciting, new era, before which I don’t think I’d have the opportunity to do what I’m currently doing. With increased digitization comes incredible flexibility, but also the potential for isolation. I don’t know if this counts as a “business” struggle, but self-doubt when I feel kind of separated from the community of listeners is something I really have trouble with. This especially comes right before record releases, when I’ve been working on stuff for six months or maybe even a year, and then I have no idea how other people will react. That said, those feelings are usually a sign that I need to get back to the core, ask myself if I’m enjoying this music, and if so let it go and accept that it’s out of my hands.
If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be?
That’s a tough one. Many of my songs come out of different seasons and feelings that I feel connected with to different degrees, as life in the present continues to change. That said, right now I think either a song off of the new Constellation record called “Like I Did,” or a song from Midnight Waves called “Firework” would be my choice. Both are super simple acoustic and voice type tunes, but seem to morph and remain relevant in personal meaning as time works on them.
What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?
I think both realistically and what I hope to achieve – I believe I can continue to evolve and make music that feels meaningful to the current season, exercise inspiration and grow in the process, and enjoy sharing it with great people for a living as long as it continues to pull at me. I’m so grateful to already be able to do this, and really anything from here is gravy! That said, headlining a place like the Ryman would really be an incredible dream-moment.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I love the outdoors and try to get a good hike in at least every week. There’s something about the timelessness and un-manufactured beauty that helps me calm down, re-learn some basic truths and feel a stronger God connection. I also have a guilty pleasure of watching cooking shows/movies. I love learning from the creative process in other mediums, and also the mean cake that comes from it!
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