Drew Six: In His Own Words

drew pt 2 fp

Photo: Nick Aholt photography

In Part 1, Drew Six talked about how he got his start in the music business, his live show and more. Today, we publish the rest of our interview, “Drew Six: In His Own Words.”

Do you consider yourself more of an artist or a songwriter?

“I was an artist first. I was fortunate to be one of those people who always knew what I wanted to do. For as long as I can remember, I was singing. And also at a very early time in my life, I realized if I wanted to be a big artist – and be an artist on my terms – that writing songs was part of that. I think my favorite artists are the kind of artists who do a little bit of both, where the best song wins. Meaning, if you wrote the best song it ends up on the record. But if there’s something better, then you go with that song. So there’s a little bit of both in me. I do enjoy the writing, but I’m certainly an artist first.

Talk about your new single, “Learning to Drive.”

“Some songs happen really quickly. ‘Learning to Drive’ was with me for a long time. I had the idea for it – and frankly it had been sitting there for a number of years – and I came back to it because I thought it was a good hook and a good idea. Basically what that song is about is, as you go through life and through different stages you start to think you’ve figured some things out. You know, teenagers think they know it all. Then you move forward a little bit more and throughout life you think… it might be a week later, month later, years later you look back and say, ‘Man I didn’t know anything.’

“To me, that’s living life. You don’t want to be flat-line, you want to be expanding and learning and starting over in a way throughout your life. But you’re not actually starting over. You’ve built the base of experience and you’re constantly moving forward and learning new things and that’s the metaphor in “Learning to Drive.” And  the flip side to that is just the rush that you get. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, and unfortunately a lot of people have to have things happen in their lives – and sometimes they are bad things – to really open their eyes and appreciate life and feel life, and it shouldn’t be that way. But that’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about that first-time feeling. It’s not the same after the first time, you can only have the first time once, then you have to have a new first-time experience. Then you’re constantly evolving and learning. And that’s the idea behind ‘Learning to Drive.’”

cd-4.75inx4.75in-single-frontWhy do you release singles instead of albums?

“Because frankly that’s what major label artists are doing too. So, I have more traction if I keep things going. The first single off of this group was ‘We Choose Living.’ ‘The Bull,’ I’ve been holding back. It’s certainly something that has branded us a bit. We have the bull logo and I think it’s a really fun live song. I kind of want to do a remix of it just for fun for some of the DJs who are working in a lot of the country bars especially where they have a mechanical bull. So ‘Learning to Drive,’ we’re still riding that one out. It’s doing well.”

“We Choose Living” was a hit from its first day. Talk about that.

“With ‘We Choose Living,’ I had the sales records right off on that one. And we had a PR campaign because it was surrounding Variety Children’s Charity. And that one outsold Taylor Swift on the first day, on the country chart of iTunes, so we had bragging rights on that deal. It was one day, but we moved some singles.”

Talk about your affiliation with the Variety Children’s Charity.

“Variety is a children’s charity that helps bridge the gap with insurance companies to help provide mobility equipment for special-needs kids. The woman, Debra, who heads up the charity in Kansas City, approached me basically to perform at some of their charity gala events; and, she’s a very hard person to say no to. And to be completely honest I didn’t know anything about the charity when she approached me. It started out (with me) doing a couple of performances, then she approached me about singing with Danielle who I had not met. (Danielle is living with Cerebral Palsy.) And again, just being completely honest, there was not something personal in my life when I first got involved. But it changed over time.”

Tell us about Danielle and about how the song came to be.

“Danielle is truly inspirational because she’s someone they said would never walk. And not only does she walk, she snowboards and skydives. One of her passions is acting, and they have adaptive equipment for her to use, and she does acting and singing. And they wanted me to sing a song with her, and I was honored that they would approach me for the opportunity, and I said yes, absolutely. And she said, ‘You can choose the song,’ and I said, ‘I want to write something, because I want it to be something very specific.’ They gave me complete creative freedom, and it was one of the hardest songs that I have ever written, because I wanted to approach it in a dignified manner. So I wrote for months, and it came to my deadline (before I was finished).”

What was your take-away from being around the kids?

“I realized that most of these kids just want to be like everybody else. They want to be treated like everybody else. And I think all of us are a little guilty, growing up, if someone is a little different not staring at them. Then you find yourself isolating yourself from someone who’s different which is completely the wrong way to be. My comfort zone certainly changed, and I started having friendships with a lot of the kids and specifically Danielle. We talked back and forth about the song, and I realized we had a lot in common because basically they all want to follow their dreams. They don’t want people telling them they can’t do it, especially when they’re living with a difficult body and special needs. We found some common ground there then everything worked and so she had a lot of personal input on what she liked and what she didn’t like. And I always joked with everyone if I forgot the words I could look to her because she knew the song better than I did. That was a very, very cool experience as an artist and as a human being. Thankfully it’s a song that stuck with me. It stuck with my fans, and I play that song almost every night. We also donated the proceeds back from the iTunes sale of the song, and that was cool. Once a year do a big event, and that was the event I actually sang it the first time.”

You call yourself a shy person. We don’t believe it.

“People have trouble believing I’m shy by nature, because I don’t come across that way. But I’ve learned the business side, you know, I’ve learned to get out there and network, and those are things I had to develop. To whereas the thing on stage, you develop that, too. But some of it you have or you don’t have. So that was my place to reach people, especially at a young age. Then over time you really, truly have to love the experience you have to love the music.”

Why do you do it, night after night?

“You can’t do it for money, you can’t do it to meet girls. You’ve got to do it because it’s a part of who you are no matter what. And I’m a big believer in, ‘If you follow what you love, that the other things have a way of working out.’ And I like to call money abundance because I think things come into your life that you need, and it’s not always necessarily cash. It’s people who help you, and any time you do something good for people, you know it truly does come back to you. And I think everything great thing that’s ever happened in my career as I move forward started from being in a place of gratitude and trying to help other people. And it’s just about energy, good energy.”

You have chosen a tough path.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there aren’t days all the time when I think maybe I should’ve done something else. I think we all go through that. I think the greatest artists – the most and rich and famous artists you can think of – go through those same kind of doubts from time to time, because once you get there, what seems to be on top then you’re just trying to stay there all the time. And I realize the more people I meet that are people I look up to, it’s really not so different. They’re in a different place but they’re doing some of the same things on a larger scale.”

Final thoughts.

“I still want a label deal, but I’m willing to think outside the box. Really, the goal is not to get a record deal, though. The goal is to be playing arenas, touring, being on television, reaching more people — doing what I’m doing on a larger scale. If I won the lottery today I would do exactly what I’m doing, and I think that’s a good sign that I’m doing something I love, I just want to do it on a larger scale.”


Lily Nelsen Steps in the Spotlight

Lily Nelsen Uses Adversity
to Her Advantage

lily nelsen, beaverdamusa.comAdversity can push a person in one of two directions. Either they cower and hope it passes, or they fight back.

Meet Lily Nelsen, fighter.

At only 17, the aspiring country music singer has already seen more than her fair share of adversity. As a young child she was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, which is the leading cause of heart disease in children. “I’m blessed to be here today,” she said.

Then at age 12, she found out she had Type 1 diabetes.

How did she handle it?

“Of course, it’s a shock when you get diagnosed with something like that, so (music) was pretty much my way of getting my emotions out. I started songwriting after I got diagnosed,” she recently told us. “It was my way of coping with the entire situation. And I decided that I wanted to start really pursuing my career after I got into songwriting.”

One of the first songs she penned, “Better Me,” was an upshot from the diagnosis. “I think it kind of came from that place of being upset about having diabetes — because I felt like a lot of people didn’t understand a lot about the disease.” She explained, “I felt different from my friends, and stuff like that, so it really, really helped me to deal with the situation.”

Since then, Lily has put her musical talents to good use from a philanthropic standpoint. She has performed to help various organizations, including Make-A-Wish and the Wounded Warrior Project.

lily nelsen, hard rock cafe, beaverdamusa.com

Lily performs at Nashville’s Hard Rock Cafe

“I also contacted the Kawasaki Disease Foundation,” she explained, “and we decided to put together a compilation CD with a bunch of different songs from different artists. It should be released soon. It’s a cause that I’m really passionate about.”

Lily was bitten by the country music bug at a young age. “My mom (Jayne Nelsen) used to be a singer-songwriter. She had a CD out, and she was doing the recording thing, too. And she decided that she didn’t like being away from my sister and me,” she said. “Actually before she decided she wanted to stop doing it, we moved to Nashville, and we just fell in love with the whole music scene in Nashville. Mom stuck with the songwriting side of everything.  And she’s really a great songwriter.  I’ve learned a lot from her. She was probably my first influence when it came to music.

“My parents encouraged me to take guitar lessons from a young age. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 7, and I also took some drum lessons,” Lily said. “I was into acting and I was the lead in two musicals in middle school, which was really fun. So I just fell in love with being on stage and being in front of people.”

Lily started home schooling this year to make time for her career. “I was so busy with writing appointments and performing out, I decided it would be the best route for me to take at that point,” she said. “I do about one to three co-writes a week. I love the songwriting side of everything, and I love performing on stage.”

Lily said she has co-written seven songs with Amanda Williams. “She’s kind of mentored me. Amanda is an amazing person to have on my team in the business.”

Four tunes Lily has co-written are featured on her Web site. She wrote “The Life I Left Behind” with 14-year-old Dallas Remington. Sal Oliveri produced the songs, she noted.

“And also I just did a video with Carl Diebold and that should be coming out pretty soon. It’s for my song ‘Growing Up’ which I haven’t released yet.”

Lily has spent much of 2014 writing. “I’ve been writing every week if possible, and that’s been great. I’ve found a lot of new co-writers recently, and I’m excited about working with them in the future. I just want to play out as often as possible and keep honing the songwriting craft.”

When she isn’t writing, Lily is performing somewhere. About her show, she said, “It’s very acoustic. It’s just me and my guitar usually. Sometimes I’ll bring on a Cajon player.” Lily has played most of Nashville’s notable venues, including the Bluebird Café, Hard Rock Café and BB King’s.

With good reason, Lily is excited to see what the future holds for her. “Five years from now I want to have one, or two or three albums out. I would love to have an album out by the end of this year; that would be amazing,” she said. “And I just want to keep working with the people I’m working with. I’ve built an awesome team around me; they’re so awesome and encouraging. And I just want to leave it up to God to where it goes from here.”

Keep up with Lily:
Visit Lily’s Web site
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