Updated: May 18
Culling his indie alternative songwriting and production, Tyler Elden is reemerging, releasing his debut single, "Warmth Of The Sun." From performing at local Philly venues such as Underground Arts, The Fire, The Grape Room, and Ortlieb's, Tyler shifted his focus during the pandemic to the studio and the recording process, where it all started.
Stef from The MIC was able to sit down with Tyler Elden and hear all about infatuation with music, his latest single, and what's next on his exciting new journey.
Photo by: Asia Mieleszko SJ: Welcome to The MIC! I'm very excited to chat about your new project, but let's start from the beginning. What's your story; how long have you been making music, and what instruments do you play?
TE: I have been making music since I was very young, coming up on two decades now. Some of my earliest memories are running around with a small ukulele that was half my size, as well as plonking away on a miniature toy piano. Years later, my elementary music teacher suggested that my parents invest in some guitar lessons. He had seen my intense interest in class and a performance of an original song at the school talent show. A life-changing event came when I was around thirteen. My parents purchased me a Boss BR-864 Digital 8 Track Recorder for Christmas. I would spend the majority of time in my childhood bedroom with an SM57 microphone, recording material for hours on end. I was infatuated with layering parts while being able to listen back to my ideas after a day's work. Between the built-in drum machine, guitar amp simulators, and multi-effects, the curiosity was insatiable. My primary and most studied instrument is the guitar, but I have always dabbled with bass, drums, and keyboards.
SJ: So you've always been keen on recording music. How would you describe your writing process?
TE: I didn't play in a lot of bands until my late teens, so very little was written in a traditional rehearsal with others weighing in with their own opinions. I was guilty of easily becoming impatient with other young musicians who didn't want to practice all day after school. That was how intensely obsessed I was. At the time, I couldn't imagine any reason why a fellow thirteen-year-old would rather be playing video games or riding their bike when we could be making a racket in our parent's basement. Because my recorder was always up to "jam" with me, my writing has always been linked to the recording process. Whether that be starting from a drum loop, bassline, or sparse acoustic arrangement, I always try to change it up to keep myself uncomfortable and responsive to new ways of writing. I will create self-imposed challenges and limitations to stay on my toes. I often will imagine scenarios like what if I was the drummer for a post-hardcore band, the guitarist from a shoegaze band, and a singer coming out of a folk act in an attempt to trick myself into new patterns of songwriting. What would that band sound like? How would I change my natural inclinations as a player to fit into my imaginary band?
SJ: What is that recording process for you? Do you still record yourself? Or now do you prefer a studio?
TE: I would later learn the value of collaboration and listening to others while becoming more patient. Nowadays, I am lucky to have many collaborators. When I record with my backing band, we generally go into the studio and try to record live off the floor with minimal overdubs. When I am working this way, I'm just a guitarist and a singer. I do not allow myself to overthink the engineering aspects. I focus on performance while trusting who I am working with. I enjoy creating this way because it is the opposite of what I do when working alone, micromanaging and overdubbing every bit of the recording. When recording collaboratively live off the floor, you are creating with broad strokes. Being able to listen back to a full arrangement instantly after tracking, you stop zooming in so much. You can step back and look at the whole picture in a more objective way. On the other hand, I enjoy recording myself while sweating the details. I have recorded in closets, barns, basements, dorms, and bedrooms. These days I have a very nice home studio in a converted bedroom space with a full mixing board, a collection of gear that took me years to accumulate, and some custom acoustic treatment that makes it much more professional sonically than a bare bedroom space while tracking and mixing.
SJ: What would you call your musical style and direction?
TE: The material out right now fits under the indie alternative rock umbrella, although through the years, I have taken elements of post-hardcore, garage, and even some slight incorporation of progressive elements. Most of my music tends to deal with darker aspects of the human experience. I have written this way for almost as long as I can remember when making my own material. Bands like The Cure, Placebo, and Death Cab for Cutie opened up a world that resonated with me without fully understanding why. I just knew it emotionally hit me in a way that some of the material on classic rock stations hadn't when I was growing up… and I owe a huge part of my love of music unabashedly to classic rock and ripping guitar solos. I just think sensitivity in music can be really powerful. The combination of loud, brash guitars and more delicate introspective lyrics has always been appealing to me. Combined with some biting lines, you can really conjure up a colorful thematic picture in the listener's mind. I have had people come up to me after shows and ask if I have any "happy songs," which can be somewhat frustrating and funny at the same time. I previously struggled with the idea that I was being solely perceived as someone who is only capable of doom and gloom, but now I am able to separate my entire identity based on what I write. I know that music about our shared struggles as human beings can be empowering to the listener, so I no longer feel strange with my own musical direction.
SJ: You've been creating music for a while now; where do you find your inspiration? Has that changed as you've evolved as a songwriter?
TE: In the beginning, I was most interested in writing about my own experience. I wanted to be able to tap into the most raw nerve so I could start from a very real personal place, even if dwelling on such topics made me uneasy. I didn't want to remove myself all that much from what I was singing about. I had gotten pretty comfortable with sharing the more personal parts of my life through song rather than in everyday conversation. On top of drawing from personal experience, I was always an avid reader and had a small independent movie theater near me as a young man. I would frequent all types of films during matinees in between college classes. I started to realize I could blend fact and fiction to find new perspectives as a writer. As I have gotten older, I have found my own interests and experiences, combined with different characters placed in fictional backdrops, have allowed me to enjoy a more balanced, less personally draining way of writing. It is also a great lesson in looking outside of yourself and trying to walk a day in someone else's shoes.
SJ: You just released your debut single as Tyler Elden, "Warmth Of The Sun," congrats! Tell us about this track.
TE: About two months ago, I began booking a few acoustic solo shows around the country. I wanted to challenge myself to write an entirely new set of songs that could stand up with just a vocal and guitar. "Warmth Of The Sun" was the first tune of the batch that came together. My initial thought was to record these songs on an old Tascam 8 Track Reel to Reel machine to keep the production an honest representation of what folks could expect to hear on this upcoming tour. As the responsibilities of booking, rehearsing and getting this project active became clear, I realized I was going to need some help and couldn't do everything alone. What originally was meant to be a very basic recording became a fully produced song featuring a ton of extremely gifted musicians lending their talents. The result of this entire process was a song that ended up sounding like nothing I had ever done before. The song has an alt-country feel which is completely new territory for me. I'm fascinated to see what I can do as a songwriter using this different sonic palette and aesthetic.
Photo by: Asia Mieleszko
SJ: The talent and expertise of yourself and the other musicians are evident in this track. What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
TE: It has been a long time coming to get to where I am now. This project has existed in so many different forms over the years. I am extremely blessed to be in a position now where I can create regularly. I hope to put out a lot of new music this year while pushing myself into new territory. I hope to do a fraction of what my favorite artists have done for me. To have my music be something for others to lean on or feel seen by. It's easy to get lost in large ambitions and forget that even having a handful of folks connect with something you create is something very special and worthy of being grateful for.
SJ: Can we expect any new singles or larger projects coming soon? TE: I will also be rereleasing a track called “Our Good Name” that was made remotely during the pandemic. Files were passed around over a weekend to Christopher Hawthorne’s Studio 150 in Burlington, Vermont, Joshua Pannepacker’s Thanks Mom Studio, and The Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. Katie from the Philadelphia band The Lunar Year sang some harmonies on it. It was mixed the following Monday by Matt Weber. The lyrics are somewhat vague but offer a glimpse into a couple attempting to navigate the birth of a child while being cast out from their community. Sonically, we were really trying to pay homage to the 2000s Death Cab for Cutie Chris Walla production style.
SJ: That is very exciting news. So, what's next for Tyler Elden?
TE: Starting in May, I am headed out on tour. More dates will be added throughout the summer. There are a few particular shows yet to be announced that I am very excited for. I will also be re-releasing some material from past projects and putting a fresh coat of paint on some songs that I want to breathe new life into. Something I am very much looking forward to is introducing my alternative indie rock band and completing an EP that we have quietly been working on. That group is an outlet for me to explore some of the heavier elements of my songwriting, and our first show is going to be a lot of fun. The band brings out a completely distinct side of how I perform. The songs are very different from "Warmth Of The Sun." If anything, the band is more representative of a sound that I have lived in and developed over my life as a musician, and I am very comfortable working within that world.
SJ: Thank you so much for sitting down and talking about your new journey, and I look forward to seeing you live this summer!
LONG STORY SHORT: Tyler Elden is a passionate musician with talents spanning many genres. You need to buy tickets to one of his shows right now!
Stream "Warmth Of The Sun" below!
Cover Art Words Hand Painted by: Yarissa Luna