Spencer Saylor, member of the Columbus Songwriters Association, has been rapidly growing in popularity since opening for Aaron Carter. We enjoyed chatting with Spencer last week:
Where did you grow up?
Canfield, Ohio—a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio.
When and why did you begin making music, singing and playing guitar?
Music has always been a part of my life—my mother and father both enjoyed singing, and my dad had been strumming a guitar since I came out of the womb. Growing up I always knew that I wanted to learn like my dad but it was not until the age of 9 that I began taking lessons. I went through phases of hard rock, grunge, alternative—like a typical teenage guitarist, and it wasn’t until about my freshman year of high school that I settled down on acoustic and the sound I knew I wanted. My influences in this genre at the time (John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, James Taylor) all were songwriters, so it quickly turned on to, writing my own music that is, and I began jotting down my work for about the 4 years of high school. My guitar teacher became somewhat of a producer to me once I had my guitar skills, and would help me mature and edit my work so that I could establish myself as a writer just as much as a performer. Once moving to Columbus came to begin college, I knew it was the most ideal situation for recording and releasing this music I had been writing and from then on the rest is history!
What is your Songwriting process? Is there a time of day when you write most of your songs? Is there a trigger point that leads to new songs?
I never really just sit down and write music; I have to either being feeling an emotion that I think will work good for a song, think of a catchy melody that I can work with, or think of a couple good lines that allow me to continue to work off of them. This happens at all times of the day so I cannot really pinpoint a certain time of day; I have written from the crack of dawn to the late hours of the evening. One thing as a songwriter that I have been able to accomplish in my songwriting has been beating the inevitable and often unbeatable ‘writers block’—I’ve learned to be able to write something marketable or based on a specific topic without having anything going on in my life or being able to write something personal. This has become easier as I often try different writing strategies that I have read about or learned from teachers.
What has been your most important or favorite performance to date?
Most important to my career and where my career could go was probably opening for Aaron Carter on his comeback tour at Skully’s Music Diner in Columbus, Ohio. It had a lot of hype behind it after its announcement, especially since my age group and primary fan base grew up listening to him. We sold about 80 tickets blowing the promoter away and setting a good foundation of people who knew us to play for at the venue. The crowd was awesome and loved us which really got us excited about the music we were making—the response from the viewers there on social media was immense and we were there signing autographs and taking pictures with new fans which was memorable in itself.
What has been the most difficult point of your journey as a songwriter and how did you overcome it?
Getting people to continuously listen and stay interested. People get bored and will not give you the time or day if you are not creating legitimate music and accomplishments in your career. The use of social media has been so beyond important to being successful and without it, I would never be here. My friends and family did an awesome job of believing in my initial recordings and work and shared it with their family and friends and the chain continued on and on. Now that I have a steady foundation and fan base, I no longer struggle as much with keeping people interested and continuously listening and watching.
What thoughts are going through your head regarding this contract with Tate Music Group?
Nervous at first, still a bit, but not as much—and of course excitement. Like many songwriters and artists, I sent my work to some labels with the hopes that someone would have my story catch their eye and they’d listen. Tate was the first to respond, expressing how much potential they found in my then new single, “I Was Meant For You”. The fact that they offered me a full blown contract that involves them laying it all on the line in hopes that I turn out big for them, really gives me the reassurance of how much they believe in me and my music. However, I am just of course nervous to how my music does once my debut EP is released—but based on the support I’ve received and how much people have enjoyed my performances to date, I think it will all go over great!
Is there a career strategy or personal philosophy that drives you?
Staying humble. I don’t ever plan on forgetting how I got to where I am and the man that my parents, family, and friends spent time raising. Remembering who I am and keeping to reality helps me write, market myself, and perform without letting the great moments overtake my mindset. Singer/Songwriting, in my opinion, is the most personal and ‘down to earth’ genre of music, so without knowing who you are and what makes you the person you are, you will quickly find yourself no longer making the music you wanted to or accomplishing the things you set out for in music.
What artists, friends, family or people have most influenced your path?
So many. Way to many to name! Of course I have to thank God for the gifts that he blessed me with and gives me the ability day in and day out to sing, play the guitar, write, and interact with my listeners! Then my parents—they have always and will always support the decisions I make, especially when it comes to my music. They are there with me through thick and thin because how I have expressed how much this all means to me, to them. Next, I’d have to thank my original guitar teacher, friend, and songwriting mentor, Ryan Ross. He taught me most of what I know and helped me mature my work and writing before I got to Columbus and without him, I’d be clueless in the field of writing and performing my own music. To the rest of my family and friends—well, what can I say; their utmost support leaves me speechless and blessed beyond control each and every day. They are at every show, share every thing I do, and most importantly, helped me shape who I am today. They mean the world to me and I do not know where I would be without each and every one of them!
When and where can we see you perform next?
This summer is definitely a busy one! I have plenty of shows I look forward to doing and continue to add a few here and there quite often! I’ll be doing a few down in Columbus with CSA members and founders Joey Hendrickson and Derek DuPont because a lot of my fans are in Columbus, a show in Canton, Ohio with Ryan Cabrera, Jason Castro, and Deleasa, and wrapping up my summer in Pittsburgh with a show on the VIP Stage for the Phillip Phillips and John Mayer show! So many dreams coming true, it is such a blessing and so overwhelming at the same time! Also, this summer will be my EP release and I am sure that will bring in a few more appearances as well! To stay up to date with my shows, you can keep track on all my social media pages and find an event list on www.reverbnation.com/spencersaylor.
What are your thoughts about the Columbus Songwriters Association? Do you think there are benefits in songwriters coming together in Columbus?
When I was introduced to CSA, I was instantly sold to the idea. I never understood the huge music scene until I arrived in Columbus and realized how overwhelming it can become. Columbus Songwriters Association offers help to those who can legitimately write and perform and gives them a voice in the crowded Columbus music scene! They offer opportunities, events, and showcases where artists can show the city what they have been preparing. Songwriting is not a very common thing among many artists today and this group not only allows those songwriters to have their work heard, but allows them to work with other songwriters and improve what they are doing and help others as well.