Artist Interview: Chase Coy – Evolving folk pop singer songwriter
Chase Coy’s album “Youth” brought him to our attention here at EarToTheGround, but he’s been “in the game” for a lot of years. In fact, his career trajectory had a pretty awesome spike in the early years and has been reborn with a slow reemergence that involves not just solo performance, but also work as a writer and producer. His latest release “Youth” shows that Coy has matured both in songwriting and personal relationship to present a snapshot of his life now.
The first thing I should say about Chase Coy is that he’s a pro’s pro. Talking with him was comfortable and easy. He has done his share of interviews and continually preempted my questions as we went through the interview. He a sense of what I wanted to know and delivered his comments with class and humor. He joked about his start back with the “glory of Myspace” and the following he built there. Because he’s been making music for so long; a particular confessional personal kind of music, to boot, Coy notes that people still hear songs that he wrote years ago. “Youth,” by contrast, shows where he is now. It is a coming-of-age album in a way.
As I asked about the characteristics that make his style and the musical influences in his life, Coy made it evident that his eccentricity is key. He mentioned folk icon Rocky Votolato, indie luminary Bon Iver, the great Pittsburgh songwriter William Fitzsimmons, and an Icelandic artist named Asgeir. So Coy’s brand of folk probably isn’t the folk of a generation ago, yet he tries to preserve the legacy of the genre. Folk music is a style of “analyzing and celebrating the culture you’re a part of.” In that sense, Coy finds it perfectly acceptable to add electronic elements to his music. In fact, we talked at length about how the crowds reacted to Dylan plugging in at Newport. Coy argues that the reception he gets now with electronic elements in his music is no different than that visceral reaction of the crowd. What a legacy, indeed!
All of these musical elements met with a unique moment in Coy’s life to form the perfect storm for his latest album. He met his fiance. It was evident from our conversation that he’s head over heels for her. About half of the album confirms that reality as well. But as you listen to the album you hear another half, too, of disappointment and heartache from a past relationship. This is what makes Coy’s songwriting so mature; he wrote an album that is a perfect snapshot of who he is right now. He is a person in transition from a bad situation to a new, beautiful and encouraging one. The emotional turmoil comes out in the album. It’s a millennial dream, focusing on the complexities and gray areas of emotional life, rather than portraying only the happy or sad elements of life.
“Each Shallow Breath”
One of my favorite things about talking with Chase was his evident focus on artists having something to say. He used the term “translation.” Artists translate reality for “the rest of us” in that they wear their hearts on their sleeves and help others listen and say, “yeah, me too.” It’s that raw personal connection that has built Coy’s loyal fan base. Artists, “expose themselves emotionally so we can relate to it.” That’s exactly what keeps listeners coming back for more. Speaking of his audience, he mentioned a few interesting insights about music fans today. Coy says that the average music fan is much more literate than thirty years ago. Fans today care less about genre distinctions and care more about a song with a powerful and convincing message. I found myself nodding in agreement. He knows his fans and his generation well.
When I asked Coy for his parting shots or last minute comments, he wanted to make sure it was clear that this album “Youth” is a genuine expression of who he is right now. It feels very poignant. He hopes (and we agree) that people will listen to the full album and feel the journey in it. Even though the first and last tracks make for great singles, please give it an honest listen.
Coy never wants anything to get in the way of the message of his songs, so give them a chance to draw you in as well. The message of “Youth” is one of hope and redemption, even in the midst of some of life’s difficulties. It really is worth learning more about this remarkable musician and his unique spin on the folk pop world.