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Midvale musician Richard Tyler Epperson had put off recording his music for years, but eventually decided — as the Nike slogan says — to just do it.
"Music has always been a big part of my life, coming from a very musical family. I’ve written over a hundred songs, but just never had the confidence to follow through with making an album," said the 28-year-old University of Utah employee. "I always told myself different excuses for not recording an album, but I think the main reason is I was afraid."
Finally he decided to give it a try. With assistance on drumming and mixing, Epperson wrote, produced, and played all of the instruments on "Falling Between the Stars." The debut album, which was released in January, features Epperson’s strong voice and a compelling tension between the acoustic and electronic sounds.
"I can live with failing — there is no shame in that, but I don’t want the regret of not trying," said Epperson, who answered a few other questions during a recent interview.
How did the album come about?
I started playing a few acoustic shows and posting some videos of me playing online. I was getting great feedback and support and people were asking if I had a CD. I planned on just doing a four-track EP to bring to shows and to have as a demo to send around to some labels. I was working with a producer-mixer and when I finished the four-track EP, I just wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t feel it represented me as an artist. So I scrapped the EP and decided to do a full album in my home studio and record it myself. I recorded about 20 songs and narrowed it down to 14.
Who are your musical influences?
The Beatles. I think everyone has been influenced in one way or another by them. Whether you’re a fan of their music or not, there’s a good chance that the band you are a fan of was influenced by The Beatles. There are really too many other bands to list [because] I love so many types of music. My dad, sister and brothers have also been big influences on me musically.
Where did you learn to play so many instruments?
I learned how to play guitar from my dad and my two older brothers. They are all amazing musicians and songwriters. My dad, Rick, has taught me so much when it comes to chord changes and creating a song. My oldest brother, Justin, is one of the reasons I was even able to start playing the guitar. I started on the bass and really wanted to play the guitar but didn’t have the money to buy one, and Justin was nice enough to loan me the money to get my first guitar. He has also given me a lot of inspiration to think outside the box and try different guitar tunings when writing songs. My other older brother, Jeremy, taught me a huge amount with finger picking and rhythm. I also played bass and piano for his bands, which helped me see song writing from a different perspective. With the other instruments I was self-taught. Sometimes not being taught how to play an instrument and just figuring it out on your own can be a good thing for developing your own style.
What is your first musical memory?
Sitting in the family room, listening to my dad play his songs on his acoustic guitar.
What were the challenges in recording your first album?
Picking which songs to record. I didn’t want the album to sound repetitive so I really tried hard to pick a good balance of songs. Also being relatively unknown with limited funds raised a lot of issues. Using my home to record the album made for some funny, but frustrating nights. I have a little shih tzu and for some reason, every time I decided to record a vocal track, she would have to come and sit under my feet. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but when I got to the mixing phase I could hear her collar jingling in the background of my recordings. This made me have to start the recording process all over again. The other challenges were getting each instrument set up right. I played the acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, synthesizer, and electric percussion. I contacted Phil Robertson, a studio drummer based in Canada. I would e-mail Phil a drum track of me playing on my electric kit with some ideas I had for the song. He would then take that idea, expand on it, record the drums in his studio and send me back the tracks. I then had the songs mixed by Peter Carter, a mixing engineer based in the U.K. Peter and I would send the songs back and forth through e-mail to help me get the best possible sound. So even though there were challenges, I really had some great help in making the album.
What are your musical dreams?
I would love to get inside a real recording studio and just get to focus on music without all the outside stress of life and work. I also would like to start playing some bigger venues. I have to admit, I do daydream a lot of having music as my only career, but the main thing for me is just to be heard and have people want to hear more. I think that’s all that any real songwriter dreams about.