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There are a lot of reasons Americana music is particularly in vogue these days. Here at Baeble, we see the popularity of artists like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Alabama Shakes (not to mention the resurgence of events like The Newport Folk Festival) as a beautiful rebellion of authenticity against the EDM renaissance or never-ending parade of corny pop artists on the radio dial. But of course, folk music has always been around. It's just really freakin' cool at the moment...which is really freakin' cool in our book.

Singer-songwriter Dillon Hodges, the creative wunderkind at the center of Muscle Shoals outfit firekid, recently shared a few thoughts on the subject when we ventured uptown to Atlantic Records for a session. "To be honest, I love that Americana music is cool," the scruffy, workman-like Alabaman told us. "I'm very grateful for that. It definitely makes life easier for me." But Hodges also isn't looking to resurrect the past. He knows the world he's working in and sees opportunity in the technology genres like EDM, hip hop, and pop embrace. Actually, he's quite frank about some of the more tired tropes of modern folk and Americana. "If you set out to make music that's timeless, you're just going to make something...boring."

Playing three extremely inventive songs from his debut, self-titled album ("Die For Alabama", "Magic Mountain", and "Lay By Me"), Hodges and drummer Josh Kleppin put this tech on full display, running their songs through a variety of pedals, triggers, and looping mechanisms to create firekid's signature sound. We're told he even has a trick he does using a Nintendo Game Boy, but he reserves that one for the paying audience at his concerts. It's kind of like EDM-inspired folk with a little hip-hop flair - something a writer of ours admitted, "shouldn't really be a thing, but firekid make it work so naturally."

Still, at the heart of this sizzling session is the roots of authentic bluegrass music. It's what Dillon came up on, winning the National Flatpicking Guitar Championship at the tender age of 17. "I play authentic bluegrass guitar," Dillon told us. "We could certainly stand up there and play bluegrass music but it's been done before. And I want to push the limits of what's possible. I want to make music of a moment."

Transcript

Sinking sand When I sleep
I see her ghost
Siren's hand pulling me six feet below
in the band Fire Kid.
We're here in New York City at Atlantic Records at their beautiful new studio.
I actually came here and recorded a few tracks.
I was maybe the first person to record in this studio after it opened and they keep buying new gear.
It's awesome, you're gonna love it.
I know there's a brighter side
Where the dreamers live and the nightmares die
We won't know the difference if we make it out alive
We came from the other side
Where the kids grow old and the stars don't shine
We don't fear the darkness cause we've never seen the light
End is near, got no fear Brave boys cheer, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
I know there's a brighter side
Where the good girls give and the bad boys hide
We don't have the answers and no one wonders why
We came from the other side
Where the sidewalk ends and the luck runs dry
We don't see our shadows cause the sun don't get that high
End is near, got no fear Brave boys cheer, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
We came from the other side
Where the kids grow old and the stars don't shine
We don't fear the darkness cause we've never seen the light
End is near, got no fear Brave boys cheer, die for Alabama
End is near, got no fear Brave boys cheer, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh Whoa oh oh, die for Alabama
- I'm originally from Muscle Shoals, Alabama which is sort of in the corner of Alabama in between Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, so it kind of draws from the music of all three very unique places.
There was a guy in Muscle Shoals named Rick Hall who had this dream in the 70s of opening up a studio and bringing in artists to record, or recording local artists, and he sort of built this empire in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
In the beginning it was national acts coming to the Shoals as a destination to record.
And then, in the 80s and 90s, it was a songwriting community where everyone was writing country songs.
More recently, you've got artists like the Alabama Shakes from there, Civil Wars were from there, Secret Sisters, Anderson East, Jason Isbell are all from the Shoals area.
I didn't know that the city I grew up in had any musical history at all until I was maybe a senior in high school, and then I started making the connection, "Wow, there's a lot of local bands from here, and when I travel, every little town doesn't have 30 or 40 local bands.
There's not active music scenes like this everywhere I go.
" There's something special about the Shoals because there's undeniably a lot of bands that come out there.
I feel like people can get too wrapped up in making something sound timeless, and they don't push the limits of what is possible with music.
I think for us it's been important to incorporate technology in what we do.
I play authentic bluegrass guitar, we could certainly stand up there and play bluegrass music, but it's been done before, and I wanna push the limits of what's possible.
I want to make music of a moment, and I think if you set out to make music that's timeless, you're just gonna make something that's boring.
Lights out, paper town Summer queens with daisy crowns
Merry going round-and-round You're the darling of the town
I'll show you the world tonight I'll show you the world tonight
Scraped knees, birds and bees Duke and duchess of a dream
Rainy day philosophy A hurricane is just a breeze
I'll show you the world tonight As long as you say you're mine
Take my heart and put it in your pocket Wear it like a locket and hide the key
At sundown when we're only dry bones Sleeping under two stones, lay by me
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Back seat jubilee Factories without machines
Digging in like winter trees Stay this way and never leave
I'll show you the world tonight As long as you say you're mine
Take my heart and put it in your pocket Wear it like a locket and hide the key
At sundown when we're only dry bones Sleeping under two stones, lay by me
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Take my heart and put it in your pocket Wear it like a locket and hide the key
At sundown when we're only dry bones Sleeping under two stones, lay by me
Take my heart and put it in your pocket Wear it like a locket and hide the key
At sundown when we're only dry bones Sleeping under two stones, lay by me
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Lay by me, lay by me
You're the only one and you always will be
Lay by me, lay by me
You're the only one and you always will be
- To be honest I love that Americana music is cool, has become a vogue thing to play.
I'm very grateful for that, it definitely makes life easier for me.
But when I was growing up playing, it wasn't cool, and a lot of the kids that are making the music now were making heavy metal music and giving me a hard time about it.
So now I see them playing in overalls, and I'm like "What are you doing?" You know? I think my goal for the Fire Kid project has been to expose more people to traditional bluegrass guitar, which is flat picking.
But also push the limits of what traditionalists are okay with flat picking being involved in.
Magic Mountain in particular was one of the first songs I wrote for the project.
Actually Magic Mountain and Lay By Me, those were the first two songs we wrote for the project, and they ended up coming to life in production.
I was just sort of dreaming up how you could incorporate these bluegrass and folk idioms with electronic and pop music, and Magic Mountain just sort of came and said, "This is how you do it.
" It's all about the imagery of the Magic Mountain theme park after dark, but you talk about Mountain and it sounds like you're in bluegrass territory again.
Oooh, oooh.
Oooh, oooh.
Oooh, oooh. Oooh, oooh.
Oooh, oooh.
Oooh, oooh.
Oooh, oooh. Oooh, oooh.
The story goes, from what I've heard That those who go there don't return
But I've come back a time or two Cause I don't have a thing to lose
Mama, take me back again Up to Magic Mountain
Mama, take me back again Up to Magic Mountain
There's a roundabout just beyond the clouds
We're rolling out, we won't come back down
We'll be screaming loud; you won't hear a sound
We'll be climbing higher now; we won't come back down
Wooo, wooo.
Down
Wooo, wooo.
Tourists on their camera phones Wandering around like ghosts
But we're too busy cutting lines To see what's on the other side
Mama, take me back again Up to Magic Mountain
Mama, take me back again Up to Magic Mountain
There's a roundabout just beyond the clouds
We're rolling out, we won't come back down
We'll be screaming loud; you won't hear a sound
We'll be climbing higher now; we won't come back down
Wooo, wooo.
Down
Wooo, wooo
Story goes, from what I've heard Those who go there don't return
But we're like ships that sail above Nothing's ever high enough
There's a roundabout just beyond the clouds
We're rolling out, we won't come back down
We'll be screaming loud; you won't hear a sound
We'll be climbing higher now; we won't come back down
Wooo, wooo.
Down
Wooo, wooo.
Down
Wooo, wooo.
Down
Wooo, wooo.


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