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."