EXCLUSIVE Interview With Ernie Halter

October 10, 2013
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“Inspiration is all around us. Songs can be about anything, and everything, or nothing. It’s our perfectionism that blocks inspiration. Remove that, and inspiration is all that’s left.” – Ernie Halter

Currently signed to the Rock Ridge  label, American singer/songwriter Ernie Halter started playing the piano when he was just 8 years old. Picking up a guitar at the age of 14 and writing his own songs by the age of 16, it was nothing short of a lifelong realization of a gift when he released his first album back in 2005. Fast forward to 2013, and he’s about to release his 7th album.

Set for release October 22nd, the creation of Labor of Love  has lived up to it’s title, with Halter not only recording all the instruments and vocals, but also mixing the tracks himself. Something which, by his own admission, took several hundreds of hours. Co-writers on the album include notable songwriters such as Jason Reeves, Tony Lucca, Julie Roberts, Gabe Dixon, Josh Hoge, and more.

An incredible lyricst, Halter has been heavily influenced by events in his own life when writing music in the past. We caught up with the ever affable ‘Songtrepreneur’  to chat about the forthcoming album.

Before you became a successful singing/songwriting, touring artist you were the quintessential Piano Man from the Billy Joel song. In the past you’ve mentioned that this was an unhappy time for you. How did those early years performing at those small gigs shape you as a musician?

I’ve pretty much always been happy making music. Even starting out. There have been lots of ups and downs along the way, but as I once heard: “A bad day playing music, is still better than a good day at work.”

As far as how those years shaped me. I think they’ve given me the confidence that I have today. That experience taught me how to entertain an audience, and recognize that as a skill, just as much as learning to play an instrument.

I remember when you hosted a livestream 2 years ago; you asked the viewers to request any song and you’d play it. You kindly played James Taylor’s Carolina on my Mind  for me, perfectly and without hesitation. Are you naturally a very confident performer or do you ever suffer from stage fright?

I used to be quite nervous performing but that fades over time. I’ve done a lot of gigs. Spent tens of thousands of hours playing and singing and learning music theory and songwriting. Preparedness is the antithesis of fear. For me anyways.

Speaking of that livestream, you have a wonderful connection with your fanbase. How does this benefit you as a musician?

My fanbase is the reason I get to be a musician for a living.

In the past you’ve mentioned that you can easily write 100 songs per year. Since September 2012 you’ve been taking part in the 52 Songs Club and supported the MochaClub.Org.  Where do you find inspiration for all that music?

It’s true. I could easily write 100 songs per year. I didn’t say any of them would be good though.

Inspiration is all around us. Songs can be about anything, and everything, or nothing. It’s our perfectionism that blocks inspiration. Remove that, and inspiration is all that’s left.

I also steal… I mean borrow… a LOT.

Your latest album Labor of Love  is due out 22nd October. What was the most enjoyable aspect of creating it?

I mixed the entire record myself, something I’ve never done. I really enjoyed seeing how far I could take it. How much I could learn about audio engineering and production.

Do you have a favorite track on the album?

They’re all my favorite. No really though. I’m fond of I’d Look Good On You. It’s so me.

(Check out a preview here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FAKVWS4/ref=dm_dp_trk8?utm_content=buffer98a18&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer )

I loved your last album Franklin and Vermont, will Labor of Love  be different in sound or style?

Thanks! Yes, Labor of Love will be different, but not 180 degrees different. It’s still my writing, my voice. The songs are definitely more uptempo. This was a conscious choice seeing as I don’t like to do the same record twice, and F&V was more on the mellow side. I wanted this new record to have some pulse to it. Something you could dance to in your kitchen while frying up potstickers. Man, I love potstickers.

Obviously the new album will mean more touring, I can imagine it must be tough to be away from your loved ones? How do you balance work and home life in this situation?

I don’t tour as much, and when I do, it’s for shorter periods of time. All the same, finding a good balance is probably the hardest aspect of my job. If I only had to be a musician, that would be easy.

In terms of touring, you’re a veteran performer now! But if you could only ever perform in one place ever again, where would it be?

I love all the places I get to play. If I had to pick one city to play in, it would probably be New York City. But it would be a tough call.

You’ve worked extremely hard to get to this stage in your career and you have a unique sound. Where do you want to be in 10 years time?

I see myself still writing and performing my own music, however I’d love to produce more. I’m enamored with recording and engineering, and producing is kind of a culmination of all these skill sets that I’ve been acquiring over the last 30 years or so.

Finally, what are your favorite musical memories?

There are so many that it’s really hard to say. I recently got to play the Bluebird  here in Nashville and it’s been a bucket list type of goal. Getting surprised by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez was pretty unforgettable as well.

Labor of Love is out on iTunes 22nd October . Follow Ernie on twitter @erniehalter for previews of the new tracks.

-Lucy.J.

@LucyWKTDJ

 

 

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