A modern torch singer/songwriter with a voice that will melt the keys off a grand piano, Spencer Day is known for hit songs like "Till You Come to Me" and "Weeping Willow," as well as a dark horse sense of style that makes him as much Johnny Cash as he is Harry Connick, Jr., with a little John Mayer mixed in.
In our exclusive interview, Day answers questions about how his unique story (he's from a small town in Utah and appeared on national TV including The Craig Ferguson Show) has inspired his music, his style and a love for improvisation that applies to both. Spencer Day's forthcoming album Shadow Man from Concord Music Group will be released in September 4. For more about Spencer, click here.
Previously, I've tried to pay homage to classic Great American standards and juxtapose them with a more contemporary aesthetic. For "Shadow Man" I moved my focus from the jazz era to the music of the early ‘60s — essentially paying tribute to Springfield or Roy Orbison and incorporating a lot of the spaghetti western sounds that Ennnio Morricone might have used. The result is a more guitar-driven sound, and, although it sometimes seems like a dirty word in the industry, the record is more pop than my previous work.
I think of my songs as my children. Some of them aren’t as smart or talented as others but I love them all. It’s really hard for me to pick just one because, as often happens to artists, the song that ends up becoming popular isn't necessarily your favorite. That being said, I think the title track, “Shadow Man,” really sums up what I was trying to go for — a psychological exploration of coming to terms with the light and dark parts of ourselves and coming out on the other side of difficult experiences.
Mostly I’m writing, and I’m actually writing for other artists. I’m also doing a few gigs but mostly I’m just going to hang out and enjoy New York and then get ready for a tour. The big tour is coming at the end of August into September.
Not all of them are confirmed just yet but it should be a pretty full tour and hopefully we'll return to some of my favorite venues like the Hollywood Bowl and Monterrey Jazz Festival. It kind of depends on what other TV appearances we do. Hopefully we’ll be back on Craig Ferguson and some more of the late night shows!
Fashion means very different things to musicians today. I guess I belong to the school of thinking that the clothes should help identify me but not upstage me. I want to keep the focus on the music and try to keep it simple and elegant and avoid gimmicks or anything that might distract from what I’m really there to do, which in my case is to sing and play songs with feeling. Basically, I try to keep it pretty simple and pretty clean. I don’t get into a lot of really ornate decoration, though sometimes I wonder if I should. Maybe after my next album!
I think everyone really has to find their own happy medium. I've worn things that are very comfortable but don't look very presentable and I've worn things that are really fitted and look good — I feel like I cant breathe in them! I'm still trying to strike that perfect balance, which is a hard thing to do.
Yes I do. I've probably worked with four stylists all together. Some people have more of an innate sense of fashion, but for those of us that don’t; I think having knowledgeable people around you is really important. Actually, the first time I went to Nordstrom's, I consulted with a fantastic woman who really helped me a lot. A talented friend or stylist can help you find things that express your personality and feel really uniquely you. There's nothing worse than feeling stuffed into some alien outfit that doesn't become you. A bad stylist is the equivalent to an interior decorator that doesn’t know you but still precedes to over design your place. My new music is more contemporary so the goal is to find clothes that are more casual but are still presentable and show a lot of intentionality.
All the time, though thankfully not as much lately! I think probably most people have at some point. The best way for me to avoid that is to find styles that speak to you but to ultimately keep it simple and classic. I’m especially fond of things from or inspired by the 1950s or early ‘60s. If you stick with the classics it’s hard to go wrong.
I think fashion plays a critical role in helping people identify the artist, sometimes almost as much as the music does! Often people come to conclusions about what kind of music an artist makes based on a photo before they've ever even heard the music. Details are really important. Take Billie Holiday and her gardenia, or Roy Orbison and his black sunglasses. Having an iconic look really sets you apart. Even Adele now has the big sixties hair and is wearing a lot of stylish black outfits. I think that’s where getting the right team of people is really helpful if you want an outfit to reflect the music. Music is also innately a very visual experience for many people. Often people will say they can see certain colors when listening to their favorite song and, inevitably, a look will eventually be associated with your sound. I wasn't born with a great sense of style but I'm really enjoying learning how to continue developing a style that reflects my music.
My primary concern lately is making sure that something fits well and that the color scheme is cool and flattering. Hats are great if I'm feeling lazy.
For me, the best fashion find is a shirt that fits well without tailoring because I have some unusual proportions. I have really long arms and torso, I'm also really slender so when I find a shirt that doesn't have to be taken in I know I've found something good. If I’m in a store and I do happen to find something that’s new that fits like a glove I’ll try to by four. You really never know the next time you going to find something that really fits you perfectly and I think that’s true for anyone when cant just wear most things off of the rack.
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