Country artist Ty Herndon came out as gay last November, after nearly two decades in the music industry. He recently sat down with uInterview to talk about how this announcement has changed his identity, career, and new sound on his newest album, House On Fire.

TY HERNDON VIDEO EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Herndon, who has been married to woman in the past and has spent the majority of his career keeping his sexuality hidden, revealed that the biggest change to come from this announcement was his commitment to being his authentic self. The singer-songwriter admitted that this has had a profound impact on the way he creates music. “My authenticity has changed everything. From the way that I sit down with a group of people, who I write with, where I write, why I write, why I record, why I sing,” he said. That’s not to say this decision was not initially a big risk for the singer-songwriter. “I made that decision knowing that I might not be able to have a career in country music, that I might be walking away from it. It was more important for me to live in my skin, be happy, and to be an authentic man than it was to do music.”

Herndon’s personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance heavily influenced his latest album’s new sound. The musician described the process of creating songs from such intimate feelings as intense and challenging. “Quite honestly, the writing process when we got that deep in became very difficult; a lot of emotions were involved in that. So, I would find myself leaving the room a lot, and just wondering if people really wanted to go that deep with lyrics and if they wanted to hear that much,” he admitted. During that struggle, Herndon found the message at the core of his new music. “We always came back too, “Hey man, what’s your story?” And this is just the way it is, so [the song] House On Fire is about as deep as we go, and it cuts pretty deep, it gets into some issues with my spirituality, my religious background growing up and how got I through that”

It is a message the singer stresses is for everyone. “I noticed that about half-way through my producer said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you realize this, but you are really leaning towards a non-gender theme with this music.’  And I said, ‘Wow, we really are,’” he said. “I didn’t intend for that to happen, but then I got to thinking about it, and for me, I want anyone that hears this music to be able to put their own lives into it. I want—from whatever walk of life that you come from—I want you to be able to put this album on and go, “Hey, that happened to me,  happened to my mom, my dad, or someone that I love.” And so, the album is completely non-gendered; anyone who wants to listen to this music can absolutely put their own stories into it.” This accessibility doesn’t come at the cost of losing his country roots, however; he assured uInterview that he still gets to sing about, “Letting the top down on the car, letting the windows down in my pickup truck, and just driving fast on a country road or on the freeway.”

Ultimately, Herndon hopes that House On Fire will inspire young people to follow their passions and be their authentic selves, despite fears of not being accepted. “I want any kid that wants to be a country artist to know that they can be exactly who they are, and I wish that someone had told me that early on. You just have be the best you can be, you can be the best songwriter, the best singer, the best studio musician, whatever you want to do. Being different, or being gay, it’s just a part of your story.”

House On Fire is scheduled to drop on November 11, 2016.

 


Q: How has coming out changed the way you write music? -

My life and my writing; my authenticity has changed everything. From the way that I sit down with a group of people, who I write with, where I write, why I write, why I record, why I sing. Because there was a moment in my life when I made this decision to be my authentic self. I made that decision knowing that I might not be able to have a career in country music, that I might be walking away from it. It was more important for me to live in my skin, be happy, and to be an authentic man than it was to do music.

Q: How is your new album a departure from your previous track? -

With the new album and sound, it was very interesting, because I really struggled in the beginning, because I’ve had a lot music out there in my past. My first album came out in 1996—95,96—so in country music we can sometimes get stuck in a little bit of rut. So, I knew that I wanted to recreate the Ty Herndon brand and sound with this album. I wanted it to be fun, but also with my story, it had to have a serious overtone in really the meat and potatoes of this album. So, we started diving in and started writing song like ‘House on Fire,’ which became the centerpiece of this album. Quite honestly, the writing process when we got that deep in became very difficult; a lot of emotions were involved in that. So, I would find myself leaving the room a lot, and just wondering if people really wanted to go that deep with lyrics and if they wanted to hear that much. We always came back too, “Hey man, what’s your story?” And this is just the way it is, so ‘House on Fire’ is about as deep as we go, and it cuts pretty deep, it gets into some issues with my spirituality, my religious background growing up and how got I through that. So, we centered that right in the middle of the album, and then we just kind of go from there; from the beginning, to the middle, to the end, it tells the story, which is something I’ve always done with my albums.

Q: What kind of story does your album tell? -

The main thing for me is being as authentic as possible with this music. I noticed that about half-way through my producer said, “Hey, I don’t know if you realize this, but you are really leaning towards a non-gender theme with this music.” And I said, “Wow, we really are.” So, I didn’t intend for that to happen, but then I got to thinking about it, and for me, I want anyone that hears this music to be able to put their own lives into it. I want—from whatever walk of life that you come from—I want you to be able to put this album on and go, “Hey, that happened to me, happened to my mom, my dad, or someone that I love.” And so, the album is completely non-gendered; anyone who wants to listen to this music can absolutely put their own stories into it. It was really very important to me, as I was telling my story through songs. I mean, I get to sing about letting the top down on the car, letting the windows down in my pickup truck, and just driving fast on a country road or on the freeway. The album kicks off with that kind of night, and just moving to a song that I wrote for my partner—number two on the album—a song called ‘Sweet, Sweet Way To Go.’ You’re gonna be the death of me, death of me, I know, but what a sweet, sweet way to go.

Q: What is your favorite song on the album? -

Closing the album out with a song called ‘Fighter,’ because I’m out there; I’m out doing my best to change hearts and minds, and educate people. I know there’s a lot of my brothers and sisters out there who are still struggling so much. And not even in just the LGBT community, just people in general; we all go through stuff in life. So, there was always this thing in me and I guess it just comes from generations of—my mom says it comes from generations of some pretty strong woman in my background. The guys are great too, but I’ve always been a fighter and the moments that I have been at my worst and my lowest in my life, there was always a seed of faith in me, and I consider that to be—I tell kids this all the time: There’s always a little seed of faith that is planted in you, that is just a fighter, and you got to find that. You got to fight for who you are and what you want in this life.

Q: What do you want listeners to take away from your new music? -

I want any kid that wants to be a country artist to know that they can be exactly who they are, and I wish that someone had told me that early on. You just have be the best you can be, you can be the best songwriter, the best singer, the best studio musician, whatever you want to do. Being different, or being gay, it’s just a part of your story. So, in country music that can sometimes can be difficult, so I wanted to put a product, a brand, and a story out there that little twelve year-old Ty Herndon sitting at home will hear that, and it’s a strong message.