After a whirlwind tour of the southwestern United States, Tyler Gilbert is making a return to Estevan.
Gilbert returns to the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum’s After Dark concert series this Friday, along with Katie Miller.
Gilbert has been back in Regina since April after touring in the southern United States earlier in the spring. He played a lot of shows around the California coast, racking up about 7,000 km. He also played shows in Utah and Nevada.
Closer to home, he continued to play a regular dose of shows in Regina and elsewhere around the province. But touring can take attention away from other projects, and he’s putting in the hours to write since he’s planning on recording a new album this year.
“Currently, I’ve been writing for my new album, so that has been keeping me somewhat busy,” he said, noting he is expecting to enter the studio this summer to record his next collection of work.
“When I’m not touring, I’m working on the album, and it’s taking longer than I expected.”
A previous tour a couple of years ago took him through the Midwest and eastern U.S. hitting spots like Chicago and Nashville.
“My goal is to get down there more often. I’d like to do that about once a year.”
But Gilbert’s focus on creating new material is impeding his desire to travel. He said he finds it difficult to write on the road.
It’s a new sound he is hoping to find for his next album that is continuing to elude him.
“I definitely have a sound. I’ve been swaying a lot on this album. I don’t remember having this much of a problem determining what I want the album to sound like,” he said.
He’s getting away from his previous work as the “lonely folk singer” and wants to take his music in a new direction that’s edgier and includes more rock standards. He sees his musical future involving a more twangy, southern rock feel. But finding his fit in that genre isn’t easy.
“I’m definitely having troubles determining exactly what I want that to sound like on this album. I always worry if I come out with this new sounds, maybe it won’t go over well with the fans I have now,” he said, noting he is known as an artist in the singer-songwriter model. “I’ve been fairly mellow in the past, and it does lay in the back of your mind.”
To remove some of those thoughts, Gilbert has reminded himself why he makes music. Simply, it’s because he likes to do it.
“I want to make an album I like,” he said. He has a lot of wildly varying influences from various genres and that range makes it difficult to focus. “I want to make every song and sound that I’ve liked myself, and I’ve always tried to make (that) on my albums. That’s very tricky to do.”
However much a musician wants to make music for themselves, music is still meant to be heard by others. There must be an audience in mind that goes beyond that of the musician, so Gilbert is cognizant of not burying himself too deep inside his own world. That could be a trap that would ultimately make his music inaccessible. Finding that middle ground is what he’s working so hard to develop.
“There’s a boundary there, but I’m definitely expanding the horizons,” he said.
“There are a lot of musicians out there, and everyone’s looking for a unique sound,” he added, noting the more people making music, the more challenging it is for anyone to sound unique.
But he said it’s more common for musicians to straddle multiple genres or even change genres completely. There is a lot of overlap in the country and rock worlds nowadays.
“People just seem to accept it a little more now.”
Gilbert wants to take a step away from his past, but he still wants to sound familiar. He wants to sound like himself.
“That’s the tricky line. That’s the line I’ve been struggling with lately,” he said. “I’ve wanted to make so many different types of music, and I hope people understand that.”
One popular option for musicians seeking to dabble in a different genre is to go by a different name. It’s not uncommon for an artist to work on a side project that could be wildly different from what they had previously been known for.
For Gilbert, he also plays in a heavy metal band, Third Ion.
“It got me out of my realm, and I wasn’t expecting it. It’s really outside of my norm.”
He said it allows him to think about music in a different way when he’s writing, and it freshens up the creative process.
Gilbert said the important thing is to keep both projects separate.
Gilbert has performed in Estevan a few times in the last couple of years, and though he has typically performed as a solo acoustic act, he said he wants to add a little edge. He’ll be performing primarily with an electric, so locals can get a taste of some of the new work he is developing.
Check out tomorrow’s Lifestyles for an interview with Katie Miller. Doors for the show open at 8 p.m.