Singer-songwriter and Alabama native, Dillon Hodges released his debut record as firekid on September 25th. He had already released two singles off the record titled, “Movin’ On” and “Lay By Me.” Growing up, Hodges fell in love with bluegrass and old time music. Also influenced by hip hop, his wide range includes artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gorillaz, and Kanye. Hodges, currently signed to Atlantic Records, moved to Nashville to pursue this different style which he has entitled firekid. Though the new record seems to carries a lot more pop qualities, Hodges’ bluegrass roots are still shining through. In 2014, firekid joined Alex Clare on tour which included a stop at the Cleveland House of Blues. Learn more about firekid from his responses and be sure to check out the rest of the debut, self-titled album.
How would you describe your music to others?
I think the simplest way to describe my sound is roots music with pop production. People love naming things though. We’ve been described as “A Rave in a Cave”, “Nintendo Americana”, and “Metropolitan Mountain Music”.
When and why did you create firekid?
The firekid project started in 2013 when I went to LA to write a few songs with friends. We didn’t really have a purpose, but once the songs started to take shape I realized it was something I needed to pursue further. The songs were different than anything I’d heard before, so I felt like they needed to be performed under a moniker.
What made you choose the name, firekid?
I grew up playing bluegrass music in Muscle Shoals, AL. Bluegrass put me in an interesting position where I was 11 years old but all my friends were in their 50’s. They always called me “the kid” and in 2014 when I started working with my producer, Sam Hollander, he called me “kid” as well. Hollander eventually called me firekid because he said my guitar playing “was fire”. The nickname ended up sticking.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
As the name suggests, I’m really a kid at heart. I enjoy retro gaming and repurposing old things. Most recently I found a couple litebrites and turned them into artwork.
Who and what influences your music? Why?
The musical influences for the project are really all over the map, though there are some very specific touchstones. Doc Watson, Joe Cocker, Son House, Percy Sledge, Gorrilaz, and Daft Punk were a few of the acts I was listening to when we were writing and producing the album.
How would you describe your writing process?
Writing for this album was like going to songwriting boot camp. I was staying in LA with the sole purpose of working on something until it was great. It was like being in a bunker. Sometimes we would work on a song for 15 hours a day. I’ve grown to love writing like that. It fits my obsessive personality.
From start to finish, how long did it take to create the new record?
We started tracking the record in Jul of 2014 and finished mastering in Dec of 2014. But I started going to LA to write back in March of 2013.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind some of the tracks on firekid?
The firekid album is a collection of common themes. In tracks like “Movin’ On”, “Anna Lee”, “Getaway Car”, and a few others there is a theme of escapism. In tracks like “Magic Mountain”, “Die For Alabama” and “Lay By Me” there is a theme of duality and the need to question conventional wisdom.
Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?
On the 8th of each month I compose a cover on a gameboy and perform it on Instagram. It’s called #8thbit. At most shows we’ll perform the monthly cover live as well. My favorites that we’ve done so far have been “God Only Knows” and “Blue (da ba dee)”.
Do you have favorite venues/cities? If so, what are they?
We’ve toured most of the country and the two places that keep exceeding our expectations are Asheville, NC and Minneapolis, MN.
What do you typically do post-gig?
When the show ends, Josh and I usually hang out at the merch table and talk to fans. Once that is over, we typically try to find a local late-night dive.
What image do you think your music conveys?
When people hear my album or see a show I hope they can each draw their own conclusions. I made this music with 2 primary intentions. 1: Bring together urban and rural music, and 2: Take the style of flat pick guitar to places it’s never been before.
What has been your biggest challenge working predominantly as a solo artist?
It’s a constant creative struggle. So much of the pressure to be innovative and unique falls on your shoulders as a solo artist and it can be taxing.
What has been your funniest or craziest fan experience?
There isn’t so much one particular instance that sticks out as much as there are several behaviors we always see from fans that are funny! I never understood why people want their body parts autographed. Don’t get me wrong though, I love signing whatever people put in front of me! I also think it’s funny when people wait outside our van after the show and try to come with us. We hardly have room in there for our instruments as it is!!
What can we expect from firekid in the coming months?
In the coming months we will be continuing to promote our project on the road. We’re constantly adding and announcing dates. We also have a kitchen full of spinning plates, so keep an eye out for some big announcements.