Here in Knoxville, students are just a few hours away from one of the music capitals of the world: Nashville, Tennessee.
Walker Hayes, an American musical artist from Nashville, will be visiting the Mill and Mine in Knoxville on Friday. Hayes recently became well known with his hit “You Broke Up With Me,” topping the country charts in the United States.
Hayes and his team are currently traveling around the US on the Dream On It tour, where they will be visiting over thirty different cities. The tour’s name actually came about from a fan of Hayes named Georgia; they held a contest to choose the name for it, which she won.
“We knew we had a fanbase out there waiting for me to headline, so that is what the Dream On It tour is. I’ve been an opening act for Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, and many more, and we’ve gained such a fanbase from those people bringing me out,” Hayes said, “every city and every state has been remarkable,” Hayes said, “I know it is cliche, but I am so grateful to have these fans come out to see me.”
Although Hayes is overall recognized as a country artist, he feels his music is in its own genre.
“It’s tough to describe what exactly my music is… I feel like people find my music through country outlets, but I don’t think the word country is enough. I think it is definitely elements of what my music contains, but for me it’s just my life experiences put to music,” Hayes said.
Since Hayes grew up in the south, many of the country music influences can be heard in his music, and his experiences in the Nashville music scene have developed that as well.
“I’ve been in Nashville for fifteen years, and I basically went to the songwriting school of Nashville. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I like to take inspiration from country western sounds… obviously my music is heavily influenced by hip-hop, the 90’s alternative scene, I pull from all influences,” Hayes said.
Hayes said his influences come from whatever was on the radio or jukeboxes when he was growing up in his hometown, no matter the genre.
“My music that has made it the furthest out to the masses have all been personal experiences, which is very encouraging, it’s stopped me from trying to hunt or search for clever ideas and just kind of wake up and realize that what is most personal to me is the most universal,” Hayes said.
As Hayes talks more about his personal experiences, this helps him to develop his music overall as an artist.
“Every song on my latest album have been personal experiences in my life, personal struggles along this journey, trying to be a songwriter to care about my kids,” Hayes explained, “my favorite song I’ve ever released is probably a song called Halloween that is, in my opinion, is 110% me, from the heart, nothing held back,” Hayes said.
The team that Hayes works with has created many albums, music videos, and much more for the fans of Hayes to enjoy.
“With fifteen years of experience and struggle, my music definitely is not the easiest to market commercially, but I have such a great team,” Hayes said, “it’s very unique, it’s made in a very unique process, and I think it is definitely out of the box from any mainstream process. I really appreciate each and every one of my open minded fans who are actively seeking something different and unique.”