In this interview feature, we chat with Galen Crew about his newest project, his influences, navigating the digital music world and more.
Full Q&A along with links and his video for Fragrance below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I was born in Ocean City, NJ, but I grew up in Franklin, TN. I live in Nashville now. I would say my music is a blend of singer-songwriter, pop, alternative…with some electronic elements and some folky elements. I love dreamy melodies, music that takes me somewhere or gets my imagination going…and that is what I try to do with my own music. I draw a lot of inspiration from stories, whether fantasy or real life, and I’m always looking to craft songs with a story or message that will touch people.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I would say it’s really a two-pronged motivation to reach people all around the world and reach my own potential. A lot of artists feel this compulsion to let out the music that’s in them, and I’m no different in that regard. So there’s the part of me that does this to see what’s really in me, as a sort of self-growth type exploration…and then there’s the part of me that simply draws true joy and fulfillment from affecting people’s lives through music, and so I want to see how many people I can reach in the world. It’s definitely a satisfying thing to hear other people tell you you’ve inspired them in some way. I’ll be doing music in some form or fashion for the rest of my life!
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
The song “Fragrance” came from a really unique place. I wrote it in China when I was on tour. I was so inspired by what I was experiencing there, my mind was kind of blown. I had never been to China before, and yet all these people were coming to my shows and singing along to all the words of my songs. I was receiving so many personal letters at every show from these Chinese fans about how deeply my music had affected them. I was really moved by it. So the song kind of came from this place of wondering, “What effect am I having on people? Is it good?” That sort of thing. I wanted whatever good thing was happening to continue. We featured the erhu in the song, which is a Chinese traditional instrument, and something I’ve never heard used in a pop song before. We also filmed the music video in China. So there are a handful of nods to China in “Fragrance”… it’s sort of me responding to the love they’ve shown me. The response from Chinese fans since its release has been absolutely amazing.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
There’s no shortage of challenges. It’s not an easy thing to get the train moving enough to where you can pay the bills through music, especially at first. Living in Nashville is great because there’s so many talented people here trying to do the same thing you’re trying to do – so the competition makes you better. It has to, or you’ll just give up. I like that part of it, being around the quality of musicians that are here and feeling like I need to constantly improve. The downside is that the over-saturation of music makes it difficult to get a large fanbase here. So the internet has been the most powerful tool at my disposal for getting my music to people who wouldn’t otherwise know about me. I released a couple projects in 2012 that were recorded with a modest budget and modest means, the best I could do at the time. And somehow, people in China got ahold of it and uploaded it to major Chinese music platforms (Netease, Xiami) – and it went viral. One song of mine in particular “Sleepyhead”, now has several million plays on Chinese music apps. I’ve even heard from friends here in various states in America that tell me they’re eating at a Chinese restaurant and my song is playing. None of this would have happened if not for the internet. After jumping through some hoops and hurdles, I was able to set up official accounts on Chinese social media sites, and plan a tour there. I ended up touring there twice in 2016, performing in 13 different cities. It was such a random and crazy experience. So even though the digital age has its challenges, I’m thankful for the unique story that is emerging from me simply putting my music on the out there as an indie artist. You never know where the adventure will take you!
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
Anything else before we sign off?
I’ve got a new album coming out this year that I’m really proud of. I can’t wait to share it with the world. Thanks for your support!