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Lydia Miller & Tim Johnson
Lydia Miller, from from Eugene, Oregon, has been on the Northwest music scene for a few years and has wowed crowds at many a county fair and opened for acts like Doug Stone, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Billy Dean, Western Flyer, Ken Mellons and the Bellamy Brothers.
Lydia's self-titled debut album, has been released on the independent Pacific Records, and produced by famed Nashville songwriter Tim Johnson.(Interviewed below) She has had two singles released so far that have both enjoyed moderate success, and has released a video of Before The Next Teardrop Falls, which has been heavily programmed on CMT.
I spoke to Lydia and Tim as they were about to start their first U.K. tour and I first asked Lydia how she first became interested in music, and Country music in particular
My Father introduced me to country music, he had always been in a band, growing up as a teenager. As long as I can remember, country music has been a part of my life. I would say that i was around 7 or 8 when I had my first gig. I was up on stage with my dad and I guess I get the bug right then and there.
Would you say anyone in particular has influenced your style?
It's really hard to say because even as I've grown up as an artist I have had different people influence me, but probably from childhood, I would say Barbara Mandrell. Aside from being an amazing musician, she is a true entertainer and a wonderful vocalist and I think that she opened a lot of doors for women in the industry. Then there was Loretta Lynn, and probably, as I was growing up, Reba McEntire. I am also a huge fan of Linda Ronstadt, what a voice!!! She's very amazing.
Listening to this debut, self-titled album, it is certainly as good, if not better than much of what is being produced by the Major labels. You must be very pleased with it.
Yes, I am very pleased with it, I think the production was done very well, it's something we did put a lot of time and effort into and I'm also very pleased with the selection of songs we ended up with.
The lead off single from the album is your wonderful cover of Freddy Fenders "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." Apart from the fact that it is a good song, was there any other reason for your decision to record it?
Oh, thanks for asking, because there was! Actually, this was a song that I grew up singing with my Father and it was, kind of, our song you know. I think songs are amazing, they can take you back in time or anywhere you want to be, and this particular song, really does take me back to my childhood. It has always been a song that me and my dad could relate to, because it's been part of our lives on stage together through all the years. He'd sing the Spanish parts and I would sing the English parts, and then we would sing the chorus together.
It's a song that I was very adamant should be on the album. My producer had a little apprehension about it, it's always a risk to cut a classic, Freddy Fender did an amazing job on it. We put our heart and soul into it and were very careful because, you never want to kill the song but yet, you want to make it your own. I was very happy with the way it turned out!
Do you speak any Spanish yourself?
Yes, I am actually Hispanic. My Mothers family is Spanish and my Fathers family is Mexican. I don't get a chance to speak it often, but I love to sing in Spanish, It's such a beautiful sound, even if you don't understand the words.
What has the reaction to the single been like?
It's been very good! I've been really pleased because I didn't know whether radio would accept it with it having the Spanish part in it. But I've been very pleased and there's also a video out for the single, which was so much fun to put together and I'm very proud of that project as well. We're getting very good feedback and that makes me happy, because the song means so much to me.
Do you have the next single lined up?
Yeh, we've finally got it narrowed down to about two. It's always hard you know, but I think we are leaning towards "She Made The Devil Cry." I don't know whether I'm supposed to say that, but I just did. [Laughs]
Although you write yourself, there are none of your own songs on the album. Who's decision was that and why?
I am still trying to hone in on that craft. I have a huge respect for great songwriting and it's something I hope to continue to develop. I don't think it's as great as any of the songs that we do have on the album, but my hope is that it's in there and that I will grow into it.
How did yourself and Tim Johnson first get together?
Tim resides in Nashville and he's been there for about 14 or 15 years, but he was originally from Oregon and we met through an acquaintance and, to be honest, I just hunted him down until he said he would work with me. He's amazing and even before I met him, I loved every song that any major artist had cut of his. It was a nice, pleasant surprise when our mutual acquaintance introduced us.
Has the album been released in the states or are you just promoting it over here for the time being. (b) How is it doing back home?
"Before The Next Teardrop Falls" is the current single from it over there, and the album is now just being put into retail across the country. The Video is also getting plenty of airplay too.
Will the album be available in the shops over here, or will people need to buy it through your website?
Thank you for asking! Right now it is currently on the website at http://www.lydiamiller.com and I invite all your visitors to log in and listen to the sound samples on there as well as a sample of the video on there too. We are currently working on distribution here in England and it's looking good, and I'm really excited about that. Hopefully, that will be coming very soon.
You are playing at the 'Soul Café' tonight, a fairly new venue. Are you expecting a good crowd?
Yeh, I think so! I'm on the bill with Niki Dean and I know she's played the venue before, so I hope we can draw a good crowd. It's always nice to have a full house, but I will just be honoured and pleased no matter how many come.
Lydia, it's been great talking to you. All the best for a successful tour and thank you for your time.
The man behind the moving hit "She Misses Him" recorded and made a hit by Tim Rushlow, Tim Johnson is an outstanding Singer/Songwriter with over 60 major cuts by such great's as Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, LeeAnn Womack, Skip Ewing and Pirates of the Mississippi.
He had a #1 with Mark Chestnutt with "Thank God For Believers" and "Someone You Used To Know" with Collin Raye. Other Top Ten hits include "I Let Her Lie" by Darryl Singletary and "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now" by Mindy McCready. He has recent cuts with Reba McEntire,Trace Adkins, and hot newcomer Andy Griggs.
When I spoke to Tim, I first asked him, how long he had been writing successfully in Nashville, and how did he get his first break?
I moved to Nashville in 1989, from Tokyo, Japan. I taught English over there for 5 years. I also had a band and was writing songs. After moving to Nashville, I had my first hit in 1995 when Darryl Singletary recorded "I Let Her Lie"
Of all the songs that different artists have turned into hits for you, is there any one in particular that means more to you more to you than any of the others?
Well I've got to say that it's probably the one I had out last April, it's called "She Misses Him." I wrote that for my wife's Grandmother who just passed away this year at 103 years old. Longevity on my wife's side, but not on mine unfortunately.[Laughs] I wrote it for her and her husband, who had Alzheimer's Disease and was going through Dementia etc. I just wrote the song for them and never really intended writing a hit. But I guess that's how it works, you know. [Laughs)
It is a terrific song song and very moving. I know it has been a Hit for Tim Rushlow, but this is the first time I have heard the song. You have also done your own version of the song on your just released album I believe. Can you tell us something about that?
Yes, it's a self styled songwriter album that I've been putting together. I did a stripped down acoustic version of the song on there, so people could listen to it in a different way, without the full production. Lydia has the defining version of that one I think.
Is the album totally acoustic?
The album has 13 tracks on it and about 5 of those are done acoustic with the rest having full production on them.
Part of the proceeds from the album, are to be donated to an Alzheimer's Charity. Can you tell us about that?
Basically, a portion of all my record sales are to be donated to Alzheimer's. I am just setting up a website for it and calling it the Nashville Chapter
Will the album be available in the shops over here?
I hope so, this is my first trip over here and I just love it! I hope to be able to come here a lot actually.
How do songs usually come to you? Do you get an idea for a title first, a lyric, a melody or do they generally all come together at the same time?
I like writing songs from a conceptual standpoint. Sometimes the song is title driven, but mostly it's a concept. With "She Misses Him," I had the title for it, but I also had an idea of what I wanted to do with the song before I put a melody down or anything. Sometimes you can take any title and make it a very special song, with a great concept behind it.
I've written the odd song myself over the last few years, mainly just the lyrics ..what advice would you give on writing a successful country song?
In my opinion, the lyric is the driving force behind most country songs, and I think some writers, who write mainly melodies, can have success for a short time........ because I think, feel and groove and melodies kind of come in and out of fashion....... but a really strong lyric driven song, can never go out of style. You can cut a great lyric in a variety of different styles and it will still be successful.
You've set up a competition for amateur songwriters while you're over here, which is quite a novel idea. Can you tell us about that?
[Laughs] Well, we've had quite a few entries, around 100 I think, but we've got it down to around 15 songs now and we're going through those and finish up making our decision. That's the hardest thing you know, when people send in their song, it's not just a song, it's their hope and their dream. And I'm the same, we become very personally attached to our songs. It's been tough, there's a lot of talent.
Tim, it's been great talking to you. All the best for a successful tour and thank you for your time.
Thank you for the Interview Ray, I really appreciate it!
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