These articles appear in the July issue of 400 Life.
Meet some up&comers from Forsyth County that have taken their music to the next level. One has appeared on "The Voice," another appeared in the series "Parenthood" for three years, others continue to share their music locally.
Skyler Day, Music part of the balancing act for actor
From the time Skyler Day was 10 years old, the Forsyth County native has balanced music and acting.
Acting took off sooner for Day. She landed her first lead role at 11 in the movie “The Adventures of Ociee Nash.” Two years later, Day convinced her family to move from Cumming to California so she could pursue a full-time career. Day has appeared in a host of television series since, including a recent three-year run on “Parenthood.”
But music has been taking off lately. The 27-year-old just released “Honest,” a pensive country-pop, singer-songwriter single that Day hopes is the first in a steady stream of new releases this year.
“It’s mainly just about putting as much creation out there as I can this year,” Day said.
Music and acting were new for the Day family. Her parents owned a gymnastics training center in Norcross, but Day was hooked on the performing arts by the time she was 6 when she was in a musical at Sawnee Elementary School. “From then on … I knew that music and acting were the only things I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Day said.
Day got her first taste of writing her own music at 10. She wrote a song for her grandfather, who was dying of cancer, and performed it for him. He passed the next day. “It’s actually a great experience,” Day said. “He kind of started it for me.”
Day then learned to play guitar at 14, and it fully unlocked the songwriter in her. She started performing in coffee shops and even a bar here or there around Los Angeles. Eventually, Day recorded her first EP, “Between the I and the You” in 2014 and another, “Los Angeles,” in 2017. Day has even performed at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the iconic nightclub that hosted famous artists like Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Eagles early in their careers.
Occasionally, Day’s acting and music ventures connect. During her run on “Parenthood,” the show used one of her songs on an episode. And while Day’s acting career is currently on a break, she says that’s OK as long as she has a guitar and space to create.
“Music keeps me sane,” Day said.
— Brian Paglia
Jive Revival, Band brings modern spin to old music
Band names run the gambit from inside jokes to places to references and everything else under the sun, but for Forsyth County’s Jive Revival, their name is pretty much their mission statement.
Jive Revival — made up of Ross Talbott, Chad Honea, Ryan Cross and Mitch Smith — recently released their debut, self-titled album at Cherry Street Brewing Co-op and have a slew of shows across the metro Atlanta over the summer.
Like their name says, the band is trying to bring a modern spin to old music, and so far, the album has gotten a good response, even in unlikely places.
“It was fantastic. I mean, the album’s been well-received everywhere,” Cross said. “We got some of our metrics back, and oddly we’re getting a lot of listens in Spain. I don’t know what that’s all about — who found us out there — but it’s been nice.”
He said a listener who found their songs online was waiting to meet them hours before a recent show in Roswell.
Instead of trying to ride current trends, the band wants to honor and build on the classics.
“We’re not necessarily going back to what we heard growing up in the ’90s and the late ’80s, we’re trying to go back further than that to what those guys were listening to and recreate kind of the inspiration behind the inspiration,” Honea said.
Talbott said the band wants to make modern music that still has the feel of some of their influences, including Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead.
“Those are the guys that we love so much, that we want to keep playing their music and make that part of what people see us as,” Cross said. “It’s always a goal when we have a show to play — because it’s not always 100 percent original shows, we can throw covers in sometimes.
“With our originals, we love when people don’t miss a beat when we play a Dead tune or an Allman Brothers tune or something by The Band, then we throw in our music as well as part of that mixture.”
— Kelly Whitmire
Dalton Day, Using a second chance to take on music industry
Dalton Day had a bit of schizophrenia when it came to his musical interests growing up. He gravitated toward heavy metal and punk when he was learning guitar as a teenager. “I was trying to rebel and be cool,” he said. Later, he discovered the understated brilliance of guitarists Gregg Allman and John Mayer. When he ventured into songwriting with lyrics, Day found inspiration in Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and Death Cab for Cutie.
But Day, now 27 and living in California, is making his mark with a heartfelt “ambient” folk sound. (Think Bon Iver meets Sigur Rós, Day said.)
“A lot of people say those type of songs are depressive, but to me, it’s not,” he said. “It’s just looking at an emotion and being able to feel it and live in the moment and be present.”
Day is grateful for the present after he almost died from a skateboarding accident at 15. One day, Day went to land a big jump but instead fell chest-first on a curb. He broke all the ribs on the left side, some of which punctured his lungs and severed his spleen.
He lost 30 pounds in the hospital. The recovery process took six months and ended a once-promising career in competitive gymnastics.
Day had casually played guitar before the accident, but while still in the hospital, Day’s dad bought him a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar. The gift unlocked Day’s creativity.
“That’s when it really kind of took off, and I was like, ‘OK, guitar’s going to be my thing,’” Day said.
Day began playing coffee shops around the Los Angeles area, including The Hotel Cafe, a reputable venue of up-and-coming artists. Last summer, he released his first recording, “Believe Me,” six tracks of mostly promises — to his girlfriend at the time, sure, but also to himself. The surest promise he’s made so far is that whatever the future holds, it will involve music.
“I want to play music for the rest of my life,” Day said. “I don’t really care how I do it.”
— Brian Paglia
415, New musicians ready to take on world with their music
When the four members of the band 415 started playing together, it was like how many high school bands start: just a couple of close friends who love music, learning and playing together for fun.
But when they got the opportunity to play a show at His Rock Record Store in Cumming earlier last year, the members of 415 (pronounced four one five) realized the dream of becoming a real band was possible if they got serious and put themselves out there.
“At our first show we had like 75 people show up and this was before we had released a song or anything like that,” said drummer Ethan Page. “And then it evolved from there. We got the opportunity for that show ... and we were like, ‘OK, we need to take this kind of seriously.’”
According to Page, the process of becoming a band, while simultaneously learning to master their chosen instruments — Sam Wilder, lead guitar and backing vocals; Aidan Powers, rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Josh Allen, bass and backing vocals; and Page, drums and synth — has been harder than they expected.
But together they have been able to make a sound they like and feel is working.
“We’re all recently musicians,” he said. “Sam has been playing for two years, Aiden’s been playing for four or five, Josh has been playing for two and I’ve only been playing for a year and a half now. A lot of our musical style has developed from a combination of our music tastes and our influences.”
And their music does seem to be working for fans too. According to a count by music streaming service Spotify, with just a few songs released, 415 has an average of about 17,000 monthly listeners.
In May, all four of the bandmates graduated from South Forsyth High School. Soon they will set out on the next stages of their school and musical careers.
Even though they are spreading out to the University of North Georgia and Georgia State, Page said that he and his bandmates are still dedicated to improving their music.
“We currently have a lot of writing going on. We have three singles we plan on releasing soon, hopefully by the beginning of July,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking forward to right now; we’re also working on an album. A lot of writing sessions have gone into that.”
Page said that 415 will be announcing plans for a new show in Forsyth County sometime in the next year.
— Alexander Popp
Daniel Hardin, brings variety of tastes to Athens music scene
Then a senior at West Forsyth High School, Daniel Hardin released his self-titled album, which he wrote, produced and even made the instruments appearing on the album.
After a busy few years, including a move to Athens to attend the University of Georgia and releasing an EP and five singles, Hardin said he’s getting ready to return to the studio.
“I’m in the middle of writing and recording for a new full-length album,” Hardin said. “I feel like it’s time that I release one after three years since the last one. I’m almost halfway done ... but my main focus for this record is I’m going to be featuring a lot of cool artists, a lot of people that are bigger than me.”
Hardin said he is making the most of his move to Athens, both in terms of pursuing a degree in marketing with a special certificate in the music industry and taking advantage of the local music scene. He recently took part in AthFest, the city’s annual music festival.
“It’s a nice confined little music town that has a lot of support, and it’s small enough to where you can get to know everybody pretty quickly and get a network going if you start talking to people, but it’s big enough ... to support good artists and regular shows,” he said. “I love it, especially the people I get to meet because there’s all kinds of people playing all kinds of music.”
Drawing from a variety of influences, Hardin said his shows dip into a number of genres.
“I play guitar-based rock most of the time, but I like to keep it pretty diverse,” he said. “My influences range from John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa to Ben Folds, Collective Soul, Gary Clark Jr., The Black Keys.
“I like to write songs that range from alt-rock to just straight blues to more funky rock, even sometimes Americana, but I like to keep them all different because it makes listening to it more exciting. It makes live shows a lot more interesting when I’m playing a bunch of very different types of music.”
— Kelly Whitmire
Riley Biederer, from Forsyth County to L.A.
Riley Biederer, 23, recently made the move from Forsyth County to Los Angeles to pursue her music career, but she still makes time for the hometown.
After being signed to Elton John’s Rocket Music at age 15, in recent years, Biederer has toured with Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, performed on the ninth Season of NBC’s “The Voice” as part of Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams’ teams and performed a duet with Katy Perry’s on Best.Cover.Ever, a YouTube-exclusive talent competition hosted by rapper Ludacris.
Even with those big names, Biederer finds time to come home and perform at venues around Forsyth County.
“I’ve actually relocated to Los Angeles about a year-and-a-half ago, but I come back a good bit and perform here,” Biederer said.
From her teenage years to now and with the experience of working with so many established names, Biederer’s influence and music have evolved.
“Growing up, I was always influenced by like Taylor Swift and all of the female artists that were also songwriters. I really liked that,” she said. “Now I’d say it’s like 90 percent pop and 10 percent almost a country, Americana influence to it. It’s definitely pop, but I’d say like a Julia Michaels, Lennon Stella is a really good example. Just kind of left-of-center pop that still has almost like a Nashville feel to it, but it’s still pop.”
Biederer has performed at events for Billboard, at Ultra Music Festival in Miami and has made a few trips to perform in Canada, where she has made some waves.
She was featured on DJ Frank Walker’s “Heartbreak Back,” which made Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100.
“It was released in August, and I think it’s still on the charts, which is pretty crazy,” Biederer said.
Biederer said she went through a big change in managers and publishers at the beginning of the year and new music featuring her is expected to be released soon.
“I have just a couple of things in the woodwork,” she said.
— Kelly Whitmire