"Hey! You Should Come to My Show."
 

Does anyone else have a lurking feeling of guilt when speaking those words? This is probably at least one of the reasons why I’ve never been the best at self promotion. Every post, every announcement, every release always comes with with an embarrassment-based stomach drop. I’ve struggled with being a self-loathing musician for at least a decade now, and though I thought it would get better with time, it really hasn’t. 

The saga of the starving artist, vagabonding their way around the globe with nothing but the clothes on their back, a guitar, and a dream is one many would find to be romantic and inspiring. Especially those who have been in bands or dabbled in the arts in their younger days, often stare with that longing look in their eyes, as if you have more than them, just before showing you to one of the 5 guest bedrooms in their beautiful home you’re lucky enough to be crashing in for the evening. Having lived that life once or twice now, my take on it is complicated. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few pals/acquaintances of mine that I believe were born to live that life and I support them doing whatever they have to do in order to “make it”. Virtually none of them are at the success level I think they deserve, but that’s another story.

I suppose some see it like any other job. If you’re a salesman, you sell your product and you do it well, or you don’t get paid. That's a concept that makes sense to me, hypothetically. The problem is, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to subscribe to that thought process. There’s something in me that makes me worry about annoying people when I make an announcement about my music, because honestly, I’ve been annoyed by others with their constant insisting on me seeing their show or checking out their newest thing. The industry is just so saturated at this point. Between the crowdfunding campaigns and the countless number of music blogs premiering new bands/songs, there’s just too much happening. I’ve seen people get sassy on their social media accounts, complaining about friends not showing up to their concerts and I think to myself, "The chutzpa on this guy!" Hot take: Just because we’re friends, that doesn’t mean I have to come to your shows! I’m sure I have plenty of pals that don’t listen to my music all together. They may have different taste. They may be indifferent about live music. A singer-songwriter might have killed their cat, making the sight of someone with an acoustic guitar too unbearable a reminder to endure. Whatever the reason is, I don’t expect my friends to be at my shows. It’s not a right of passage. Playing music is a weird thing in general, because when it comes down to it, you have to have a certain level of self-confidence/arrogance/entitlement to do the damn thing to begin with. I think my confidence level is just about equal with my self doubt and so it goes, an endless struggle for one to outbalance the other. Spoiler alert: it usually ends with me apologizing to myself.

Is this why I’ve struggled to build a sustainable career in music? Do I not have what it takes to kick people in the face with my songs until enough people are following me on Instagram? Maybe I’m on some sort of blacklist in Nashville that only allows me to get so far before two men in black suits and cowboy hats step in and block the doorway to next level? For ease of mind, I’ll go with that one. Maybe one day, I’ll find the right niche and I won’t have to daylight as a corporate sellout. Maybe, just maybe. For now, I’m grateful for that opportunity. I’m grateful for my wife, furry creatures and my small town world. I'm grateful for the ability to create music and share it in any capacity. 

Oh, and Hey! You should come to my show, if you want to, that is - no pressure. I'm sorry. 

 

 
 
 
Better
 

One of my favorite memories from the before times of Small is the New Tall, was when my pals Courtney Marie Andrews and Dillion Warnek came back to the farm to spend Courtney's birthday. This thing was just a piece of an optimistic idea at this point, and here were two of my favorite writers/people, returning to my farmhouse in the middle of nowhere for the second time in the same year. The times spent writing and laughing with them about starting a band called
Buffalo Owen, are still kept in my heart on a list of moments yet to be topped. We wrote this pretty little love song and as my valentines day gift to you, the demo is available for download for the next 24 hours. Happy Valentines Day, friends and thanks for listening. 

 
Opening Words
 
 
YM2018-SpringPromo-landscape.jpg
 

Hello and welcome to the digital headquarters of my entire creative world. Small is the New Tall, once just a series of writing camps, was born some years back out of the desire to connect with my creative pals and collaborate in a distraction-free environment. Having written songs for six years as part of the Universal Music Publishing Group team, I'd seen my fair share of run-of-the-mill writing rooms in the corners and basements of all the big important music office buildings in Nashville and LA. While they had all the necessary equipment to write and record songs - guitars, a professional recording rig, couches, a Keurig and a basket full of snacks for the taking, they also had the pressure of a 3 hour block, the stale glow of fluorescent lighting and unrealistic expectations from the suits.

In the summer of 2013, I made peace with my failed move to the west coast and returned to the Carolinas. My then girlfriend (now wife - great success!) and I moved to a farm house perfectly nestled on 36 acres in Chapel Hill.  A few months in, while sitting on the back porch, I stared at the 100 year old barn-shack in the back yard and contemplated what it might take to turn it into a suitable studio. After a couple weeks of plotting and about a week of renovations, I was ready to put my plan into action.  Over the course of the next year, I would host friends/artists such as Johnny Delaware (of the Artisanals), Courtney Marie Andrews and Haley Shaw to make some of the fondest memories and musical magic in the process. 

Cut to now - my wife and I live in a small cottage perched about half way up a mountain, moated in by two streams, in Western North Carolina. I spent most of 2017 on the road trying to "break" my artist career and missed out on most of our first year living in this rural paradise. I think it's easy for artists to caught up in the pursuit of success and when that happens, we tend take the the people and furry creatures we love for granted. They wait patiently (sometimes impatiently, and rightfully so) at home, while we chase our dragon-like-dream, hoping to at least catch the tail and maybe then, finally be satisfied. After a near nervous breakdown in October, I re-evaluated my life and what was most important. I started realizing that while I was out schmoozing and trying to make the music biz think I'm cooler than I actually am, my life was passing me by. The beautiful small moments that make life worth living, were happening back home without me and I was only experiencing them through a digital screen while I tried to make the best of what I thought was an unavoidable situation. I believed this was my destiny and that if I wasn't trying to "make it", I was worthless to everyone. It's taken me 15 years, but I finally see that isn't the case. I'm worth more than the songs I sing and life is bigger than my hustle. 

So here I am, ready to take on the rest of my life with a new attitude and a new dream. Small is the New Tall isn't just a satirical tip of that hat to what I lack in height. The name is a reminder to live a simple life with a big heart. Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference.  

 
 
 
Steven Fiore