A Week in the Life Of…Grayson, Singer/Songwriter, Producer and Session Musician

Michael Edser is Grayson, Nashville-based Americana / Country Folk singer/songwriter, producer and session musician. Originally from Newcastle, he relocated to Nashville in 2011, which followed on from a stint in Europe where he toured with some of the biggest names in Ireland including Aslan, Bagatelle and John Spillane.  He has also performed with Aussie legends Jimmy Barnes, The Whitlams and Vanessa Amorosi (amongst others) back home. He has performed at a number of international festivals including Wildlife West Festival, Woodstock Folk Festival and state fairs including ‘Du Quoin State Fair’ in Illinois

Did we mention he dabbles in video too? Grayson’s documentary ’66 Days on Route 66’ won the Gold Award at the 2011 Cinerockom Film Festival in LA – it chronicled his tour over the course of 66 days on Route 66, and behind-the-scenes America.

Fresh off the release of his new track Margherita, we caught up with Grayson to learn a little about his Week in the Life Of…

A job description in your own words

I work as a full time songwriter, performer, producer and session player in Nashville TN. I was fortunate enough to come to Nashville as a songwriter with a publishing deal with Garth Brooks’ guitar player, Johnny Garcia.

Since then my “job” has changed a lot and still changes daily. I like to think that I wear many hats. It’s something that you need to do to be successful in Nashville and the industry as a whole. My main focus has always been and will continue to be on my music – writing it, recording it and performing it locally in Nashville and also across America.

I am currently in the stages of recording my fifth studio album, Window Dreams, which will be out later this year. I have written every song on the album along with some great co-writers, and will also be producing it alongside my co-producer.

I am lucky enough to have forged a regular clientele as a producer for other artists’ music, and not just in country music but across lots of other genres too. This includes charting up and arranging the instrumentation, organizing and directing some of the best musicians in Nashville to play, coaching vocals and harmonies on the tracks, and of course playing and singing background vocals on those tracks myself also.

Since 2015 I have been involved in producing, playing on and singing on over 10 big projects each year for other artists.

In May 2017 my son Hunter was born, so when I am not focusing on music for myself and others, I play Dad to a very giggly 10 month old!

Challenges and accomplishments in your week

Accomplishments in the week

This week has been a whirlwind as I headed to the studio to start laying down tracks for my new album. A few days before I headed into the studio I spent a bunch of time working on pre-production at home so that I knew the direction and feel I wanted the tracks to have before we started recording. I charted up the tracks so that the sessions guys who were joining us knew what needed to be played.

Whilst the pre-production took a few hours each day, in the end it saved a bunch of time when I actually got to the studio as we knew the direction, sound and feel of each track before we pressed record.

Another highlight this week was getting to write at Capitol Records in Nashville with some of my favourite co-writers. As soon as you walk in the door, the inspirations flows. When you’re in a space where you know that so many hits have been written and you can see the gold and platinum records hanging on the wall, its hard not to be inspired.

Challenges in the week

Well after spending a few months back in sunny Australia for the Australian summer, I still find it hard to adjust to the Nashville winters. Given the changes in weather we have had here recently I’ve ended up with a case of the ‘man flu’.

I am someone that needs to get to the gym or do some form of activity daily. It’s good for my overall health but also my mental health as well, and I find it helps to keep my ‘creative juices’ flowing when it comes to the music. I find when I am super busy and constantly on the run it’s something I have to consciously make time for but sometimes it’s just not possible to fit it in every single day.

Another challenge can be the differences in my day to day. Some weeks I am in the studio, some weeks I am on the road, some weeks I am tied to my laptop doing admin for upcoming projects or booking live shows. It can be a challenge to stay focused given the differences in what my days and weeks can look like but having the adaptability and flexibility to deal with what each week throws at you can actually make it really interesting and exciting at the same time.

Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field

Run your own race and be yourself. People that copy others are fakes and are eventually seen this way. Individuality and authenticity gets longevity.

Show up. Be Reliable. Be on time. Its amazes me how many people desire to be successful yet they can’t show these basic skills. Sure, life happens, but you need to be reliable in this business.

Invest in yourself and career because if you don’t no one else will.

Daily Journal

Monday

Monday started how every day starts, with a check in on the emails and messages. Then I headed across to the recording studio as we started to lay down the tracks for the new album. Typically, a day for me in the studio goes from about 9am to generally about 6pm, but depending on what’s happening on that particular day that can vary.

We tracked 9 songs live. I laid down the scratch tracks with voice and scratch acoustic guitar so that when the other players came into track, they could use the scratch tracks. Kind of like a draft track I guess you could call it.

Tuesday

Headed back into the studio for the second day of recording. Today was Guitar day! I was lucky enough to be given a 225 Maton for my 18th birthday (a long time ago now!) and we use that on all the recordings we do in the studio. We have so many guitars to choose from in the studio, but my 18 year old Maton just sings and never ceases to amaze me how great it sounds. Also recorded electric guitar tracks as well for the 9 songs.

Finished up and headed out to our tradition of Taco Tuesday for Margaritas and of course – Taco’s!

Wednesday

Wednesday started with a daily check in and once the coffee kicked in I headed over to Capitol Records for a writing session with my good buddy Jeff Wood. Jeff was a co-write on a bunch of songs on this album and whenever we get together we seem to make songwriting magic happen. The catalogue of songs we have written together continues to grow and its always such a fun and easy experience writing with Jeff. Not to mention being in a space with so many silver, gold and platinum awards on the well – it’s hard not to be inspired when you’re there.

Thursday

Back in the studio! Today we had our pedal steel player come in to record his parts on the songs for the album. I love seeing them record – it’s such an awesome instrument and there is something about the pedal steel that just makes the songs sound incredible. Managed an earlier finish today so I headed home for a few hours to catch up with my wife and spend some time with Hunter before I headed out to Old Hickory to play at a writer’s round. I love playing writers rounds regularly as it gives me a chance to try out songs that will be on the album with a live audience. Writers rounds are great as people are there to really listen to your songs, and as a songwriter – that’s something that I love.

Friday

Sleep in!!! After a big few days in the studio a sleep in and a gym session are much needed for some down time. Caught up on the emails and some admin for upcoming projects before heading out to a live show in Gallatin, TN. Sometimes I feel like I live on the laptop but it’s the admin and pre-work that allows me to be in the studio or out playing live so it’s a good trade off.

It’s a 45 min drive each way for a 2 hour gig, but it’s a great venue and they always have a good crowd there who are there to see the music. I enjoy chatting to the locals who come out to watch as Australian accents and skinny jeans are few and far between in this area of town!

Saturday/Sunday

Though Saturday might not be considered a work day for most, I headed back into the recording studio to have our harmonica player lay down some harmonica on some of the tracks.  We celebrated the conclusion of getting all the instrumental tracks down by some food and beers with my co-producer/engineer and some of the musicians who played on the tracks.

Sunday was a true rest day to spend some time with my wife and my baby Hunter before doing it all again next week.

 

You can check out the video for his latest tune Margarita below!

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