The title of, Dylan Schneider’s new single, “21 And Over” may deceive listeners. Though it insinuates the freedom found in nightlife upon reaching the legal drinking age, Schneider’s pensive track is an all-too-familiar tale of naiveté and heartbreak. The coming of age tune sets a new tone for the Indiana native who at just 21 years old has already built a spanning discography Following “Lost In a Small Town,” Schneider’s latest effort sees the artist filling into his own space within country music.
“21 And Over” is also symbolic of Schneider’s journey since his start at just 16 years old, posting cover videos on Facebook. After going viral, he began sharing original music in 2016 with his debut EP, Wannabe. By 19, Florida Georgia Line gave him an opening slot on their nationwide stadium tour which opened the door for runs with Chris Lane, Granger Smith, and Mitchell Tenpenny.
With an uncertain future ahead of him, a then-20-year-old Schneider began writing the song last summer when the pandemic brought the vitality of his career into question. Coming out on the other side, he now has a new team behind him as a signee of the BBR Music Group.
The song began with one of his childhood friends, Gabe Foust, who gave him the idea of a song they were originally going to title, “21 And Done.” They sent it over to another collaborator, Nate Kenyon, who also wrote two of Schneiders 2017 tracks “Gimme a Redlight” and “It’s a Guy Thing.” Kenyon responded immediately and said “21 And Over.”
“We had pretty much written the whole song over that text thread, lyric-wise,” Schneider tells American Songwriter during a recent phone call. A few weeks later, the trio retreated to King’s cabin outside of Nashville where they brushed up the second verse and crafted melodies and music around the lyrics.
“I had a girlfriend at the time, so it’s kind of funny that I wrote the song before,” Schneider continues. “We’ve broken up since and this hits a little more, and it’s a little more relatable for me now. But my buddy Gabe has been through a situation like that. And we just wrote stories from what we’ve felt and what we’ve heard people talk about. It’s something I just feel is so relatable.”
As compared to early hits like “Wannabe” or “How Does It Sound,” Schneider’s latest effort builds upon his foundational country roots with intentionality. “Over the years, I’ve become more careful with what a song should be, or when a song is ready, in my opinion,” he explains. With the whole writing process, we take a little bit more time to make sure every line is right. We won’t just put out a song or rush something.”
Schneider credits a circle of people he’s grown comfortable with throughout his career for his artistic development. “Being around the people that have a feel for what I want to do and are also down to take time for my music personally, it’s super nice,” he shares. “And I feel like we approach it with a slower pace, and make sure that everything’s dialed in. Rather than going in every day with new people that sometimes don’t grasp what you’re wanting to do, or the lane you’re trying to go down, it’s just great to have these people who do.”
A close team of collaborators in his corner allowed Schneider to expand the bounds of his artistry. The early years, he feels, were defined by more uptempo energy. These songs lent themselves well to the stage—his favorite aspect of the whole music experience. But the past year saw Schneider move further into his songwriter role. He co-wrote Dustin Lynch’s 2020 hit “Momma’s House,” which climbed to the Top Five.
“21 And Over” occupies an entirely different space within the country sphere. It’s not so much a departure from his previous work as it is a more mature sound. Schneider’s latest work exhibits an impressive evolution of his artistry, aged by the expansive sonic elements he infuses as well expanded perspective from lived experience.
“Having lived a little bit more life, there’s definitely more flavors,” says Schneider. “Taking inspiration from other music that I listened to, and that I’ve found and grown to love over the past few years, we bring in a lot of different stuff. So just like ‘21 And Over,’ I think it’s a different style and different type of song than I’ve ever done. And that’s what I’m so excited to finally be in a headspace to make music like that and make songs that have a little bit more feel and depth to them—that’s one of the biggest things that’s coming forward.”
Listen to Dylan Schneider’s new single, “21 And Over,” here.