Indie artist Ty Combs told American Songwriter he wants to create music he would find himself listening to. By weaving a real relatable story from a personal experience into his latest single “Knew You,” Combs opened the gate to deeper artistic exploration.
The eclectic track portrays rising emotion through sonic choices and gives listeners a look, and listen, into the songwriter’s life and influences. We asked the Combs to tell readers all about those gritty details and what he hopes will come from getting one more track out into the world.
The inspiration behind “Knew You” seems quite varied. How do you sonically pull from multiple eras and genres to craft your sound?
I think growing up in the digital age has definitely influenced how I create and perceive music. Unlike if I was raised in the 80’s or 90’s, I’ve had access to any music I wanted, for practically my whole life. I remember first signing up for Spotify when I was in middle school, and starting to listen to a really bizarre mix of my parents favorite music (mostly 70’s and 80’s Classic Rock and British Rock), and then also starting to discover a lot of my own, more modern, favorite bands (bands like The 1975, and The Arctic Monkeys). So when it comes to my own music, I really like to pull from all of those things, and craft something that I would want to listen to, whether that’s 80’s guitar solos, interesting synths, or weird samples.
What is the story behind this single? What led you to write it and in turn, release it?
This song we wrote very specifically about a situation I was in late last year. I had been thinking through a series of encounters I had with someone I was rather romantically interested in at the time, who wasn’t particularly interested in me. But we had never discussed it, and so it resulted in me misinterpreting things, and starting to craft a somewhat fictitious version of that person internally. I sort of took what little I knew of them, and crafted them into this perfect partner in my head, and when it didn’t pan out, I got frustrated with myself for placing expectations on them. When we finished writing it I felt like false expectation was something that a lot of people in early adulthood struggle through, and so it seemed like something people could relate to.
Are there elements of the lyrical content that influenced the music components you chose?
For this song we wanted it to build really organically. Since the song is written from my perspective, after the fact, I wanted the song to build in the same way that we tend to overthink things. I feel that anytime I’m looking back at a relationship, or a scenario like this, I start off thinking ‘that could’ve been better’ but after a few minutes it can shift into ‘I was so stupid. Why on earth did I do that?’ So we really wanted to try and build that naturally throughout the song, starting soft and contemplative, and ending bigger and more dynamic.
“Knew You” has a different feel than your last single. How does this song set the stage for your future as an artist?
I think on Show Me You Love Me I really wanted to start exploring what was possible with production. For that song my producer, Andrew Van Wert, and I really honed in on synth sounds, drum machines and building an atmosphere through pads, textures and pop guitars. For Knew You we wanted to bring it back a little and return to my roots more. Since I grew up listening to so much rock music, we wanted to start adding in more elements of that, to compliment this song’s more emotional setting. I think this song is setting a foundation still, giving me room to explore, whether that’s more down the pop path, or more in the direction of rock ‘n’ roll.
Do you have a specific avenue of music you hope to dive into? If so, what are your goals as an artist and what can listeners expect next from you?
I really do have a love for both pop and rock music. And I think right now there’s a really cool scene for both those avenues, that oftentimes overlaps a fair bit, which is really exciting for me as an artist. As far as goals for myself, I really want to keep making music that I love and would want to listen to and sing at the top of my lungs. I want to keep exploring what’s possible sonically, create what’s interesting to me and see how I can spin different sounds to sound like me.