Country Music Explosion:Thanks for doing this interview,Let's first start off by giving us a little background of your life,then we can proceed to the rest of the interview

Tyler Stephens:I'm a country music singer/songwriter from Eastern Kentucky who performs over 150 tour dates per year and has had the honor to work with some of the best songwriters, publishers, and musicians in the business.
I strive to create music that the listener can relate to and live by. Songs that speak the truth and tell the listener what I stand for and believe in.I was born on September 9, 1992 In Martin, Kentucky.Martin,Kentucky lays nestled in the beautiful mountains of Southeastern Kentucky only minutes from the well known Country Music Highway, US 23. This area, known for turning out country music greats such as Keith Whitley, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dwight Yoakam, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs (to name a few) has held true to form and has produced yet another great artist whose name will remain synonymous with country music for years to come.I was introduced to music at a very early age.My grandmother claimed that keeping a stereo player in the house during my childhood was impossible. \ Being a child in the cassette tape era knows what real country music is. At only 3 or 4 years old I would visit my grandmothers daily to “punch the buttons” on the cassette player. But, “punching buttons” lead to strumming the guitar or shall we say beating the guitar.My mother claimed she is lucky to have hearing left.She reported that over the years,I have had every instrument imaginable in the house. Drums, Bass, Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Harmonicas, and who knows what else. But, the guitar always seemed to wind up on top. She reports in the beginning she needed a pair of earplugs but over time and on into my high school years she began to see the improvements that eventually one day struck her by surprise when she seen me perform my first show.Now at only 23 years old,I have set my sights on a successful musical career and never plan to look back.With countless performances behind me,I'm looking forward to sharing my songs and love of music with listeners for many years to come.I have said when a lot of people always ask me,“How have you made it this far in the business,at such a young age?”My reply is,“A lot of hard work; but,mainly I have family, friends, and fans to thank for everything.”I realize the importance of my fans and strives to make them feel important at all times.I understand that they are the reason I can make a living doing what I love.I always takes the time after every show to meet and greet with every fan that wishes to meet me. I concentrate on fans not being a number;but,building relationships with them.Songs from my album like“Freedom Don’t Come Free” are a prime example of the music I stress to deliver to fans.“Freedom Don’t Come Free” was released nationwide in October 2012 to more than 2200 radio stations in order to support my vision of raising awareness to our veterans.Since the release“Freedom Don’t Come Free” has became a great success for me.The words “Freedom Don’t Come Free”have struck listeners all over the country to pay attention to why we are the land of the free.Holding true to my heritage I'm already well known for my straight from the heart traditional country vocals,hauntingly reminiscence of my idol, Keith Whitley. Every artist can identify an idol that has inspired them musically. It comes unusual that my idol, Keith Whitley was born less than an hour away from my home place. There literally must be something in the water from this region to produce this enormous amount of talent.If you love country music then you owe it to yourself to check out my music
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Country Music Explosion:When did you start writing about music—and what or who were your early passions and influences?

Tyler Stephens:I began writing music, if you want to call it that, not long after I taught myself a couple of chords on the acoustic guitar and everything grew quickly from there.My early influences, too many to possibly name; but, I have to give credit to the entire country genre through the 80’s and 90’s. It is my favorite timeframe through country music.I love all country music and all styles of music for that matter. We all like to listen to some funk, rock, and pop every now and then. I know we have all broke it down dancing to some dance mixes! If you haven’t, you should give it a shot.
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Country Music Explosion:What are your main impulses to write music?

Tyler Stephens:I strive to write music that the listener can relate to and live by. In addition, I want my music to be inspiring and uplifting. There is enough negativity in the world at the moment. We strive to provide uplifting entertainment every time we write, record, and perform live!
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Country Music Explosion:What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your songwriting and/or career?

Tyler Stephens:There are many points in my songwriting journey that have left me saying, “did we really just do that?” Writing with hit song writers like, Byron Hill, Larry Cordle, Rich Fagan, Dennis Knutson, Gerald Smith, Greg Crowe, and Bobby Carmichael left me with that feeling. But, I also get that feeling with all the writers I write with when write a great song! I cannot thank them enough for taking the time to meet and write songs with me that you will hear on future releases. Also a big shout out to my home girl, Jenny Stamper for taking me under her wing and helping me understand the concepts behind songwriting and for her friendship.
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Country Music Explosion:How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city/state you are currently living in and how important is it in terms of what you’re actually writing about?

Tyler Stephens:The area I am from is well known in the music industry. Country Music Highway, US 23 is well known for turning out country music greats such as Keith Whitley, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dwight Yoakam, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, and most recently Chris Stapleton. But, don’t let the country music fool you. Bluegrass roots run deep in the eastern Kentucky music scene as well.
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Country Music Explosion:When it comes to song writing, what are your criteria for quality? What are currently your main challenges and ambitions as a writer?

Tyler Stephens:Personally, I follow what I feel in my heart with every decision I make musically and with everything I do. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Follow what your heart tells you and what feels right.Do I feel it? If I don’t feel it the listener won’t either. It has to be a great song, not a good song! My main challenge at the moment is solo writing. I enjoy co-writing more because it gives me someone to bounce ideas back and forth with and two brains are better than one. Finding that perfect co-writing partner is important and I am very lucky to have found a fellow Kentuckian, Jenny Stamper right in my hometown to co-write with. We bring our thoughts together, laugh, joke, and work on constructing songs that we believe in. If we don’t believe in it, we throw it in the trash! Even after we think a song is complete we still are revising for changes, what can be better, etc. A great song is never finished!
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Country Music Explosion:What do you usually start with when working on a new Music?

Tyler Stephens:Sometimes a melody that I came up with or maybe a hook (the main line of the song) a co-writer or I came up with. Then sometimes just an idea to follow and see where it leads.
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Country Music Explosion:Tell us a bit about the selection process for deciding on what to write about, please. What sources will you draw from for research purposes and how much time goes into research, information gathering and fact-checking in general?

Tyler Stephens:If it is an idea I have, I generally try to research some information about it online because it helps spark ideas. I note everything I find even if I don’t think I will need it. You never know. It is never unusual for my cowriters and I to use our phones and devices to research in the middle of writing as well. It is always easy to use rhymezone, thesaurus, dictionary, and all of those good resources that are at the touch of the finger these days. Sometimes even a friend who doesn’t even song write can blurt out something that provides you with the piece of the puzzle you needed to complete a song
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Country Music Explosion:How do you see the role of a song writer in the creative process? Should it amplify public taste, distinguish the good from the bad, inform, promote artists, or, “illuminate, educate and entertain” fans? Do you feel that, as part of your work, music needs to be explained or should it retain its “inexplicable nature”?

Tyler Stephens:Songwriters should help the artist bring out what they want to share with their fans. That comes from the artist being comfortable with whomever they are writing with. It may take a couple of times of writing together to get there. When I write with a songwriter I am there to write and absorb every tip of advice they are willing to share with me. It is a priviledge to me to receive any amount of time a songwriter is willing to devote to writing with me.
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Country Music Explosion:In which way does writing and reading about music change the way it is perceived by the public?

Tyler Stephens:If the public reads the background of an artist it can really help them understand the artist and the songs they are singing. I have to say, that I love playing live to see how my songs are perceived by the audience. It is my testing ground for new material. Add it to the show and see how the audience responds to it. That tells me if I am headed in the right direction with my music or If I need to go back to the drawing board.
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Country Music Explosion:Whom do you feel your obligation is to other artists and the fans,not writing for a publication ? In how much do you feel is songwriting restricted by external factors?

Tyler Stephens:I feel songwriting these days are being restricted by many external factors because everyone is trying to write what they’re hearing on the radio instead of what they feel. If you are writing great songs, they will eventually find the place they belong. Do what you do and be who you are. The audience loves when you are genuine.
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Country Music Explosion:song writing have changed considerably over the past century. What, do you feel, could – or should - be new forms and formats for song writing?

Tyler Stephens:The main criteria for me is writing something that touches you as the writer emotionally and hope that it will move listeners too. I feel that in the last ten years country music especially has begun to focus more on the disco and rap beats instead of the lyrics. It takes a great lyric, melody, and production to bring a song to its full potential.
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Country Music Explosion:Music-sharing sites and blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What’s your view on the value of music today?

Tyler Stephens:If it makes you feel good when you listen to it, Why not listen? Everyone should trust what they hear with their ears not what they’re being told by charts or articles. Listen to what you can relate to!
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Country Music Explosion:When and why did you start playing Music and/or songwriting?

Tyler Stephens:I have always loved music; but, it wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I decided it was something I wanted to pursue as a career. I haven’t looked back since!
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Country Music Explosion:Which instruments do you play?

Tyler Stephens:Through the years I have owned many different instruments. Mandolin, Banjo, Drums, Bass; but, the guitar always seemed to win my attention. Especially the acoustic guitar.
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Country Music Explosion:What was the first tune(s) you learned?

Tyler Stephens:Keith Whitley and Wagon Wheel
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Country Music Explosion:Is your family musical?

Tyler Stephens:My family can play….. the radio! I had to say that. My family has always loved music and growing up I was always surrounded with varieties of music, primarily country. My earliest experiences was going to my grandparents house and “punching buttons” on my mammaws cassette player and plucking around on an old guitar my pappaw had.
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Country Music Explosion:Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Tyler Stephens:My all time favorite is Keith Whitley. Keith was simply. He was who he was. He sang his heart out every performance and you could feel that. The audience has to feel what you are feeling. If you make them feel something, then you are doing something right. Emotion is music!
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Country Music Explosion:Which famous musicians have you learned from?

Tyler Stephens:I have never had a music lesson of any kind. I either taught myself or learned from the seasoned musicians in my band. I have to credit them for always being willing to show me little things along the way. In addition, I have studied all of my favorite vocalist and tried to take what I like about each one individually and combine them into one style of my own.
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Country Music Explosion:Do you play any instruments,if so which ones?

Tyler Stephens:Yes,I play Acoustic Guitar (Martin) and Electric Guitar (Fender Telecaster)
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Country Music Explosion:What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

Tyler Stephens:Opening for one of my all time favorite bands, Shenandoah.
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Country Music Explosion:Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?

Tyler Stephens:Too many to name but any records by Keith Whitley, Shenandoah, Ronnie Milsap, George Strait, Tracy Lawrence, and many more.
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Country Music Explosion:Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD's?

Tyler Stephens:There are many others but these are at the top of the list..Keith Whitley, Shenandoah, Tracy Lawrence, Ronnie Milsap, George Strait, Daryl Singletary, Paul Overstreet
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Country Music Explosion:Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV.online?

Tyler Stephens:Currently I am performing nationwide at Casinos, Festivals, Fairs, Mid – Large Sized Bars, and other types of special events opening for Headliners.
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Country Music Explosion:Are you in a band or a solo artist,if your in a band,what is the name of it:

Tyler Stephens:I am a solo artist; but, I do tour over 150+ dates per year all over the country with my band. They give their all each and everynite and I could never thank them enough for the tremendous amount of support they provide! It is sad; but, the band and I spend so much time together that we are family! We see one another more than we see our families.
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Country Music Explosion:How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Tyler Stephens:We are all human and we all make mistakes. That is the beauty of LIVE music. Mistakes are motivation to me to give that much more to my performance. Kind of like I have to make up for that! I believe mistakes should be learned from, if you learn from it, then it is okay to make it. If I make a mistake on stage, I always work on what it is I messed up on the very next morning to help ensure I don’t make the same mistake twice.
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Country Music Explosion:Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?

Tyler Stephens:In the beginning I was so nervous you could hear the shaking in my voice; but, by just jumping on stage scared to death a couple of times I shook that fear. Now I am more comfortable on stage than off stage!
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Country Music Explosion:What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

Tyler Stephens:Just jump out there and do it! But, always remember the more prepared you are the less you have to be nervous about. So, always come prepared. Poor preparation = poor performance. The first couple of times you may be so nervous you are shaking! I felt like a complete idiot after my first stage appearance in front of my entire high school and peers. Just keep going and don’t let anything hold you back or get you down. Your friends are very important in the beginning to help motivate you when you are at your lowest points and ready to quit!
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Country Music Explosion:Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?

Tyler Stephens:There are lots of things that contribute to a great session. Good preparation from everyone involved, quality of musicians, quality of song, does the song fit the artist, when the artist sing the song do you believe it, and encouraging morale between everyone involved. It is a very serious process; but, it has to be fun and everyone has to feel like they can just let loose and be comfortable.
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Country Music Explosion:How often and for how long do you practice?

Tyler Stephens:When I am on the road, we perform almost every night and I practice anything I make mistakes on during the show the following morning. However, when I am home you can depend on me having a guitar in my hand working on something 2-4 hours per day. It helps keep your performance up, vocals in shape, and learn new skills.
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Country Music Explosion:What do you practice - exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?

Tyler Stephens:Sometimes my practice will consist of constructing the set list. Playing through the entire set list like I would at a show to see how it flows and to make any changes that I feel need made. Other times I may just work on one part of a particular song that I may be having trouble with. That means I will probably sing the same line over and over 100 times until I get it right and it is engraved in my head. Then sometimes I go off path and just learn something that I may have heard that struck me. It may not be added to our set list but it is good to have a change of pace sometimes.
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Country Music Explosion:How do you balance your music with other obligations - friends,family, job?

Tyler Stephens:It can be challenging and luckily my wife, Morgan is very understanding. We got married in May 2013 and I began touring in September 2013 and have been touring 150+ dates per year since then. We have learned to enjoy the time we have together and make the best of the time we don’t.
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Country Music Explosion:Do you have any new releases coming out soon? if so,what is the name of the song and is it available now for pre-order?

Tyler Stephens:We are currently working on a new release that I co-wrote, “When I Get Home.” We are excited to have it complete and to share it with all of our followers. There will be a pre-order available, stay tuned to our website and social media for updates coming soon.
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Country Music Explosion:Where can your music be purchased?

Tyler Stephens:Currently we only have my first album available for purchase and we are diligently working on new music. It is available online for digital download on I-Tunes and physical copies can be purchased at a live show or on our website at www.tylerstephensmusic.com
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Country Music Explosion:Do you have social media accounts where fans can reach out to you?if so,what is the URL for them?

Tyler Stephens:I can be found at the following

Website:www.tylerstephensmusic.com

Facebook:facebook.com/tylerstephenscountry

Twitter:twitter.com/tylerscountry

YouTube:youtube.com/tylerstephensmusic

EPK:www.tylerstephensmusic.com/tsepk
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Country Music Explosion:Are you currently doing gigs?if so where?

Tyler Stephens: Currently I am touring 150+ dates per year nationwide and have performed in 30 out of 50 States. It is my goal to perform in all 50 states and internationally. Below is a small list of some of the places I have performed.
a. Dirty Bourbon Saloon – Albuquerque, NM
b. Grizzly Rose – Denver, CO
c. Virgin River Casino – Mesquite, NV
d. Twin Arrows Casino – Flagstaff, AZ
e. Dakota Magic Casino – Hankinson, ND
f. Jackpot Junction Casino – Morton, MN
g. Diamond Jo Casino – Dubuque, IA
h. Grand Falls Casino – Larchwood, IA
i. Island Resort & Casino – Harris, MI
j. Sky City Casino – Albuquerque, NM
k. Hon-Dah Casino – Pinetop, AZ
l. Outlaw Saloon – Cheyenne, WY
m. #10 Saloon – Deadwood, SD
n. Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, WY
o. Shooting Star Casino – Mahnomen, MN
p. Rockin’ Horse – Minot, ND
q. Lonesome Dove – Bismarck, ND
r. Windbreak – Fargo, ND
s. Pla Mor Ballroom – Lincoln, NE
t. Fire Rock Casino – Gallup, NM
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Country Music Explosion:When it comes to your music,Do you have one that You're most proud of?If so what is the name of it?

Tyler Stephens:I do have a couple of un-released songs that I am the proudest of. The main one being a song Jenny Stamper and I wrote called, “When I Get Home.” This song was an idea I had when I got home from touring not long after my wife Morgan and I had gotten married. Jenny and I were in Nashville that week and when I told her the idea, we felt like it was something special, and ended up cancelling another writing session so her and I could write, “When I Get Gome.”
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Country Music Explosion:Which of your song's do you feel most people can relate to?Can you tell us the story behind the song.

Tyler Stephens:The song I consistently see grabbing the live audience’s attention is a song called, “Same Things Different.” The song was written by my good friend Dennis Knutson, Trent Tomlinson, and Mark Kerr. It simply says, we’re all just doing the same things different. How true is that? Everyone can relate to that in today’s world! We all do the same things but just because do them differently doesn’t make either of us right or around, why can’t we all just get along and love one another?
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Country Music Explosion:This Concludes the interview,We hope you enjoyed it.