Dalton Mauldin's new EP gray. is out now! We chat to the musician about the release, the music video for closure, his new song due out this month and so much more.
Image: Nelson Holliman.
In September this year, American singer-songwriter Dalton Mauldin released his debut EP, gray. Across four tracks, the musician revealed a more vulnerable side through his evocative lyricism and themes present on the release. Navigating love and heartbreak, the release was curated down to just four songs that intrinsically weave together similar themes and is sonically cohesive.
Mauldin recently released the visual for closure, marking the singers first ever music video. Directed by Jaide Langley, the clip vividly captures the scene set throughout the tracks lyricism. The song and its visual is based off one particular night that the musician can still recall, as clear as day.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Mauldin is set to release a new track at the end of this month. The musician tells MILKY that run is "my favourite song I've ever made so far. Produced by Parker Livingston and Jackson Stokes, the track evolved from its acoustic beginnings into smooth and mellow production.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all touring plans, Mauldin recently returned to the stage after being forced to cancel a string of shows earlier this year. The singer had his eyes set on performing in Australia in the future.
gray. is out now! Read our interview with Dalton Mauldin below.
Tell us a bit about how your musical journey began…
My musical journey began by borrowing one of my friends guitars in high school. He let me take it home because it was just sitting in his closet collecting dust. I already loved to sing but I thought it would be so cool to learn how to play guitar at the same time. The night he gave me the guitar I went home and immediately began watching youtube videos on how to play. I learned one song that night and became addicted to it ever since. I can probably count on two hands how many times I've skipped a day of playing guitar ever since I started playing that night.
Congratulations on the new EP!
gray. shows a more vulnerable side when it comes to the lyricism and themes present on the release. How comfortable was it to tap into that side of yourself and how important was it to you to represent the themes present on the tracks?
Thank you so much. Also, it's really cool to see that you noticed the vulnerability in the EP. Writing the EP definitely made me get into a side of myself that was tough to express. It's not as hard to write the songs as it is to actually release them when you're writing vulnerable lyrics, but it was a stepping stone into getting comfortable being uncomfortable if that makes sense. So now every time I write a song, I feel a lot more comfortable going into that vulnerable mindset.
You began working on gray. quite some time ago. How did the release evolve and change over that time period?
I wrote most of the songs on the EP during the spring of this past year, but finished the last song all in this summer. I knew the story I wanted to portray to listeners when they heard the EP, but songs I was writing in between spring and summer didn't seem to fit perfectly to me. I think that's why the final lyrics and song choices took so long to really dial in. I originally had two other songs I was thinking about including on to the EP, but ended up making a decision change a month or two before the release because I had grown to like the four songs I had on there.
How did you arrive at the sonic sounds and overall soundscape present in your music?
I really think I honed in on to the final sounds of the EP through trial and error. Working a tonne with one of my producers (Tyler Costantino) was so much fun, trying out all kinds of sounds and experimenting with different sounds until we got it right. A lot of the time I like to finish a song and then listen to it A LOT for about a week or so, and then stop listening to it completely and take some time away from it, and then come back to it a few weeks later to see if I still like it or not! mine was originally produced in a completely different way, but I knew it needed something else. We finally honed in on to a final master months after we recorded it. I think it was worth the wait though!
The music video for Closure just dropped! How important are the visuals to you when it comes to conveying the story and meaning present on the track? And how involved you are when it comes to planning the visuals?
Yes! It's finally out! I've been wanting to do a music video for closure since the day I wrote it! My good friend Jaide Langley came up to me and said she wanted to shoot a video for one of my songs, and as soon as she said that I immediately was like " we have to do closure." The reason I chose closure is because when I think back to the time I wrote it, I was trying to vividly explain the whole scene through the lyrics in the song. I wrote the song based off of one night, and I can still replay the moment in my head even right now. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the visuals in the music video and I think we were able to display and bring the idea to life with the video.
It also marks your first official music video. How did you find the experience shooting the visual and conceptualising it?
I had such a blast. I had two of my really good friends involved with shooting and acting in it and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It made it even more fun making the video with my friends. I found the experience and working through conceptualizing a lot of fun and pretty easy for the most part. I think the hardest part for me was to trying not to laugh during the serious moments! I had a tough time doing that haha!
If you had to pick one song to play to someone who had never heard your music before to make them an instant fan, which songs would it be and why?
If I had to choose any song.... hmmm. That's a tough one. I feel like it would just depend on the mood of where this person about to listen for the first time is. But if I had to choose ONE, I would choose mine. I just love the vibe of it, the lyricism, and I feel like it's tough to not jam out to it once the kick drums come in! BUT, if you asked me this question on or after November 27th, I’d say “run” is the song I would show them :)
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners, and what messages do you hope listeners take away from gray.?
I hope people who are listening to my music are able to get more of an understanding of me. I feel like this last project gray. was one that I've put out where listeners are able to get more of an understanding of who I am as a person as they follow the stories in the songs on the EP. I hope that people can relate in some way or another to the songs on the EP, and that they can somehow connect with one of the songs to help them work through something they're struggling with, or even just have them to blare through their speakers as they ride around with their friends.
You’ve just teased some new music coming at the end of this month. What can fans expect from your upcoming single, Run?
Yesssss, new music this month! run comes out November 27th and I am SO EXCITED for it. I've played the song for a lot of my friends (like I always do to make sure they like them) and the feedback has been incredible. I really think run is my favourite song I've ever made so far. Also, shoutout to my friends Parker Livingston and Jackson Stokes for helping produce on this song. They brought the song to a whole new level from my original acoustic version I once had it at. It's a more mellow/vibey song than my latest two releases when it hits and closure. So I'm hoping everyone will love it!
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
My writing/creative process is so different for every song I write. Sometimes I start with melodies, sometimes I start with chords, sometimes I start with lyrics, and it's all so different. I find that when I don't feel productive or creative that things start to hit me and that's when things come together. I think to myself, "I haven't wrote a song in days... what's going on with me? I feel so unproductive." But then when I try to force a thought or something out, nothing happens. However, when I'm not thinking about it, creative ideas will come into my head and I stop what I'm doing and immediately start humming voice notes into my phone so I can remember my idea for when I get to a spot that I can start writing out lyrics or playing chords on the guitar.
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Truthfully, Covid-19 has really helped me focus more on songwriting. Most days I feel extremely rushed because my time management skills are soooo bad (you can ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you). However with Covid-19, I’ve been able to make trips such as writing retreats, make it out to the studio to record, and dedicate much more time to focus on my writing. I've even been able to start working on production as well recently with all of the free time I've been given with Covid-19.
The current pandemic has obviously put a half to touring and performing live. Do you have any post-pandemic touring plans? Will we be seeing you visit Australia?!
Yeah so it's been really unfortunate with shows getting cancelled because of the pandemic. I had a few shows this past summer scheduled in New York City and Boston that were cancelled due to it. However, a few weeks ago I was able to play my first show in a long time and it turned out to be an absolute blast.
Also, you asked about a tour or playing in Australia when this is all over.. I don't have
any plans to go out to Australia YET, but I would absolutely love to come and play a
show there!! Australia has been on my bucket-list to go and visit, so if we can add some
shows in there, then that would just be icing on the cake!
My team and I do have some plans for touring this upcoming summer though so keep
watch for announcements. I'll try to see if I can work some magic to squeeze in an
What can audiences expect from one of your live show?
Once we get shows back up and running, audiences can expect to feel every mood possible. I want to be able to bring so much energy to my shows, be able to break it down and play some acoustic songs to mellow everyone out (maybe shed a tear or two on some of the sad songs.. just kidding.. unless you want too), and then bring back the energy for the rest. I just want everyone to have a good time and to know that I'm so thankful for each and every person there at the show. I want to make it just like one big hangout where we feel every kind of emotion and we just enjoy the moment together.
LANY, Jeremy Zucker, Lauv.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
LOVE Cosmic by Bazzi. I don’t know why but when someone asks about an album that I like, I immediately think of Cosmic.
Best song of 2020?
Hiccup by Valley or Summer by Nightly.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film or series, which one would it be?
OBX (Outer Banks) season 2… wow I love OBX so much.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
- Cosmic - Bazzi
- Tryhard - The Band CAMINO
- Malibu Nights - LANY
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Best concert you have been to?
Last concert you went to?
The Band CAMINO.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Sweet and Spicy maybe??? (I have no clue hahaha).
Guilty music pleasure?
LOVE Ariana Grande, always have and always will. (I hope Ariana see’s this).
If you could go on tour with any artist, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
Oh my gosh there are too many genres to choose one artist, this question would take weeks to decide a final answer!!
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
Stay in your lane and keep working hard. Remember that you’re on your own timing, and don’t let the success of others discourage you if you’re not there yet.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I remember showing my friends and family the first song I ever made and being really scared of hearing their opinion on it…I knew how music made me feel, but I didn’t know if people would actually like what I created. However, I was so wrong. Hearing their thoughts and seeing their reaction really kickstarted me with encouragement to keep going and I haven’t looked back since. That was the moment I really knew music is what I wanted to do.