Tyler Ward made a name for himself by covering popular songs and posting the videos on YouTube. Today, he has nearly 2 million subscribers (y’all, that’s more than Madonna), has toured the world and has an EP of original music out. More than that, he pioneered the selling and streaming of cover songs, legally, on iTunes and Spotify, something that has been a complete game-changer for artists. We caught up with him to talk cover songs, new music and staying current in today’s ever-changing technological landscape.
You’ve covered everyone from Britney to Taylor to Sam Smith. What is the continued appeal for you of reinterpreting songs?
If it’s a good song, I like to do a different version of it. It’s always been in my bones to re-record music that I like in a different interpretation. You have writers who’ve written songs for years, who have number one hits, and the artists didn’t write the songs. So the artist was doing an interpretation of the writers’ version. Everyone has been doing that since the beginning. So I figured if there’s already a hit and it’s searchable, I might as well do an interpretation of it in the “Tyler Ward version.”
How were you artistically and creatively stretched and challenged by making your most recent EP, Yellow Boxes?
Yellow Boxes was really interesting because it was one of the first times I was truly soul-baring. I just wrote what I wanted to write versus what other people said would sell and I just locked myself away and wrote the songs on my own. Also, I produced the record as well. Most of the time, when you’re an artist, you get someone else to produce your record because it’s not smart to do it on your own. You’re too close to it, [so] you don’t hear things other people hear. But I wanted to do this so I wrote the record, recorded the record, and I actually mixed the record. It takes me about a day to mix a song when it’s a cover but for these, it took me four or five days for each song to get the mix right. I took as much time as possible to make sure they were as good as I could get them.
What made your Yellow Boxes tour different from your previous tours?
I’ve been on tour for a while and for me it’s been one of the best experiences. Me and a guitar. I brought my bedroom studio with me and I got to make beats and record songs live from the stage. It lets people in to see who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. It’s really special for me to be able to show that to the people who are coming to the shows.
As someone who has harnessed social media in a way that has expanded your platform, how do you stay on top of the ever-changing technological landscape?
The last few years, I’ve done my best to make sure I follow some of the top trending users of different platforms and keep an eye on what’s new with them, what they’re doing and what they’re developing. I take my notes from those people. During the Yellow Boxes tour, what I’ve realized is that I just use the social media platforms I like and am comfortable with.
When you wake up each day, what drives you to pick up the guitar again and keep creating?
It goes deep. I do love music but I feel like it’s always been instilled in me from the beginning that this is a divine thing; it’s what I was created for. I feel like there’s a Creator and he put me on this Earth to do this job of creating music, so it’s in me. If there’s an idea, I have to create it and follow through with it. If I don’t do it, then I feel very anxious and I feel like there’s no meaning. So I have to create when I’m inspired to create.