Against The Grain; An Interview with Young Mister

Penning songs that have an authentic, yet experimental technique in regards to love and life, Steven Fiore has had the pleasure of working with musicians such as Art Garfunkel during his time at Universal Music Publishing.  The singer-songwriter has also shared the stage with the likes of Albert Lee, Pete Yorn and Lori McKenna…and the legendary Jeff Goldblum.

With the abundant source of opportunities in the early stages of Fiore came an unwavering feeling of disillusionment with the music business during the initial setup for his latest effort with his project Young Mister, Sudden Swoon.  The songs were emerging together as a folksy pop collection of personal reflections, and Fiore felt that they couldn’t be just dropped online for them to pile up streams.  To remedy this situation, Fiore formed a partnership with some individuals at Refresh Records to form the Young Mister Record Club.  How the newly minted membership work was Fiore would post demos online to club members as soon as they were written.  After twenty songs were posted, members voted on which would be fleshed out to completion and added onto the final Sudden Swoon mix.  This new-age approach towards crowdsourcing ultimately reenergized Fiore and his passion for his craft.

We recently caught up with Young Mister before Sudden Swoon dropped in the middle of September. 

Growing up, what piqued your interest in music?

My earliest memory of wanting to be a musician was singing “Janie’s Got A Gun” on my Star Search toy microphone at three years old, so I guess the answer is Aerosmith.

What do you recall the first time you went on stage?

I was 14, and the show was in a guitar store called the Tone Zone. I remember dry heaves and forgetting most of the lyrics.

What sparked your interest in writing music years ago?

I can honestly say I don’t remember, but I think the first song I ever wrote was a pop-punk song.

How did you get involved with Universal?

An artist named Howie Day reached out with some interest in me writing a song for his album. I submitted a song, it was chosen, and then we co-wrote another, which also made the album. Having two credits on a major label release sparked some interest from a few different publishers, but Universal ended up being the best route at the time.

What was one of the biggest takeaways from your time writing for Universal Music Publishing Group?

I wish I’d said yes to more opportunities. Being so young and dumb when I signed the deal, my “anti-sellout” attitude often got in the way of my success.

What’s the meaning of your moniker?

I’m a Gemini, and I think my two sides are a 12-year-old kid who wants to skateboard, eat candy, and watch Back To The Future on repeat all day and a 75-year-old man that smokes cigars and loves a good pair of slacks.

What ultimately made you leap into releasing your own music?

I started out releasing my own music. Writing for others was actually the leap.

When you were writing for other artists, do you find yourself finding songs better suited for your own projects?

I don’t think that’s ever happened, because when I’m writing for someone else, I’m usually trying to channel that artist. I’ve never written for someone close enough to my genre/vibe for that to be a situation.

Have any other artists/bands reached out to you about your work on Young Mister Record Club?

Quite a few musician pals have reached out to see how I liked the experience — and I really loved it.

I read that you have some apprehension about the future of music.  What do you feel needs to be done?

There’s not really anything that can be done. I’m just going to keep making music and not worry about the rest.

Your home base of North Carolina offers up a bevy of artists that swing towards a folk centered sound.  Do you find yourself being inspired by such?

To be honest, most of my inspiration comes from West Coast artists.

When writing, do you catch yourself working quickly, or does it take some time to have the lyrics come to you?

It’s 50/50. Sometimes it’ll take me a year to finish a song. Others come together in 20 minutes.

How long did the tracks take to be recorded?

One month.

With the songs not chosen for Sudden Swoon, do you have plans to release them?  Perhaps release them as a full-length album?

I may re-record one or two of them for a future release, but the future is uncertain for that island of misfit songs right now.