Country Singer Tyler Rich on New Single “The Difference,” His TV Debut and More
Country singer Tyler Rich is still in a state of disbelief when he comes to the TIDAL office. “I was on a high all night,” he confesses. “I woke up this morning and looked at [my fiancé] Sabina, and I was like, ‘What happened yesterday? That was crazy!’”
It’s been a mere 24 hours since Rich made his television debut on NBC’s Today Show, where he performed his new single, “The Difference.”
“It was really cool,” he says of the experience. “I have no words.” The Today Show, albeit a huge milestone for Rich, is only one stop in his visit to NYC, where he’s taking interviews and doing office performances to share a song he holds close to his heart.
In “The Difference,” Rich sings about the “awkwardness between casual to serious in a relationship,” a fitting subject for the singer, who got engaged to his now fiancée Sabina last July. In this TIDAL Read Q&A, Rich gives us insight into the song’s meaning and his journey from performing in rock bands in his Northern California stomping grounds to delving into a country music career in Los Angeles and his current home of Nashville, Tennessee.
You performed on The Today Show yesterday. That’s a pretty exciting TV debut! Were you nervous?
I was a little jittery and anxious leading up to it. Once I was up there, it was fine. Everything was comfortable. I got in my element. We sound checked at 5:30 in the morning. At that point, [host] Hoda [Kotb] runs in with her makeup half done, and she’s dancing during sound check, and she’s like, ‘I just ran out of makeup. I wanted to come say hi!’ When we finally met her again with Kathy Lee, it wasn’t a huge moment building up, it was like, ‘Hey, good to see you again!’ It was really cool. There are no words. I was on a high all night. I woke up this morning and looked at [my fiancée] Sabina, and I was like, ‘What happened yesterday? That was crazy!’
Shifting gears a little bit, what was it like where you grew up in Northern California? Is country music popular where you’re from?
It’s in the middle of the valley outside of Sacramento, just this hot valley with nothing but farming. There’s nothing to do out there. You’re an hour and a half away from the ocean, so we’re very close to everything you’d want to go to. It’s that kind of town that, the guys in high school, their dads were farming or in agriculture in general and they put on Wranglers and started chewing tobacco in high school, they started to talk with an accent. That kind of place. country [music] is really big around there. It’s really big in California in general.
At what point did you start making your own music?
The first song I ever wrote was when I was 10, and it was terrible. It was just on paper, and it was a vocal melody. I started playing guitar when I was 13. I was in a band when I was 15 years old, and we were called Flatline.
Papa Roach is from Sacramento. Deftones is from Sacramento. So, when you start playing guitar, even if you listen to country, it doesn’t matter. All of the sudden, you’re in a garage and you’re covering Nirvana and anything with aggression and all of the sudden, you’re in pop-punk bands. It was fun. I don’t know if we were good but we had a lot of fun.
When did you decide you wanted to go more in the country direction?
It was when the last band I was with broke up. We had been touring for a while, and when that band split, I decided to go back to school and got my degree. And I promised myself when I got my degree, I was going to go to L.A. That was when I moved down to L.A. and started writing a bunch of music — singer-songwriter stuff. Had a couple producers down there, and I was like, ‘I’ve been wanting to be a country-soul artist.’ Once it was me as a solo artist, I got to steer the ship. We just wrote a ton of songs and started putting out music and slowly started to grow. That was about five years ago. I’ve been in Nashville now for three years, and it’s been a crazy three years.
What was it like moving there and getting really immersed in that country music scene?
I had some help right in the beginning, which was awesome. When I moved to town, I had guys like Dustin Lynch and John Pardi helping get some doors open, steering me, telling me what to do, what not to do — advice like, ‘Don’t be the guy that’s always drunk downtown. Be nice to people. Write with everybody.’ I didn’t blindly move, but I moved alone. I took my dog. My first year was crazy. I tried my hardest not to be the guy who’s downtown drinking every night.
The first year was just learning the ropes, meeting friends. The second was the songwriting, getting everything ready. The third year has been getting this album going, promoting the single.
You really incorporated your life into the video for ‘The Difference’ by putting your dogs and fiancée in it. How did the video come together?
You know what’s crazy? This was my first process of a huge production of a video. We had about 20 treatments come through, and I was just like, ‘It has to be real. It has to be fun,’ and that song is just the awkwardness between casual to serious in a relationship. I wanted the video to encompass that perfectly, and I was like, ‘I feel like Sabina, my fiancée, should be in it.’ I was like, ‘Why not have it just be three minutes that are like a time capsule of what it was like when we met at the beginning?’
Twenty years from now, we’ll have that video, and we’ll be like, ‘Those were our dogs when we met! That’s Abby and Charlie, our dogs, and that was us.’ It was funny. We had to pretend like we were first dating. Mason Dixon was the director, and his treatment was spot on. We all just went back and forth until we thought what we had was the perfect video. There was a crazy storm. All of the shots all day were indoors, all of the different memories. And when it gets outside to the night scene, all of the sudden, a torrential downpour came.
What are your plans for the album?
We have recorded about four songs for it. I’ve been home for probably five, six days over the past 3 months just pushing the single. When everything slows down, we’re going to get back in the studio. It’s super exciting. It’s a fun process, and we’re in the dead center of it right now.
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