Singer/songwriter riding the folk wave
West Virginia native Logan Venderlic is a young artist bringing a bit of a fresh take on folk music with his own “folk-wave” sound. He’s currently residing in Charleston, South Carolina, where he’s working on material for a follow-up to his debut full-length, self-titled CD, released about a year ago. Recently he took some time to speak with Graffiti about what he’s got going on right now as he gets settled in his new residence.
Graffiti: Who is Logan Venderlic?
Venderlic: Well, I call myself a ‘folk-wave’ musician, so basically I play some traditional folk-type stuff with a new-wave kind of vibe thrown in. Some of it is a bit more ‘poppy,’ too, so I always tell people I’m a ‘folk-wave’ musician.
Graffiti: What inspired you to do what you do? Are there any certain influences musically, maybe a few books, even movies? What inspires you in your life?
Venderlic: I get inspired by so many different things. I’ve loved music and I’ve wanted to write and play music for a long, long time now. I was writing songs when I was really young, even before I knew how to play the guitar. I started playing guitar when I was 10. But I get inspired by a lot of different things. Recently, one thing that sticks out in my mind is a book called, ‘At Home in the Heart of Appalachia,’ by a guy named John O’Brien. It’s kind of a memoire-style book about him moving back to West Virginia after growing up in Philadelphia. It really hits on that kind of angstiness that I feel a little bit. Kind of like “You love it here in West Virginia, but something about it just puts you off a little bit.” I’ve definitely drawn some influence from that lately. I’m in the middle of writing new material right now, so it’s been a good source to draw from.
Graffiti: So that’s going to be a part of the inspiration for the new material then?
Venderlic: Some of it. I’ve never written a whole album based on one source or anything. There’s one song that I’ve already got called “The Margin” that definitely takes inspiration from that book. But I get plenty of inspiration from other musicians as well.
I was raised on classic rock like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, and a lot of older classic rock like that. Some of the new people as well like the Avett Brothers and Deer Tick and people like that, too.
Graffiti: The classic American singer/songwriters then.
Venderlic: Yeah, absolutely.
Tom Petty also. Just all of that classic rock, man.
Graffiti: Let’s talk about the current record that’s available now.
Venderlic: Yeah, OK. I came out with a little EP in 2010. That was my first release, and then my debut LP came out, actually, last April, so almost a year now. I’ve built quite a bit of momentum over that time. But as I said before, I’m working on new material now, but on that one I did a Kickstarter campaign and took two full tours for that LP. That was great. I got to play Mountain Stage.
Graffiti: Was Mountain Stage kind of a personal goal for you then?
Venderlic: Um, yeah. Definitely. But Mountain Stage didn’t just happen though [laughs]. I had wanted to play Mountain Stage for a long time now, and I got kind of ambitious and tried to get peoples’ attention before I really deserved it. I reached out to them before the release of my debut LP. I had my EP, but I had definitely gotten better as a musician, I think. But, I reached out to them way back then and got no answer back. Then I had expressed to a few friends that I had wanted to play Mountain Stage and one day a good friend of mine, without telling me anything, launched a big Twitter campaign to get everyone to e-mail Mountain Stage so they would finally put me on a bill. She included the link for the contact. Mountain Stage actually e-mailed me and said ‘OK, stop! Please tell them to stop and just send us your stuff.’ And I did, and I still didn’t get a call back, but I did get their attention. Finally, a couple of months before my album’s release I got to go back stage in Charleston and meet all of those guys [and] made a tentative agreement with them. They said that they’d been trying to figure out which show they could put me in on, but it wasn’t until October when I actually got on. It was a process, but it was awesome.
Graffiti: So, you’re working on some new material now. Are you going to do something like an EP to keep whatever buzz there is going?
Venderlic: I actually thought about putting an EP out, but I’ve got more material that an EP’s worth, so I feel like I might as well just go for it. Get enough stuff for an LP. I think I’m just kind of taking my time with it because I want to progress. I want it to be better than the one I released last year, so I think I’m looking at some time later this year, maybe in the fall.
Graffiti: Where do you think you’ll record the next one? Do you have an in-house studio set up or are you going somewhere else to put it down?
Venderlic: Well, kind of a mix really. We’re going to go to Chapel Hill to record some of it. I’ve recorded some demos there and I’m really happy with it. [Fellow WV folk musician] Nick (Vandenberg) has a place that he’s been building up, putting a lot of good stuff into. I’ve added some to it myself. It’s really a nice space.
Graffiti: You said that you did two tours to support the last LP. Where did those tours take you?
Venderlic: If you cut the United States in half, I did the eastern side in the two tours. I played in New England all the way up in Portland, Maine, to New York. Then I went down the coast – Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta. On the second tour, we went all the way over to Texas. I actually had four nights back-to-back to back-to-back in New Orleans, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. The Texas dates were great. They were actually the highlight of the tour.
I actually have some [new] dates lined up. I’m going to continue to play here and there, over the weekends and stuff. In Charleston (S.C.) they’re starting this new festival called Dig South that’s kind of modeled after South by Southwest, so it’s got interactive stuff and music. I reached out to them and they booked me that day, the day I contacted them. It will last from April 12 to 14, and I’m playing on the final day at the College of Charleston Arena, here in South Carolina. The festival will be spread out over various venues throughout the city but that’s where I’ll be playing.
Graffiti: When you start promoting your new release will you be hitting the same places or are you going to expand your reach?
Venderlic: I might. I mean, I definitely need to build on a repeat for a following and visit the people on the east coast. I think I’ll probably do a couple of tours again – stay on the east coast for the first tour and then go further out west for my second one, just like I did for the last album.
Graffiti: What would you say to people who are not familiar with what you’re doing? Where can people here in the West Virginia area come and see a live performance?
Venderlic: Well, I put on really high energy performances. I stomp a lot! [laughs] I even have T-shirts with a big stomping boot on them. I like to get the audience involved. I have a soulful song where I get everyone to sing along. Even when I don’t have a backing band I just put all of my energy into it. I think it’s definitely an experience at a show. I’ll be playing in Morgantown and also Lexington, Kentucky, so I’d love to see people out. I’ll give them a hug afterwards! [laughs] I might give the last CD out for free, I don’t know, but it’ll be a fun time for sure.
Graffiti: Anything else you’d like to mention?
Venderlic: I do have an endorsement deal and I want to give some exposure for Andrew White Guitars, out of Morgantown, who have given me this great guitar that I’m using now. It is my main guitar that I use onstage and in the studio now. He’s been making guitars for over a decade. I got in touch, he really liked my stuff, so he decided to sign with me. I got the guitar in January and it’s great! He’s got a bunch of different models to choose from, but I have the Freja. I really love it!
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