We got the chance to talk to the incredible Indiana-based musician Trey Schafer. He seamlessly blends different genres of music in his music to create a unique sound. He released two singles, one of which (“Anxiety”) has been streamed over 500,000 times. He is now about to release his debut EP which will include his newest single, “Clothes.”
Unheard Gems: So to start out with a bit of background, when did you first know you wanted to pursue music or when did you start working on your music?
My parents got me my first guitar in 4th grade for Christmas. I still have the pawn shop stratocaster in the studio back in Indiana. After a few guitar lessons, I immediately began writing songs without any knowledge of how to. Music and writing very quickly became my outlet from that point on. It took me several years to finally show anyone my music. It was purely my therapy. I couldn’t even write or sing if someone was in the house. Fast forward to 8th grade, I had been saving up my entire life for my studio equipment that I still use today. 9th grade year, I began posting Soundcloud covers/remixes of songs. It took so many people to believe in me before I finally began to believe in myself. Junior year was the year I vocally expressed my decision of not going to college and pursuing music, but I believe my mind was made up ever since I held that pawn shop stratocaster in the 4th grade.
Unheard Gems:How would you characterize your genre or type of music, also how have you seen it evolve as you have grown as an artist?
Wow, definitely one of the toughest questions for me.. I am influenced by so many different genres it is hard for me to put into perspective. Growing up, I was in a punk rock cover band in middle school. We would cover Green Day, Bullet for my Valentine, Blink 182, All American Rejects, etc. Post emo-phase, I got my first acoustic guitar and began writing songs every day. John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and Jason Mraz were definitely some of my biggest influences during my middle school days. After getting into recording, I got really into R&B and hip-hop music and dove headfirst into my urban side. I guess to sum it up, I’d describe my current genre of music as a mixing pot of punk rock, singer-songwriter, R&B, and hip-hop. But in the long run, I want to be genre defying.
As an artist, I found my sound getting lost within the different songwriting sessions and fighting between writing a good song or something that is genuine and real. It took me becoming a producer and building endless songs from scratch to finally understand myself as an artist. I spend upwards of 12-16 hours a day locked in my studio learning, producing, and experimenting. I still haven’t even scratched the surface. But at the end of the day, I want to make something that is genuine to my heart whether its an acoustic ballad or an urban banger.
Unheard Gems: To talk about your music, you are getting ready to release your song “Clothes” which is the first single leading up to your first EP. What can you tell us about the song and the story behind it?
The initial inspiration for “Clothes” derived from when I found my ex’s senior pictures in my wallet almost 2 years after the end of our relationship. It was one of those melodies and concepts that just popped out like a newborn and even took my good friend Golden to notify of the dopeness. After that day, we booked a session with one of my favorite producers of all time, Sean Meier, and sat down and wrote the Clothes in less than a couple hours. I think “Clothes” is a song that everybody can relate to on some level. Even if you don’t physically have your ex’s clothes in your closet, there is that part of you that holds onto the possibility of one day realigning.
Unheard Gems: What about the EP? What was the process of working on the EP like? Are the songs similar to the songs you have out now (‘Fallin’ and ‘Anxiety’)?
The EP is a collection of moments over the last two years during my artist development. Some songs on the EP are two years old, while others are 3 months old. Each song tells a different point of time and perspective within a relationship (not all from my eyes). The songs are definitely different from everything I have out now. I’m very blessed and humbled to have built these songs from the ground up with incredible producers that listen to just about any wacky idea I have. Most of the songs on the EP feel more abandoned to me than finished.. But it’s time to close this chapter.
Unheard Gems: Is there a song from you are most excited for people to hear? If so why?
Genuinely, I am equally excited for each song on the EP. Each show a different side of my artistry and have a different flavor in the live setting. Im sure there will be certain ones that you like more. But it’s like you’re asking me to choose a favorite child here..
Unheard Gems: What has been a moment in your career that has affected or changed your life, music, or perspective the most. What has been the most surreal movement?
The chapter that has changed my perspective the most was being homeless in LA for a few weeks before moving to Vegas a couple years back. I was living out of my car with my 4 guitars as roomies. I was writing music in my passenger seat, brushing my teeth in my car, getting dressed for meetings in my car, crashing on the occasional couch.. It taught me to appreciate so many things I took for granted. It made me appreciate anytime I have the blessing of creative space such as a studio or even a room to sing in.
Unheard Gems: One of our favorite questions, if you could recommend one growing or “Unheard” musician that you think we should listen to who would it be?
A growing musician that I think you should listen to is Rex Orange County. After Tyler’s last project, he’s definitely gotten the clout he deserves but still under the radar. I tend to revolve around musicians and artists who are unapologetically true to their vision and I think he is just that.
Unheard Gems: Thank you so much for taking your time to share your story with us, last quick question, where can and should our readers and followers find your music and updates on you?
The best place to find my music is via Itunes, Spotify, or Soundcloud. As far as updates go, my Instagram and twitter are both @treyschafer and my snapchat is trizzy_treeh. Follow those and you’ll never miss a thing :D
Written and Edited by: Hannah Schneider