Interview: Darryl Rahn
Written by Kiersten Gerard
Darryl Rahn is a singer-songwriter hailing from Utica, New York. Like many artists today, he has turned to Tik Tok to spread his music and connect with his followers. We got the chance to chat with him about hate comments, his lifelong relationship with music, and writing songs in bathrooms.
What has been your relationship with music throughout your life, and when did you begin writing?
My earliest memories are hearing my parents play music in the car, and that would be artists like Norah Jones and the Beatles. I would also watch a lot of country music videos on TV, I thought they were entertaining. I think I was always drawn to that kind of art from a really young age. Once I got into 5th or 6th grade my dad took me to a CD store and got me a bunch of old rock albums. Then guitar was my life. I began writing songs that were just guitar alone when I was about 13 or 14, and when I was 15 I started writing lyrics. Car rides were where I first fell for music and it grew from there.
How did you begin to play shows and how old were you when you first started?
When I was about 15 there was a coffee shop pretty close to where I lived, and it was the only one that had musicians play. They didn’t pay us, so it didn’t really matter how many people we brought in. Luckily at that age it was easy to get all of our friends to come out. And it was terrifying. I was not ready to be playing shows when I first started but I guess that’s how it is. It was just local coffee shops and open mics for a few years until I was 17 or 18 and I started to book more serious shows.
Which one of your songs are you most proud of and what did you write it about?
I think I’m most proud of “Masterpiece” which is a song I wrote about writing songs and the notion that your life will change and be great if you write a hit song, but the reality is that the chance of anything happening is pretty slim. You’ve got to be in it for the right reasons, you’ve got to do it because you love doing it. I had had that feeling for a long time, I finally wrote a song about it, and it felt exactly like I wanted it to.
Is there a specific place you find it easiest to write? Like a specific chair, room, etc.?
I’ve got a room in my apartment with no bed, it’s a room just for my music stuff and it’s really helped me be creative. When I was growing up it was honestly a bathroom in my parents house, because it’s so reverberant and I sounded better in there than other rooms where it was more dead. So I think bathrooms usually if I’m at home, but here this music room is currently my oasis.
What is your favorite topic to write about?
I don’t know if there’s a specific topic, but I think I’m usually most proud when I can write a story that’s not necessarily about me. I have a song off my new album Going Steady called “Calexico” that’s about being at a restaurant where they’re singing happy birthday and the narrator is reflecting on something that that moment reminds them of. I think that kind of thing is my favorite because it feels more universal when it’s not just about me. I think story songs are my favorite no matter what they’re about.
On your Tik Tok page you combat your “haters” by singing their comments back to them- do you have a favorite hate comment?
Luckily I haven’t received all that many of them, which I guess is good but then again if you have more hate that means you’ve got to have more love, right? But anyway, I think the one that said “Maybe he didn’t ever wanna hear your voice again. I don’t,” was really mean but also quite funny. I think in writing these response songs I actually win them over in a way because then they see how ridiculous what they said was, and they see that people do read them. It’s been a positive exercise. I used to think having haters would be a really terrifying thing but now that I’m older and I see how the internet works and what it means to be on there, it’s whatever. It doesn’t matter at all.
Do you have any releases planned for the future?
Yes and no- I’m doing this name thing on Tik Tok where I write songs about people who comment their names. Some of them are becoming songs I like so I’m planning on making an album of those, it’ll be about 20 short songs. I’m also working on a single called “Boredom Boy” which I don’t have a release date for. There’s lots of music on the shelf just waiting.
How has the pandemic affected the time you spend on music?
I’ve had more time and energy recently. When the pandemic first started I wasn’t writing at all because I was pretty scared and depressed, I was confused. I think the initial shock of not socializing as much was really hard for my creativity. Now that I’m more used to it I have more free time than I’ve ever had, in a good and bad way.
What is the best advice you’ve received regarding music and/or life in general?
I used to be very obsessive over having a lot of songs, I never felt like I had enough. I would always try to be writing and then one day somebody was like “You also have to fill the well.” You have to go out and experience things. Sometimes I wouldn’t socialize just so I could keep writing, and looking back I should’ve been putting myself out there in different ways so I could have more to write about. Another piece of advice I’ve heard is that there’s a song in everything. Any conversation you hear, there’s something that could be a song if you think about it the right way. That’s helped me a lot .
Do you have any advice or lessons you’ve learned that you could share with aspiring musicians?
Don’t be afraid of being bad for a while. With whatever you’re doing, like playing guitar for example, you have to play badly before you learn what’s good. It takes a long time for your ability to meet your taste. And I think that’s okay, that’s just the process. Don’t get too discouraged early on in your path or career or whatever it may be.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
I guess this name thing. It’s very fresh still but I’m trying to get that to have enough traction to justify an album. So I’ll plug that- my “Tik Tok name challenge.”
Visit Darryl’s Tik Tok @darrylrahnmusic to throw your name into the mix!
You can find him on instagram @darrylrahnmusic!