Louisiana native Hunter DeBlanc is making a name for himself in the alternative-pop scene, especially overseas. His international tours and travels have earned him a strong fan base, particularly in Australia. I got the chance to talk with Hunter about how he got into making and performing music, his latest single “Sydney”, what he nerds out about and more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Music has always been a part of my life. My parents had me start piano lessons at a very young age. But after 7 years of practices and recitals, I told them I wanted to play sports, and be outside with other kids my age. Fast forward to my college days when my buddies and I were going out and watching all of our favorite bands play shows on the weekends. We go out to the pawn shops, buy some instruments, and start our own band. I decided to play the bass— neglecting the years of piano lessons my parents had paid for. We’d jam at my mom’s pool house every weekend, and I ended up joining a local cover band, cutting my teeth at all the college pubs near campus & the surrounding area. I eventually was drawn back to the piano though, and I left the cover band to start my own. By the time I graduated college, I was performing solo 4-5 nights a week for a living. It was around then that I started writing my ﬁrst EP—Something to Hold On To— which ﬁnally came to fruition in Summer 2014.
Was there a speciﬁc moment or person who made you realize music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
It’s deﬁnitely always been a dream of mine, and that’s how it still feels because it’s a dream job to get to play music (for the most part). Don’t know if “professional” would be the term I would use to describe it. But yeah, even though it’s always been a dream of mine since I was a kid, I’d have to say it was those ﬁrst times performing in front of a crowd back in 2008 that really sold me on it. Playing music [for] people just gave me an amazing feeling, and I wanted more of that feeling.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
I’d say I aim to make modern sounding music with a nostalgic ﬂare that conveys the emotions behind the lyrics, but also allows the listener to dance and sing along. I’m a sucker for a really catchy song with emotional lyrics.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical inﬂuences?
Some of my biggest inﬂuences are Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin), Ben Folds, Nate Ruess (The Format, FUN.), Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service)— also a bunch of piano players like Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, Randy Newman. Huge fan of 80’s stuff like The Cure, New Order, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, The Pixies. Oh, and then literally any 90’s music, and ALL of the early 2000’s pop-punk/emo era.
Let’s talk about your new single, “Sydney.” What’s the story behind the song?
So I was performing as the piano bar entertainer on a cruise ship based out of Sydney, Australia a couple of years back. It was a dream job and an amazing experience, but it came with a price nonetheless. It was a 6-month long contract, performing the same songs and drinking too much almost every night, halfway across the world from my family, my friends, but more speciﬁcally, my girlfriend, who the song is addressed to (and the bridge is supposed to be written from her perspective). It’s basically your cliché “on the road” song — except the road here is the sea. But 3 months into the contract, she was able to come visit me for 10 days. We sailed out by the Sydney Opera House, which is undeniably one of the most beautiful sail-aways in the world, and we disappeared into the Paciﬁc. We fell in love with the places that we saw during those 10 days, especially the city of Sydney itself; it rejuvenated me, and that memory sustained me for the rest of the performance. It was around that time that I started writing “Sydney.”
What was your writing process like for this song? Was this song a result of collaboration with other writers or the product of your own mind?
Instrumentally, the demo for the song was one of my ﬁrst explorations with the program Ableton, deriving inﬂuences from 80’s synth-heavy groups like New Order and Tears For Fears and combining it with modern elements from groups like The 1975, Owl City, BLEACHERS, and Two Door Cinema Club. I collaborated with Austin Dore at Wave Theory Studios for the INXS-esque spanky guitars, and he helped me take the song to the next level production-wise. Lyrically, the writing process ﬂowed pretty naturally. I went into the studio with only the ﬁrst verse and the chorus written, and the rest took shape pretty easily from there. Inspiration for the lyrical & vocal-stylings came from Andrew McMahon, All Time Low, Owl City, Blink 182, and Chromeo.
You have already established a big international fan base, especially in Australia. How did that happen?
That happened largely in part due to my time performing out on the cruise ship circuits out in Australia. I made a real connection with a lot of my audience out there, and the amount of support they’ve shown me has been humongous.
You are still very new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I’m hoping to release my ﬁrst full-length LP. I want to go on my ﬁrst tour, and I just want to keep going as far as I can take it.
Musically, what can people expect from you for the rest of 2018? Is there an EP or a full-length album release coming anytime soon? Any tour plans?
I’m going to be releasing a new single titled “RADelaide” in the next few weeks, accompanied by (hopefully) a mini-tour announcement.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something you nerd out about?
First off, I’m a huge fan of the show LOST. I’ve seen the entire series multiple times, and could probably teach a class on it. I could also nerd out about The Wire pretty hard. I’m also a big fan of time travel shows, anthology series, and zombie movies.