Self-taught singer-songwriter Spencer Sutherland sat down with us recently to chat about his burgeoning stardom, working with Disney Channel stars, and promoting positive body image and self worth. Check out what he had to say below.
Who was the first musician that really spoke to you, causing your interest in music and songwriting?
Hey, thank you guys so much for the support! There are so many artists that have spoken to me, but the first was Elvis! His infectious pop/rock n roll music and lyrics really drove me to catchy songwriting. He really influenced me as a performer as well! Then Marvin Gaye with his amazing soulful voice – such unique vocal tone and control.
You’re self-taught – who inspired you to push yourself and learn on your own? Have you had any teachers or mentors along the way?
My own determination helped push me, but when you have a true passion, it becomes less of a job. My family, friends and support system have been so supportive, and this has made it easy to do what I love and spend countless hours doing it! Also, my manager has really done a lot in terms of arming me with the right tools and providing direction.
If you could collaborate with any producers, writers and artists, who would be on the top of your list?
I’ve already been so lucky to collaborate with some amazing producers so far, and am currently talking to producers that I admire so much! As for artists – It would DEFINITELY be an honor to work with Pharrel, Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. They are all amazing songwriters, singers and performers!
You tour a decent amount, what are some of your pre-show rituals?
Before shows, I run 9 miles and drink 5 gallons of milk….haha I’m kidding! I usually just do some pushups, vocal warmups and make sure that I’m not too stiff! I make sure to crack a couple bad jokes before I go on stage. I love to have fun and want everyone around me to enjoy it too.
What’s it like doing a mall concert/show?
Well I have only done a few but I LOVE mall concerts! It’s so fun because you have a crowd there to see you, but then you can make even more fans from the people shopping around!
Your sound is typically marketed towards a younger audience, do you worry that a lot of the fan base will be based on looks rather than your amazing voice?
I don’t worry too much about that because it’s flattering either way! I just really love for the fans to hear my voice and my music but if they happen to like the way that I look cool, that’s a bonus!
You’ve worked with Disney star Stefanie Scott, what was that like and would you want to be a Disney star yourself?
Working with Stefanie was a lot of fun! She’s a really talented girl, and our song got some awesome exposure! It got picked up by Entertainment Tonight, MTV Buzzworthy and USA Today! I can’t really say that I aim to be a certain kind of artist. I really just am myself and whatever that brings is what kind of artist I am
Speaking of Disney, what are your thoughts on Miley Cyrus’ drastic change from Disney role model to over-the-top shock artist?
I dont know her personally so I actually dont understand exactly what Miley’s strategy was, but not gonna lie the album is SICK. Miley definitely knows what she is doing!
You recently posted about your support for The Butterfly Project, lack of self-esteem and the promotion of sexuality at a young age seems to be a lot more of a problem today than the past couple decades – where has society gone wrong and what do you do to try and make a difference?
The Butterfly Project is awesome! It’s a very cool worthwhile charity based out of my hometown and has already done so much good including rescuing girls from human trafficking. I think society has gone wrong with how they portray girls especially. Magazines, TV and everything else shows girls with an impossible figure. When I say impossible, I mean it because they literally edit the pictures! Girls are amazing in so many ways – they shouldn’t base their self esteem on body image and sexuality or measure themselves off of pop culture!
What are some other non-profit organizations would you love to work with someday (or currently do)?
I have done a small StageIt show with Make-A-Wish, but I would love to do something huge and lifelong with them! Nothing is more saddening than a kid with a life threatening disease. The fact that a KID has to go through that is so sad to me. I have also been trying to raise awareness for the Falling Whistles by wearing one their whistles for the last year! I would just love to do more!
One of your merch designs has a heart and the words “you’re amazing” on it, backwards – that was a beautiful and genius idea, what inspired that?
Wow – Thank you! The thing that really inspired that was helping girls understand that they don’t need to fit anybody’s definition of amazing but theirs. It really is supposed to tell girls to value themselves and understand they ARE amazing. Self worth is very important to me!
Finally, what do you have lined up for 2014?
2014 has already been amazing! I got to go on my first tour with the pop band Before You Exit, and I had the time of my life! I am actually headed back out on tour this summer! You can check my website for details. And I am getting ready to release the “Heartstrings” music video! We will be it announcing soon!