Just because Dan Tyminski’s name isn’t immediately familiar to you, doesn’t mean it’s unknown to the Grammy committee. The bluegrass phenom, best known as George Clooney’s singing voice in O Brother Where Art Thou, and the vocalist on Avicii’s Hey Brother, is also the long-standing mandolin and guitar player/vocalist in Alison Krauss’s band Union Station.
Despite releasing several solo albums over the years, it was last fall’s release of his new solo album Southern Gothic that caused a flurry of attention including Tyminski’s first solo artist appearances on Good Morning America and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
I cannot tell a lie. Until a small-ish concert in New York early this year, I was familiar with the voice but not the man. I was most impressed with the fact that Tyminski possesses a giant talent and what seems like a modest ego.
He spoke with Ladders about some of the things that go into creating an overnight success.
Stay true to your ethics
“I’ve been doing it a long time, but it’s so different,” said Tyminski about his musical career shift. “It’s so weird to have been doing what you do for this long and still have it feel brand new” Tyminski continued.
“I’ve played a small niche music for most of my life on the large scale with Alison. Bluegrass doesn’t touch as many people as pop and rock and other genres. It’s the energy I’ve always loved. It’s as different as I’ve ever done, though I use the same process,” Tyminski said.
Most crucial though, “I use the same code of musical ethics — we just pointed ourselves in a different direction. Even though it’s a bigger setting now, I don’t think I’ve had to change who I am at all. I feel I’m always the same guy I’ve always been- just playing louder.”
Own your reputation, own your success
In the past, Tyminski was recognized as part of a band bearing his name or that of someone else. With his updated sound, came the updated and streamlined band name as well- simply his last name. Tyminski said, “I process it all a little differently now, not because my name is on the marquee; I’m attached to the songs because my name is on them.”
He shared an anecdote about playing on Good Morning America and how the producers wanted to change a lyric in the song Temporary Love which euphemistically deals with drug use: “When they said change the lyric, I just stopped. In all my years of performing, I’ve known that you make the adjustment and move on. This time I was passionate because it’s my lyric.”
End result? Tyminski performed a different song.
“Anyone who says they don’t get excited when they win a Grammy is probably lying,” Tyminski said. “Especially when you’re talking about industry people who live it … who do it. It’s not a vote you can buy. You can’t do a huge amount of press and then win a Grammy. It’s an important thing. Very exciting. Every single time you’re sitting there and they call your name.”
Treat every success as an overnight success
“Despite looking at my career from several vantage points I realize that you get excited because you always live in the moment. Everything you try to do, you try to surpass.” Tyminski said. “There have been a few things that elevated my career so quickly.
“When I moved from Vermont to Nashville to play Bluegrass — boom that’s an overnight success. Playing with Alison — boom that’s an overnight success. There are things that make you say BOOM! I made it. But it’s really an entire lifetime of playing music and understanding that each success leads to the next.”
Hold onto the butterflies
Curiously enough, the song that brought Tyminski the most recognition — and over 130 million views on YouTube — left Tyminski uncredited. “Hey, Brother didn’t even have my name on it” Tyminski admitted.
“I was recognized very quickly for that song, but it’s more that I find myself still grateful that I get to do what I love,”Tyminski said. “I still get excited when I play. I spend the first 35-45 seconds of every concert with butterflies the way I did when I was a teenager. It takes the first song before I can chill out. Even though I’ve done it a while, it’s everything every time.”