Grammy-winning musician Daniel Tashian said pandemic was his ‘chance’ for new family album
Growing up in Westport, Daniel Tashian’s house was full of music, as both his parents were musicians —teaching guitar at the local music store and playing in a country band at local bars. His grandmother was also a vocal coach and his dad was even recruited by Emmylou Harris to join her band in 1979.
So, music was always around him and on his mind. He learned to play piano, guitar, drums and bass, and was writing songs as a teen.
“I really responded to the music of Billy Joel when I was younger, and a lot of the radio stations in Fairfield County would play him,” Tashian said. “My summers, if I wasn’t at the beach, I was just scrolling up and down the dial listening to the songs of the ’70s and ’80s and Billy Joel is a staple. I really responded to the way in which he constructed his melodies.”
Once he graduated high school, Tashian focused on a music career, signing his first deal with Elektra Records, releasing his debut, “Sweetie.” From there, he founded the rock band, The Silver Seas, and found a niche in writing songs for other artists and placements in films and television.
“I love music so much and I just wanted to be a record producer and songwriter my entire life,” he said. “I struggled a lot. I think a lot of young people feel they need to hit their stride in their 20s or they’re not any good. That wasn’t the case for me. I’m a late bloomer. My journey has had a lot of rejection and disappointment, but I stayed persistent.”
In 2009, Tashian signed a publishing deal with Big Yellow Dog Music, an independent label in Nashville, and he’s spent the past decade as a professional songwriter and producer.
Over the years, he’s worked with singers like Billy Currington, Martina McBride and Lee Ann Womack, and co-wrote the No. 1 country hit, “Hometown Girl,” for Josh Turner.
Last year, Tashian co-wrote seven songs with Kacey Musgraves & Ian Fitchuk on Musgraves’ acclaimed album, “Golden Hour,” which he also co-produced. His efforts landed him two Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Country Album.
“If you’re doing something and have some facility with music and words, and you keep working on your craft, and being willing to finish things, even if not the most amazing things you’ve ever done, you can make it,” he said.
Most recently, Tashian recorded a children’s album, “Mr. Moonlight,” which features vocals by his three daughters — Tigerlily (9) and twins Tinkerbell and Matilda (6), who helped write the tunes with their dad during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. His wife Lillie also got involved by creating the artwork for the record.
“I did my first children’s album last year, and I wanted to do another one, but I’ve been so busy with production work,” he said. “I really enjoyed the process so wanted to do the follow-up and when we got on this lockdown due to COVID, I knew this was my chance.”
Just like when he was younger, music is a regular thing at the Tashian household and he’s enjoyed getting them involved.
“They’re just regular kids, but Tigerlily has a terrific voice and just has the pipes, though she’s not interested at this point in doing it as a career, though she’ll help me with a song if I directly ask her,” he said. “They are not prodigies by any sense and can barely play their ukuleles, but they love dancing and music is a big part of their lives. They love singing.”
The album has already garnered a great deal of attention winning the National Parenting Product Award and acclaim has come from TIME for Kids, Billboard, iHeart, Cheddar and more.
“A fan sent me a video she had made with her sons and another fan sent a video of a small boy singing the song ‘Pirate Life,’ and I think as a songwriter, if you can get a song stuck in someone’s head, that’s a proud moment for sure — especially a kid,” Tashian said. “If you can get their attention, you’ve definitely pulled a magic trick.”
Although he’s been away from Westport for a while, he still has family there and maintains a spiritual connection.
“When you grow up on that shore there and the beaches around there, it stays with you your whole life,” Tashian said. “It’s horribly humid and terribly hot here in Nashville now and I just wonder how I can get back to that beach. So my ties are really about heartstrings in the area.”
He continues to record and tour with The Silver Seas, and he’s spending the rest of his time during the pandemic in his garage studio writing new songs and looking for the next hit.
“You have to adapt to new ways of doing things, and these are all things that are kind of my vibe,” he said.