If Patrick Droney isn’t on your playlists yet, trust us, he should be! In May 2021, his debut album State of the Heart was released. The album was rounded out by six brand new tracks to complete the story that’s been blooming overtime throughout periods of living in NYC, LA, and Nashville, where he’s currently based.
From the moment the record begins, you can tell Patrick Droney and music are intrinsically connected, down to the soul. State of the Heart took us through stories and eras that resonate deeply with listeners, while also existing as intensely personal anecdotes of Droney’s journey. Growing up playing guitar, he gained notoriety at age thirteen when he won the Robert Johnson New Generation Award for ‘Best Young Blues Guitarist.’ Fast forward to 2021, and Droney has crafted an album rich with story and heartfelt with emotion. The songs are a blend of pop, rock, blues, and soul and truly encapsulate music you can feel.
Recently, The Honey POP was able to chat with Patrick about the making of the album, storytelling, how three important cities shaped him artistically, and most importantly, diner food. Check it out below!
Congratulations on the release of such a poetic, beautifully evocative album! We love it so much. How does it feel to have it out in the world finally?
Thank you! That means a lot. It feels like a realization of self and I’m so proud of this body of work and what it represents. It was incredibly important to me to release a full-length album so that the songs and stories woven within them could be a part of a complete big picture – one that really sums up my journey thus far. I’m grateful to State of the Heart.
How did creating this album across three different cities – LA, NYC, and Nashville – influence you? What effect did place have on your creative process?
I’m very influenced by places and the eras I have found myself in them. New York City was a formative place for me. So much life happened to me there. Beautiful things, tragic things, and everything in between. The city had and will always have my back. In many ways, this album is a love letter to New York City. Los Angeles was the in-between – I learned a lot in my time in Los Angeles and really honed my production skills. LA was a special and trying time for me as well. I moved from New York when I got my first deal and the years hustling there taught me a lot. Songs like ‘Chasing You’ and ‘Little by Little’ very much stem from my time there. Lastly, Nashville has been a safe haven for me to put my head down and be amongst a community of songwriters and musicians who support and lift each other up. The story is still paramount in Nashville and as a writer, the last five years have been essential to my growth and ability to articulate these themes.
The themes of State of the Heart really resonated with us. The ideas of reconciling what’s behind you and the pursuit of self especially seem extra poignant now with 2020 and quarantine happening. Did any of that come up for you over the course of the past year and lockdown? Were there any songs that were born from that time?
These songs all carry so much meaning, intention, and weight for me. As someone at the end of my twenties, I’m in a place looking back at everything that brought me here. Childhood, growing up, contending with the hardships that come with pursuing your purpose in life and the blessing and burden of our human condition. The pandemic reinforced the responsibility I feel to tell my story as honestly as I can in hopes it helps those who might not be able to articulate theirs feel less alone. Songs like ‘Glitter’ and ‘Talk About That’ took on new meaning. ‘River’ was the last song I wrote and it speaks to the journey of this time – “It’s been a hard year, but honey I’m still right here. Beside you, beside me.”
Your ‘Pairs Well With’ post on Instagram was really cool! Fans wrote about the feelings, images, and quotes that came up for them, so regarding the album as a whole, what does it carry for you? How do you feel it?
State of the Heart is a field guide. My intention is that it can be a comfort and friend to those following the path to the state of their own heart. The heart is such a beautiful machine and we all share in its rhythm.
Who or what would you say are the biggest pieces of your musical landscape that led to the creation of this album? People, artists, places, anything that left its mark on this journey.
EVERYTHING. I feel like anything that’s ever moved me from poets like Rainer Rilke and Pablo Neruda to writers like Paulo Coelho and Brian Doyle whose book The Wet Engine was a massive influence on me for this record. I discovered it when I was 18. The records I grew up listening to by Ray Charles, Jackson Browne, and Springsteen matched with the 80s influence of my production listening to Bryan Adams and Phil Collins records all have their place. The National’s High Violet and The Tallest Man On Earth’s records both were soundtracks to my New York experience and I knew I wanted to make a record that would be a soundtrack to whatever place my listeners are in. So many people inspired the album and helped this record come to be. The loss of loved ones and close friends over the years has been formative to the reflective nature of it. All to say, so much life is lives between the lines on State of the Heart.
What was the very first song you learned on guitar?
‘The Thrill Is Gone’ by B.B. King
We noticed you quote classic writers and artists on social media occasionally. Who are some of your favorite writers? In literature, music, or poetry. Have they influenced you when it comes to storytelling?
Some of my favorite writers are Brian Doyle, Leonard Cohen, Rainer Rilke, Shel Silverstein, Neruda, Hemingway, Carole King, Springsteen, Brandon Flowers, Ray Charles, and too many others to mention. They have all influenced me in my own writing.
You live in Nashville now and have worked with artists and songwriters who overlap with country music, which is known for its storytelling. And your songs are vivid and emotive, and you’re an incredible storyteller. Did you always express through words or did the writing part come later? Has the country genre impacted you as a songwriter?
Thank you for that. Words matter and stories help us connect with each other. It’s important to leave a legacy and document our short time here. Art is a great way of doing that. Even though from a young age I was a guitarist, my dad would make it a point to share with me amazing songwriters just as much as we would bond over guitar players. I learned early that a guitar solo only mattered if it was in the context of a great song. Nashville is so much more than country music but living there I have of course enjoyed the collaboration across the genre spectrum and have enjoyed helping other artists tell their stories as well!
The songs on this album are gorgeously crafted! We loved hearing all of the different instruments you incorporated, like the saxophone. Since you co-wrote and co-produced the album can you take us through the process of putting together a song? How do you figure out all the layers?
I’m such a texture person. I get joy out of creating landscapes and sonic pictures painted with many different colors. My productions often lean towards the cinematic spectrum because I found a lot of my favorite music growing up in film and television. Sound and picture pairing has always compelled me. I think of the emotion and color of the song’s sentiment and try to create a world for that message to live in. It’s amazing how a certain synth pad colors in nostalgia and a drum sound makes your heart race. I make emotional choices when it comes to production and it’s always a joy to crack that code even when it’s hard.
Looking ahead to your upcoming tour, do you have a song from the album you’re looking forward to playing most?
We just got back on stage for our first weekend of headline shows again. Hearing the crowd sing every word back to me is unreal. Songs like ‘Nowhere Town’ and ‘The Wire’ were highlights but honestly, every song has its own moment and I’m equally excited to live in each on stage.
Do you have a favorite moment during live performances? Is there anything that sticks out to you that you can’t get from virtual performances that you’re looking forward to?
It’s all about that moment of connection between people. The idea that it’s just us, this room, and the music. It can’t be replicated again the same way – it’s a unique experience and that gives me the most inspiration. It’s also freeing to disappear into the moments of inspiration we can’t plan for until they happen onstage. My bandmates are my best friends and I’m lucky to share those moments beside them.
Since New York is a special place in your story, we wanted to shout out the fact that you sold out Bowery Ballroom! What has been the most special music venue you’ve ever performed at? And what would your dream venue be?
I’m so honored to have sold out The Bowery. Again, it’s all a part of this album’s story. My NY era included nights at The Bowery I’ll never forget. Bringing these stories back to the city is special. I played The Apollo when I was 19 and that was so special honoring Robert Johnson. Second to that would be my first late-night show with Seth Meyers at 30 Rock.
Lastly, if there was something you could say to the younger version of yourself when this album began blooming, what would it be?
Life is like a flipbook. If you look at each page singularly you might not see the grand movement or understand the “why.” Know that each day you spend chasing your purpose you are moving an inch closer to getting to where you want to be. Enough days will pass and you will see the big beautiful moving picture. It will all make sense someday.
And bonus, just for fun: since we also believe in diners and their magical, liminal spirit, what’s your go-to diner food order?
Love this question. Black coffee, two eggs sunny side up, and if we are doing a late-night hang – you can never go wrong with a grilled cheese, side of fries, and a vanilla shake.
There you have it – this is your official sign to go grab yourself a milkshake or a grilled cheese and throw on this record! Buzz over and tell us about your favorite songs from State of the Heart on Twitter @TheHoneyPop, or on Facebook and Instagram!
For more exclusive interviews, buzz over here!
Featured Image Source: Blythe Thomas/Edit by Emily Defoor from THP Graphics Team