Following a decade of touring and releasing six albums as a respected multi-genre singer-songwriter, Micah Dalton found himself feeling musically diluted – and realized a reinvention was in order.
“My own name represented something that I didn’t want to perpetuate anymore, and I got so lost in the shadows of what I didn’t want to do, that it felt like I needed to be recreated musically in order to be myself.”
In the midst of his soul and career searching, he met Rick Lollar through Micah’s ATL Collective. With a background in jazz and having shared the stage with the likes of Elvis Costello and Colonel Bruce Hampton, Rick was a contributing catalyst to the focus that Micah was searching to find. A move from Atlanta to Brooklyn only further pushed Micah into a crossroads. The result was a duo – Dwayne Shivers – that planted an indie blues flag with clarity and intention.
As Dwayne Shivers gears up for their debut album (Tuesday, October 14), and two release parties (October 10 at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn and October 18 at Mammal Gallery in Atlanta), we caught up with Micah to hear more about this new project.
What was the main driver to try something different from a solo artist?
“I felt like I became a little abstracted from myself. I was so into trying out different styles, going to Nashville for the songwriting thing, going on a typical ‘professional track’ approach to success in the music business, which is fine for some people, but it got me pretty lost. I forgot that the process I initially fell in love with was being honest in my songs and displaying that imaginatively through performance.”
How did Dwayne Shivers come about?
“The concept of Dwayne Shivers was carved out of what I felt was already working and connecting in my material, along with a nagging desire to capture and experience something unforgettable and fresh in live performance – thus, the collaboration with Rick. I feel like my solo career was a 10-year experiment that yielded Dwayne Shivers.”
How have you refined and focused your sound?
“Having Rick weigh in on the writing has matured the chordal nature of the songs. Committing the effort as a guitar duo and always leaning toward the blues creates some improvisational freedom that I really cannot wait to see actualize.”
What advantages do you have now as a duo instead of a solo act?
“I think there’s an obvious instrumental aspect that now works in partnership with the songs. Not just soloing, but another personality inserting really serious sensibilities as commentary and conversation. So, in short, there’s another dimension to explore live. I feed off of collaboration big time. The advantages, I hope, will be evident in the live experience more than anything.”
Did you find that the term “singer-songwriter” had become limiting?
“Yes, but only in terms of form. The songs are still pretty linear and lean on the lyric even more than my solo stuff. I believe this project intends to be a hard shift into a more expansive, artful way of performing rather than a more typical singer-songwriter thing.”
How has moving from the South to New York changed your perspective?
“It’s much harder to survive and, therefore, anything peripheral or unimportant in the songwriting process diminishes. I have been writing to make meaning of this fragmented and beautiful life with a sense of urgency rather than thinking about how to posture myself as an artist. I’m actually trying to do the hard work of searching my soul and being a responsible conduit rather than an entitled cloud of ego. Hopefully.”
Have you changed the approach to your music and craft?
“I feel more liberated as an artist rather than someone who makes three or four pieces of organized sound, records it, then tours it. In New York, pushing the edges of performance is welcomed along with no tolerance for inauthenticity, which has provided a cultural space for me to bravely think about what Dwayne Shivers can become on- and off-tape.”
What have you learned about the key ingredients to a good collaboration?
“Mutual respect and the ability to recognize and affirm each other’s musical voice in a collective way that was previously unavailable to each as an individual.”
To hear Black Tar Heart from the upcoming Dwayne Shivers EP click here.