Meet Trevor Dahl of Plug In Stereo

Meet Trevor Dahl, the 17-year-old mastermind behind the acoustic indie project Plug In Stereo.  He’s opened for Never Shout Never and has done a Warped Tour date as well as self-released a few EP’s through Itunes.  Now signed to Triple Crown Records, his debut single for the label Oh Darling is now out, featuring a co-vocal from Cady Groves.

Dahl is definitely not waiting for the full length Nothing To Something to arrive – although it’s due in stores early in the New Year, he’s already touring with a recent stop at the Chain Reaction in Orange County.  Prior to the show, we spoke with Trevor Dahl in the Chain parking lot to find out more about his introspective movie, his inspirations, touring, and other topics of interest…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Plug In Stereo, and how long you’ve been doing this project.
My name is Trevor from Plug In Stereo. I’ve been doing it for about two years. I started in my room just as a joke kind of – just gotten kicked out of my hardcore band, so I was like, “I’ll make acoustic pop music for fun!” So I did that. I write acoustic pop music. It started out as kind of poppy/electro and slowly just kind of faded over towards more organic sounding music – just drums, real guitars, real beats – just that kind of stuff.

What hardcore band were you in? Were you known at all?
We were called Genosa. We didn’t even win our High School Battle Of The Bands…

Oh, that’s disappointing. We’re done here! Just kidding. (Much laughter) So what is your music scene like in Portland, Oregon, and are there very many places for a 17-year-old musician to play?
There are a few. Some of them are kind of sketchy when it comes to paying out the bands and stuff. There’s like four or five decent venues to play at. It’s not bad. A lot of the shows are hardcore/metal shows, so it’s kind of hard to find bands that fit my style. But it’s still fun. Every once in a while there’s bands that come through and you get a local spot, so that’s cool. It’s definitely more hardcore than anything.

How has this tour been going and what have been some of the highlights?
This is just like an off day. We’re doing this show before we head out for the Chase Coy and Backseat Goodbye tour in a couple of weeks in the Midwest.

What was the first song you ever wrote – how old were you – and what was it about?
(Laughs) It was definitely a love song, I’m sure. I was in 6th grade when I started writing and picked up a guitar. My dad has always played when I was little, so I wanted to start learning. I don’t know what it was about, but it was definitely a love song. I’ve always wanted to impress girls – write long songs for them – “Look what I wrote you…” But yeah, it was just some sappy love song I’m sure. I wrote like 40 of them before I started learning like, “Maybe you shouldn’t write all about girls and such.”

Tell me about your new single Oh Darling, and how did Cady Groves become involved with the recording?
Actually it started off with me just recording at home. I wrote it and then my sister was going to sing it as the girl part. But then when I went to record, Cady was recording her album. I recorded during the day and she recorded during the night at the same place. The producer there was like, “Hey you should have Cady…” – we have the same manager – “…you should have Cady sing with this part.” And I was like, “Yeah, let’s definitely try it out!” So she came over and sang – I listened to it and it sounded really cool – so I was like definitely, hell yeah! It worked out really well.

You mentioned your sister was going to do the vocals. Does she sing professionally?
She does it on the side. She’s not like professional. She’s studying to be a teacher so she can do that pretty soon. So yeah, she has a really good voice. I want to do a song with her in the future for fun.

How has the recording of your full length coming along?
We already did it. We haven’t released it yet, but we recorded it in December. We wanted to wait for labels – we signed with Triple Crown and we’re just waiting to put it out now. But I’m working on my second album right now…

It’s been ready for a year?
Yeah, just about. (Laughs) I wrote it before December too, so it’s been ready for a while. It’s so weird! I don’t have that many professional recordings out, but they’ve been done for so long, it’s like weird. And I’m definitely excited for my second album. I’d like to get those songs out there too.

Pick two songs from the upcoming full length and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics.
There’s this one song called What Goes Around. It’s all about negative people who are always trying to bring you down – especially with what I’m doing. It’s specifically about this one guy – he called me up when he was drunk. I used to be friends with him, and then he called me up and he hate on everything about me – from my family to my music – everything! That night, I was like, “You know, fuck you! I’m pissed off!” So I wrote a song about it. And then another song that really meant a lot to me – my best friend’s Mom passed away a little while ago, so I wrote a lot about that. It’s not about me – it sounds like it’s about me, but I wrote it through his perspective. It’s definitely deep and it was pretty sad and hard to record, but it meant a lot to me. It’s called Thursday.

Do you ever play it live?
No, not yet. We’re going to do.

Would it hard for you to sing the song live?
Oh yeah, that would be rough. That would be pretty hard.

What was it like opening for Never Shout Never and did you get to meet Christofer Drew?
Yeah, I’ve played a few shows with him before and it was awesome! When I started playing with him, it was like my fifth show and it was definitely a lot of fun. `It was in Stockton, California, and it was more people than I had ever obviously played in front of. It was sold out and I was like, “Oh, my God, I can’t even believe it!” But it was cool. It was a while back. I haven’t played with him in a little while – it’s been almost two years since I’ve played with him, but it was a lot of fun when we did.

Do you get nervous when you’re playing in front of all those people?
Actually, I get a whole lot more nervous in front of smaller crowds than I do in bigger crowds. The intimacy when there’s like a little bit of people – it’s awkward.

Christofer gets some pretty crazy reactions from fans. Is that something you might want to be prepared for in the future?
(Laughs) Hopefully not as intense as him. He gets crowds of girls. There’s been a few weird reactions, but obviously nothing as crazy as what he goes through. It would be flattering if that crazy stuff happens – I’m definitely prepared.

Have you ever played Warped Tour before?
I played one show. I played the Portland date in my hometown last year. I won one of the competitions for the Kevin Says stage. It was a lot of fun. It’s obviously a dream to play Warped Tour.

For people who aren’t here tonight, what could one expect from a live Plug In Stereo show?
Lately, I’ve really wanted to break it down and make it really, really chill – very relaxing for people. Seems like a lot of bands – especially the Myspace scene – just want to have shows where you just jump around the whole time. And I dig that – obviously I have some poppy jump songs. But I burn incense – I have these weird lights onstage. I want to make it super relaxing and have people actually listen to what I’m trying to say, and not just jump around. It’s relaxing, but it’s still fun though.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
My lyrics definitely. Like I said, I use to write about straight up – just a bunch of love songs – and it gets old obviously. I still write some love songs, because love is obviously a real thing. I just want them to understand the lyrics and I want to write anything that helps them through life really.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles/Orange County area?
I’ve never played here before actually. So anybody that comes out, I appreciate it a bunch! I love California – I love LA – it’s my favorite city. My mom grew up here – so I’ve been here a few times and I love it. I love the beaches. So anybody who comes out to my shows or likes my music – thank you very very very much! I love you!

(Review and Photos by Kenneth Morton)

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