(Photo courtesy of the DREAM Label Group)
Meet Landry Cantrell
By Sarah Komisky
Twenty-six has been a good number for Landry Cantrell. Getting signed for the first time to a new label (DREAM Label Group), releasing an album (Projections) after several hard months of work, and generating a lot of buzz with a new single, Landry has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. With this single, Marked Ministry was first introduced to Landry, and like many of you, we couldn’t get enough of his music. So as the world is currently discovering the music of Landry Cantrell, we thought we would take some time to introduce you to the artist. We asked all the questions we thought you would like to know on God, music, and even Disney songs! Enjoy.
Sarah: Kind of getting started, maybe you can share a little bit about your story and how you came to Christ?
Landry: Okay, yeah well, I was raised in the church and my dad is a pastor. But, when I was teenager I really kind of got serious about serving the Lord, and gave myself to Him – for myself. One of the biggest landmarks in my life happened on a choir tour. I remember we went up to Oregon, and it was just like about thirty of us. And there was just an amazing presence of God throughout that whole choir tour. At that point I had [already] given my life to God, but, there was just something different about that experience that really just changed my perspective on ministry and music. There were just so many moments where the whole choir would connect with God and we just had an amazing spiritual experience on that tour and I was never the same after that! I gave myself to God at a young age as a teenager and my ministry really came after that tour that I went on.
Sarah: So how does music connect you with God?
Landry: It’s funny because music is always the way to usher in the presence of God in my prayer time and any time like that. If I want to have a moment in prayer, the first thing that I always do is that I’ll go to my car. And I’ll put on some music and I’ll go drive around and I’ll just pray. That’s kind of my ritual whenever I want to have a moment away with God like that. So, I don’t know, but music always feels like the gateway for something like that. For me anyway, that’s kind of how I connect with Him. That’s one side and then the other side is being able to use music to express my gratitude, my worship, my love for Him.
Sarah: I’ve read a little bit about you, and you’ve had so many accomplishments early on (recording, touring, obtaining a Master’s Certificate in Music Technology and Production from Berklee College of Music), so what brought you to the DREAM label?
Landry: It’s kind of a simple story, actually. I had worked with the producer out of Atlanta, named Sean Hill, and before the label came into the picture at all, me and him got together and worked on this record, Projections. And really, the main thing was the music. It was a longer process, but I think in doing that, we were able to really create and cultivate the sound that we wanted for this album. In the middle of making this album, my manger kind of started talking to some labels and started putting my music out there. He approached me with this idea that this label – DREAM – wanted to work with me. I said, “that’s awesome, I would love to talk with them.” They wanted to talk to me and wanted to hear my direction to make sure it was going in the direction of the label. So, I told them, if they wouldn’t mind if we talked again whenever my album was done. And they were like, “sure yeah, let’s do it.” So, that was in June and we didn’t talk again until October, so they kind of waited around for me for a bit, which was cool. We hit them up, and we were like, “yeah, let’s do it, let’s do music.” I played them the song, and they loved it. And I met up with Lance Brown (DREAM Label Group) in L.A., and I just really, really liked his vibe and his whole vision for the label – for a fresh, new, young sound. And I think that’s what really sold me.
Sarah: Well that’s great. Like you said, you weren’t able to rush, and you had that freedom to create and come up with something you were proud of and wanted to release.
Landry: Yeah. I think that was the point in making this record. We made the music we wanted to make. I wrote the songs I wanted to write, and in doing so, I think we created something people wanted to be a part of.
Sarah: Let’s talk about the single, “Before You.” What’s the story behind it?
Landry: I had a friend of mine send me a track and he was really digging it. He was like, “bro, I want you to write a song to this.” And I really liked the track, and I wanted to write a song to it. But, I was really in a rut with writing. I had really hit a really massive writer’s block, and I was a bit down about the whole process. But, I thought, I’m going to give it a try anyway. You can tell – the song starts out pretty dark, like in despair, woe is me, and that was literally a reflection of my attitude at the time. I was not feeling very optimistic. I was kind of down in the dumps, pity party, and as I was writing, like once I got to the pre-chorus, I started to feel that inspiration come back, and it kind of just shifted. You can kind of tell, and you can follow my emotional journey. The song kind of lifted me out of that low moment. And so, the song is quite literally just a reflection of my emotional state while I was writing it. So, the music itself kind of pulled me out of that darker, emotional period that we all have. For every person it can mean something different, which is why I like the song. But, I just wanted to create this bleak outlook on life, and then just kind of remind people in the chorus that God reaches in the darkest of situations.
Sarah: I read that your musical influences were Kirk Franklin, Plus One, and Stacie Orrico. Were there any other influences that came to this album?
Landry: I guess subconsciously all my musical influences played a part. Really, I didn’t set out to write any particular album. I just started picking songs that I really love, and I just chased those songs that came to me. I really like R&B music – it is like my all time favorite genre. And then, obviously, pop music comes through songs. And then electronic music I’ve kind of always listened to, even before it was super popular to listen to. I remember being made fun of because I liked dance music. I just created things I like, and it just so happened it came out cool. I got lucky because it could have been a mess. And I think I grew up listening to gospel music, so I think that bleeds through in the way I sing. I listen to artists like Plus One, Stacie Orrico, Rachel Lampa, Out of Eden. Growing up I really liked Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, Kierra Sheard, on the gospel side. So, all these people, combined, kind of influenced what I create. I always want to create music I love.
Sarah: I saw your YouTube with all the Disney songs. What is your favorite Disney song and how did the whole Disney song thing get started?
Landry: I honestly really love Disney. I live in the Fresno area, which is quite a ways, but I still have an annual pass because it’s like that much of a priority for us [him and Kelsey] to go. So Kelsey and I are big Disney fans. That’s underlined throughout this whole thing — But it was kind of a fluke [making YouTube Disney songs]. Me and my friend Bri [Brianne Brieno] were bored, and we’re like, “we want to record tonight, but we don’t want to write. So, let’s just sing something crazy and make crazy arrangements.” And we decided “Beauty and the Beast” was a good candidate so we sang it, we uploaded it, and it got shared around our friend circle like so many times that we thought, “hey, maybe we’ll do this again.” And I think the next one was “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and again, same thing, people like freaked out about it. So we just kind of played with it a little bit. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time we used to when we were younger just to do that. Because, it does take a lot of effort to sit there and arrange the parts, and then sing them, and make sure it’s how you want it. So we would love to, but there’s just so many things pulling for your attention…[shifting back to the favorite Disney song question] I think, man, I was going to pick a favorite but there are so many others I like…
Sarah: How about your top three? [laughs]
Landry: [laughs] I really liked the song from Moana, “How Far I’ll Go,” which surprised me. I really love “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Let’s pick a Hercules song…I like “Zero to Hero” a lot. I’ll be honest with you; the whole soundtrack can just take up the whole slot on that top three because I can just put the whole soundtrack on and just let it play because I just love it.
Sarah: So wrapping things up, what’s on the horizon for you?
Landry: The next thing I really want to tackle is the touring game. I really want to get out there and start doing shows. That’s something I really feel so passionate about, and me and the label are working together to find the right avenue to do that. Beyond that, I just want to write music as much as possible.
Sarah: Well, I had such a great time talking with you and just hearing your heart. Thank you so much Landry!
Landry: Yeah! Thanks for having me!
Find out more about Landry Cantrell by visiting www.landrycantrell.com