In Conversation – with Sierra Blanca

Sierra Blanca is headed by Jethro Gaglione, a multi-instrumentalist indie/folk artist who divides his time between Nashville, Tennessee, and El Paso, Texas. His music displays many influences and his lyrics manifest a deep disappointment in the current political climate in the USA. He’s now working on an EP called Honorable Mention, due for release on the 10th of November, and has released two early tracks, “Paint the Road”, which you can listen to here, and “Book” which can be heard here. Gaglione recently took the time to talk to us about the new album, his work ethic, and how the experience of music making has changed since 2000.

Describe your musical background.  What role did music play in your childhood?
My family was part of a missionary group in Mexico, and I played keys as part of the worship group.  I spent a lot of time messing with new instruments and learning to play!

What was your most amazing musical experience?
There’s been a couple, but one of them would have to be an open jam at The Prophet bar in Dallas, TX.  There were just some of the most talented musicians there that were able to improvise at a level I hadn’t experienced as a young musician.  Great memories.

How do you go about writing lyrics?
I usually write vocal melodies in my head, and the lyrics come next.  It’s a mixture of just sitting down and deciding roughly what feel the song gives me and fitting words into the melodies, changing things as I go.

If you had to give your music a genre, what would you call it?
Probably something along the lines of Americana/soul.

Which instruments can you play?
I play guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums.  I played flute in elementary school, but not sure if I’d still be able to do it justice, haha.

What lead you to write “Paint the Road?”
It actually came about parallel to an idea for a video I had.  I wanted to write something that embodied my recent experience in traveling, creating new relationships, and just changes in life.  I ended up filming a video for it as I traveled from Nashville to El Paso.

What do you like best about Honorable Mention so far?
I like that it’s probably the most heartfelt piece of work I’ve written, speaking lyrically.  It’s also my first release in a phase of my life where I’m dedicating more of my time and resources to music.

I usually try to be efficient in the studio, so I did it in about a week and spent most of the day laying down tracks and reworking stuff as needed.  It’s always a good time watching the music come to life in places other than my living room!

What life conditions do you require to come up with new music?
Most of my ideas come along when I’m just sitting at home playing guitar or keys, so I guess as long as I have the time to just relax and express my day through music, I’ll keep writing music.

Which city is more musically inspiring for you, El Paso or Nashiville, and why?
I would say they both have had an influence in one way or another.  El Paso is home and is where I’ve written most of my music.  I have a lot of great memories there and have had life experiences that I’m sure show up in my music one way or another.  Nashville is sort of a different world.  There’s a ton of talent here that inspires me to push the limits a bit.  Nashville is also a different musical hustle than El Paso.  I’ve learned a lot about the business here.

What do you feed your muse?
There’s a pretty big list of albums that I’m sure have influenced the direction of my music.  I would say just the love of playing and recording music is the biggest drive, though.  I can close myself in a room for hours just writing and composing music and blocking out the world.

If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?
To keep writing and playing for as long as I can.  I try to just put music out there and hopefully it’s something other people can relate to.

In your opinion, how have the experiences of hearing and making music changed since the year 2000?
I think developing and growing as a musician definitely changes your perspective when listening to music in general.  My tastes in music since I was a kid have changed like crazy, and still do to this day.  Making music is probably a lot easier than it was back then, since we have a good bit of technology to allow us to do a good deal of stuff in our own home for a decent price.  It’s nice!

What will you be doing after the album’s release?
Playing more, writing more.  I’m hoping to start the recording process on a full-length release at the beginning of 2018.