There's an honest stoicism to Korey Dane that places him above the fray. It's a gentle confidence the 25-year-old Long Beach native exudes on record and in person. With gently delivered poetics that both tug on your heartstrings and punch you in the gut, he's a child of the longstanding American tradition of folk-singing storytellers with a rough-and-tumble air, channeling interstates and alleyways of wisdom on his 2015 album Youngblood, with plenty of miles yet to go.
When asked about his relationship with music and how it became his chosen art, Dane is fittingly nonchalant with his reply. He speaks concisely with a charming smile, offering expressive verse and imagery like everything’s a song.
"I'm on the up and up with music these days," he says casually. "I've always dug on self expression. Birds singing, dogs howling...it's the same as sitting on my girl's balcony mumbling over some chords."
The comparisons between Dane and many of America's great folk troubadours are easy to make, and it’s a tradition he's more or less adapted to his life. He’s absorbed himself with music and the open road, an approach that’s taken him hitchhiking across the country like a young Bob Dylan or Tom Waits.
“I hitched around the country back in 2011 and have been traveling around the states since I graduated high school,” he says. “I see why people might think I'm on some Kerouacian trip. Nothing is that simple but I try to let people dig on the broad strokes.”
Ahead of Dane's April residency at The Echo every Monday this month, we spoke with the son of the Southwest about where he’s coming from and where he may be going.
For a lot of people your cover of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" was their first introduction to your music. What's your history with this song?
My cover of that song was really close to never being shared with anyone. It wasn't until my label needed a b-side for the "Jules Verne" 7-inch that I remembered having recorded that song. I'm really glad people dug my cover, though.
Your album is called Youngblood – this is your grandfather's name right? What was your relationship with him like and what compelled you to name your album after him?
My grandpa Youngblood was a champ. More John Wayne than John Wayne. He was a bit of a lone wolf but cancer slows people down. I got to spend a lot of time with him in his last days. The album named itself by the time he passed.
Do you work in any other creative mediums?
I really love taking people's photos. Any way I can absorb a bit of someone's story, really. I feel like there's richness to everything if you've got the time to sit with it.
Birds singing, dogs howling...it's the same as sitting on my girl's balcony mumbling over some chords.
Where do you find yourself drawing inspiration from these days?
Everywhere. In the same places I didn't understand back then.
Can you describe your creative ethos?
I can't, and I haven't read it yet.