Singer songwriter Tim Riehm comes from a small South Carolina sitting just outside of Clemson. It was after a school assignment in early ninth grade Time got his start as a songwriter by writing poetry. He then taught himself how to play guitar when his sister got a guitar. A guitar he admits “she didn’t play it as much as I did”. After graduating as the valedictorian of his high school Tim ventured on to Clemson to pursue a degree in engineering. While attending school a friend asked Tim and his sister to play a welcome back festival. From that point on he had officially caught the music bug and put a band together. Once he had the chance to record a 7 song EP it was clear that this was his passion and decided to chase his dreams to Nashville after graduating and even convinced his best friend to move to Music City as well. Now a few short years later Riehm has released his debut single “Hey There, Liquor” and has a follow up song coming out shortly.
So you’re a straight A student, taught yourself to write songs, and taught yourself to play guitar….You can’t be good at everything!
Tim: I’m REALLY bad at ice skating [laughs].
When you were in high school writing poetry, did you tell anyone that was what you were doing?
Tim: Oh no, absolutely not [laughs]. I showed my parents and my teachers. They were really encouraging. I also had a couple friends who ended up playing guitar. We actually did a little trio thing at Mojo’s Coffee House. We did a couple shows. But those were the only people that knew what I was doing.
When did you realize these could be songs instead of poems?
Tim: I think that happened because of my friend Nathan. I was a junior in high school sitting in the back of Spanish class and he was telling me he played guitar. We decided to hang out and jam sometime so he came over to my house. He had this progression that he had been messing around with. I pulled out my notebook and was like ‘this poem has a chorus that’s a refrain.’ I just started singing it and the melody just came naturally. It hit me that I was writing a song then.
Do you draw from personal experience when writing or do you like to observe what’s going on around you?
Tim: I think it’s all of the above. If I’m really feeling something those are always the songs I walk away going ‘wow, I needed that’. But you can only write so much from your own experience. At some point you have to tap into something else. “Hey There, Liquor” was something I could definitely relate to but wasn’t something that was really a personal story.
Where did the concept for “Hey There, Liquor” come from?
Tim: I wrote that song with Sidnie Tipton who is killing it right now. She worked/works with Timbaland. She started with singing “hey there looker” and I realized we could say “liquor” and have it be a play on that. I feel like I’ve always been a social observer and I’ve never been a major drinker. So I’ve always thought it was an interesting concept to forget about something or push something off using alcohol. It’s effective in a lot of ways but you’re still going to have to face it at some point. That’s why the song is so tongue and cheek. It evolves throughout the song. You start with these coherent thoughts and then by the second verse I’m saying “I may not walk in a straight line but I’m leaving your behind”. Even the inflections on my voice get a little slurry.
Every artist is influenced and inspired by dozens of other artists throughout the span of their career. With that said, if you were to pick your musical parents who would they be?
Tim: My dad has been very prevalent in my life [laughs] and that’s John Mayer. He was there in college when I needed him and was really forming my sound. Smash Mouth is kind of my crazy uncle. Now, Mike Posner has a really big part in influencing my writing. As far as mother goes I’m going to say Stevie Knicks because of Fleetwood Mac in general. I love what they do and how she writes.
Check out Tim’s personal picked playlist for Jam Catchers readers below!