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Feature /// Dan Layus: Hiding in Plain Sight

Dan Layus has operated within the margins over the past three years, but with the release of his eponymous country debut, 'Dangerous Things,' he's ready to carve out his space in Nashville.

americana-fest-danDan Layus has been hiding in plain sight for the better part of three years, now – not out of need, but rather, desire – “I don’t know, really. I don’t really think about it. I just put my head down, and I work, and dad it up, husband it up.”

Married and a father of three who happens to make music at the same time, so his time in Franklin/Nashville has been more appealed to his familial proclivities, all the while permitting him to be more than just a working musician, having run through the ringer of major label promotional cycles and “glamour” appearances with former projects, Layus and his family felt a change of pace was in order.

Layus’ intimate familiarity with the incessant music making pressures found in major markets like Los Angeles or New York led him to take part in what he called “the mass migration to the middle,” and after some consideration, zoned in on Nashville.

Moving to Franklin three years ago following his decade’s long stint in Los Angeles, where Layus stated that despite his early career success with other projects, he and his wife were
approaching “move into the in-laws territory and live in the attic kind of thing.”

So they began considering both of their career opportunities in various spots around the country, but felt a continual kinship to Nashville that kept pulling them toward our fair city – “Basically, half the reason for moving here was lifestyle, vibe – you know, this is where things are happening for music – or at least America’s music. The kind of music we do. So it just kind
of seemed like ground zero for creativity and room and space to grow and fail a little more comfortably than New York or Los Angeles or Chicago or Seattle for that matter. So that was half the reason, the other half was to come out here and try to expand my growth as a writer, my wife’s career opportunities, and try to see where I was capable outside of being “the Augustana guy” or whatever. Just to blue-light-danexpand a bit.”

That being said, Layus didn’t come to town expecting immediate crossover success like those who’ve had similar careers to date, in fact, Layus is arguably one of the more humble musical transplants to come to town in recent years; there’s not a single ounce of entitlement to be found within him, despite his early career successes. As Layus has worked to ingratiate himself into the local songwriting scene, he’s maintained a sense of understanding that songs are more likely to be passed on – “You don’t get paid to write a song and have it not get cut.” – rather than prescribe to the romantic (and deluded) notion of every song that makes its way in front of Nashville ilk will make it onto a chart.

“That’s kind of a tough gamble to take when you’ve got kids and people are relying on their old man to go try and tear it up on the top 40 charts country, so that’s kind of tough. So I pulled that from that a little bit… its like, well, we didn’t lose our house, we didn’t lose or home after a song didn’t get cut. So that’s what I mean by that – it didn’t all have to be working perfectly for us to have a comfortable, nice, loving little piece of home and property, good schools, etc.”

While Layus maintains that he’s a father to three kids, the past three years have been more than conducive for spending time with family and incubating the writing process for his debut record Dangerous Things – a minimalist collection of country/Americana leaning singer-songwriter songs Layus wrote over his three years here in town – which would permit him to operate in a far less “feast or famine” capacity. While the new space for Dan Layus the artist is a welcomed new territory, the return to the road will be a process that takes additional time to

“This was how I was going to put a record out, this was how it was generally going to be responded to live, and these would be what the sales would look like – and just kind of stay consistent. But we’re now making a conscience effort to move into a little bit of a new space and people have got to learn the name if I want this to be a full-time job again.” Layus has already done some support runs with the Dixie Chicks in Europe leading up to the release of Dangerous Things, which released today.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-55-18-amDangerous Things serves as Dan Layus’ proper introduction as an individual distinctly detached from past projects, but Layus himself has not changed, remaining ever humble and grounded in his approach to music in town, and it looks to have paid off. Not only does today mark the release of Layus’ eponymous debut, but it doubles as the day Layus will make his Grand Ole Opry debut, something he once again expressed with humble gratitude – “It’s a really flattering thing. To be invited is just so kind of them, and an honor to play a stage that so many other incredible people like Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, and all them have played – its just so kind of them.”

Dan Layus’ eponymous country/Americana debut, ‘Dangerous Things’ is available today. 

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