Patrick Damphier Teams With Richard Swift & Molly Parden for 'Pretend It': Premiere

Satellite June
Patrick Damphier

Patrick Damphier has established himself as a band guy in the Nashville scene, playing with the likes of Paper Rival, the Mynabirds, Lionlimb and others. But these days he's working under his own name and gearing up for the Feb. 1 release of his first solo album, Say I'm Pretty, whose single "Pretend It," featuring Richard Swift and Molly Parden, is premiering exclusively below.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," Damphier, whose father Tom Damphier is also a songwriter in Nashville, tells Billboard. "I've always written and recorded, but this is the first time I've properly put something out under my own name, and it feels really good. I made it in my down time when I wasn't producing other people; If I had a week where I didn't have anyone coming in I would slave away at this stuff. It was a way to keep myself busy in the studio."

Damphier approached the 10 tracks on Say I’m Pretty -- which also features collaborations with Jessica Lea Mayfield, Jessie Baylin and others -- in a stripped-down, "basic singer-songwriter" fashion, working on his living room couch and drawing from a stockpile of more than 150 songs, usually writing the lyrics first. The broad-ranging arrangements and intricate dynamics came later, once Damphier had them written to his satisfaction and took them into the studio.

"I would bring them in and start experimenting with them," Damphier recalls. "I get bored really, really easily. I like singer-songwriter stuff. It's cool. I grew up going to the Bluebird Cafe -- but that's not what I want to be or how I imagine myself. When the songs were good enough, I'd deconstruct them, like 'OK, how can I f*** this up? How can I come at it from a different angle, where I don't get bored.' So I'd add layers and remove layers -- but it all started with one basic, chordal instrument like guitar or piano. And then I just hope it's a cohesive musical vibe that comes across."

"Pretend It," according to Damphier, is "a very personal song, but it's not about me specifically." Rather, it's drawn from a composite of friends, all in various circumstances of "starting over and pressing reset, literally pretending that whatever went wrong didn't happen and moving on. I do that with my songs -- I try to listen really intently to what my friends tell me, and then I filter it through enough that they may not even realize that I write about them. I like to keep stuff relatable and open to interpretation."

Damphier has no plans for a substantial tour but plans to play shows in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles -- where he's also set up a new studio. He's currently producing an album for Fences and mixing another for Molly Parden and plans to continue working in those capacities as well as making his own music. "I've made a living as a producer and a player," Damphier says. "I'm not going to stop that and I love doing that, too. But (my solo career) feels great."