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Music Monday Artist Feature: Nolan Sotillo

Photo Credit Nicola Harger

Nolan Sotillo is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, when it comes to entertaining, there seems to be nothing that the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor can’t do.

Hailing from West Palm Beach, Florida, Sotillo began entertaining almost as soon as he could talk and spent his childhood immersed in music. In between his piano and voice lessons, he also grew up playing a myriad of sports from baseball to football. During the long road trips for sports tournaments, he found himself curating an endless shuffle of musical influences, including Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Temptations, Justin Timberlake, and Matchbox Twenty and singing along to them in the car with his mom.

“I have been inspired by so many different artists and sounds,” said Sotillo. “The harmonies of Rascal Flatts really captivated me at a young age and really started me down the path of finding more complex and interesting vocal runs and techniques. And Elvis’s stage presence and ability to command a crowd showed me the importance of live performance.”

Though he grew up listening to every genre of music, country and its songwriting foundation really drew Sotillo in. In his early songwriting days, he tried to emulate artists like Alan Jackson and George Strait (Dean Dillon) –

“I loved that each verse was a piece of a story and then the hook/chorus would tie it all together.”

And as he’s matured and developed his own brand of country, he looks up to artists including Eric Church and Chris Stapleton who have pushed musical boundaries and found success on their own terms.

He does just that with his latest single, the rock-infused “Prove Me Wrong.” It’s the vivid story of a single guy who thinks he has life all figured out until he falls in love. “My co-writer Trafton had the title ‘Prove Me Wrong’ in his mind for a while but it never quite materialized until we met up that day,” said Sotillo. “Upon hearing the title, my fingers immediately started gravitating towards this unusual lick, one that I’d never played before in my life. Trafton was digging the vibe from the acoustic and the lyrics seemed to fall out almost as easily. There are some songs you have to work for and some are just given to you. For ‘Prove Me Wrong’ it was the latter.”

Sotillo also gravitates towards music with meaning. He strives to find experience in every lyric and knows that the purpose of each song can be interpreted differently by each person.

“Certain songs call for you to wear your heart on your sleeve as if you’re bleeding out for them. Other songs are meant to be loud and energetic. The spectrum is wide. It doesn’t only go left-to-right. There’s depth and versatility to it. That’s how I experience music and how I want my music to be.”

Fans are able to hear this in all of Nolan Sotillo’s music including the recent release “Stop.” Written alongside his producer and mentor Keith Stegall, “Stop” represents the progression of Sotillo’s creative direction. While the original demo was more laid back in sound, throughout the recording process “Stop” morphed into the more soulful tune you hear today. “Keith really helped me explore my sound; we even went down to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals to add horns and background vocals. Those elements are some of my favorite moments of the song.”

Depth and versatility are key themes in Nolan Sotillo’s life even outside of music and perhaps what sets him apart from everyone else. At age 15, Sotillo tested out of school and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of entertaining full time. There, he landed roles in movies ranging across the spectrum from Disney’sPromto FOX’sRed Band Society(produced by Steven Spielberg.) Although he quickly found success as an actor, Sotillo never gave up on his true passion and continued to feverishly write songs and make music when he wasn’t busy on set. “I love the country ideal of ‘three chords and the truth,’ but I add some funk, an island vibe, and big modern pop to it. I want to innovate with a classic approach and create something new that also feels timeless. My sound really reflects all of my influences and who I am.”

He also used any downtime in Los Angeles to keep developing musically. Though he took piano lessons as a kid, over the years Sotillo has taught himself to play the guitar, drums, harmonica, and bass.

Nolan Sotillo never stops progressing and evolving, and he aims to take his fans along for the ride. “I’m always growing and changing,” he affirms. “My art reflects that. As much as I’m moving, I’d love to move other people as well. There’s nothing better.” The best is yet to come as he continues to surprise with new original music in 2021 and beyond.

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