Video - Alexander Carey
"Song of Myself" by Alexander Carey
Audio - Hunter Diehl
Listen to his songs:
an interview with HUNTER DIEHL
conducted by Christian Barrette
Hunter Diehl (’23) was born and raised in small- town Idaho and has been playing and writing music since he was young. Icarus staff member Christian Barrette sat down with Diehl recently to talk about life, music, and several of his songs, soon to appear on the updated Icarus website!
Christian Barrette: You definitely have an awesome and unique voice. To me, you sound like Hunter Hayes with a little bit of Jack Johnson’s vibe sprinkled in. Who has been your inspiration musically?
Hunter Diehl: You honestly nailed it on the head with Hunter Hayes and Jack Johnson. I started out playing Jack Johnson songs at talent shows in elementary school, and I’ve always liked Hunter Hayes’s style. So those two are definitely foundational inspirations for [my] music. As far as songwriting goes, I really lean towards a mix between Sam Hunt and Luke Combs for sound. Chris Stapleton and Morgan Wallen are also big motivations for me to write.
CB: Your first song [“A Call Home”], about leaving home and your family for a new experience, is something that a lot of cadets can relate to. What were your thoughts when writing and recording this song? Do you think expressing this through music helped you cope with this fresh start?
HD: When talking about “A Call Home,” I look back and see it as a truthful song that described my situation before BCT. Originally, though, it was more of just an idea with a verse and a chorus. It only took me a few hours to write it, but halfway through I realized I needed to make it personal, as those details would make it that much more relatable for more people, whether it be fresh high school graduates or people getting ready to enlist or even go on deployment. I’ve never really thought of myself as emotional or needing something extra to cope with hardship, but soon enough I found myself singing “A Call Home” in my head through BCT, and I think this outlet got me through a lot of tough times in the past year at the Academy alone.
CB: The song [“Dance in the Rain”] about going through a “storm” really hit home. It has been a tough year for cadets at USAFA, and just a tough year for the world in general with the pandemic. What was your motivation behind this song? Do you think this will relate to cadets and civilians alike?
HD: A lot of times when writing a new song, I just think about a common, relatable problem, find a chord progression that fits with the mood of that problem, and simply start thinking of a first line of the first verse. The rest comes naturally for me. For “Dance in the Rain,” I actually had a birthday card sitting on my dresser that said “life isn’t about
waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” I’d been staring at the note for a few weeks after my birthday because I feel bad throwing out birthday cards, and I finally realized it would be a great song. At the time, a girl who was a firefighter in our town who was also an avid fisherman died in a car crash. Everyone knew her well, and my little town was going through a lot of grief. So I thought “dance in the rain” was the perfect middle ground for both sadness and then rebounding and getting back on one’s feet. Obviously it relates to civilians because everyone has a goal they hope to reach, and they may get ridiculed for it, but cadets also “dance in the rain” every day. The Academy is hard and many people outside definitely scoff at cadets. Friends at normal college either make fun of cadets for doing something different or simply don’t understand the massive difference and undertaking that cadets take on.
CB: This might be the English major in me, but I feel like you can learn a lot from listening to your songs. Is there something that you’d like to express or say to the people that are interested in your music?
HD: All I have to say about my music is that I do it for two reasons: an outlet of my emotions/ creativity, and for other [people]. I’d say I’m a pretty
normal guy that does normal things, some crazy hobbies here and there, but I want to give others like me happiness and the knowledge that we all go through the same things—whether it be heartbreak, a new chapter, a new challenge—and that life is full of ups and downs. No one’s alone on this spinning rock.
CB: This question is half joking, half serious, but as you might know, the Academy’s In the Stairwell had an impressive run on America’s Got Talent. Has competing on this type of show (e.g. The Voice or American Idol) been something that you have thought about?
HD: I’ve always thought about going on TV shows but I’ve never had the time for it with competitive skiing, school, and everything in between. I honestly think of myself more as a writer or a storyteller. I don’t have Adele’s voice or Hendrix’s guitar skills, so I like to say my talent is writing music that anyone will nod their head to. There’s a new show called Songland that I’d like to look into, though.
Many thanks to Hunter for chatting with us. Check out his songs “A Call Home,”Dance in the Rain,” and “Switch” on Icarus‘s updated website this fall, and listen to his entire album Crossroad on Spotify, Soundcloud, or iTunes!