Southern Miss public relations student Ty Trehern is a man leading two lives. By day, a scholar and active member of the throng at USM. However, on those weekend nights, Trehern is on the road taking his uplifting music to the people. Since releasing his EP "The Sound" earlier this year, Trehern is now seeing audiences sing along with his anthemic songs and each successive gig grows into another larger opportunity.
"Ty and I did not know each other prior to my interview, " Student Printz Features Editor, Karigan Teer, explained. "When he was releasing ‘The Sound,’ he was so nervous about how it would be received."
This six-song EP (currently on Spotify and Apple Music) was nominated for three Best of the Pine Belt awards.
"(Ty) has continuously moved up in the music world and it's obvious how much hard work and passion he's put into it," Teer said.
SIGNATURE: How did you get started writing songs?
TREHERN: I began writing songs at a very young age. For me personally, music was my way of expressing feelings and thoughts that I couldn’t find the words for in normal conversation or everyday life. I often struggle with talking to people; it’s something that I’ve worked very hard to improve on, but even now I find myself shying away from saying how I really feel or struggling with being comfortable in social settings. When I write or play these songs, I know exactly what to say and how to demonstrate how I feel. It brings me a sense of comfort that I can’t find from anywhere or anything else.
SIGNATURE: What were some of the songs that inspired you to just dive in and begin writing your own?
TREHERN: One of the first records that I owned growing up was “Back in Black” by AC/DC. It was given to me by my aunt and was unlike anything I’d ever heard of. It influenced me to begin paying close attention to music. Then I came across numerous records of all different genres...“Dirt” by Alice in Chains, and “Hybrid Theory” by Linkin Park, all the way to “The Marshall Mathers LP” by Eminem and “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac. They had such a powerful energy to them. My mom’s side of the family also plays music and that was something we would bond over, especially during the holidays. They, along with my dad, pushed me into more acoustic & singer/songwriter type music - James Taylor, John Mayer, Garth Brooks - so I began to develop a love for that, too. I always wanted to find a way to take these two different spectrums of music and blend them. Every musician wants to stand out and do something different, and I found that my way of doing that was to change the way someone thinks of the guy with an acoustic guitar and how that is supposed to sound. So I began writing songs rooted in many different genres and styles, and I did that for years until finally deciding to dedicate myself to it full time.
SIGNATURE: The ideas you are writing about seem to come from your daily life, your surroundings, and your friends. How has USM been for you?
TREHERN: My daily life is chaotic. I have so many responsibilities and obligations. That can feel like a lot more than it really is sometimes because the only thing that I really want to do for the rest of my life is to play music; everything else feels temporary. Fortunately, I’ve been surrounded by some of the best people here in Hattiesburg and at USM. I love everything about this community and I don’t think that I would be able to accomplish half of what I have been able to without the support of it.
SIGNATURE: College is a time of learning, living and creating memories. What are some of your best memories of USM?
TREHERN: Some of the most fond memories that I have from USM come from the people that I’ve met here. One that immediately comes to mind is my work as director of Eaglepalooza in 2017. I had such an amazing experience being able to work on something that I was passionate about during a time when people thought that Eaglepalooza wasn’t even going to be happening again. It taught me a lot about the behind-the-scenes process that goes into putting an event like that together and gave me a lot of industry/artist-related experience that I still use to this day.
SIGNATURE: As "The Sound" came out, you began to work hard to build a following. Are you seeing the rewards for the fruits of your labor?
TREHERN: Of course. It means the world to have anyone listening to these songs, but the amount of encouragement I’ve had from people throughout this entire process is unlike anything I can describe. When I wrote these songs, I wrote them with the intention of creating something that would resonate with someone. I didn’t want to write something that didn’t have any kind of substance or weight. So to see people embrace them in the way that they have is nothing short of incredible. I’m very thankful that people are choosing to join me on this journey, because I couldn’t do half - if any - of the things I do without their support.
SIGNATURE: The songs on "The Sound" flip between light and darkness. "Love & Lust" introduces the dichotomy of wanting two opposing emotions and "Dependency" goes even further to encapsulate bouts of melancholia. Does a lot of your songwriting come from trying to sort out or separate these conflicting emotions?
TREHERN: All of the songs on “The Sound” come from real and honest places in my life, and real and honest doesn’t always translate as happy and enthusiastic. One of the definitions of sound is cited as “the ideas or impressions conveyed by words.” “The Sound” is that idea and that impression that the listener gets whenever they hear these songs. The impression I tried to convey is that life is never black and white; there is a grey area, and I think that proves to be the underlying theme of this record. I believe you have to maintain a strong balance, and this EP is a representation of that balance for me. Songs like those two represent stories and thoughts that carry real depth and emotion, and I think it translates as intended when listeners analyze the lyrics of those songs. “Love & Lust” talks about being aware of how toxic one’s relationship is with their partner, yet they continue to try and find some kind of deeper feeling between them when the only thing they have left is a physical relationship. “Dependency” speaks on the subject of addiction and how hard it is for people to break away from that. Compare those tracks to songs like “Gone” and “Something to Find,” which are much more uplifting and have a feel-good attitude in their own way, and I think that balance becomes much more apparent.
SIGNATURE: When you sing "Something to Find" it is very open-ended. As you play it now, does it feel like its meaning is evolving?
TREHERN: Absolutely. “Something to Find” is a track that was written with a completely different intention than what you hear on the finished product. I went through a time of not really knowing who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. There were a lot of conflicting emotions that I was battling and a lot of feelings that I kept to myself. The only thing that I was really certain of was that I needed to find myself again; music has always helped me do that, so I turned to it. What would come out of that was “Something to Find.” It was the song that ended up shaping the direction of the record and really helped my producer and I discover the foundation of my sound. When I play that song today, it brings me back to those times while reminding me to be present in the moment that I’m in now. It’s a very ambiguous song and can be applied to many different situations, which is why I feel so many people are really resonating with it. For those reasons, and many more, that track will always have a special place in my heart and I’m excited to see how its meaning continues to evolve in the future.
SIGNATURE: What is next for you?
TREHERN: I can confidently say that I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. I’m always working on new ideas and always brainstorming with my team about different things that we can do to keep things fun and interesting, but for now, I’m enjoying things one day at a time. I am so thankful to be where I am right now because I never expected to actually be here. Although I don’t know what the future holds, I could not be more excited for what’s coming if the present is any indication.
While Ty Trehern is already hard at work on the followup to “The Sound,” the shows he plays present the best opportunity to see how his music is so compelling. “I walked into the Hippo and within the first few chords, I was hooked,” Sinclair Lundy said. “Then I heard his voice! I have no doubt he will be successful nationally.”