Updated: Mar 25
The Cumberland River Project is a Country Music project initiated by German songwriter and musician Frank Renfordt.
Frank has been into music all his life. A couple of years ago he falls in love with Country music and since then he writes his own Country songs. Together with Nashville based producer Dave Demay and a couple of amazing session musicians and vocalists he brought his songs to life.
Hello, thank you for taking time away from your busy schedule to talk with us today.
It's my pleasure, I feel honored and I'm thankful for interest in my music.
The Cumberland River Project, what does this mean and how did you come about this concept?
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the southern states of America, it crosses Kentucky and Tennessee and most import Nashville - the home of country music - lies on the banks of the Cumberland River and that's why I choose this name for my project. The Cumberland River Project is all about contemporary country music. I started writing country songs a couple of years ago and at some point I wanted to hear this played by original professional country musicians. At that time I met Dave Demay a studio owner and producer based in Nashville, he helped me to bring my songs to life. The results you can hear on my upcoming album.
What actually inspired you to a musical career?
I always was into music. As far as I can look back I always wanted to be part of the scene and I always liked to write songs.When I was sixteen I played (and I play again) the bass guitar in a German Rock band. We had big dreams, but life had other plans and I got family and had to care for food on the table. So I made a career as a manager and ended up in an office. But since the kids have grown up I find some time to invest in music and I started again working on my dream to be part of the scene. This time I focus on songwriting because I think this is what I'm most talented for.
Where are you originally from and what is the music industry like in Germany?
I'm from Germany. Country music is definitely a niche market in Germany but lately it gains some popularity. As an independent artist this is not a disadvantage, cause the scene is small and people get aware of you quite quickly.
What have been the challenges so far for you?
The biggest challenge for me is time management. I have a demanding full time job and it's difficult to find enough time to write songs and now since the first release is out also to find the time to promote my music. The other challenge is the language. English is my second language and it's not always easy to write in the conversational language which is used in today's popular music.
Your latest single, "Back on the Road" is out now and on VMN Music. What is the story and inspiration behind this new single?
The inspiration was my own life story. I'm married for the second time and after my divorce I had a difficult time, but after a while and with the help of friends and family I felt better and was ready to fall in love again and I finally did! This is what this song is about. It is an upbeat song with a very positive vibe I think.
How do you think you differ from other country artists?
The special thing about the 'Cumberland River Project' is that there is no artist. I'm the writer and initiator of this project, I wrote the songs, I chose the producer and the vocalists, but I didn't play or sing by myself, it is all work for hire. The song is the star, I'm the initiator, creator and financier.
Who are your favorite musicians and how did they influence your music and style?
I had different phases in my life and liked a lot of different music styles. So influences came from various sites. The most important were Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Bob Marley, Brad Paisley and the Zac Brown Band. I always liked melodic songs and guitars playing, so this is why I discovered Country. The music of my album was influenced by John Pardi, Jason Aldean, Cody Johnson and many others from the current American country music scene.
How many songs /albums have you released to date?
Back On The Road is the first song I have released, but more is coming soon. My next single 'Honey In My Head' will be released on February 19th and the album with thirteen songs will follow on March 6th.
What was the first album you bought?
It was 'The Slider' from T. Rex - Glam Rock :-)
Are you currently working on any new music at the moment?
I'm always in the process of writing new songs. Currently it's difficult to find the time, but I'm working on some new songs and I'm doing work tapes in my home studio.
How do you define success as a musician?
I'm not doing it for money. It's a fantastic feeling if you have created a new song, so the first step of success is to have a song finished. Of course I'm glad about every single person who likes my songs. I don't expect too much, there is a bunch of good music out there, it is very difficult to get attention.
Outside making music what else do you enjoy doing most?
Beside of my regular job and music there is not much time left. I'm doing some fitness sports, I like to read books, I like to travel, and enjoy a barbecue with friends and family.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
In ten years time I will be retired and will have much more time for my music. At the moment I'm taking vocal lessons and try to improve my singing abilities. I hope in some years I will be able to perform acoustic gigs in small venues. Also I intend to grow as a songwriter and write more songs for others. Despite of my age I still have big dreams.
What do you think of the music industry in 2020?
Today's music industry is very diversified. You still have the big record companies, but they are not almighty anymore. Actually you don't need them if you can fund some money by yourself. You can publish by yourself and find a small label and publisher doing the distribution, promotion and administration work - there are so many opportunities for artist today what is really cool. Recording is much easier and cheaper in the digital world and releasing your music on the digital platforms is cheap and easy to manage. However this has led to a huge supply of new music and that's why competition is tough and it's hard to get attention.
Any advice for the younger generation aspiring to become musicians?
If your dream is real it is indestructible. You need to work hard and have the staying power to cope with rejections. Try to find your place, not everybody is a great performer, but maybe you are a writer, a producer, a mixer .. there are so many possibilities to be creative in the music business.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
No, I'm another generation, when I grew up only sailors and jailbirds had tattoos, but if I would be younger I probably would have tattoos too.
Where can we find you online?
My website: http://www.cumberlandriverproject.com
Thank you much for your time.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my passion!