My roots are in a small town in a rural area of Bruce County, in Ontario. Over the last year or so, whenever I’d head back to my hometown for a visit, it became the norm to hear “who’s going to Harley’s tonight to see Owen Riegling play?” I never tagged along, but anyone who went was never let down.
Flash forward a year; I headed home about a month ago for a visit with my family. Pretty much everywhere I went, people in town were listening to a track called “Smoke Man.” It was Owen Riegling’s first single, dropped only days before.
I caught up with Owen recently, after experiencing how he’s made an impact locally, and learned more about him as an artist.
Front Porch: Introduce yourself- where are you based out of, how did you get into music?
Owen Riegling: I’m from Mildmay Ontario, and I’m 21 years old. I actually started playing music at eleven years old when I got a guitar as a Christmas gift. I didn’t have a musically influenced childhood either really – I grew up playing hockey and riding dirt bikes. I didn’t really play much during high school either, I picked it up again later in my teens. My first performance was with my guitar teacher’s band, and that’s where I got hooked. I started playing more, mostly Eric Church covers, at a bunch of places locally.
FP: Let’s chat about how you’ve pursued your career as an artist.
OR: I originally went to business school, but quickly found out that wasn’t really for me. During school I’d play small gigs on campus and enjoyed that more than actually going to school. I ended up going to OIART for Music Production, and just finished at the end of July. I wanted to learn to produce and record on my own, and wanted to have total control over the finished product. It was important for me to be self-sufficient in that way. I learned about OIART after winning a competition for free time at a studio in London. I submitted a video and won a free recording session. Nothing really came out of it other than exposure to the recording studio, but I was in the presence of some OIART grads who gave me some insight to the program and how it was beneficial to their careers.
FP: Where does your inspiration come from? What artists have you listened to that influenced your sound and the direction you’d like to be headed?
OR: Where I grew up, country was what people were listening too, so I mostly did too. It’s what was always on the radio. Music listeners up here are very supportive of local country as well. I’ve been a big fan of Eric Church; I learned to play a lot of Eric Church when I was first starting out. I even wore aviators on stage when I was performing. I’m still always listening to Desperate Man.
Some of my other top artists are Brothers Osborne, I really like the Port Saint Joe album. I like Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson. I like outlaw country. I’m also listening to Tyler Childers, his first album Purgatory is really good.
FP: Your first single is called ‘Smoke Man,’ tell me about the process, writing the song, how it reflects your journey thus far, and what you’ve learned through the release of your first single.
OR: Smoke Man was initially a school project. I wrote it, and got to go through the process of releasing a song right from the beginning. It was recorded at school, and I had classmates for backup vocals, bass and drums. I then did most of the mixing at home. I learned a lot during this process; about distribution service online and getting music out, and how to get paid for music. I had tons of songs I’d written, and decided this would be a good one to record.
I’ve written a couple hundred songs over the last few years. Going back is funny because some of them I still like, and others I’m like nope. Some are full songs, and others are voice notes in my phone that don’t have much to them.
You’ve released a new song since Smoke Man, “Hot One.” What’s it about?
OR: I wrote this song about six months ago, when I was still in school. I had a voice memo with one line and went back and was able to get a song out of it. It’s a fun summer party song, meant to be relatable. I put it together much faster too, and all on my own.
FP: What’s next? What are your plans for the upcoming year? Do you have any new releases in the works?
OR: Well I need to get a band- I’ve been on the hunt for people to play with me. I’m going to keep playing shows, hopefully get to play in front of some bigger crowds for exposure. Of course, I’m going to keep releasing songs, and hopefully get an EP together. I want to create a cycle of releasing a song, playing some shows and gaining more traction. I hope to release another song this month!
FP: What are you listening to right now? Any recommendations?
OR: Post Malone, Dominic Fike, Eric Church, Brothers Osbourne. Check out Tyler Childers for sure.
Great suggestions Owen! Thanks so much – we can’t wait to see what’s next for you.
Go follow Owen on social media right here:
Listen to “Smoke Man”