Colorado-raised country artist Buckstein chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his new single “Lucky Day.”
Tell us about the inspiration behind your new single Lucky Day.
Honestly, it was written pre-covid. I swear – no one will believe it at this point. We started with the melody on this tune without lyrics. Originally, we toyed with the title “Night and Day.”
“Lucky Day” was something I had never heard before, and when I dropped that title in the lyrics, it just flowed the way you want them to. It’s a story about the kind of day you wish you could bottle forever and open whenever you need it — a fantasy. Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic, it honestly feels like I wrote this song in some sort of clairvoyant fever dream.
You were an early participant in the TV talent competitions that still find audiences on broadcast TV to this day. Tell us about your experience on American Idol.
It’s more real than you think. People really are crazy when they’re searching for fame. The producers may have aided in that craziness by keeping us up too late and making our schedules tight, but all the drama was very real.
At the time, it was the greatest thing I had ever done – a true dream come true. I was on top of the world and all but certain that I was on my way and would never work another day in my life. It’s a lot to handle being that young and staring down potential stardom.
Now, I feel very sympathetic for the Swift’s and Bieber’s of the world. Simon was genuine. Paula was a sweetheart. Randy never really gave me the time of day.
You have been a flagship artist for the country music scene in Colorado. What did you find unique about your childhood growing up among the Rockies?
We’re truly a melting pot here. You only have to travel 20 minutes to be in a completely different world with different sets of opinions and values. You may go to school in the city, but you camp and ride horses on the weekend. It rounds you out differently.
I think my musical influences were shaped heavily by it. The kids I grew up with hated country. So, I hated country, too until the day I could no longer deny its appeal. That resolution was thanks to my father who constantly was playing it and singing it whether I wanted him to or not.
And, even as I gravitated toward one genre, I couldn’t help but carry many others with me. That’s a balance I’m still trying to strike today in my original music. I think “Comfort Zone” is my best attempt at this to date.
You’ve earned the opportunity to open for some of the genre’s leaders like Kip Moore, Kane Brown, Old Dominion, Dustin Lynch & Charlie Daniels. What have you learned and implemented into your own show from them?
That this isn’t as hard as it looks. Haha. Seriously though, I think if anything, watching the majors has given me a better sense of how to spend my time and what is worth focusing on. In the suit and tie world, you’d say you have to work “on”your business not “in” your business. In the performance world, you have to do both.
I’ve learned what a good stage show is, what good gear is, what management is, what publicity is and what kind of shows you should aspire to play. Some bands rehearse every week for 20 years and never grow as artists. Does rehearsing for 20 years make you an expert or too stuck in your ways?
Measure a person’s achievements against their accomplishments and then answer. That’s another thing I’ve learned: Never buy the “I’ve been doing this for X number of years” bit. A lot of people have been doing it that long, but that doesn’t mean that they are successful at it.
You have a new EP called “Comfort Zone” coming in July. What can your fans expect to hear on this new project?
Hopefully good music that they want to put on repeat and share with their grandkids in 50 years. It’s been four years since my last major release and I do think you’ll hear my best work yet on this project. It’s brave and explorative.
You can hear that on the breakdown in “Down Home XO” or on those tribal rhythms in the title track “Comfort Zone”. When I was making it, I was thinking, “damn, are people gonna like this? It’s kinda out there!” You hear the saying “Fortune favors the bold.” Well if that’s true, I’m due for a good year.
When the pandemic hit, you didn’t just work on new music, you also joined the fight against Covid. How were you involved with the outreach and coordination in Denver?
It’s no mystery that live shows took a hard dive in 2020. We had a handful, but around October there was absolutely nothing on the horizon. The weather had turned cold and the outdoor gigs, which were the only thing people were comfortable with, weren’t an option.
At the same time, Covid testing was on the rise and I had some friends who had brought a major medical company across state lines to perform drive-through testing to help handle the demand. They grew insanely quick from 500 tests a day to 15,000 a day in a matter of a few short weeks. They needed help. They now had a dozen sites and hundreds of employees almost overnight.
Meanwhile, my brain was going to waste on “Cobra Kai” trivia and “Rick and Morty” reruns. It had been over a decade since I worked for anyone but myself, but they needed help and I needed something more than wearing my pajamas for three days straight. I jumped in feet first as their Director of Operations. I was able to put in place systems for staffing, inventory, reporting, field tech and it felt so good.
It was the rewarding task that I needed when I felt otherwise useless. We handled about 30 percent of testing for my home state of Colorado during my time with the company. I’ll always be able to look back proudly on being a part of that fight
If you could a duet with any artist across any genre, who would you choose and why?
Elvis. I know it wouldn’t be anything new, but a new age, remix could be super fun and really meaningful to me. I think Miranda Lambert’s voice and mine could go well together on a male/female thing. And maybe Randy Houser or Zac Brown.
“Lucky Day” is available on digital service providers by clicking here.