Former West Linn resident finds success in solo career

Tyler Stenson lives and breathes music, frequently speaking in his own KATIE SMITH - West Linn High School alumnus and musician Tyler Stenson is releasing his 10th album with a concert Oct. 19 at Aladdin Theater.

The West Linn High School alumnus has grown significantly as an artist since his graduation in 1999, from which he then attended the University of Oregon to study journalism with an emphasis in advertising.

“Honestly, every time I heard advertising I subbed songwriting for it,” Stenson said. “I always knew I wanted to do music for a living. At U of O they had an advertising program, and that seemed more me in terms of a creative brain.”

Stenson’s decision to pursue a degree that would aid his songwriting ability first began to pay off in 2007.

After realizing he wanted to be a solo artist rather than continue with Rhetoric Tuesday, the band he formed during his college years, Stenson immediately competed in the Portland Songwriter’s Association’s songwriting contest.

“They hosted a 10-week competition for 100 people. I won, and so right away I was like, ‘I’m on to something,’” Stenson said. “A year later I was given the chance to bow out gracefully or defend, and I won again. That got me the confidence to say, ‘OK, solo works.’”

Stenson’s latest album, the 10th of his career, will be released at the Aladdin Theater on Oct. 19. This latest work, entitled “Some Days I’m a Lion,” grew out of experiences Stenson had in Nashville.

“When I first got there, my confidence was stripped to zero. I had never felt self-conscious about being a musician before. Everybody there is just like you, trying to make it,” he said. “By the time I left, my confidence was higher than it ever was. I was getting meetings with places people don’t get in years in three months.

“What Nashville taught me was that I had put in a lot of hard work that other of my peers hadn’t. At the end of the day, they were begging me for a record label and I didn’t want one. I think I can do this on my own. In this day and age, tackling this as an independent isn’t impossible.” by: SUBMITTED - West Linn native Tyler Stenson's 10th album is entitled 'Some Days I'm a Lion.'

Armed with the confidence he gained in Nashville, Stenson began working on his new album with a different focus than before, which influenced the tone of his songs.

“My music has the tendency to be very poetic and not easily digestible the first time. This album has maintained the same level of poetry, but for some reason there is an instant gratification, a catchiness to it. It is the most optimistic album I’ve written,” Stenson said.

“I’ve had multiple radio-worthy songs, but with this one, without even trying, I can’t decide which one is my single. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I was in Nashville for two years and this record is kind of about being a small fish in a large pond,” he said.

Stenson’s upcoming album release is the culmination of his last several years of work, and he describes the night as what will be the biggest of his life. The venue, the Aladdin Theater, is not altogether new to Stenson, but it holds a special appeal for the artist.

“I chose it because my music is meant to be sat and listened to,” he said. “I wanted something big enough to justify the biggest release of my life.”

As Stenson nears the biggest night of his career thus far, he acknowledges that the support of the West Linn community has been integral to his success.

“Hometown was really pivotal in my career,” Stenson said. “West Linn’s been pivotal in that sense. They made it so easy to get started.”

In addition to releasing numerous albums with his band and now as a solo artist, Stenson’s music was featured in two Chevrolet commercials this year. He also opened for Chris Isaak at the Oregon Zoo last summer.

Stenson’s goals for the coming years include doing more major opening shows for acts such as Isaak but also involve marketing the music he’s already made.

“I want to take my 10 albums and get more film and television placements,” he said. “I want to be more of a national presence than a local boy, local troubadour. For the next 10 years I want to make sure that everything’s on the next level. I appreciate the road, but it’s led me to this point and I don’t want to backslide.”

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