Colton Dixon On His New EP: “This Project Was A Big Experiment” [Interview]

Colton Dixon

With his new self-titled EP (which released Friday, May 15), Colton Dixon releases his first new music in three years—and his first for his new label home at Atlantic Records/Hear It Loud Records.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Dixon. “It’s crazy to think you spend three years on five songs but we really believe in these songs.”

After competing on American Idol in 2012, Dixon signed with Capitol Christian Music Group’s Sparrow Records. He released four albums with Sparrow, before his deal came to an end nearly two years ago.

“When my Idol deal ended, that meant my label deal with Capitol ended as well, so it was very unexpected. We were going into the holidays thinking, ‘What do we do?’ As a musician, it felt like I lost my job.

“My wife was really helpful. We prayed a lot during that time, and then a few months later the Atlantic thing came about. We’ve just been waiting for the right moment. We wanted to announce it with music,” Dixon says. “But it started as a season of unknown for me.”

That season of unknown is what birthed the songs on his new EP, which finds him taking creative chances, infusing his arena-sized pop sounds with electro-pop and darker grooves, which underscore Dixon’s very personal lyrics of finding hope during challenging times.

Dixon recorded the new EP in Los Angeles, bringing several new producers including Robopop (Lana Del Ray) and Grant Averill into the fold.

“This project was a big experiment,” Dixon says. “It felt like I was journaling through the whole thing and getting out my thoughts on what I was facing. I feel like we’ve written enough for seven or eight full-length projects. That came out in the production as well because if you compare one song to another, it’s like, ‘Do these fit in the same world?’ I think somehow they do, but at first glance, maybe not.

“This is the first project where when I started writing, I didn’t have a vision for it. We just built it as we went. Normally, I’m very theatrical and I see it sometimes before I even go into the studio—I know what the album cover is going to look like.”

“Miracles,” a deft blend of precise percussions and ethereal sonic vibe layered around Dixon’s warm, conversational singing style, is the result of a collaboration with the late producer/songwriter busbee, whom Dixon first began collaborating with on his breakthrough hit, “You Are,” in 2012. busbee died of cancer in 2019.

“I remember texting him about an updated version of that song and that’s when he told me he was going through cancer. Stuff like that is no respecter of persons. There are few writers and producers who will take your vision and make sure that whatever they add to it is still true and faithful to the vision you brought in. He’s one of those people. I appreciate that as an artist. We were writing about taking a step back from the busyness of life to appreciate the little things in life that happen all around us every day that we take for granted. I consider them miracles.”

“Devil Is A Liar” brings in a dark, grainy, dancefloor-ready sound, while “Wanderer” offers a syncopated vocal over heavy drums and vibey synths.

“Can’t Quit You” is Dixon’s first attempt at penning a love song, written for his wife Annie. He co-wrote the track with Alex Tirheimer and Grant Averill.

“They can turn cheesy so quick so I tried to stay away from that for a long time,” he says. “That’s definitely one of those songs that I wouldn’t have gone down that rabbit trail but I’m so glad we did that.”

While “Miracles” has been a Top 25 hit at CCM radio, Dixon says other tracks on the EP could find a home on pop radio.

“As far as I know they are fans of ‘Can’t Quit You,’ and I think they will work that to mainstream radio at some point. There’s a song called ‘Not Goodbye’ that they like for synch stuff [for television or movies].

“My goal with music is always to leave people better than they were when they came, and leave them with some hope. At a time where so many more people are looking for answers, hopefully my music can be part of that journey.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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