Dillon Hodges may be a young artist, but he's something of an old soul.
Growing up in the famous music town of Muscle Shoals, Ala., Hodges got turned on to bluegrass music as a kid and at 17 won the National Flatpicking Guitar Championship. During his experiences playing bluegrass with musicians in their 60s, he was dubbed "kid." That plus his guitar proficiency — "fire" — led him to adopt the stage name "Firekid."
Firekid's self-titled debut album, out Friday on Atlantic Records, draws on his bluegrass background but is contemporary pop.
"We made an album that mixes rural music and urban music, that mixes acoustic and electronic in a way that I think actually sounds cohesive," he says.
Hodges also has started an interesting hobby with a different kind of old-school "instrument," a Nintendo Game Boy. Hodges programs the tones on the 8-bit device to play backing tracks to accompany his vocals and guitar. Hodges demonstrates the technique, known as "chiptune," with a snippet of a cover song posted on the eighth of each month on Instagram, under the hashtag #8thbit.
Firekid joined USA TODAY's Dad Rock podcast for an in-studio interview about his musical interests, old and new. He also performed an original song, Magic Mountain, at USA TODAY and demonstrated his chiptuning skills with covers of Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough and the Beach Boys' God Only Knows.
Reprinted from USA-Today