It’s pretty easy to run through all your material playing three-hour sets at restaurants and coffeehouses all on your lonesome. Oklahoma City-based singer/songwriter Dustin Prinz has two albums to lift from, and some new, unrecorded material as well, but he’s had to learn some covers … from artists you might never expect.
“I just learned INXS,” Prinz said with a laugh. “I’m going about learning covers that get me out of my comfort zone a little bit. I don’t necessarily change the vocal line, but I try to take as much as the instrumentation and apply it to a single guitar.”
He does this for more than filling time, actually. Recently, he’s found himself wanting to move out of the singer/songwriter box, eyeing a career as an instrumental performer. Challenging himself with complex and unexpected covers — like The xx, Cake and Gorillaz — only tests his merits on guitar even more, pushing increasingly complex finger-picking patterns and organic percussion.
“I started realizing I had a passion for the guitar, more so than I thought I did. The past two years, the focus has come on that. I wanted to get to the point where I could get people’s attention, just through playing guitar,” he said. “I’m putting the majority of my day aside just to practice.
There’s something about being warm on the guitar, a feeling that is really soothing more so than anything else I’ve found. It’s an instinctual thing. It’s what my soul is telling me at this point. That’s the calling.”
Fans of his singing and songwriting shouldn’t be too quick to mourn; he still aims for a soft spot between the two worlds.
“As much as I enjoy playing it, the majority of people don’t give a shit about instrumentals. You get respect from other musicians, and sometimes a select few from the public, but most people walk away humming a vocal line,” he said, laughing.
“I still want to write great songs. I’m a little lopsided on the guitar right now, though.”
Last year’s “Drugs” EP found Prinz moving in that direction. His in-the-works follow-up likely will plunge even deeper into that territory, but you can expect him and girlfriend — and fellow musician — Anna Kinder to lay down vocals as well. Until that time comes, he’ll play relentlessly across the metro to amass a larger local following to complement his online presence; his videos have garnered nearly 2 million hits on YouTube.
Of course, he’s aware that the path of being an instrumentalist doesn’t promise the fruits the more traditional path does … but that’s mattering less as time goes by.
“I’m venturing down the avenue that takes a lot more time and practice, and not nearly the same amount of recognition,” he said, “but that’s OK. All you can do is what you know you need to do.”