Travis Hopper

Travis Hopper
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After graduating from Texas A&M in 2000, Travis Hopper moved to Dallas to take a job at an advertising firm. He'd written songs and played in a band in college, but didn't feel he fit into Aggieland's music scene. Dallas seemed to be much more welcoming, especially after spending a few evenings at the Barley House on North Henderson Avenue. "It was the place that helped me decide not to sell my guitar," he says. "I was frustrated from my band experience in College Station, but I saw this band Trainwreck there when I first moved to town, and they were playing the kind of stuff I played in College Station that people didn't like." Encouraged by the new surroundings, Hopper landed a gig within months as a guitarist for a band called The Americanos, which lasted until the summer of 2003, when the band broke up. The timing couldn't have been worse, because he was also going through a split with the girlfriend he'd followed here. "It came crashing down on all fronts," he says. "It was a long summer, but it seemed like all my friends were coming unraveled at the same time. So we all got very close." Inspired by his and his friends' troubles, Hopper began fashioning musical tales of lost love, late-night walks and bar-stool blues. He wrote "Tietze Park" while strolling by the East Dallas landmark, after days of lamenting his broken relationship. "I'd Like to Have You Here (If You Want to Stay)" came from drinking away his sorrows at, you guessed it, the Barley House. Hopper's lyrics are strikingly literal, but the small geographic and chronological details don't lessen the songs' universal appeal. That's probably why respected local artist Salim Nourallah agreed to record and mix them at his home studio, Pleasantry Lane. "There was something about the production of Salim's Polaroid CD that I liked, clean drums that actually sound like drums," Hopper says. "So I basically accosted him at Sons of Hermann Hall one night. He ended up liking my songs enough to want to do the album." The two artists found an immediate musical bond while recording, in late 2004 and early 2005. Nourallah helped Hopper overcome longtime insecurities about his high, trembly singing voice. "At first I wasn't letting my voice be what it was, but we ended up pushing the vocals more to the front, without much reverb or echo," he says. "We had become close enough that I didn't feel like I was singing in front of a stranger." Nourallah's production style is well-suited for such artists as Travis Hopper, because the words and melodies are never compromised by too many studio bells and whistles. But it's not just the immediate accessibility of Hopper's music that draws us in. A Dallas artist in the truest sense, he writes and sings about the city that surrounds him. He's as much a journalist as he is a musician. And in this scene, that's refreshing.
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