Emerging singer-songwriter Trevor Knight is a recording artist, pianist and singer-songwriter hailing from the dirt roads of Minnesota.
Influenced by soul-pop and great hooks, Knight writes meaningful ballads to inspire others through his lyrics. His sound was developed while being a part of an acapella group at Dartmouth College.
Once placing as a finalist in the “Dartmouth Idol” competition, he started envisioning a career in music and moved to NYC shortly after college. Throughout the process of crafting and recording his debut single “Giving It Up,” Knight got a glimpse of what a life in music could be like — and he was hooked.
Growing up in Minnesota, what artists did you listen to? How have those artists influenced your music?
I grew up listening to the radio and CDs in the car, and in Minnesota, they play a lot of country music. Zac Brown Band was the first artist I really latched onto, and my first ever concert was seeing them play in St. Paul. Top 40-style pop was common as well, and my mom had a bunch of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC CDs that we would blast on the way to school. I have no doubt that the catchiness and satisfying groove of those styles of music influenced my writing. The songwriting style of country is something I’ve come to appreciate as well — strong storytelling and meaningful messages are things I try to convey in my music.
What songs did you perform at the Dartmouth College Idol competition your senior year?
I auditioned with Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” (another one of my influences), I performed Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” in the semi-finals, and the finals were a whole production in themselves. I sang a Michael Bublé medley as well as George Michael’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” It was an incredible experience and one that certainly shaped me as a musician.
Trevor Knight - Men's Heavyweight Rowing
Senior (2016-17): Rowed in the two seat of the third varsity boat that beat Brown in the Grand Final of the Eastern…
What drew you to try out for the Heavyweight Rowing team in college?
I initially thought I was going to play collegiate baseball — I wasn’t recruited to play at Dartmouth, but after I was admitted, I decided to try to make baseball work at the place I had fallen in love with. After I tried unsuccessfully for two autumns to make the roster, I decided to take a chance on a sport that had a reputation for being friendly to walk-ons. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into, and it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, I’m so glad I took that chance — rowing has shaped who I am and my approach to life to an astounding degree, while providing me with some of my best friends. It was a blessing in disguise, for sure.
What is your current exercise routine?
I try to get a good sweat going at least 3 times a week. I live close to the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, which is a great place to run. It’s got a pretty steep incline and amazing views of the city. When I’m not outside, I head to the gym nearby my apartment in a full sweat-suit, and it’s game on. I generally alternate between an upper-body day and lower-body workout day, and I try to keep my heart rate elevated for 60–90 minutes. I will super-set everything, meaning I never do two sets of the same muscle group in a row; while one muscle is resting, I’ll hit a different one. This keeps my rest time almost non-existent for the workout, and by the end, I’m totally drenched. Rowing gave me a very clear perception of how hard I can push myself, and that barometer has shaped my exercise routine immensely.
You left your job as a trader at Citibank in New York to pursue music full-time. What was the turning point that lead you to this decision?
I would say there wasn’t one turning point, but many small, cumulative turning points. From the day I played my first open mic in the city (and bombed it), every taste I got of a life in music made me want to do more. I got my own keyboard, then started recording cover songs, then began writing my own music, then began networking and collaborating with other independent artists. After a year or so, music went from something I knew I loved but wasn’t spending any time on, to a purpose I just had to fulfill. By the time I neared the end of the second year at my job, I had become so immersed in music and had so clearly defined what I needed to do, that it really wasn’t a decision. It was something I knew deep down I was made for.
A day in the life of Trevor Knight ..
Trevor Knight | Musician on Instagram: "Rockwood Music Hall Wednesday, Nov 20 8:00pm with…
112 Likes, 26 Comments - Trevor Knight | Musician (@trevorjknight) on Instagram: "Rockwood Music Hall Wednesday, Nov 20…
Memories from your first show in NYC?
My first time ever playing live in NYC was at the Bitter End at their Saturday open mic, and I totally bombed. I did a Sam Smith cover and hit a ton of wrong notes on the piano. I left feeling like I could never play live again, but with time and reps that feeling has completely reversed.
My first ever show in which I was on the concert bill and playing original material was at Rubulad, an esoteric concert venue in Brooklyn. I played a 20-minute slot as part of a showcase with a bunch of other artists. Everything seemed to be going wrong — the “stage” was in a tent outside that was barely tall enough for me to stand under, it was pouring rain on a cold and windy night…but it turned into something amazing. As I started playing my songs for the first time, people started coming into the tent to hear what was going on, and by the end of my first song, there were probably 60 people crammed in. I had so much fun and received such encouraging feedback that I new I was headed down the right path.
What inspired “Not That Kind of Guy”?
I think sometimes guys get a bad rap. The stereotype of the clueless, vulgar, ill-willed womanizer is one that definitely exists in the real world, but can also be imposed on normal, respectful guys before getting to know them. Generalized statements like “men are awful” are repeated constantly.
I believe the majority guys are generally good, and not all of them want the same things. That narrative is not commonly spoken about, so I decided to amplify it by turning it into a song. When I was playing around on my keyboard one day, I happened upon a musical hook line I thought was appealing — it had an edginess and a truthfulness to it, and the words “Not That Kind of Guy” seemed to fit right into it. A few minutes later I had a chorus written down, and I was off to the races.
After a live performance in NYC in the summer of 2019, I sent a survey out to my entire email list. I asked about their favorite songs and what they thought I should release next — and the answer was apparent. The song that had taken me the least amount of time to write, “Not That Kind of Guy,” was a clear favorite, so I headed straight into the studio to record it.
I believe people connected with the narrative of the song because it was refreshing and honest. Not every guy gets his kicks out of crushing beers and tossing out pick-up lines. “Not That Kind of Guy” is a proclamation that not all guys are the same, and a spirited reminder to remain comfortable and confident in one’s own skin.
If you could remix “Not That Kind of Guy” what would you want to do differently?
In its current form, I love it. I spent a lot of time with the mix engineer making sure all the levels of each element were just right, and I think that time was definitely worth it. Maybe someday there will be a dance remix version, but who knows?
Pre-saving new song = seven years of good luck. Can you share that scientific evidence you mentioned in your Instagram post?
This is based on the same scientific paper that proves chewing gum stays in your system for seven years if you swallow it, and that sharing that Facebook post from your great-aunt will make your dreams come true. These are hard facts, supported by data.
You asked your fan base what they were interested in hearing from you. Besides the current single, what other suggestions did fans offer?
A few ballads were definitely high on the list, and my next release after “Not That Kind of Guy” will be one of those. When I perform live, I generally do acoustic sets which lend themselves well to the ballads I’ve written, so I’ve been getting requests to record some of those. Collaborating with other artists was also a welcome suggestion, and hopefully I’ll be exploring that realm in 2020.
The new song took you the least time to write and when you went to record it, you used live instruments. What made you choose this approach to recording for the single?
“Not That Kind of Guy” is an honest, fun-loving anthem. I enjoy performing it live because the piano part is so energetic. I thought the best way to transfer that energy and mood to the listener was through real people playing real instruments, and I love the way it turned out. The piano slide at the beginning of the song was only attempted once, the piano on the entire song is one continuous take, and the guitar, bass, and drums were all added by people I know personally, not a machine. I think it makes the song relatable and approachable, qualities I strive for as an artist.
What can fans expect to hear, besides the new acoustic arrangement of your debut single “Giving It Up”, at your Rockwood Music Hall show on November 20 with Melinda May?
No matter how many Trevor Knight or Melinda May shows you’ve attended, you’re in for a slew of new material at this show. We have both written new songs that have never been performed, as well as a duet we wrote together specifically for this show. We’ll play our fan-favorites, some fun ones, some sad ones, and everything in between. It’s going to be a night to remember.
Melinda May + Trevor Knight
Eventbrite - Rockwood Music Hall presents Melinda May + Trevor Knight - Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at Rockwood Music…
What song of Melinda’s is your favorite to cover?
Melinda has a song coming out this month as well called “You Like Me Better” — it is such a feel-good bubblegum pop song with an excellent arrangement. I love singing along to it and can’t wait for the final product to be out there.
Did you design your logo? What does it represent?
I did! I wanted to create an image that was eye-catching and cool in its own right, not just a shameless promo for me or my music. I think people would be more likely to use a T-shirt or phone case with something simple and sleek like the “TK” on it, as opposed to my face plastered all over it. I went with the yellow-orange spectrum and the crisp font because it matches my style — playful, wholesome, and strong. I like it a lot!
Bucket list NYC venue to perform at?
Madison Square Garden. You’ve got to swing for the fence, right?
You recently said you listened to the radio with your dad and how he associated songs with times of life. Which songs do you associate with your current time of life and why?
Songs are instant memory cues for me — every time I hear “Levels” by Avicii, for example, I’m transported back to the hockey locker room in high school. I think when I’m older, songs that will remind me of this season of my life will be “Drive” by Ben Rector, “Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran and Khalid, “Dance” by Tim Halperin, and obviously “Giving It Up” by yours truly. The last few months I’ve been blasting those tunes, and I’m sure they’ll leave their mark on my memory.
Favorite menu item at Chipotle?
I go for a chicken burrito bowl every time. Brown rice, pinto beans, fajita veggies, extra tomatoes, hot salsa, a little bit of cheese, and lettuce. Then I’ll throw some Tabasco on top of that for good measure. There aren’t too many things you can buy in New York for less than 10 bucks that can fill you up without making you feel too guilty. $9.74 never tasted so good, and Chipotle has never let me down.
Looking ahead in 2020 ..