Gregory Dwane was bit by the music bug when he was a kid. When he was 11 or 12 years old, Dwane discovered break dancing and found himself loving all sorts of new rap music and movies that were becoming popular in the 80s.
“There were all these great movies that I was enamored by, I wanted to live in New York and do all this stuff. It also drew me to music,” said Dwane. “I was this suburban kid listening to that, and that quickly turned into skateboarding and listening to punk rock. But the start was that I went to Radio Shack and bought two turntables and a mixer, From there, I knew I wanted to do that.”
The North Carolina native often found himself buying new instruments from a pawn shop and trading them in for something else when he wanted to learn something new. Donning a mohawk on his head, Dwane would eventually begin to play drums in a punk band, which showed him how to look the part of a musician and sparked a want to be better at his craft.
Dwane eventually started to study at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, despite never playing music in an established “traditional” group like an orchestra, where he taught himself how to read snare drum music. While he was at school, the desire to move to New York to pursue music in some capacity brewed deeper in Dwane.
“Pretty quick from then I wanted to be in New York and play in bands,” said Dwane. “I moved to New York in 1992-ish to work in recording studios. I wanted to become a recording engineer. Pretty quick to get a job because I called the studio on the back of records I love and said I’ll work for free.”
Once Dwane got a paying job in a recording studio, he was quickly introduced to all of the ins and outs of producing music and ultimately ended up in another punk band for a while, still loving every aspect of what he was doing behind the scenes.
“That’s always been a thing for me. I’ve been on the margins and figured out how to survive,” said Dwane. “Producing a record, being a roadie — I just did whatever it took to be a part of it.”
Dwane tried his hand at a number of different aspects of behind the scenes music work, including playing bass and acting as support staff on the tech side of music producing. However, one thing that he hadn’t had a chance to break into was songwriting, which Dwane said as “always at an arm’s length away from me.”
However, life took Dwane in a different direction than he expected and found himself writing commercial jingles in 2005. While juggling his new jingle career, producing music for local artists like Indigo Girls and tackling fatherhood on top of it, Dwane found himself getting exhausted from music.
“I burnt out and quit music altogether and walked away for 5 years,” said Dwane. “I started painting fine art painting as something else creative but not music. It’s not like I didn’t song write or had a guitar around, I had ideas. I started a process but didn’t know what it would be.”
Like many creatives, Dwane took advantage of the pandemic lockdowns to put some energy into his first album.
“The pandemic was one thing where it shakes you a bit. To compare it to 9/11, it makes you question mortality, time is limited. It lit a fire under me. I had isolation and peace and was able to start writing, had the clarity I never had,” said Dwane. “Maybe it was always there but hadn’t spent time with it.”
What eventually came was an 11-track album. Entitled “Gregory Dwane,” the album tackles topics including alcoholism, relationships with his 16-year-old, and the curveballs that life can throw at you. He even tapped into some ideas that he’s had knocking around for a while.
“A lot of it is about relationships with my kid, who is 16, that period where a kid goes from being a beautiful child to their own person and dealing with that, to divorce, being sober for almost 20 years, life things that are on your mind,” said Dwane. “I stood in painting studio for a while, listened to books on tape. Stuff seeps in, thoughts came out on this record. The lines were 20 years old for some, I always had in a notebook or in the back of the head that I wanted to use.”
Dwane says that the feedback for the album has been positive. He hopes to eventually tour again once it’s safe to do so and has been doing some co-writing in Nashville, but he always working to be an artist in some capacity.
“Being a 50-year-old guy, it was always the goal to be an artist in some fashion. I just figured out other ways to exist while doing my own thing. It’s cathartic, a really great experience to be able to write and have fantastic musicians, putting a band together,” said Dwane. “It’s stressful being everything, I’m the record label, designer, producer, recording, all the hats. I like that too, nice having the challenge. There are things I never knew I needed to learn. I’m just trying to build this path that people can go look at. I feel like I accomplished what I wanted.”