Clapper Sounds with @NavyChief

For our 26th Clapper Sounds Interview, we’re highlighting @NavyChief, otherwise known as Vince Dent!

@NavyChief is a singer-songwriter and Clapper creator that spent 15 years in the military before diving into chemical sales and investments. Not career paths you’d expect from a singer, which only add to Vince’s unique talent and sound. Vince describes his sound as Southern Rock, with a variety of inspirations that perfectly fit! In this interview, we talked about his career, his songwriting process, and his advice to new artists, and more!

Clapper Sounds is meant to be an intimate musical experience, and we want that mission to translate into our written interviews too. Listen to his music as you read to get to know @NavyChief and his unique sound.

Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a little about yourself and how you started your artist’s journey.

I joined the military (which makes sense considering I’m @NavyChief) in 1983 as a 19 year old. I was looking for direction and my family has military history, something like 80 plus years of military service. When I retried from that in 1998, I became a purchasing supervisor/manager for a major chemical distribution company. And I became really fascinated with money and finance, so I saved a lot and made a lot of investments in real estate. At 54 I decided to go see my broker, just to see if I’d made all the right moves, and I had enough to retire!

Then I started looking into my passion, which was music, so at 54 I started my journey of playing guitar. I didn’t want to be the guy who picks it up and looks at YouTube videos all day.  I wanted structure, so I became a student of music and I have a teacher who’s online that I’ve stuck with and I spent about two years practicing my skills. You can learn all you want, but if you can’t apply it, it’s kind of useless. It’s helped me out tremendously in songwriting, in understanding the styles of guitar playing. And I didn’t just want to be a rhythm guitarist either, so I took up solo guitar, too, and it’s what I really love. This allows me to not get bored with one facet of the instrument. When I want to get into songwriting mode, I stay there maybe a month or two then go to rhythm guitar and doing covers, then onto solo. 

How would you describe your musical style? Who are your biggest inspirations?

There’s so many! I consider myself a hillbilly my dad was from West Virginia, so when I have influences as far as music, a lot of times it falls to my dad’s side. Appalachian style country music, folk songs, stuff that you would hear in West Virginia or in the woods. Southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Fleetwood Mac, The Marshall Tucker Band, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty. But I love all genres, I really do. I just stay in my capabilities, if you will. And I love 80’s rock but it’s more eclectic, so I slow it down for covers. My co-writer, TattedMamaWolf, even calls me Navy Cash!

What is your songwriting process like?

I write by myself and co-write.  The first two songs were written by myself, I wrote the third with my daughter, and four and five were written with TattedMamaWolf. They haven’t been uploaded yet, I just want to give the others a good run for their money. My daughter is not musical, but she’s been into poetry and writing since she was a young girl. We co-wrote Southern Peach together and I just described the scenario of me being in a bar overseas in the military.  We sat down and wrote it in an hour.  Each song I write seems to be getting better, it’s almost like you’re learning as you go.

And you’ve heard people say that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you listen closely to people and don’t talk as much, you pick up little pieces that would be perfect in a song. That’s what I’ll do: I’ll write those little pieces down. The other thing is that there are certain parts of day to day that lead to high creativity. Like driving a car, I always think of music even when I’m trying to pay attention to what’s going. Or on a plane, looking out the windows and seeing the clouds just puts me into the zone.  You just have to pay attention.

What makes a song “good” or finished?

For me, lyrically, there has to be a flow. What’s the story you’re trying to tell, is there a beginning, middle, and end? You also have to ask yourself what draws you to a song? You know plenty of songs where you can’t get them out of your head – because of the beat or the lyrics or because you may have an experience in life that those words remind you of. There’s got to be a flow with everything involved: it’s got to have a good beat, good lyrics, it’s got to be clear. And there’s got to be feeling in it. You have to be able to emotion into it and pull the emotions out of people listening to it. Like when I first wrote KYO, I couldn’t play it through because I kept crying. It took two years for me to get to the level where I could play it, where the emotions weren’t so raw.

How did you find out about Clapper? Why did you decide to share your music?

As a musician, I’ve been on several social media platforms. I’ve had to sort of apologize to the people that have been on my platforms for a while – they’ve probably heard more bad than they have good in the last six years! But there’s always a lesson when you perform. So I kept moving, onto the next one, and Clapper is the best version of @NavyChief. And I still visit the others, I still give them content, but you’ve got the best version of me. I heard about Clapper a few times over on another app and thought, “Well, if you’re gonna be a musician and if you’re gonna spread yourself out a bit, you need to grab all the social media channels that you can.” But Clapper is my home. This is my home base and I’ve never built huge followings on the other platforms.

Deciding to be an artist can have its ups and downs. What advice would you give to that young artist who is just learning to play guitar, or starting singing lessons and whose dream is to be a musician?

I think you said it: start a lot earlier than @NavyChief!  You have to be dedicated to it, and that’s hard when you’re young and you’re working, and all that stuff. But there has to be focus. I play everyday up to five hours a day; I’m dedicated.

You need structure. There’s been an argument about whether or not music theory is good, I say it’s good. It allows you not just to play a guitar, but to understand how music works. And don’t try to do it too quickly. It’s like building a house: it’s one brick and a time. Master one brick before you apply the next.  In other words, don’t half ass anything. Get it down, get it behind you and practice. Eventually if you’re that good, someone will recognize you. Practice your art, put yourself out there, and opportunities will come. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate.  

Make sure to check our recorded live session on our account Clapper Sounds and in our reels on Instagram. Enjoy the Clapper Sounds Live Session with @NavyChief!