Somewhere on the map between the rugged Front Range of Colorado and the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean is a small, brown dot. Split your thumb and index finger apart and the brown dot will come into focus as a curly-haired figure walks into a bar, guitar in hand. We caught him in Portsmouth, Virginia, where the Elizabeth River thickens before introducing itself to the James. And just in time, too—he’s in Portsmouth today, but come mid-July, 26-year-old singer/songwriter Logan Vath will relocate to Denver for a change of scenery.
A storm is approaching so Logan leads us past the brick sidewalks and iron lampposts of Old Towne into The Coffee Shoppe on the corner of Middle and High.
“I’ve been here for what feels like a long time,” Logan tells us, and for a kid who grew up migrating between divorced parents, and transferring from city to city with dad’s military job, seven years in this seaside town feels like a lifetime. Rather than acting on an impulse to run away from his time in Virginia, Logan is simply choosing to run towards something new and unfamiliar. He pauses the conversation to snag his coffee order from the bar. (“This is essential to my story,” he says, hailing the cup before us.)
“Monotony and comfort are very dangerous for me. A lot of people work really well under those—I don’t,” he says. “Place is everything and travel is essential. It’s amazing what getting a new perspective can do to the head.”
If anyone’s reality displays this, it’s the man sitting at the table with us. After graduating high school, Logan enrolled in college, but left shortly into his first semester to join the Navy. “When I first got to Norfolk, I went out to sea for about eight months. It was right when the Haiti earthquake happened, so we went down to Haiti for about three weeks, but all sorts of crazy things were happening, so we stayed on the ship.” Logan’s desire to see the world at this point turned sour. “We were stuck on the boat for 160 days straight, which tied some naval record. That gave me just a little time to write,” Logan smirks.
And write he did.
During his time on deck, Logan wrote a song that he would later enter into a competition to win him a combination of affirmation and confidence—the first hint of validation for his music that he received. Unlike many musicians though, Logan counts the cost of fame and glory, and reconsiders what life as a singer ought to include.
“It’s not hard for me to feel successful. If I go to bed happy and feel good about what I did for the day, I feel successful. Because life’s fragile, man. And while I do often want more, I don’t need it. I think a lot of things that people strive for when it comes to success don’t make them happy at the end of the day. It’s not really what they want. And I know people who have all that stuff—fancy cars and what have you—and they don’t have life any more figured out than anyone else.” Though Logan’s friends include a member of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and a Ph.D. candidate for neuroscience at Carnegie Melon, “they’re just dudes,” Logan says, and it’s this mentality that keeps him walking straight.
Logan is attuned to where his soul wanders and he finds a way to explore the forest without losing himself in the trees. He primarily achieves this by valuing the people he meets along the way. “I use music as a means of finding community,” he explains. “If it wasn’t for the people, it would be a lot less fun to play music.” These conversations, from our brief encounter with him in the corner coffee shop to his daily interactions with other musicians and friends, enrich his art significantly. “So much of living is just the experience of travel and people and conversations, like this one. It’s a challenge sometimes to sing around people who think things that I don’t, or sing about things that people don’t agree with, but at the end of the day, I think that is good for everybody.”
As we poke a little more into his interactions with other artists, Logan hints at a particularly poignant area of the musician lifestyle: comparison. Though while many artists in his position find themselves wringing their hands or staying in a home that knows and praises them, Logan uses the fear of the unfamiliar as fuel. “New community will inspire new competition, which will inspire better art.” He goes because he needs to—because there is no other upward trajectory than one that first leaps in every direction of the compass into unknown territory. And in this way, Logan is both New World Explorer and Navy Seaman, following the light of the sun while working to protect and defend the American boy within who delights in contentment despite circumstances.
While previewing his upcoming EP, we hear a line in “Every Town” that tickles our ears: “You don’t have to settle to settle down,” he sings. “I always get weary of settling for anything, so that is my take on being comfortable but still experiencing new things. I can’t make everything go my way, so when bad things happen, I am quick to rub them off.”
Unsurprisingly, Logan is very specific about the personalities that influence his music and lifestyle. “I’m very attracted to the early days of Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson,” he says. Old country mixed with the words from Townes Van Zandt’s early ‘70s album (stamped importantly on his arm) create a sturdy platform from which Logan can both build and jump. His lyrics are melodic verbalizations of his heart and mind rather than a platform to support or condemn the world around him. He learned guitar “well enough to write words around it” and works to maintain a balance of skills instead of arguing with himself to get better, faster, or more technical. To be the best of the best is not his goal. “I want to be around music forever and I want to be around good music and good songwriters. Eventually I want a relationship and kids, but I just want to keep things quiet and low key.”
In the future, you’ll find Logan as the owner of a small listening room that brings in top-notch talent. We can’t tell you what city, suburb, or island he’ll be in by then, but we can tell you that you won’t want to miss it.