CHANNAHON — The last time we heard from Channahon’s Dustin Walker, he had been jet setting around the country to preview showings of the rock documentary “An Affair of the Heart,” by Rick Springfield, in which he was featured.
Now the 16-year-old singer, songwriter and musician has signed with Musik and Film record label, an affiliate of Universal Records, and is preparing for the release of a four-song EP, which will eventually be turned into a full-length album.
“I told myself I would have a record deal before I got out of high school,” Walker said. “I am doing it. The most exciting thing is I am living the life.”
The EP will feature two songs that Walker wrote some time ago – “I Can’t Do Anything For You,” and “Body Bag.” He’s added two more to the demo and went to Virginia over spring break to record the vocals for his most recent work “Simply to Choose.”
The recording was done at the studio of Walker’s guitar player, Tyler Reese. This is actually the first time the two have met face to face. Most of their work together so far has been done via the Internet through video chats like ooVoo and logging onto each other’s computers. When everybody’s logged on, it’s like being in the same studio.
“It was so awesome,” Walker said of his recording sessions in Virginia. “The songs turned out great.” While Walker and Reese were recording their parts in Virginia, his producer Jeff Silverman was playing his instruments and producing from his studio in Nashville.
“Eventually we will bring the whole band out to Nashville, but for now we’ll continue to do it like this,” he said.
Walker has drawn inspiration from his long-time friendship with Springfield. Walker was just three when he got on stage during a Springfield concert at the Taste of Joliet and first met the star.
Once he signed on with manager Stephen Wrench of Musik and Film, he asked Springfield to sing on his single “I Can’t Do Anything For You.” Springfield agreed to do backup vocals and chorus.
“Me and Rick have been great friends for such a long time,” Walker said. “I still can’t believe to this day he’s singing on my song.”
Walker’s also had the opportunity to work with other well-known musicians, such as Tim Loursch, fiddle player for Alan Jackson, who plays the cello on his other new song, “Tonight.” The sound of the cello behind the guitars makes it heavier and melodic, he said.
“It takes you on a journey, that’s what I really like about it,” Walker said.
The first two songs Walker wrote have been remixed to meet up with his newer songs. He worked with Reese to get the sound just right.
“Now all the songs are just rockin’. I am so happy with them,” he said. “We work so great together. There’s stuff I don’t come up with by myself and vise versa. We bounce ideas off each other.”
During his time in Virginia, he played several shows with Reese, and the two are hoping to do more soon.
“We played some real cool gigs,” he said. “We have some great chemistry.”
Walker’s musical career is taking off in multiple directions these days. He is scheduled to be the opening act for Springfield a few times during his upcoming summer tour. There’s an album release party in the works and Wrench is working on some other opening acts for well-known musicians.
Walker lives to play music, he said. He wants to chase his dream of being a musician as long as he can – it’s what makes him happy.
“I’ve always said there’s no Plan B. Music has helped me through everything,” he said. “No matter what the future has for me, I am excited for it.”