How Troy Cartwright’s ‘Endless Curiosity’ Led to His Breakout Single, ‘Hung Up on You’
Troy Cartwright is Berklee trained but Red Dirt raised, and while the Dallas native says he listened close to his college professors, he also never forgot where he came from. When songwriting today, it's still usually just him and an acoustic guitar, like it's always been.
“I was actually very, very bad at all the musical theory classes in college," the "Hung Up on You" singer tells Taste of Country. "I think I got a ‘D’ in Harmony 3, which is the one where you learn all the modes.”
Charlie Puth was at Berklee College of Music at the same time as Cartwright; so, too, was Ingrid Andress, although the two record labelmates never crossed paths. John Mayer, meanwhile, came back to Berklee to speak to the student body during Cartwright's first semester.
"He said something along the lines of, it’s not like learning more math is ever going to be bad for you. It doesn’t take away from your ability to know two plus two equals four," Cartwright recalls. "For me, learning theory never messed with my head or anything like that."
One hundred dates on the road a year will keep you humble, or at least show you what fans like and don't care for, and the singer-songwriter hit it hard for years before signing with Warner Music Nashville in 2018. He's released songs including "Love Like We Used To" and "My First Beer" to digital streaming providers since, but the pop-friendly "Hung Up on You" (over 11 million streams on Spotify) is his breakout. The song represents something else Cartwright learned between Dallas and Boston: to embrace new opportunities.
Solomon and Rebecca Lauren Olds are the country/hip-hop duo Yacht Money and the other two writers of "Hung Up on You." Their meeting was one of Cartwright's first co-writes in Nashville, four years ago, at their studio, and it was his first time writing with a "track guy," someone who adds rhythm or loops in real time. If he didn't appreciate the value of a fresh perspective before the write, he did after.
“One of the things I really think about is the why, and why anybody does anything," Cartwright shares. "And for me, my why -- wanting to write songs and wanting to perform songs and be an artist -- it really comes from my endless curiosity.
“When you’re writing with somebody who doesn’t do country, it’s fun for me," he adds, "because you’re just getting to experience somebody else’s point of view.”
"Hung Up on You" is a guitar-and-drum arrangement with keyboard garnish and the singer's memorable vocal stylings turned up in the David Garcia (Carrie Underwood)-produced mix. At its core, it's an uptempo love song; in fact, quite a few songs from Cartwright's catalog sound like a smile.
The pandemic has slowed Cartwright's touring schedule, but he continues to write between media appointments. The best place to follow him is on Instagram, where you'll find a good mix of his songs and his dogs, two terriers named Teddy and Tilly.
See 38 Country Songs Every Fan Should Have Memorized: