Niko Moon's relationship to country music has changed dramatically over the years: He began as a fan, and started working his way up in the industry, eventually becoming a songwriter and then a performing artist in his own right.

On a broader scale, Moon has seen country music shift stylistically, too: The genre has naturally evolved over the years and decades since he was first introduced to it as a kid. But even so, Moon says the core definition of country music has never changed. 

Read on as the up-and-coming singer-songwriter reflects on what country music means to him.

You know, for me, I think [the definition of country music] hasn't changed very much [since I was a kid]. When I think of country music, I think of people telling stories about small-town life and rural upbringings, and things of that sort.

And whether or not a certain instrument is in a song -- "If it has a fiddle, it's country; if it doesn't have a fiddle, it's not country" -- I feel like that debate has always raged on. When you look at what country was in the '50s, and what it became in the '60s and then how it evolved into the '70s, into the '80s, into now, it's always been so different from decade to decade.

The instruments, the way they're being used, the tempo, the vibe -- everything is so different, but the thing that's always remained the same is the message. And the fact that these are story songs, and they're songs about a certain type of life: usually, that small-town way of living and all the things that come with that, family, friendships.

That's how I grew up, so all the songs that I write are just personal experiences that I've had.

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