This is a series in which we interview a student musician and talk about their involvement in music writing and performance. Today, we have a profile about Liam Leonard-Solis ’16 and his involvement in the music scene at Kenyon and beyond. Know a musician you want to see interviewed? Comment below!
This post was written by Will Rothman ’18.
“He’s just got that lo-fi sound I can never get,” an anonymous music major describes Liam Leonard-Solis, Kenyon’s very own Bob Dylan. He recently released an EP entitled “NATURES” on his Soundcloud and I sat down with the singer, songwriter, and internet jokester to talk about his influences both musically and morally, as well as his love of fictional candy.
So Liam, what does your music mean to you?
It’s a cohesion of so many elements of one thing…expression of a moment…one time in my life.
Anything inspire you to start playing music?
As far as, like, musical influence goes? I’m going to have to start back home. I’m the youngest in my family and we all ‘do’ music in some way. See, my sister sings and plays the piano and my brother Kenan plays guitar. My dad plays accordion, which is cool.
Did you see your siblings making music and decide you wanted to play as well?
Yeah, that and Green Day was my favorite band in fifth and sixth grade when I first picked up the guitar. I had a lime-green iPod mini and I would play American Idiot cuz I thought I was edgy, and you know, Nirvana in middle and high school. That’s mostly how I got the idea to play music.
Do you have any really out-there influences, anything kind of bizarre or obscure?
I mean, as far as folk influences go, Woody Guthrie, like Irish folk and stuff. There’s just something I love about how folk songs are recycled, you know? Simple songs, simple lyrics. There are no copyrights in folk and they just kinda say what’s going on. And like Russian folk music and history are cool. Reminds me a lot of latin music, ecuadorian music. Similar musical feelings across countries. And my dad’s from Ecuador, grew up in small village in Andes Mountains on a small farm. The one thing that he treasured…one solace he got out of farm work was making music. Then he got to the US and started making money but he still keeps flame alive. As for obscure artists that I feel weird telling people about: Oh yeah, I just remembered! I really have been digging Charles Manson’s music from before he became known as a cult leader. Musically and poetically he is genius, and has a charisma that makes his music enjoyable. I like his voice and style but by no means condone his subsequent helter skelter.
You like the Dead?
Love the Dead; Mom loves the Dead, so I just grew up around it.
Do you listen to a lot of music?
I hate music…no, I’m just kidding. (He lets out a sincere chuckle.)
What’s your writing process like?
I can’t go sit down and write a song, muses gotta come up and sometimes you gotta let an idea marinate like a nice piece of ribeye…but sometimes you let it marinate too long and you gotta start on another one. It’s like an urge (but not an urge) I need to do to feel fulfilled… like some kind of great catharsis.
Why did you start recording your music and posting it?
I did it for me, and still do, because I want to know what it sounds like…sometimes I just get home after a party, you know, inebriated and I’ll just record a song. (He laughs.) There’s nothing wrong with jamming.
Boxers or briefs?
In shorts, boxers. In pants, briefs. In jeans, I don’t know; I haven’t worn jeans in so long… am I getting older?
Chocolate candy or sour candy?
Jimmy Neutron perfect candy…clap clap clap slap slap slap. (He claps and pats his leg rhythmically.)
I used to ball on the diamond in Little League, of course…I was really into it…I don’t know what happened. Actually, I want to change my answer to Jack Washburn; he’s my favorite Sport.” (He examines his drink skeptically, then locks lips with the plastic lid.)
First crush, celeb or otherwise?
Betsy Faulkner from middle school. I’ve never met any celebrities.
Unrelated, I presume.
Yeah, definitely not that Faulkner. I met Howard Dean once but I don’t think I have a crush on him.