Artist Interview: “Hold On” by Leo Sawikin

Q: Hi Leo! I love “Hold on”; the simple yet captivating instrumental, your meaningful lyrics, and catchy tune. What was your favorite part of creating this track?

LEO SAWIKIN: Thank you guys, really appreciate that! I mean going to Nashville to write with Lucy Isabel was really fun and traveling to Seattle to record with Phil Ek was an incredible experience. More specifically, my favorite moment of creating this song was playing that slightly distorted one note guitar part at the end of the track. The sound that Phil got for it was insane and the way it just pulled that section together was really incredible. I also just enjoyed it because it was an easy part to play haha. It was cathartic after struggling to play all the other parts the way they needed to be played, to play something so simple that did so much for the song.

Q: I’m always interested in an artist’s journey; do you remember who or what first got you into music?

LEO SAWIKIN: I was first inspired to do music as a career after seeing School of Rock when I was 9. I think a friend of mine who had also just seen it called me and said that he wanted to start a band. From that point on, I was obsessed with the idea of making it as a musician.

Q: What’s the best advice about the music industry you’ve received, and how has it helped you navigate your journey so far?

LEO SAWIKIN: Be patient, don’t expect overnight success, don’t wait for your career to start, be proactive and don’t abuse psychoactive substances. 

Q: Bouncing off the last question, coming out of New York’s huge music scene,
what advice do you have for other up-and-coming artists trying to make it?

LEO SAWIKIN: The New York music scene is really difficult if you’re not already established. I have very recently realized that you should not expect favors from acts that have a much bigger following than you. Networking laterally can be really effective and a great way to accumulate a fan base.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three albums with you, which would they be, and how have these albums influenced you?

LEO SAWIKIN: Ok Computer, Pet Sounds, and Hejira for sure. I listened to Ok Computer every day before school when I was a sophomore in high school. That record had a huge effect on my musicality and the way I sing. The notes that I choose to sing are heavily inspired by Thom Yorke’s musical sensibility. I discovered Pet Sounds when I was in college and it opened my mind to the power that well-crafted chord progressions could have on the vibe of a song. For years I was chasing that type of harmonic complexity in my writing. When I was 25, I discovered Hejira and I was really blown away by the textures of the chords on that album. The progressions were very simple, but each chord was incredibly specific and well thought out. I had used open tunings before hearing this record, but I’d always felt limited by a lot of them. Teaching myself the tunings on this record was one of the biggest breakthroughs I ever had as an artist. These tunings just made so much sense to me and I found them to be incredibly intuitive. Once I started using these tunings, the music just started pouring out of me and since they were all related to each other I was able to very quickly figure out how to use different ones. The majority of the songs on this new record were written and performed with these tunings and I think the vibe would be completely different and a lot less interesting if I hadn’t used them.

Q: What’s the inspiration behind “Hold on”? Is it inspired by any real-life events?

LEO SAWIKIN: Lucy Isabel wrote most of the lyrics for “Hold On,” so it’s hard to say. I always felt it was about knowing you have something special to share and waiting patiently for that moment that you can really bloom in life.

Q: “Hold On” is the first of seven singles to be released for your upcoming album. What can listeners expect from your upcoming album?

LEO SAWIKIN: This album is very different from anything I’ve ever done before. It has more of me in it and is much more DIY and just feels very authentic to my tastes and who I am as an artist.

Q: Parting words to your fans?

LEO SAWIKIN: I am so excited to share this new music with all of you! I feel this is my best work yet and I’m so thrilled to be sharing more of it soon!!

Photo Credit: Griffin Lotz

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano


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