Fenton Lio, Running, single, song, music, music review, review

Review & Interview: “Running” by Fenton Lio

New York-based musician Fenton Lio, a prodigious talent, is already on his third single and has yet to reach 18. With his pen and paper, the young music prodigy wrote about feeling stuck and believing that will always be the outcome until freedom finally arrives at the doorstep, titled it “Running.”

With a sound that pays homage to the legendary John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Fenton Lio’s single “Running” is a captivating fusion of classic and contemporary. The track opens with a gentle western guitar lick, followed by subtle percussion.

Lio’s vocals, a surprising and refreshing departure from the norm for someone his age, beckon you in. As the song progresses, Lio skillfully weaves in more instrumentation, maintaining the track’s soft and serene nature.

“Running” is a sonically pleasing experience, and it’s truly impressive to know that this mature sound came from a teenager. Don’t miss out on the excitement—give it a listen now!


Q&A with Fenton Lio


Q: Hi! I really appreciate you doing this interview with me! Before we get to it, I wanted to start with an icebreaker because I love them! What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve received?

FENTON LIO: Thanks so much for this opportunity and for reviewing my song! This is my first interview, other than the PR person at school who writes stuff for the website. The worst Christmas gift I have ever received was a notebook my mom got me this past Christmas. The front and back of the notebook state, “I Have a Small Penis.” Now, every time I write in that notebook, I picture things I never really wanted to. But it is really funny, and it is currently my main songwriting notebook.


Q: How has the new year been treating you so far? I mean, we’re only about four months in.

FENTON: 2024 has been great to me. It has been hard getting through the seemingly endless ocean of obligations I have had before the start of the summer but, thankfully, I have gotten through most of it successfully and happily. My guitar teacher told me when I was like nine years old to “never say no when offered a chance to play or perform,” and I have lived by that, but I’m pretty tired right now. I am excited for the summer. I’m doing a few one-week programs at colleges I want to check out, and the rest of the time, I will probably be working on college applications and hopefully writing new songs.


Q: I was so shocked to learn you’re a teenager who wrote “Running” because it sounds like someone like Paul McCartney, John Denver or, hell, even Lou Reed wrote it. It’s that amazing! But I have to remind myself that many of these greats started at that young age. But I’m curious, what did you grow up on, musically? And who’s to blame for it?

FENTON: I grew up listening to a large mix of 90’s rock and alternative music. It is interesting you hear Paul McCartney in “Running” – I just wrote a new song and my dad said the same thing. Like everyone, I know a lot of Beatles songs, but I don’t consciously listen to them. I am really into indie music. Adrianne Lenker/Big Thief are in heavy rotation currently.

I also really love jazz and classical music. This probably sounds like I’m being pretentious, but I listen to A LOT of both jazz and classical, because I play a lot of jazz guitar and cello. My parents are big music fans, and I always have had music around me. My mom took me to see The Cure when I was five. Jazz and classical have come from playing in orchestras and studying jazz, and I also really love hip-hop.


Q: What’s “Running” about? I ask this because it’s such a delicate song, and there’s no room to misinterpret it.

FENTON: “Running” is about the seemingly endless and inescapable mental and work loop that comes from trying to reach a certain goal. I am an overthinker. I work really hard. I want to do all of these things, but then I feel exhausted and trapped by the choices I have made. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I feel like I need around twenty-eight to just get the bare minimum done.

And it feels like it will never end because as soon as you’re done with one thing, there is something else. I just finished a concert cycle with this symphonic orchestra I play cello in, and auditions for next year are happening now, a few days after the concert. I just want a break to do my own thing, but I also don’t want to give anything up. When I said, “I had it all and let it go,” I meant that I had a good balance going, and I was making progress with my music, but Junior year has been a non-stop demand on my time. It is June, and I am yet to take the SAT or ACT because I am always being pulled into something else.


Q: Why a deer as the cover art?

FENTON: The cover art for Running is not actually a deer but a pronghorn antelope. My uncle had turned 50, and he really wanted my family to go with him to Yellowstone. There are so many “famous” animals in and around Yellowstone, but I hadn’t been aware of the pronghorns before, and we kept seeing them everywhere.

They are smaller than you think, beautiful, and super-fast. The title of the song simply made me think back to my fascination with the pronghorns and the idea of how free they are. It really connected to the feeling of wanting to break out and to run I wrote about in the song. My parents are artists and made the design.


Q: What pushed you to pursue music at such a young age?

FENTON: I didn’t really mean to pursue music. It just kept happening. It was normal to my family that I could sing and that I was getting decent at guitar. I have been playing for hours and hours every day since I was eight. I had started doing open mics at our library, and I found that having a small monthly goal really helped me learn a lot of songs. I wrote my first song right before COVID-19 and performed it at the library, and it was a really satisfying experience. Quarantine was great for me and my family.

We just loved being home together and having the time to explore art and music. I was playing for even more hours a day and then started getting asked to play at local events and parties, and I have been writing songs the whole time. I was lucky enough to be in an NYU Tisch program last year called the Future Music Moguls, and we learned all about the music industry from start to finish. I released my first song almost immediately after that program because I was so inspired.


Q: Are you still in school? Is college a part of your future?

FENTON: I am sixteen and finishing my junior year in high school. College is definitely part of my future. I would like to go to college for music. I am looking at schools that have holistic music programs that don’t make you pick one thing you’re going to do only for the rest of your life. I love the cello, but do I want to give up being a singer-songwriter or jazz guitar and do cello literally 24/7/365 for the rest of my life? No.


Q: Besides music, what was something you were interested in pursuing?

FENTON: My parents would love it if I pursued something like business or engineering, and it’s probably harder to get into the music programs I want than it is to get into colleges for something academic, but I literally cannot picture myself doing anything else.


Q: How would you describe yourself as an artist?

FENTON: I think I am definitely an indie-folk/ indie-rock type of singer-songwriter. I like interesting-sounding songs, and I like lyrics that may seem simple, but only because they’re heartfelt and authentic. I am only sixteen, but I hear a lot of interesting comparisons after I perform. One person said I sounded like a cross between Tom Waits and Radiohead. I liked that, it’s flattering, but I also see myself as a jazz guitarist and cellist, and all that combined makes for a different blend. I am always trying to do more with my art, which is why I can express myself naturally and in different ways. I’m definitely still evolving and always hope to be.


Interviewed & Written by Taylor Berry







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