Leol Williams is a talented songwriter hailing from New York City. In this interview, Leol outlines how he was introduced to songwriting, explains how special New York City is and shares some tips and insights for upcoming songwriters and musicians. Take a listen below to one of his latest masterpieces "New York City State Of Mind" produced by SongCat.
For listeners who have never heard your music, could you describe your style/sound?
I would describe my sound as a jumbo of all types of music - from my main influences, Calypso and reggae, to mainstream pop. It's like one great big tasty jambalaya soup with all types of delicious ingredients thrown into it. By So doing, creating what will be a great, memorable, melodic song for people to sing along with, love & joy! Long after the radio has been turned off, hopefully, people will continue singing my songs because I also want to write the songs that people can't stop singing, & "can’t get out of their heads"! Songs with a strong message that can also make you dance!
How long have you been doing music? And what/who inspired you to start writing songs?
I can’t really say if my interest in music has a beginning; As long as I could remember, I always have an interest in music. What I can say, apparently, between the ages of seven to ten I began taunting with the idea of trying to write my own song. However, I wasn’t able to accomplish doing so until my early teens when I officially began learning music and to play the guitar. I suppose my childhood dreams of wanting to be that music star spur my desire of wanting to write songs.
Who is your target audience for this type of music?
The big applees (NYC resident) and those here in the US and around the world who yearn for its experience!
Have you done any collaboration?
No, I haven’t yet. Better put, I haven’t had the opportunity!
Which artiste/songwriter do you look up to most in the music business?
I don’t look to anyone specifically! I draw my inspiration from all types of songs and music and what may surround me at times.
Your song, “New York City State of Mind,” what is it about? What is the message you want your listeners to get from it?
Just what it said! It’s all about New York City, its majestic views and all the wonderful beauty of life it has to offer! No! We are not just a concrete jungle as some may led to believe! We the applees are highly proud of our city and welcome all with open arms to experience its beauty, warmth and festiveness.
How exactly would you describes the New York City ‘state of mind’ that you wrote about?
It’s like a beautiful creative work of art painted with music that tells the story of its place and time...
What is it about New York that inspired you to write a song about it?
New York City is a place like no other! Imagine walking the streets; experiencing the sights, sounds, smell and (yes!) the taste of the many concoction, hmmm!! Just being in the city inspires and motivates you. It’s a city that can surely move you with its grit beauty and relentless drive. Those of us with creative minds, what a sea of opportunity for creativity!!
Can you share your best memory or favorite experience in New York?
If I could select the one favored memory of New York City, running in the NYC marathon. Man or man!! What an experience that is! I urge you! If you haven’t done so, running or even walking in the NYC marathon should be a priority on your bucket list. What a way to experience the true beauty and wonder of New York City! There is nothing like it!!
Songs about New York have been done before, more recently, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. How is yours different and why do you think people will like it?
I think people will like “New York City State Of Mind” because-for anyone new to the city it celebrates everything quintessential about New York City and gives you a welcoming feeling that you too can make it here! It celebrates all the possibilities that New York offers!
How important do you think a place like New York is to the music business?
Highly important! New York City is known for its festivity art culture and creativity and music plays a vital role for these activities. Don’t forget New York City is the home of the musical which we still do better than anyone else in the world! Where else in the world would you find a great musical like on Broadway!
Where do you see yourself in say five years?
In five years I would have liked to have released a couple of successful singles, an album and collaborated with different musicians as well as work with artist.
I’m also exploring the idea of starting my own independent record label, Hermieleo Music, (www.hermieleo.com) so hopefully that will also take off!
What do you want to say to the people of New York right now?
Since I’m not a politician I don’t have anything specific or political to say to the people of New York right now, other than to stay strong and stay in a New York City State of Mind! We are a strong city with plenty of “bounce back!”
What advice do you have for other aspiring songwriters?
The advice I’d give to other aspiring writers is to study your craft - listen to what’s currently successful on the charts regardless of genre, and write songs with great melodies, songs that have a strong beginning, middle and end. Songs are like short stories and should flow smoothly. Also believe in yourself, number one-because if you don’t, no one else will either. Further, recognize that this business requires resilience and tenacity; because you’ll get knocked down & rejected repeatedly, and you’ll need plenty of “bounce back.” Also, stay humble: People are more likely to assist you if you’re pleasant-not saying become a doormat-but don’t be nasty and rude. Be punctual and reliable! Study and master your craft like Quincy Jones, Carol King, Burt Bacharach, David Foster and of course Bob Marley and Sparrow just to name a few. Don’t let your race or background limit what genre of music to which you listen. Of course have your preferences, but if you want to be really successful in this business-in my opinion-it’s better to have an open mind and be accepting of other types of music. Makes for better conversation anyway! And you never know where things may lead!