Lionel Boy spreads his easy-going ways with the release of his debut self-titled album.
The Hawaiian native keeps the laidback island life vibes within his creativity but doesn’t get lost in the tranquility. He admits he does not work well under pressure in the slightest and he is a habitual man, so his music-writing has blossomed into a great habit for him.
“I’m really good at forming habits like that, whether they are good or bad for me,” Lionel Boy tells BTRtoday. “Nowadays, I’m moving differently, trying to develop better habits … Under pressure, I’m like a deer in the headlights, [so] finding things that keep me grounded and moving at a pace I can keep up with is what I need most.”
His sound has evolved from emotional acoustic-based tracks inspired by his emotions and his love for Hawaii. Now Lionel Boy’s tracks more intricate, diving into deeper themes like dealing with the consequences of your actions and realizing your mistakes even if you had good intentions.
Listen to Lionel Boy’s self-titled album here and read the entire interview below.
Lionel Boy, “Kam Highway”
BTRtoday (BTR): Hey! So how did you initially got started in music?
Lionel Boy (LB): I didn’t really grow up around any musicians but I can trace back my earliest memory of wanting to make music to when School of Rock came out. I was in elementary school and I remember wanting to play the electric guitar like that kid so bad. One of my older sisters had a classmate that was selling a Squire Strat and my parents ended up getting it for me. The first few years was just me fidgeting around, not really knowing how to progress. I can see how that approach has affected my workflow even now. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of other musicians out there. A lot of Lionel Boy simply consists of me experimenting and teaching myself different aspects of playing/songwriting/performing.
BTR: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
LB: I’m not sure if I can remember the very first, but I definitely remember some of the early ones. The song “Daisy” by Tigers in the Sky is probably the earliest recorded song I wrote. I was maybe seventeen at the time. A lot of my early stuff was very singer-songwriter, acoustic guitar, coffee shop stuff [laughs]. Love songs, songs about Hawaii, love songs about Hawaii … I was always in my feelings.
BTR: How has your vibe evolved since starting to write your own music?
LB: I guess I’m always changing so, consequently, the music is always evolving. In my earlier work, I think the “kid from Hawaii” sound was very prevalent and if we did a side-by-side comparison, there would be a noticeable shift in energy. I was younger and less aggressive in my approach to life—you can hear that in the riffs, the instrument selection and the lyrics especially. Nowadays, I definitely feel more like myself or I’ve at least gotten a better grasp on who I am and who I want to be.
BTR: Tell me about your debut self-titled album you just dropped. How does it feel to have it out for everyone to hear?
LB: This album definitely kept me sane throughout 2020. At a time where many people felt stuck or unsure about the future, I was engulfed in the process of making this record. I’ve got my own shit to deal with too, you know? Apart from music, I have a life to work around, family, and friends that I gotta be there for. This music is supplemental to all that. With that being said, making this record was so easy-going and laid back. It’s one of the few things I’ve made that I don’t have qualms with. No regrets! I wouldn’t have done anything differently. There was never any pressure. I mostly remember good meals and great conversation. Going to the studio and working on the record was the way Jonny and I could kinda escape the madness and dive in creatively.
I wouldn’t say there was a particular “proud moment” because I’m proud of it all. I’ll often bully myself into being better at the things I do but I don’t feel any of that listening back to the record. For me, that’s an accomplishment in itself. Finally being able to accept and enjoy something that I’ve made.
BTR: If your listeners could walk away with only one line stuck in their head from any of your songs, what line would you hope that would be?
LB: “Common doesn’t come up, but I’m sliding through like Visa…” is my attempt at explaining myself. I came up with this line sitting in a hostel in Madrid. I was thinking, “what the heck am I doing here?” I’m from a little island in the Pacific. I know so many people who don’t even have a passport and who will probably never in their lives travel overseas, yet, there I was, just passing through. I feel that way about music too. Like I’m an imposter and there’s someone else out there who wants my spot and probably deserves it much more. But I don’t know really. More than particular lyrics, I hope my listeners realize the themes that take place throughout the record. That life is full of making mistakes but having good intentions. Or how having to deal with the consequences of our actions is vital in order to grow.
BTR: Do you have a mantra or ritual you do to keep your creative flow a-flowin’?
LB: Early mornings, coffee, and spliffs. That was how Lionel Boy was written. I’m pretty habitual so if I find something I like, I will do it every day. I’m really good at forming habits like that, whether they are good or bad for me. Nowadays, I’m moving differently, trying to develop better habits. I know for a fact that I work terribly—or more like, not at all—under pressure. I’m like a deer in the headlights. Finding things that keep me grounded and moving at a pace I can keep up with is what I need most.
BTR: What are you working on now that we should be keeping an eye out for in your music?
LB: I’m just getting started. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I know my team and I are capable of achieving and I’m just excited. I’ve got so many songs just sitting on my computer. Some of the songs on Lionel Boy are like four years old and I’ve grown so much since then. I’m just enjoying the process and thankful for everyone who’s rockin’ with me through it.