Liam Kevany is a music producer primarily based in LA. His recent work with up and coming artist Cheyenne Tozzi has just been released, and MØJÖ had the chance to catch up with him and talk about his past, this project, and what the future holds for him.
His relaxed attitude reflects his Irish/Phillipino family’s influence that filled his childhood with campfires and karaoke. Read more below to understand what he’s learned working in the unforgiving, but infinitely rewarding world of music in LA.
M: Tell us about yourself.
I mean, there’s so much to say. Well I’m a musician, I guess what that entails is, a music teacher, a musician, a live player, a writer and producer. I think those are the main things that I’d say I do.
M: How long have you been doing music?
Technically I started playing guitar when I was 4. I’m 22 now; so 18 years. I always tell people I should be way better than I am, but to be fair, I seriously started studying guitar 6-7 years ago
M: Why did you start?
I come from a family of guitar players. I basically came out the womb with a little ukulele! My dad is a school teacher by day and singer-songwriter by night. He always had a guitar. His older brother is that crazy guitar uncle that everyone has. I feel like almost everyone has that uncle who grew up in the 60’s or 70’s and they just play classic rock. In this case, he was a huge influence on me because he was always shredding it at family parties playing blues and stuff. He has over 70 guitars in his collection! All rare guitars too.
None of us kids played any of the instruments, but at family gatherings, there’d be like 6 guitars, campfire style!
M: So it seems as if your family was a huge influence?
Yeah, my uncle and my cousins who played music mainly, but it helps that I have a big family–half Phillipino, you know? On my dad’s side too, he’s Irish, so growing up we just had huge family musical parties all the time. It was always a good environment for me and my siblings growing up. On the Phillipino side, karaoke was the music; they take that shit seriously! Growing up I hated it, I mean I grew into it, but I was always so embarrassed. So, on my Dad’s side it was campfire guitar, and Mom’s side was karaoke.
M: What’s the project you’re working on right now?
My main thing is writing and producing for an artist named Cheyenne. We just released our first single last week. We’ve been working since April so we have a few songs lined up. If I were to describe it, I’d say it’s a bit electronic soul kind of stuff. Erykah Badu, Mary Jay Blige etc, but the production is more modern. Things like house sounds, hip-hop etc. We’re targeting that sort of growing demographic right now.
My day job is teaching music. I teach at three schools right now. The majority of my classes are rock classes. Most are kids, but I have one parent class: a dad band. Mostly the kids are about 7-13 and they come in playing all instruments. I just show them music. Classic rock or 90’s-2000 songs. ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Green Day, Grunge. I mean it’s great because these kids know! They have cultural parents and have grown up in a really good environment.
M: Is there a particular reaction you hope to evoke from your audience?
Honestly, I’m just looking for people feeling certain emotions. I’m really big on constructive criticism. So I like to hear if something moves you or if you hate it. I’m not mad that you dislike something, I just wanna know why. In my opinion when you’re doing something like this, nothing helps you improve more when something tells you what’s wrong or what you’re missing in a good way. I’m very open, and I feel like it’s never finished because it’s always getting better.
I’ll see blue and you may see black, but that’s okay because that’s really what art is, isn’t it? It’s good just to start a conversation about it.
A lot of musicians have a platform, and a lot of musicians feel strongly about what’s going on, and I can respect people who can say something bigger than just ‘oh this is a good song’. I think it takes courage to do that; I like to be on everyone’s good side, so it’s hard to make a big statement that people may disagree with.
I think I’ll get there. I’m not a raging machine, but I’d like to be there in my own way.
M: Are there any people or memories that inspire you?
The last trip I took to London, I taught at two programs. The first was a pop music program. It was a bit of a breath of fresh air because I was working with college students. I was there as a music director for one of the bands. In the span of four days we played two shows and had a recording session. That made me feel good because I got to take a break from what I’m doing. Which is what we were mimicking in LA but in real life. You don’t learn that kind of thing in school, you learn in real life which is really important. It’s fun being a musician, but it’s tough and it’s hard work.
M: Where do you see yourself going with your work?
I’ve always been a live musician, but this last year I’ve been changing into writing and producing, and I LOVE that. Through Cheyenne, I’ve met a writing partner named Matt. We work really well together. We sit in the studio and patch things out and program some beats. We both grew up on West Coast rap and jazz so it’s similar. We’re trying to reach out to LA artists and London artists primarily. I’m looking forward to moving forward with Matt as a production team and put out our own work. We’re not the face of these artists, we’re the behind the scenes.
People I look up to, I see where they’re at, and I love what they’re doing. Even though they’re rich and famous, they’re still doing what they do. And I hope to be at that level–to have my passion fully drive me one day, not just money and fame. I want to keep it pure and make sure the large demographic can vibe with it, but not sell out for money.
M: Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I don’t see myself doing anything else. I could never sit at a desk job doing the 9 to 5. I can’t do that kind of thing. I used to work at USC filing mail and I hated it. I did that for three and a half years. I can’t do anything else, and I don’t want to be doing anything else, so everything sort of works out, doesn’t it?