Leo & Cygnus – MUSICIANS






Daniel and Alex trading solos in there song "I Still Love Thee." Photo By RNS Photography

Daniel and Alex trading solos in there song “I Still Love Thee.”
Photo By RNS Photography

Interview with Leo & Cygnus

1. Who are you and what do you do?
We are a five-piece band by the name of Leo & Cygnus. Our members include Daniel Alvarez – vocals, rhythm guitar; Nicole Blickenstaff – vocals, keyboard; Alex Barnett – lead guitar, drums; Carl Mullins, Jr. – bass guitar; Kelsey Price – drums, percussion. We also have an auxiliary multi-instrumentalist that helps during live shows, writing, and arranging by the name of Christopher Au.

2. Why music?
Our original music starts out from the minds of Daniel, Nicole and/or Alex. The three composers all had a background in music from a younger age, Nicole and Alex having much more classical training. The love of music and the interest in sharing songs with people brought the rest of the band together to fill in the needed spaces.

Back L to R - Carl Mullins Jr., Daniel Alvarez, Nicole Blickenstaff Front  - Kelsey Price, Alex Barnett

Back L to R – Carl Mullins Jr., Daniel Alvarez, Nicole Blickenstaff
Front – Kelsey Price, Alex Barnett

3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in music?
All of us sought music out from a young age—being influenced heavily by family members, and music education from a young age in school, all the way through college. Most of us met each other in college, and the band’s origin started out as Daniel’s original music being brought to life through Alex Barnett’s guitar and compositional ideas. The band was originally called Daniel & The Lions, later changed to Leo & Cygnus (which translate to “lion and swan”, two prominent constellations in the night sky.

4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
Our music has influences from singer-songwriter styles, latin music, jazz, and classical. Daniel’s influences are heavy into progressive, folk-driven music, which can be heard in a lot of the band’s music. Nicole’s singer-songwriter, piano-driven melodies start out simply, building in intricacy by polyrhythmic influences from Alex’s jazz and classical background.

Nicole Blickenstaff, one of the three main songwriters.  Photo By RNS Photography

Nicole Blickenstaff, one of the three main songwriters.
Photo By RNS Photography

 

 

5. How do you work and approach a new piece that you are working on?
Each song comes together differently. Sometimes, the person who wrote it has ideas for what each instrument is doing. Other times, all that’s there is an idea for a progression, or even just a melody. Most of our songs were finished lyrically and melodically, later presented to the rest of the band. Their influences in rhythm, harmony and progression are what truly bring the songs to life.

 

 

 

6. What are your favorite musician(s), singer(s)?
Damien Rice, Bon Iver, Feist, Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, The Civil Wars, Corinne Bailey Rae, City & Colour, Stu Larsen, Frank Zappa, Ingrid Michaelson, Led Zeppelin, to name a few.

Right before one there first shows at Rams Head Live!

Right before one there first shows at Rams Head Live!

7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
We were incredibly fortunate to have people love what we play from the very first time we ever played out. A friend of the band invited the crew to give their brand new, freshly rehearsed songs at an open mic at a local music venue in Essex, Maryland called The Circuit. Two different local music promoters caught the band’s 3 song set and immediately encouraged us to make a page on Facebook so people could keep track of where we are playing. The very next day, One Koast Productions co-founder and promoter Rob Bryan contacted the band with an opportunity to play their first show at one of Baltimore’s most famous venues—Ram’s Head Live. From then on, the band continued to play at One Koast’s Frozen Harbor Fest, Jam @ The Dam, and several other shows at Ram’s Head Live. The band was taken in by some of the local scene’s biggest names—Pasadena, Bond & Bentley, Sweet Leda, Robert McFreshington, to name a few. We recently released two of our singles, “You Should Know,” and “Ain’t Got A Fight” (ft. Robert McFreshington)!

The album artwork for their First Album

The album artwork for their First Album


8. What do you like about your work?
Our job as a band is always interesting. We try to never turn down a gig offered by bands we meet or by venues/bars. The opportunity to share our music is just as important as meeting other people who are in the field and appreciate what we do. We get to work with professional sound engineers who tend to look at our set up and appreciate the visual challenge. Having a standing drum kit and several different percussion instruments, our set design tends to draw a lot of attention.

9. What advice would you give to other musicians?
Don’t let yourself get discouraged by a lack of attention in what you play. It’s very important to be receptive to how people react to your music, but the sensation of personal accomplishment and pride in your work will make you look and sound better. Sing out, and share your music with every single person you think could help you get further in your career. Don’t expect hand-outs, and keep an air of professionalism in what you do. Don’t let people take advantage of you. But most importantly, enjoy what you do. A lot of people would love to be able to play music for people, but could never get the determination to learn, or the courage to share it.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I hope to see Leo & Cygnus on the bills of major music festivals like Bonnaroo, Firefly, Coachella, and making a name for ourselves overseas. Our potential is only as limited as the time and effort we are willing to put into our work. Our debut album will be released in early 2015, and with it we hope to be able to go on tour as early as the summer of 2015.

Leo & Cygnus, doing what they love most - taking selfies

Leo & Cygnus, doing what they love most – taking selfies

 

 

 

 

 

Leo & Cygnus

Leo & Cygnus

 

 

Bandcamp: https://leoandcygnus.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leoandcygnus