We are excited to welcome Lauryn VonAhnen to Listen Local. While only in her mid-teens, VonAhnen is an immensely talented singer-songwriter and musician who counts Billy Joel and Miranda Lambert as her biggest influences. Her tender folk songs, marked by a dedication to the craft of songwriting, belie her young age. Enjoy our exclusive interview with this up-and-coming artist.
Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
Hello everyone! I’m a 16-year-old singer/songwriter. I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was two years old. I remember standing on the coffee table in my various princess dresses putting on concerts for my family. I’ve been playing piano since I was 7 years old and guitar since I was 9. Throughout my music journey, I’ve been inspired by artists anywhere from Hannah Montana to Billy Joel. My favorite genres to write are country and pop, and I love writing songs that people will be able to connect to. Music is my way of venting my emotions, good or bad, so my songs are often inspired by true stories. It’s very important to me to create a story with my music and communicate emotion to the people who are listening. After all, music helps people to feel empathy for each other and connect despite their differences.
Describe your journey so far as a songwriter. Who are your main influences?
I’ve been singing and writing music for as long as I can remember. When I was really little, I would just write songs on the spot and forget them one hour later. I got my first songwriting notebook when I was around six, so I started writing down my songs. When I learned piano and guitar, I started writing sheet music and tab. My early songs were super inspired by Hannah Montana. As I got older, I started getting more into artists like Taylor Swift and Adele. Lately, my music has been inspired by classic musicians like Billy Joel and country artists like Miranda Lambert.
Talk about the original songs you’ve shared online. Where were they recorded? What did you learn from this experience?
All the original songs on my SoundCloud were recorded at Chapman Recording & Mastering, now known as Simpson Sound. The experience was absolutely amazing. I was able to overlay tracks and play with things like reverb in order to make my songs sound exactly how I wanted them to. Recording songs at a professional studio taught me a lot about the importance of keeping time with a metronome, and it helped me learn how to communicate what I wanted with the engineer. This will be helpful for future recordings.
How do you balance school and songwriting?
Balancing school and songwriting is proving to be really difficult. During the school year, homework and grades become the priority, so it’s easy to push songwriting to the side. However, I try to encourage myself to write by setting aside around 20 minutes to write everyday. On weekends, I can write in longer periods without having to worry about school deadlines. Another thing I like to do is write during school. After tests when I have nothing to do, I’ll work on songs in my head and come up with lyrics.
What music are you currently raving about?
I’ve currently been super into classic rock and 70s/80s pop. I absolutely love how diverse the melodies are and how unique the songs can be. The instrumentals are always big and showcased, which I love. So many amazing songs came out of this era, like Bohemian Rhapsody, Desperado, Piano Man, etc.
What’s ahead for you in 2018?
In 2018, I hope to get my more of my music out into the community. I currently have a few gigs lined up in various locations. I’m also playing at the River Market in downtown KC on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometime this summer, I’m planning on going back to the studio to record more songs, which means I’ll be putting new music out on SoundCloud soon!
1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: This is the best book I’ve ever read! It is truly one of a kind, and it brought up so many different emotions that it was more of an experience than just a book.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling: I’m a big Harry Potter nerd, and this is my favorite book of the series. I love how creative Rowling is and how she makes the story seem magical.
3. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: This is one of my all time favorite summer reads. I remember summer nights at my grandparents’ house where I would stay up way too late, just to finish “one more” chapter.
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Other than being glamorous, this book is wonderful because it really makes you think about people’s motives and how things are always deeper than they seem.
5. Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II by Billy Joel: Billy Joel is my biggest music inspiration. He is an absolutely fantastic songwriter, and this album has some of his best songs, including “Piano Man” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”