John Lisi’s Debut Album a Path of Self-Discovery [Interview]

John Lisi’s 2021 album, I Hope This Feels Good, sees the young artist shine his creative flashlight deeper into the winding cave that is a budding career in music.

The album, which I love dearly and wrote about last week, takes cues from a variety of genres and shows Lisi as an young, dynamic talent capable of shifting tempos and intentions with a song’s notice.

I Hope This Feels Good is a fantastic representation of Lisi’s personal philosophy that growth is reliant on taking risks and saying ‘yes’ to daunting opportunities. For Lisi, that risk is releasing music. While he plays music constantly at the Berklee College of Music, he’s had trouble feeling comfortable presenting a cohesive body of work to the public.

In order to keep himself on schedule, he decided to make each song in a day, forcing himself to produce the album’s 10 songs in 10 days. While the time constraint brought its challenges, it was ultimately successful.

“Like a lot of musicians, I have a big problem with creating half-baked ideas and never doing anything with them,” he says. “There was a lot of inhibition at first, because I’m used to being very critical and particular about every detail of a song.”

Letting his creativity flow, rather than leaving songs at a halfway point, allowed him to experiment beyond his personal style. Before making this album, Lisi hadn’t explored using his voice much in a studio setting, but found himself wanting to sing as a method of relating to his listeners.

“This is kind of my first time writing lyrics,” he says. “I wanted to use my voice because I think that’s something that people really connect with.”

While he’s thrilled that he was able to use his voice so effectively on the album, he says it was still intimidating to release I Hope This Feels Good

He explained the title;

“I hope it feels good to listen to,” he says. “But also I hope it feels good to release it, and I hope it feels good to make it for myself… it’s just a super daunting display of vulnerability to release music.”

Part of the daunting aspect of this process was curating a boundless sound.

“I was struggling to describe the sound of my music, which is encouraging to me,” he says. “Music that is hard to categorize excites me. Having something that is not so easily defined can help you stand out and fit into a lot of different contexts.”

Embracing ambiguity with such confidence is impressive because transcending labels and existing in liminal space is taxing. But Lisi knows that to be as content with his music as possible, he has to stay true to himself, which won’t always fit cleanly into any given category. 

Lisi spoke at length about the various risks and ever changing career paths of a young musician. Alongside releasing music on streaming services, he’s found passion for film composition, video game scoring, and music education. 

Speaking on these varying interests, he developed the metaphor that working in music is like being an adventurer, journeying through a winding and unknowable cave system.

“Every time I make something or even try to make something, it’s like a step,” he says. “I think about it like shining a flashlight in a cave, and gradually exposing more and more.”

Lisi’s experience and professional philosophy does well to display why music has been so central to the human experience over time; the constant growth music demands of us is reflective of the way we need to approach life to feel fulfilled.

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