Lenny Gerard is a singer and songwriter; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in music?
A: I became interested in music when my brother and I started taking guitar lessons together after school. I was young (like around five/six-ish years old?). It was when my hands couldn’t fit around the neck of our beloved and shared guitar that I gave up the guitar and decided to learn the piano instead. My brother was happy to have the guitar all to himself and I was content playing the piano and humming tunes along with it. Songwriting came later when I got emotional as most kids do in their teens (lol). It was certainly a great release J
It was when I got a generous scholarship from The New School University in NYC at 18 Years old that I started to take myself seriously as a singer/songwriter. I performed at open mics almost every week and snagged and performed my own gigs about once a month throughout Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan.
Music is therapeutic not only for myself but for the people that enjoy it as well. Music is a bonding experience. When I’m singing while playing the piano (especially if it’s a tune I wrote) and I really “get into the groove,” It’s like the best high in the world. It feeds my soul in every way and for that reason I will forever be interested in music and art.
Q: What kind of training have you had?.
A: When I was younger, I learned to read and write music on a staff, transpose, and arrange it. Going to college for contemporary music definitely reinforced these skills in me. I double majored in school with a B.A. in Contemporary Music and a B.F.A. in Photography. In college, a big part of my music major focused primarily on recording techniques and music production. We learned various software like ProTools and Logic. I also had the pleasure of taking numerous songwriting classes in college. I absolutely LOVED the experience and performing with classmates. Getting these degrees have broadened my skill set and have transformed me into a musical jack-of-all-trades.
I have recently taken up the ukulele and have been having way too much fun playing and songwriting with it! I’d never played a ukulele until some weeks ago but picked it up almost instantly because of my musical background (I am forever grateful for this, thanks Mom!)
Q: You started working as a photographer before you graduated from Parsons. How did you get your work in front of the right people?
A: It all began when I started taking senior portraits for the graduating seniors in high school out of my garage. I saved up from working at a local frozen-yogurt shop and bought strobe/flood lights, a fancy camera, and seamless backdrops and set up a studio. I kindly asked my parents to move their cars out of the garage so I could utilize the space in its entirety during my many photo-shoots. I gained local recognition as a photographer and was doing business as a 13-year-old from my own home. My mom enrolled me in a class at UCSD based on photography. I was definitely the youngest one in the class – at the tender age of 15.
Later in life when I moved to NYC for college, I started freelancing as a photographer for record labels, publications, and magazines. I believe it was my extensive portfolio and experience shooting back home in San Diego that landed me the gigs I got in NYC. I sought out specific people at record labels/ magazines and emailed them. Persistence, and an enthusiastic demeanor was the key to my success. Word of mouth helped a lot too. I got my work in front of the right people through networking via cold-call emails and social media and through the help of the many mentors that I acquired over the years. A lot of the professors at my school were extremely successful outside of class and willing to connect their students to opportunities. The professors also mentored some students on a long-term basis and I found this very rewarding.
Q: What is your most memorable celebrity encounter?
A: I have two:
- When I met Ludacris in the living room offices of Island Def Jam in New York City. He was not only one of the nicest and warmest people that I’ve ever met, but he had perfect skin. It was so smooth and porcelain-like! We had fun taking pictures together.
- I was taking behind-the-scenes photographs for Bon Jovi’s new video at the time “Because We Can” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXJFjrl-Q4) and Jon asked me for some water. I took a bottle out of the nearest cooler and water dripped on his (I’m guessing expensive) pants as I handed it to him. He looked down at the drip stain on his pants and back up at me. I smiled and scurried away.
Q: What inspired you to write, Old Enough For Love?
A: Old enough for love was inspired by the thought of romance blossoming over the phone. The words “I only know you over the phone” are meant to describe a sexual relationship based on the phone, as many relationships are today. I felt compelled to write about cyber and cellular relationships because there are now new non-traditional ways to meet people, and they often do not involve face-to-face interaction.
Q: Your bio says you are an LGBT activist. What are some of the things you have done for the cause?
A: Being an LGBT activist, I have performed at LGBT charity events and have always been a huge supporter of the LGBTQ rights movement. My fondest memories as an activist were in San Diego, California when I was still in high school. It was when proposition-eight (a ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment) was a big focal point in the news/ media. The proposition was to ban gay-marriage in the state of California (2008). I was the president of the G.S.A. (Gay Straight Alliance) in my high school and rounded up all of my club members, friends, and fellow allies to protest with signs that we made during our lunch breaks at school. We marched throughout downtown with these signs every weekend and finished every protest in front of the city courthouse. We made it on the news a few times!
Recently, I put out a music video that was featured on Huffington Post along with an interview about it: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lenny-gerard-feel-me-now_us_56bce834e4b0c3c550508246). The mission of the music video “Feel Me Now” is to show that domestic and sexual violence is prevalent in the gay community just as much as with our straight allies. Men are battered too and there needs to be more resources for men to turn to and be taken seriously. Next month (March 2016), we will be conducting a social media campaign with the hashtag #MenRVictims2 to raise awareness on the issue.
Q: What do you like about the music industry?
A: What I like about the music industry is how it is dynamic and always changing. I like how the music industry is based on collaboration amongst all sorts of artistic mediums. At the end of the day, the music industry depends on artists albeit: film, sound design, fashion, production, camera operation, etc.
The music industry allows me to be creative and express myself in ways I never thought possible. I am so glad to have found a career in the music industry as it enables me to bring my visually creative side into my musical projects. My music videos are the ultimate medium in which I express myself – as they are the melding of both my sonic-artistry and my visual-aesthetic.
Q: What would you change about it?
A: The music industry has always seen change and will always see change, which is one of the many reasons why I love it. I recently founded an entertainment company (http://www.OinkEntertainment.com) whose mission is to represent under represented talent and artists. That’s what I want to see change in the music industry; I want to see more minorities taking on big musical rolls and more TV appearances.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences?
A: Lady Gaga, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Amy Winehouse, Le1f, Bruno Mars, Kat Dahlia, Sam Sparro, Adele, Beyonce, Lorde, Michael Jackson, Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, Justin Bieber, Queen, Animal Collective, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, James Blake, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Adam Lambert, Tune-Yards, Regina Spektor, George Ezra, and Missy Elliot… (Just to name a few).
Q: Do you think looks or talent are more important in music today?
A: Talent. If you have enough talent, no matter how funky your look or lifestyle is, you’ll be recognized and valuable to the masses for being authentic. I do however feel it is the artist’s responsibility to maintain an image that serves their artistry and products.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.