9/18/2020 10:52:00 AM Introducing budding rock star Kiernan Tollefson
Kiernan Tollefson is a 21 year-old Franconia Township college student. Just your average good-kid with a great attitude. Kiernan is a budding rock star and he just recently released the first of what is hopefully, many albums. We had a chance to catch up with him for a little Q & A.
What got you interested in music? I can honestly say that I remember hearing certain classic rock songs on the radio as a really little kid and being just amazed at their power in general and also their power over me. There were certainly those little moments where I became obsessed but there were also bigger moments like going to concerts and being able to experience live music and the influence it can have over people. This was all before I picked up the guitar.
How were you influenced? I am influenced by musicians who are good at their craft. Especially when playing live. There is no greater show of skill than improvising because you have to be very talented and let your emotions take you. Improvising is what separates the men from the boys. I see music from the 60’s and 70’s, particularly rock, as the pinnacle of music. Musicians from this era are what influence me the most and what I have modeled my playing after. Modern music is ok but there are too many gimmicks whether it be a schtick or digital instruments. Most of these detract from the creative process and leave us with music that is not authentic.
Give us some detail about what life is like in Chisago Lakes? I have enjoyed life in Chisago Lakes. I’ve had a lot of cool opportunities and met some awesome people. I really got into fishing when I moved here in 2013. There is no shortage of outdoor activities in the area. Some of my favorite memories that living in Chisago provided for me came from playing on Lakes United soccer club in the summers.
Any family members interested or involved with music? Yeah, my mom grew up playing piano and all my siblings played piano growing up. Beyond that, my family has always been interested in my music. The involvement went down a lot when I started playing guitar. Before that, they paid for my piano lessons and pushed me to get better. Once I picked up guitar and quit piano, it has become more of a personal journey. I practice when I want and I am self-taught so there was no need to pay for lessons.
Now you are writing you own music? Please give an example of writing a song, like ideas, putting it on paper, etc. I had started out by playing piano from an early age and that taught me a lot about performance and practicing but I did not become very interested in the technical and songwriting side of music until I started playing guitar. I started writing songs when I first picked up the guitar. I learned a few covers and riffs but wasn’t satisfied with that so I started writing. I really don’t know how to write songs. They just come to me. I will just be messing around and find something I like that gives me a glimpse of a certain time or place or emotion. Once I get that spark, it is about completing the process. For me, finding the spark is the difficult part, but once I can do that the rest of the song tends to flow. Sometimes though, I will hit a dry spell and not be able to find the spark. Other times, especially if I am feeling certain emotions, I will be able to come up with parts for several new songs in a single day.
Were you part of any bands or jam sessions prior? Jamming is what I live for. As I said before, the ability to improvise is what separates the men from the boys. I have a few local buddies that I jam with in the summers but other than that it is mostly with some friends from school and the guys who I have played a few shows with. I was in a band for a few months last year, but we took a break and then Covid hit. I’m hoping to find a good group to join or start after graduation.
What is your album called? How can we get it? Have you sold any downloads? Is there cost involved? My debut album is called The Wandering. The rough interpretation is of a hermit going on a journey to find himself. The album is comprised of songs that I have written over the last 5 years. It is available on most streaming platforms but the major platforms you can find it on are Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. I have sold a few downloads but most people prefer to stream nowadays. The album costs 6 dollars on the itunes store.
Tell us how you recorded the album? I recorded the album with a friend of mine in Hudson Wisconsin named David Zimmerman. This was his first go at producing an album with his independent label "Cities of Sound." The album took about three months to record and consisted of a lot of long days in the studio from late May to early August. We were both learning a lot along the way and the recordings just kept getting better.
Who did the artwork on the album? My neighbor Dave Spohn did all the artwork. We think it matches the music very well.
What is your plan for the future? Both school and career wise? I am currently a Senior at Bethel University and will be graduating in the spring with majors in History and Digital Humanities as well as a minor in Political Science. After school I hope to get any job that will pay the bills. Music is my real passion and I am going to keep releasing songs and hopefully start playing shows when Covid calms down.
I just gotta keep moving and see where it takes me. Not enough people take the risk in life to do what they love but I only have one life and I don’t think it’s purpose is to live in comfort and safety.