Interview: Lyndol Descant

Lyndol Descant is a New York-based singer/songwriter whose piano-fueled music unites jazz fusion and indie-pop influences.

Q: What was your introduction to music? How old were you, and how did it affect you?

A: I started piano lessons at five-years-old, when we got a Yamaha Baby Grand. I loved to make up songs, but my teacher was a classic pianist who didn’t acknowledge my creativity, and instead had me only focused on the traditional method of learning piano. By 12, I quit, with the idea that my songs were terrible and had no love of classical music. It wasn’t until I was introduced to improvisation in music, through jam bands and jazz, that I decided to pick up the piano again.

Q: Did you grow up in a musical environment?

A: Not at all. My family has a last name that is Cajun French, Descant. But it's also a music term, meaning harmony on high. Funny enough, I’m the only musician I know of. My grandpa loved piano, but no one else in my family is particularly musical or even passionate about it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t realize til I was in my 20s that it was my main passion.

Q: What styles of music had the greatest impact on you creatively?

A: Improvisational music - first the jam band scene of the '90s, then jazz. To this day, I like improvisation being part of all styles of music I play. I love being in the moment and just allowing my fingers to play what I hear.

Q: What instruments do you play, and how did you learn?

A: I play piano. I had lessons as a child, then picked it up in my 20s when I lived in Austin, Texas. I was self-taught, then decided to go back to school for it. Spent four years at the American School of Modern Music in Paris, studying jazz composition. I have always been singing, in tons of choirs and then studied with Keri Chryst in Paris. Those are the only instruments I play.

Q: What was the first song you ever wrote?

A: "On the Lonesome Sattle." I wrote that when I was very young and still remember it. All the other songs I wrote as a child, I’ve forgotten.

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: Its piano-based fusion of pop, jazz, and rock. Melody is key, and my lyrics are very deep, and straight from heart, usually about getting to the truth, micro to macro. I like a good beat, keep you moving, and then changing up chords/rhythms so you have those moments where your hairs stand up on your arms and you have chills. My music is feel good, but also very healing.

Q: What artists influenced you the most growing up?

A: Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Tori Amos, Enya, Fleetwood Mac, Jewel, Phish, Pat Metheny, the Bad Plus, Ben Allison, Nora Jones.

Q: How have you evolved creatively?

A: It’s taken me a long, long time to develop my own unique sound, something birthed from my exposure to incredible music, mainly live, and also long hours spent at my craft. Hours and hours spent alone trying to express my emotions thru piano and voice and song have given rise to an effortless connection. I still love jazz, but I’ve embraced a more wholistic sound, rather than trying to be a "jazz pianist." Instead, I just want to give through music what is mine uniquely to give. And it’s taken many years for me to say that I’ve arrived and have something to express that you need to hear.