Mike Llerena is a University of Florida student, pushing his way into the Gainesville rock music scene. I recently met up with Mike for an interview to find out what his music is about and a little more about who he is as an artist.
Q: What is your main inspiration?
A: Lyrically, I tend to write about stuff that is both representative of what is going on in my life, as well as things that I observe. As far as music, I tend not to draw from one particular genre. I feel that as a musician it should almost be required that you listen to music outside of your genre.
Q: What musicians do you draw inspiration from?
A: I have so many artists on my iPod that it’s ridiculous but I would probably say my base of artists that I formulated my sound from is Green Day, Linkin Park, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Social Distortion, and Atmosphere (any hip hop related textures in my music is probably based on Atmosphere).
Q: Who are the people in your life that influence your music?
A: I try not to limit myself to the quintessential ‘my mom, my dad’ but sometimes you can’t really help that. I do bring family into my songs, and I have a girlfriend and she makes her way into the songs whether I like it or not. When I do bring in other people, it tends to be observational. People tend to be very similar across the board.
Q: What demographic would your music appeal to?
A: The messages in the songs would translate well to some to degree to all age and racial demographics, because people can infer different messages from the same song. It’s like art, it’s abstract.
Q: What is the next step for you?
A: I am somewhat limited in that I am one person playing music that I would like to see expanded to a more full-fledged band format. At some point down the line I would like to have the fortune of having a backing band behind me to make sure that the sound is fully realized, that it comes to its full potential, and that people can hear it how I envisioned it. For right now I feel like the songs will be fine acoustically. A song that is truly a good song can be broken down to its bare bones and stand on its own.
Q: How do you feel about collaborating with other bands?
A: As far as collaborating with different artists and bands, I love teamwork inside and outside of music and I feel like you can learn a lot from working with other people. I feel like it could only help me.
Q: If you could play with any other artist who would it be?
A: Wow this is hard. If I had to pick one I would say Green Day, just because they were the first band that got me into music.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to write their own music?
A: I feel that the stigma a lot of the time is that you can’t avoid the anxiety of sharing your music with anyone. I have to say that purging the fear is often times the first step: playing a show, and getting out there and doing it.
Q: Where can people find your music?
A: Currently I have a Facebook fan page; just search ‘Mike Llerena’ (link). My songs are streaming on there and they are available for download. There will be any information on any shows I’m playing posted on there.
By: Georgia Warren