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An Interview with Lorenzo Cook

Chantelle St. Clair
Chantelle St. Clair on Mar 29, 2018

Lorenzo_crop UPON ARRIVING in Syracuse after growing up in Brussels, Lorenzo Gillis Cook was introduced to the fast paced, lo-fi sound of the American house show scene. Though he had been making music for years under the name Spark Alaska and through his previous indie pop band, Throw Television, the franticness and earnest expression being put on display in upstate basements and attics was infectious.  In late 2014, Cook brought the first Petite League demo - Surviving October - to friend and drummer, Henry Schoonmaker. From there, the two have recorded two albums - Slugger and No Hitter - which have been written up by publications such as Pitchfork, Fader, Yours Truly, and Noisey; co-founded the notable Syracuse DIY venue Scarier Dome, and now reside in Ridgewood, Queens. The third record - Rips One Into The Night Into The Night - was released in August 2017. Blending the sweet, bubblegum qualities of bedroom pop and the snot nosed fuzz of garage rock, Petite League is swinging for the fences.
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What is your favorite song?

Spanway Hits by Flake Music. A friend of mine, who was a few years older than me, growing up showed them to me when I was getting into The Shins and its just been one of those songs I never get tired of listening to. There are like 20 songs I’d call perfect songs and Spanway Hits is definitely one of them.

When did you write your first song?

When I was 13, after school. I was taking guitar lessons but was too embarrassed to play aloud, let alone sing. So I waited for a chance when the house was empty to shake my goofy tween insecurities and let it rip.

What inspired you to write your first song?

Being a middle schooler, probably.

Where do you do your best writing?

Alone in my bedroom, usually when everyone else in the house is asleep which makes recording it a challenge.

What was the first time you recognized yourself as a songwriter?

Pretty much right away. Those songs I wrote when I was a kid are still out there, online somewhere. That counts!

Do you have a trick when you face writer’s block or get stumped when you’re writing?

I write down words and stuff I hear that catches my ear in my phone all the time. When I really don’t know where to go or where to start, I look through those notes and just start messing around with them. It’s also good to walk away from stuff and come back to it with a clear head. Can’t force anything if you’re not happy with it.

What is your most favorite performing memory?

In high school, I played guitar in a band called Throw Television. One time, the singer couldn’t make it to a show so I filled in for him at this battle of the bands in Brussels. It was my first time singing in front of an audience and we won which was real sweet!

How did you find out about Songtrust?

My friend Jenny Kaufman sent me a job listing for a temp position when I moved to New York after school. I was about to start working at a pizza place by my house, so her recommendation was really well-timed.

What is your experience like being both a Songtrust employee and a client?

I came into Songtrust confused as anyone would be about the nature of publishing. I was registered with ASCAP but honestly didn’t understand why and what that meant for my catalogue as I had never seen any money up until then. Once I started working here and got a grasp on what Songtrust was doing, I got really excited about the potential. This was the first company I had come across that was actively trying to simplify this unbelievably complex aspect of the industry into a manageable platform for artists.

What’s your favorite part about working at Songtrust?

I love that my job involves guiding artists and bands through the same struggles I was going through before I started working here. I would never take a job in music that took advantage of musicians, so I’m glad to be on the side of the industry that aims at putting money back into the pockets of writers. If my work here helps someone quit their day job to be a full time musician with the extra money we help them get, that’s all that matters.

Do you have a favorite Songtrust artist (that you’ve helped along the way)?

I feel a real sense of pride when I get anyone to sign-up, so it’s hard to pick a single favorite. I’ll highlight one though - fellow New Yorkers, Mons Vi, signed up a few months back which is really cool. They’re amazing.

What’s ahead for you?

Put out more records and try to tour more often!

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