Kevin Woods is brushing his teeth and dancing to a song I never would think someone could dance to.
I’m sitting on a beanbag chair in his warmly lit room on a Saturday afternoon waiting for our interview to start, and I’m utterly transfixed.
Woods, a first-year at Pitzer, has been making music his whole life. He’s drifted from instrument to instrument, stopping only when he’s gotten bored.
Woods was born in the United States but spent most of his life in the Cayman Islands. “It was amazing. We’d just go out into the woods and do really stupid things. We’d climb trees and get bitten by these crazy yellow ants. We called them Wee-Wees. We had this childhood club called the Wub club.”
His description, like his impromptu dance recital, is surreal. In a way, it makes sense, because his music is the same way. His songs contain youtube clips of music ranging from jazz to eccentric Italian vocals. He then combines, adjusts, and alters them with his keyboard and a music production software to create a (genre-type) of sound.
Woods went to high school in South Carolina. While he was there, he started experimenting with electronic music production. He pirated Logic Pro X, and then after that, he “…just started making beats all the time.”
He posted some music on SoundCloud, but in retrospect, admits to me that it wasn’t that good. After a while, he hit a wall. Once he graduated, Woods took a gap year, and he took that time completely off from music.
“I came to Pitzer and I thought I was done. And then my OA (Orientation Adventure) leader Ralph and his friend Kaylyn started this record label called LYBL.” said Woods.
LYBL, or Live Your Best Life Records, is the label responsible for disseminating the music that young student artists at the Claremont Colleges like Woods produce. They’re responsible for getting Kevin back into music. Since then, he’s produced three albums, each one better than the last.
Despite his clear talent, I noticed throughout our conversation that Woods is incredibly critical of his work. He has this passion to keep moving, to keep trying new things, and to keep improving. He came out with his first album Kevstrumentals, Vol. 1 in January of this year. “I thought it was pretty shit, to be honest. It was just good to be out there,” said Woods.
It’s possible that Woods’ musical self-deprecation stems from his motives for creating. “I don’t really give a shit about the streams at all,” he tells me. “I just want people to listen to what I create the way I created it.”
He tells me that he makes his music for people to be introspective, something he tells me that lyrical music typically doesn’t allow for. He’s also bashful about talking about himself too much. “I hate self-promotion. Self-promotion is garbage.” Unfortunately, Woods says, “If you wanna make it as a musician, you have to self promote.”
From what I can tell, Woods isn’t in this for the fame or for the money. He’s in it because he genuinely loves creating, and because he especially enjoys creating music that his listeners, especially students at Pitzer, can enjoy.
Woods makes it clear, however, that Pitzer is lacking a lot when it comes to supporting young artists. “There need to be more music classes,” says Woods. According to him, the electronic music teacher is leaving in the fall, and Woods is concerned that there won’t be a replacement, especially since he’s never had formal instruction behind his music.
However, what Pitzer lacks in resources, it makes up for in supportive people. Woods is sustained to keep creating by his peers. “People actually appreciating what I’ve done is super cool, because I’ve never had that– especially when I put stuff on SoundCloud.”
As our conversation starts to wrap up, I ask Kevin what fears come with making music. “I want as many people to hear it (his music) as possible. That’s what any artist wants. And I also want to get as good as possible. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make this forever. I’m also afraid that I could just get lost. And lost music kinda sucks.”
Above all, Kevin is afraid that he could burn out and grow tired of creating music. But judging by our rapid-fire conversation and the dexterity of his tooth-brush-dance-routine, I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.
You can follow Kevin Woods on Instagram @kevwoods17 and find him on Spotify and Apple Music under the name “KevWoods.” His latest album “Catharsis,” is available now at the link below. You can find LYBL on Instagram @lyblrecords.
Eamon Morris PZ’ 22 is from Orange, CA. He’s happy to be a part of this and wants as many people to join as possible.