Leo Sawikin Explores the Depths of Growth and Change in “Till You’re Somebody Else”

Former frontman of indie band The Chordaes Leo Sawikin has dedicated his solo projects to discovering the beauty in the existential and ontological. His latest single “Till You’re Somebody Else” revels in themes of rejuvenation, rebirth, and the consistency of growth we all undergo. The dreamy rhythm composed of gentle drums and light guitar strums mixed with contemplative lyrics illustrates the temporary nature of everything we encounter. The repetitive lyrical sentiments of becoming a better person with time instill hope in listeners who’ve been gripped by hardship. Through “Till You’re Somebody Else,” Sawikin refuses to fear the passage of time but welcomes it as an inevitable and wondrous part of life. “Till Your Somebody Else” will be featured on Sawikin’s upcoming album out later this year. He’ll also join Jon Mclaughlin on a nationwide tour starting May 5. 

Credit: Josh Brennan 

Q. Your latest release “Till You’re Somebody Else” is a very introspective track, that rhythmically conjures other soft rock bands like Coldplay and One Republic. Talk about the process of creating the song.

A. “Till You’re Somebody Else” started with a chord progression that came about from me messing around with the guitar tuning used in Joni Mitchell’s song “Coyote”. I was just jamming on something simple and the melody started to pop into my head. Over time I subconsciously whittled the melody down to be simpler and easier to process. As soon as it was done I knew I had something special. About a year after I wrote it I went to Seattle to record it with Phil Ek. We recorded it in a way that remained very true to the essence of the song. 


Q. “Till You’re Somebody Else” was mastered by the incredible Greg Calbi who has worked on music with The Smile, Bob Dylan, and Bon Iver. Talk about working with him and the talented Phil Ek who is producing your new album.

A. Mastering doesn’t really involve working together extensively. It was really cool to work with Greg though, he did an incredible job making it sound good! Working with Phil was incredible! One thing Phil is incredible at, aside from being one of the best sound engineers to ever walk the earth, is helping artists find the best versions of their authentic selves. He doesn’t ever project onto things and keeps his ego out of the creative process. He gave me space to express myself creatively while giving me constructive criticism and guidance to figure out what worked and what didn’t work. This process allowed me to discover what I liked and how I wanted to express myself while helping me develop my craft and my ability to execute my ideas.   


Q. You’re joining singer-songwriter Jon McLaughlin on his Spring tour. What are you most looking forward to while traveling?

A. I’ve never been to about half the places we’re playing so I’m looking forward to getting to explore new places like Phoenix, Oakland, and Portland! I’m excited to meet new people and play legendary rooms like the Troubadour. I’m also really looking forward to all the food I’m going to get to try!!


Q. You describe your sound as “indie folk pop with a dreamy shimmer.” How has the indie genre helped you express yourself more freely in your music?

A. I think I would express myself freely no matter what genre I was writing in. I’m not on a label or anything so no one is able to tell me what kind of songs to write. I love being able to have that freedom!


Q. How did the reading and research you did about the ever-evolving human body affect your songwriting for “Till You’re Somebody Else?”

A. The fact about the matter being replaced in our bodies every 7 or so years is just something I heard in passing in some Amazon Prime documentary I now can’t remember the name of. It just felt like a strong metaphor for the way we evolve as people, so I let the second verse of the song be about that.


Q. How have you changed throughout your musical trajectory? What are some practices you engage in to continue this growth?

A. I’d say I’ve just become more competent and serious. I don’t engage in the type of self-destructive behavior I used to, and I take practicing much more seriously than I used to. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t put in the work to develop and maintain it you probably won’t get anywhere.