Published: February 25, 2016
Junior Michael LaBella released his debut EP, “You are the Lion”, in October of last year.
LaBella is a strategic communication and philosophy major from Skippack.
His EP is a collection of five folk and rock inspired tunes. It is, in many ways, a sampling of his collective work, with the tracks culled from over several years of songwriting and reworked into their current forms.
“I picked from all over really, some of the songs… like “Those Eyes,” the first track, is one of the earliest songs I’ve ever written,” LaBella said.
LaBella’s songs touch on a variety of personal subjects. One of the most recently written songs on the EP, “The Lion,” was inspired by an experience LaBella had while visiting Mexico with a farmer who had a passionate connection to his work.
“What he did consumed his whole life… it just inspired me because that’s what I wanted music to be for me. I wanted to devote myself… because I really think that there’s a lot to discover,” LaBella said.
LaBella‘s passion for music began at a young age.
“I sang since I was a little kid, and my dad suggested that I pick up guitar around twelve,” LaBella said.
When LaBella was young, his father would play him the classic rock records of Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Hendrix, The Who and others.
Currently, LaBella says he is influenced by folk and world music, especially the music of Eddie Vedder, Trevor Hall and The Avett Brothers.
“I really like anything with honest and authentic lyrics,” LaBella said.
For LaBella, recording and releasing his own EP of original music has been a “learning process.”
“As far as knowledge and equipment and stuff goes, I really started from scratch. I borrowed my buddy’s microphone and I recorded most of the instruments myself,” he said.
LaBella was not completely alone in the recording process. Several friends provided accompaniment on certain tracks.
“I actually recorded a couple friends… I recruited a friend to play saxophone. My good friend Justin… sang harmonies on one of the tracks… and my friend Kathleen played piano… I really liked the fact that I could bring some of my friends in on it as well and just connect with them musically,” LaBella said.
LaBella said there were drawbacks to the self-recording his songs.
“I did the mixing process myself… that was probably the hardest thing… pouring over it for hours… trying to get what I was looking for with the limited resources that I had,” LaBella said.
LaBella considers his mostly solo experience in producing his EP as an experience beneficial to his musical aspirations
“It was fun and it was worth going through all that… I’ve learned so much [about] the do-it-yourself music industry, because that’s really the new trend… you don’t have to go through the labels anymore, you know, if you don’t have access,” LaBella said.
His plans for music do not stop with the release of You are the Lion. LaBella hopes to eventually release his music physically, and have it available in stores. Additionally, he plans to eventually release an album of cover songs.
“I’d love to put out an EP of songs that really personally influenced me, which is mostly some older songs. I would love to cover Neil Young,” LaBella said.
Additionally, LaBella is the lead guitarist in the Philadelphia-based band Under this Fire. The band is making plans for this summer.
“We’re now actually the house band at this really cool marina in New Jersey. It’s Two-Mile Landing Marina in Wildwood Crest and that’s basically our plans for the summer. We’re going to play there as much as possible and try to give people a good time,” LaBella said.
LaBella will appear on Under this Fire’s upcoming collection of music, as well.
“We have an EP in the works. We have the music that we want to put out, just stay tuned for that sometime in the spring,” LaBella said.