Much more often than not, the artists and bands I cover are studying in the Conservatory, and I write about the projects they are doing in their own time. In fact, there has only been one article during my whole time here thus far that has been about a non-Conservatory musician—NG, aka junior Noah Gunther. I expected there to be a lot more musicians outside the Conservatory. If there are musicians out there not in the Conservatory, they are definitely a challenge to seek out—my subtle hint to those who are reading and fit this description to contact me. However, I found my second non-Conservatory student for this week’s column, Lewis Super.
Lewis Super is junior Ridley Tankersley’s moniker for releasing music and playing solo shows. Under this name, he has played several solo shows and released two extended plays (EP), “Noah” and “Spaces.” One of the most intriguing aspects of his music so far is that none of it has sounded the same. “Noah,” his first EP, is full of punk pop and emotional music, while “Spaces” is several field recordings of soundscapes he experienced. Even more of a curveball in retrospect was his most recent show, the first music I had heard from him. It was mainly poppy electronic and dance music, completely different from his earlier projects.
Listening to “Noah” and parts of “Spaces” after hearing him live was a strange experience, as it was not at all what I was expecting. This diversity of music shows Lewis Super’s wide range of influences. As long as he can express his emotions through music, it does not matter to him what genre it is. He is constantly working on multiple projects at once, creating at a natural pace when he has time.
The Lewis Super persona was born over winter break of his sophomore year, with the recording of “Noah.” But before “Noah,” all the way back to middle school, Tankersley had played in bands and always wanted to write his own music. Thus, when he finally had ample time and knowledge to do so, Lewis Super made his debut in the Lawrence art and music scene.
What I like most about Lewis Super is that he does not seem to care much about what his audience thinks as long as the music is enjoyed and relatable. While most artists do not release a punk emo EP and do a synth pop show several months later, Lewis Super makes it work. It is clear Lewis Super’s music is an extension of Tankersley. It gives his listeners a look at what he is feeling and listening to at the time. This organic growth gives his musical career a strong forward motion that keeps me and other listeners at the edge of our seats.
While Tankersley is currently just going with the flow; as far as releases and shows will go, he does a few plans in mind for this year. Since all of his work thus far has had little to no collaboration, he is excited to work with a band to play his music, which is getting to a point where it necessitates more than just him when played live. He is also attempting to create a full-length mixtape showcasing his many styles. Since this is purely a hobby for him, he is eager to see how school, personal experiences and his few interactions with the Conservatory will continue to shape him in his last couple of years at Lawrence.
Even though he is not in the Conservatory, he has taken a few classes in it, participates in the Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU) and frequently learns from his friends who are in the Conservatory—all of which play a part in his ever-changing sound. “Being in a place where lots of creative people are hanging out and talking to each other about music or otherwise is really helpful and makes you think about things in a different way or a way in which you necessarily be inclined to think,” Tankersley shared with me. Like NG’s music, it is easy to hear that the Conservatory plays some role, but a lack of music education can also add an interesting flavor and aspect, although it is not always easy to articulate it.
Although Lewis Super’s career is still forming, it is promising. I can see his music going in many different directions, and, knowing him, it probably will go in many different directions at once.
Stay tuned for releases on his Bandcamp and campus shows with his Facebook page. Lewis Super will be releasing a new EP Friday, Feb. 5, and you can find it on www.lewissuper.bandcamp.com.