Walker Lyon is a High Point highschooler and solo-artist spending his quarantine summer building a portfolio of releases reflecting warm days and teenage living in the age of coronavirus.
Harkening the sounds of soloists like Dayglow and Tame Impala, and mid-00s indie-pop bands like Girls, summer vibes are Lyon’s drift—upbeat and energetic, with certain waft fans of the Drums would enjoy.
The 16-year old Lyon blends surf rock and dream-pop, with a splash of R&B and hip-hop aimed to invoke summer emotions and surfside atmosphere cresting over a string of ongoing releases, starting back in April with the song “Take Me to the Sea.”
“It’s based on a dream I had about some sand dunes,” he said of the inaugural track that carries a hint of the Vampire Weekend blend of rich kids enjoying warm weather in ages slightly freer of consequence.
The latest single, “Taking Our Time,” released on July 4, dips into a more chill direction—even as the theme of lacking direction resonates with burgeoning independence, the promise of empty parking lots and pains of self-awareness. Lyon’s work drips with teen topics that seem to carry a lifetime. “And the days go by,” so the lyrics go on the chill ballad, inspired on late summer nights. “I hope it relates to a lot of people’s issues overthinking,“ he said.
Indecision rings across the releases, notably on “ICEE MACHINE (Don’t Wait For Me),” a pop track incorporating sampled bits in the style of the Gorillaz, who Lyon cites as an inspiration. ”I like to mix them all and hope for the best,” he noted of his favorite ICEE flavors—the practice of blending echoes throughout his production. The meshed musical palate is a product of practice he’s carried since beginning songwriting in elementary school—by, as he put it, “coming up with not-so-great raps.” He’s dedicated the years since growing up to speed vocally and instrumentally: picking up the guitar at age 11, producing tracks at 13, and making releases by 15.
“Style-wise, I’ve fluctuated over the years, from making chill beats to 1980s synth instrumentals,” he said of his development. “These days, I’m going for the alternative route, as it’s broad and has the best parts of my favorite genres.” His guitar work carries surf tones in dream pop and neo-soul, though he contends the best part of music involves story-telling over smooth grooves.
And Lyon’s stories stay rooted in summer. “It’s got distinct party vibes,” he noted, “but I also see the season as a level or a progression step in growing each year. There’s always a push to experience new things and think about what’s next as I get older. This leads to some uncertainty and anxiety over the future, but I try to channel those emotions into upbeat songs.”
Lyon may be young, but there’s a polished maturity in his production. And songs like “Phone Tag,” an ode to childhood and Oak Hollow mall, show he’s not too young for nostalgia. “One of my earliest memories is crawling around inside the play-place they used to have,” he said of the defunct High Point shopping center, “may it rest in peace.”
Looking to the future, he’ll continue releasing singles for the foreseeable time. “Right now, I feel like my sound is constantly changing, so I like the idea of releasing singles because they improve as time goes along,” he explained, “once I get more consistency, an album is going to be the goal.”
Fans can expect EPs and funny music videos as the year rolls out. “I end up having a great feeling after doing all the work,” he said of being a one-man band and production team, “it makes each song a really personal endeavor, like directing a movie where you have to act as every character.“
While Lyon finds complete control fulfilling, he hopes for collaborations once quarantine stops being a way of life. “Quarantine can be tough on musicians when it comes to playing live shows,” he noted, ”but it’s game time to prepare so that I’ll come out ready to perform.”
Summer is here, and should the music industry survive, Walker Lyon has a bright future ahead. In the meantime, his quarantine summer series is available on most major streaming platforms.