Penn State Songwriters Club Promo
ON OLD MAIN LAWN
@ 7 PM
"State College is full of tons of folk and indie-inspired artists and bands, so it’s a breath of fresh air when someone who is heavily influenced by punk rock music comes along. Derek Lankeaux, a sophomore at Penn State, is just that. Touting a black electric guitar with a red “X” whenever he performs, you’ll have an idea of his sound before he even begins to play. His songs are strongly reminiscent of Green Day, with traces of other bands such as Rise Against, Sum 41, Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, all mixed together with his own style. Stringing together various non-standard chords and writing songs about anything and everything and sometimes nothing in particular, nothing is off limits for this songwriter. He has been playing guitar for just two years, but when you hear him play, you would think he’s been playing for much longer. His first instrument was the cello, which he began playing in 3rd grade, then in high school began playing rock music after a friend asked him to play bass in his band. He quickly learned the instrument, proving he’s a natural. Interestingly, he has never been a lead singer in a band, and has always been a solo artist. The talent for such a position is definitely there, so if he ever chooses to go down that route, he would without a doubt be successful. Derek performed three songs for the rest of Songwriters Club, and they all contrast with each other beautifully. The first song, called “Circles,” had the strongest Green Day influence to it. It wasn’t written about anything in particular, but was finished in about 10-15 minutes. The ability to write such a great song so quickly is definitely a talent, because most songwriters need to take at least a few days to write something worth performing. His goal with this song was to simply write about whatever was on his mind, and the key change at the end was the perfect ending to such a theme. The second song he performed, “Brink Of Forever,” is perhaps the most meaningful of the three that he performed. He wrote it about a friend who was serving in the navy, and appropriately so, it was a lot slower than the other songs. The sound was very unique and haunting; it had a lot of accidentals throughout the song, leading to a mellow instrumental break and finally ending on a D major chord. The third song, “Degeneration,” is about learning to deal with the less-than-agreeable people in the world. It has more of a dark feeling to it, but still has a distinct beat. These three pieces are true testaments to his ability to write with a number of different sounds and themes. Derek’s songwriting process is truly unique. While most songwriters will write a song on an acoustic guitar and then later adjust it for the electric guitar, Derek tends to write in the opposite direction; he will write an electric-based version and then write the acoustic version after. He not only has a talent for writing, but his ability to cover well-arranged covers is definitely strong. He performed at Songwriters Club’s annual concert benefiting THON this year, and finished with a beautiful rendition of “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters which he dedicated to THON’s efforts of being a “hero” to children with pediatric cancer. He chose not to perform the song the exact same way as the recording, as he had changed various vocal lines to fit his range and fixed the guitar parts to suit a one-guitar performance. To this day, even though he has a few albums-worth of songs written, Derek says he doesn’t have any “real” recordings to offer the public. He has a few demos, but he says that he would need to change some chords in his songs in order to be ready to record a full-blown production. His style has changed over the years as well. However, he recently got together with a new band that he will begin performing with soon, so find him on social media and stay up-to-date on his journey!