Previous Long Islander and lifelong musician Louis Rubino has been playing instruments and writing music since he was five years old. He’s a jack of all trades (later in this article: the million things he is studying) and can play piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, various wind instruments and drums. Hand him an instrument (except flute, we don’t do flute) and he could probably play something from it.
I sat down with him at Drip Coffee last Tuesday to talk music with a sprinkle of self-reflection and some other deep shit. As character demands, his skateboard was next to us and shoes were nowhere to be seen. I learned a lot about Louis: he rocks a man purse and created his own genre, Introspective Acoustic Indie, because this guy makes his own path. He’s super philosophical, down to his edgy artist name, Bear Ley (get it, like barely, because we’re edgy). Also, he likes bears, which I’m obviously happy about.
Some of his current songs-in-progress are message-centered, some connecting to passions about the environment and sustainable living and some centering around the kinetic movements of the Black Lives Matter campaign. But his debut, "The Backpacker," is deeply personal and expressive.
“My music is driven by a need for self-dialogue to go through emotional challenges,” he told me. The song reflects his frustrations with being stuck in a non-progressive state with his life. In a very honest and relatable way, he frequently struggles with trying to “be in the moment” and enjoy the now. Worries of the future and patterns of waiting for better things inspire him to ground himself and focus on the present.
"The Backpacker" holds a few meanings for Louis. In a very literal sense, backpacking in nature (and nature itself) brings him closer to his current self and helps ebb any worries. His roles in both the Sierra Club and The Mountaineering and White-Water Rafting Club (go MWW!) bring him ever closer to his source of grounding and inspiration. On the other side, the song holds a deep, emotive symbolism that not only reflects his own emotional expression, but also acts as a chance to connect to others who can relate. Other impactful inspiration also comes from two unique places: “Phoebe Bridgers, Foxing, but mostly the sorrow that is inherent to the human existence.”
His vibes are deep and interesting, and his unique personality is evident in both his day to day life and in his music. He’s also opened a lot of doors for himself and likes being a one-man show. At just 19 years old, he’s already vibing with senior status at USC. He currently majors in Finance and Entrepreneurship, and minors in Environmental Studies and Italian. He’s not concerning himself with any specific path for his musical career just yet; he wants to follow where things take him and enjoy it while it’s happening.
You can find him on Bear Ley’s official Instagram account, @bear.ley and on Spotify.
Catch me playing him on my show, The Hallows with DJ Bear (see, bears) every Friday from 12-1pm.
This artist is currently listening to: Soccer Mommy, Hayley Williams and Twin Peaks