From Classically-Trained Pianist to Rising Pop-R&B Star, lilspirit Finds His Lane in 'american spirit' [Q&A]
Geno Gitas, better known under the moniker lilspirit, is a rising pop-R&B artist with ambitions to become the next big popstar. Writing multiple songs a day, everyday, the famously blue-haired singer and member of Internet Money proves he has what it takes with his debut album, american spirit. Featuring his breakout hit single, "droptopbitch," which currently sits at over 8.5 million streams on Soundcloud, american spirit is a testament to lilspirit's persistence as a musician.
Growing up as a classically-trained pianist, Bay Area-born lilspirit began producing his own music by lifting beats from YouTube when he was 14. By his sophomore year, the young musician dropped out of high school and moved to LA to live with his sister, Ellise, and work on his songs full-time. After a short-lived career as an emo-rap artist on Soundcloud, the teenager decided to refocus his work and release his first pop-R&B single, "Ugly," now repackaged on his debut album, american spirit.
With a style reminiscent of lo-fi Journals-era Justin Bieber, american spirit features hints of lilspirit's emo-rap past paired with the infectious, radio-pop melodies, showcasing the versatile young singer's truest sound yet. Ones to Watch got to sit down with the rising star to talk about his iconic blue hair, favorite artists, and how he narrowed down american spirit from 120 to 13 tracks.
Ones to Watch: When did the iconic blue hair begin? How did you go from Geno Gitas to lilspirit?
lilspirit: The blue aesthetic and the name came out exactly the same time. At the time, I was smoking a lot of cigarettes, like a pack a day. I only ever smoked light blue American Spirits, and one day when I was trying to create the name for my new artist persona, I looked at the box of cigarettes and realized that not only was the name really cool and fitting but also that the box's light blue color was going to be a perfect aesthetic for me.
You are known for being a prolific writer, once noting you had recorded over 80 songs in the past two months. How did you choose which tracks would make the cut for your debut album, american spirit?
Actually, in the past few months I’ve recorded 120 songs or something like that. Obviously, with the amount of music I make, it’s really difficult for me to tell which songs are keepers sometimes. That’s why I have an amazing team of people around me that always help me make the decisions of what songs are the best. I really gotta credit Taz Taylor, the founder of Internet Money, for this one, lol.
You've mentioned that you have a pretty good ear for hearing which songs of yours will end up becoming the biggest. Which track on american spirit should we all be looking out for and why?
"Never Coming Home" is definitely a song to look out for on the album. It has an '80s summer vibe, but it still has dark spirit energy. This is one of my favorites on the album no doubt.
In an interview with EricTheYoungGawd, you mentioned you made your song "Parasite" in 30 minutes. Do you typically go with your first instincts when writing, and do your songs always come together quickly?
90% of the time, I’ll go off my first instinct when making a song, but it really just depends. I don’t really have one set way of how I create songs, and to be honest, I love constantly experimenting with new processes.
You started as a classical pianist as a kid, then you made emo-rap, and now you create mostly pop-R&B. How do you think your eclectic taste in music has influenced your writing, and what was the turning point for you to move into pop-R&B?
It’s true I’ve definitely dipped my toes in many different styles and genres of music. I do believe that this gives me an upper hand when it comes to my creativity just because I have so many different things to pull from. When it comes to my switch from SoundCloud Rap to more industry-sounding pop, I really have to thank my older sister, Ellise. She also sings pop, and she really inspired me to try to make something bigger and really use my full abilities when writing. My first real crossover from the rap to the pop was my single "Ugly."
What is a typical day like in quarantine for you?
To be honest, quarantine hasn’t really changed much for me. Basically, all I do is make music, and then I sleep when I run out of energy from making music. I’m still in the studio every day, and I haven’t slowed down at all. If anything, I just have more time to work now.
Who are your Ones to Watch?
Some of my favorite artists right now are Tuxx, TyFontaine, Alec Wigdahl... and Justin Bieber.
Listen to american spirit below: