Journeying Inward, Solo Woods' Music Unlocks Emotion

Photos by Julien Carr

Emotion is the most essential part of music. Whether blissful or gloomy, great musicians enable the listener to remember their most impactful moments through effective songwriting and aesthetics. Solo Woods' music shares deep relatable moments of his life, evoking the same feeling in ourselves while providing enormous replay value. “My music is about getting in touch with the things and truths that hold us all back that keep us from our best selves and bring you closer to yourself. Expect to feel emotions you haven’t felt in a long time.” 

Solo’s musical career started on the south side of Chicago. He began experimenting with music at an early age at his local church, setting the groundwork for him to take music seriously in high school.  At one point getting “third place in a community idol type event for singing”, he continued to work on his vocals and ended up pursuing his musical career by attending the music college Berklee in Boston.


"My music is about getting in touch with the things and truths that hold us all back, that keep us from our best selves..."

—Solo Woods

Enrolling in Berklee exposed Solo to a new music world that immediately fueled his creativity, taking up the guitar while attending. "When I attended Berklee I met so many people who were writing and working on music that it inspired me to create more ”. Solo put out his first standout track “Long Ways”, a guitar heavy track that highlighted the range of Woods' vocals. “[Long Ways] was the first song that I recorded that realized I could make something really great.”

Later on, Solo relocated to New York City to perform on a four month Off-Broadway piece. “New York set the foundation for my music career since I had to play piano, and guitar on stage every night at the show. New York is the mecca of so much culture that I absorbed every moment in the environment.” Solo continued to reside in New York making money playing in wedding bands. “Playing in wedding bands was great practice, I had to know top 40 hits from all decades, every weekend I was singing for 4 hours.“


"I wanted to come home to collect my thoughts. Being in Chicago is great, there’s a lot happening right now and I’m trying to get everything ready for my next step."

—Solo Woods

The hustle paid off in 2015 when music blogs came across Solo’s music from 2012. “I recorded the 'Long Ways' in 2012 and I had no expectation of it doing anything. I originally put it out for my Soundcloud peers, but in 2015 it was picked up by Pigeons and Planes and it blew up.” He immediately put out his next song, the heartfelt track “Powers” and it gained as much coverage as his previous release. After this newfound exposure, Woods traveled back to Boston to work on new music, at one point eating shrooms near the river in town, inspiring many of his hits. “Doing shrooms opened up everything for me and my music, especially in my song ‘Lightwalk’”. The influence is evident on the track, from the trippy artwork, to to the beat to his eloquent vocals; this was a true staple in his career.

Solo’s music began to spread like wildfire, traveling as far as Australia where Leon Bridges heard his song “Powers”. “I remember he tweeted out ‘This guy Solo Woods is so cool’ in Sydney. I was shocked, then he hit me up on my twitter DM’s and we met in New York shortly after.” After meeting him, Solo maintained contact with Leon, and a couple months later his manager reached out to him to be part of his national tour. He ended up completing a 45-minute set across 13 dates for over three months in summer 2016. “Performing on tour was a huge shift in my understanding of the industry, seeing it first hand and being able to express myself at the same time was a great experience. It was really fun.”

Following the tour Solo began working on his full-length project and put out his full self-titled Solo Woods EP in 2017. Throughout his project Solo shows a wide range of vocals and lyricism. Often times his musical inspirations of Marvin Gaye, Frank Ocean, and Prince shine brightly on his vocals. However, no inspiration is heard more clearly than on his guitar work, which Solo credits to Jeff Buckley. “Jeff Buckley is the reason I wanted to play guitar because he could belt out a rock song but also kill a ballad, his range was crazy.” The quality of the project was undeniable, Solo’s writing, vocals, and overall aesthetic at the top of their game.

After the great reception to his new project, Solo has now made the move back to Chicago for the next chapter of his career. “I wanted to come home to collect my thoughts. Being in Chicago is great, there’s a lot happening right now and I’m trying to get everything ready for my next step.” As for the next phase of Solo’s career, he is continuing to plan tours and shows for the upcoming year, as well as new music on the way. With his fan base and network behind him, the music world will be anticipating the next chapter in Solo’s promising career.