St. Lenox, known in day-to-day life as Andrew Choi, is a Midwesterner who moved to New York City to practice law after a lengthy period of study in academia. Alongside his professional work and studies, Choi became an accomplished musician after using karaoke nights to overcome his natural shyness about performing and public speaking. A whip-smart lyric writer with a gift for melody and an everyman appeal within his heartland-infused indie pop that draws aesthetic influence from folk protest singers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, St. Lenox is the type of artist we really need right now. Music is a powerful medium that can move people in both minor and major ways; there are the macro and the micro.
That’s something St. Lenox uses as a construct for his new song “Don’t Ever Change Me NYC”. Formed around the notion of small things adding up to big things, St. Lenox was inspired by the Chuck Close painting in the video wherein small little universes are contained within the larger image. Taking that analogy to the song, Choi asserts quiet correctly that small acts can add up to a big impact if we can all join in and do them. Be part of the solution and not the problem. It’s an apt adage for this age of Trumpism.
In the song, St. Lenox also speaks of wanting to remain the man he is without New York changing him. He asserts that he’s “uncomfortable about money”, “uncomfortable about artificial people”, and “uncomfortable about blind ambition”… three things that New York City has in spades. Those things are ever more complicated in an era when the immigration cops are out in full force, and the US talks seriously about building a wall just shy of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
St Lenox says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about grassroots participation in politics lately. I think part of the reason people hesitate at getting involved on the ground level is that it’s hard to picture how small actions can have meaning. We tried to make a video about small actions and small problems, using the Chuck Close painting as an analogy, to give life to the idea of small actions having importance. In this case, I saw an NYC playground that was teaching kids some really weird words, like “DEPORT” and “RECANT” and contacted NYC Parks and Recreation to get them to change it. It may seem like a small thing, but that doesn’t make it meaningless or unimportant, right? Lately, I’m trying to change how I approach political involvement by getting involved at the local level. So far I’ve attended a few protests with the Democratic Socialists of America, and started canvassing for Julia Salazar. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I feel invigorated.”
St Lenox’s Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love releases on 28 September and is available for pre-order now.