Finding Your Mustang

I’ve had the privilege of sharing music with people for a few years. It started at the request of my roommate during my freshman year at The University of Texas. I had no intention of having it last this long. In fact, I had no idea it would last more than one show. But, here we are. I’ve recorded, released, changed names, toured, and “grown up.”


There was a time when having two bands made sense to me. To have “Colin Leonard” as an outlet for folk, religion, and happiness; and “Atlas Youth” as an outlet for ambience, alternative music, and heavy emotions. I even had plans to release more music under at least two more names over the coming years as outlets for different styles and emotions. I now know this is not a chapter I will begin to write.


I love being a musician. I don’t love it for fans, I don’t love it for attention, and I sure as hell don’t love it for the negative assumptions people make about your personality and character. I love it because I love music, and that’s why I make music. It can be a light in darkness, a resting place for heaviness, and a source of community. Music can bring people who are seemingly different together, even if only for three minutes and thirty seconds at 120 beats per minute … thanks Coldplay.


I am a music fan before I am a musician. No one has influenced me more than those bands who I have listened to on a weekly basis since middle school: The Maine, Josh Garrels, Taking Back Sunday, and The National, to name a few. These are the bands that have made me who I am as a musician. It would be misleading to those who listen to my music if I were to further segment my sound into multiple parts. It would not be an accurate picture of me a musician, and it would not be an accurate picture of my life. Truth is, some days I feel like a folk singer. I’ll listen to Ryan Adams, wear denim and look at pictures of mountains on Instagram. But just a few days later I’ll be listening to screamo and pop-punk and making fun of the excess of captions on Instagram with inappropriately thrown C.S. Lewis quotes. Such is my life. My life looks like church some Sundays. My life looks like years of cigarettes. My life looks like a camp musician for Younglife. And my life looks like a fledgling beer belly, the product of many nights with far too much to drink.


Pretty soon here I am going to pack up the small amount of what I own and move to North Carolina. It’s something I have always dreamed about. It is a process that has caused me to evaluate my last few years and examine how my music fits in the years to come.  


From this point on I have decided to release all my music under Colin Leonard. My social media handles and my website will all be migrating back to this platform in the following weeks. I will re-release Atlas Youth songs as Colin Leonard. By staying myself in the creative process, I want my musical catalog to reflect where I was in the moment of recording. I might release a moody alternative song or a punk rock breakup song. Hell, you might even get a worship song. My music will reflect the journey of my life, and its sound will change as I do.


Truth be told, I’m doing this for me. I don’t do music for external listeners; but, it is an absolute honor to have people support me and identify with the things I am feeling. My songs are the reflection of my evolving life. Hop in if you want to see what real life looks for someone, even someone as insignificant as me. Tell a happy friend to listen to the happy ones, tell an eternally angsty preteen to listen to the dark ones. Or listen to them all and get a glimpse of who I am as a whole.


I just finished recording some more songs in my bedroom, 5 to be exact. And I’m releasing them either at the end of July or the beginning of August - I haven’t made up my mind. Probably as soon as I can. The EP is called Hyde and it’s a collection of my favorite hymns to commemorate my time in Austin as a Younglife leader at Hyde Park. So if you’re excited about that, cool. If not, cool. I just feel like hymns right now.


Peace. Blessings. And in the eternal words of Tim Riggins- Texas Forever.


P.S. If you don’t get the title, read Red Rising. It’s an angsty book series that makes me feel alive. Go find your Mustang.

-Colin "Atlas" Leonard


*this post is brought to you by pokemon go and the babe ruth of soft drinks: mountain dew baja blast.