By Tyler Hersko
We sat down at the Manzanita Bowl. In the interest of time I had to decline his suggestion to walk over to a nearby sandwich shop. But that was OK, he still wore a near-permanent smile on his face, laughing frequently and expressing optimism and excitement while answering my questions.
His demeanor was anything but fake. A few minutes into the interview, it became apparent that this man had every reason to title his recently released debut album “The Key to Happiness.”
Reno folk rock musician Liam Kyle Cahill has a busy schedule. After graduating with a degree in hydrogeology from the University of Nevada, Reno three and half years ago, Cahill dove into the mining industry as an exploration geologist. The job, which allows him only one week off per month, made juggling friends, family and various hobbies a challenge.
For Cahill, pursuing one’s passions is the most important part of life. That said, it wasn’t until he began college that he truly discovered his desire to make a career out of music.
“I didn’t know how to play any instruments when I came to UNR,” Cahill said. “It wasn’t until 2009 when I took a summer internship in Wisconsin when I basically forced myself to sing and play guitar at the same time. I’d work and shut myself in and practice and practice.”
Photo courtesy of Tony Contini
Folk musician Liam Kyle Cahill spent years honing his skills as an instrumentalist before releasing his debut EP in 2012. Now, he’s performing alongside the musicians that inspired him to pick up a guitar and start creating music.
Although folk rock musician Liam Kyle Cahill said that Reno has been a perfect place to grow as a musician, he aspires to tour the rest of the nation.
Six months later, Cahill completed his first song. It took four years for Cahill to complete “The Key to Happiness,” which was released in June. The album was partially funded by a campaign on Indiegogo.com that raised $10,000, with the rest of the money coming out of Cahill’s pocket.
Photo courtesy of Tony Contini
Approximately 450 studio hours and 23 guest musicians were among several of the expenses financed by Cahill and his campaign. Although he admitted that it was a sizable investment, Cahill referred to his collaboration with guest musicians as an economically and artistically worthwhile endeavor.
“I didn’t have to pay them all,” Cahill said. “A lot of them were good buddies of mine. But it goes back to me being a professional. I came to these people and said ‘I love what you do, would you be a part of this? I will pay for your talents because you are worth money.’”
Cahill had particularly high praise for engineering master Scott Hull and folk rock musician Chuck Ragan, the latter of which was one of Cahill’s chief inspirations.
Hull, who previously worked with musicians ranging from Bob Dylan and Prince to Taylor Swift, was hired to master the album. According to Cahill, Hull’s work was worth well more than the
$2,000 it cost to hire him. On the other hand, Cahill referred to meeting and performing with Ragan as a dream come true.
“He was selling [his] guitar on eBay,” Cahill said. “I sent him a message, he bought me a pint of Guinness and I bought his guitar. That next fall…I saw him and he goes, ‘Liam, what’s up brother!’ I go, ‘Holy shit, my hero remembers my name!’”
Six months later, Ragan brought Cahill up on stage during a concert to sing one of his songs. That act, which Cahill said was completely unexpected, was a defining moment in his career and a prime example of why he loves being a musician.
While Cahill restated that the aforementioned pursuit of one’s passions is incredibly important, he stressed that patience, professionalism and a logical fallback were no less crucial.
He referred to his position as fortunate, noting that the money he earned as an exploration geologist and the connections he’s made have allowed him a fair
deal of leniency when planning for the future.
Looking forward, Cahill plans on devoting the entirety of 2015 to his music career, all the while continuing to promote “The Key To Happiness” and making plans for touring across the rest of the nation.
“I wanna get to the point where I’m playing with my heroes,” Ca- hill said. “I don’t want to just be that songwriter in Reno, I want to be that songwriter from Reno who is going everywhere. My entire heart is going into this 24 hours a day.”
Tyler Hersko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.