Eric Henkels: Wearing his Heart on his Sleeve

Vulnerability and openness are two feelings one can anticipate before they listen to the serene, melodious tunes that Eric Henkels so honestly produces. Former member of Find Vienna, Eric now spends his time wholeheartedly absorbed in his most recent solo project.

At the age of three, with his grandfather’s eager ear listening to his erratic banging on the keyboard, Eric discovered his calling and his passion.

“Music has been in my life literally as long as I can physically remember,” he says.

Finding his direction, Eric played in numerous bands covering a wide variety of genres. From punk rock to pop, indie to jazz, Eric finally “grew into himself” with his realization that singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith and Ben Gibbard were his true heroes. “If somebody can sit there and listen to you play a song alone and think ‘oh my god that’s beautiful’,” he said, “imagine what you can do when you add instrumentation.”

A little boy claps as Eric and friend play the guitar

Although Eric enjoys playing numerous instruments, he admits that piano is his favorite (with guitar as a close second). Playing the piano comes easy to Eric, as having a conversation or texting somebody comes easy to everyone else. “There is nothing quite like the rush I get when I start going nuts on the piano,” he confesses, “I’m so comfortable with it.”

When it comes to song writing, Eric is his own worst critic. However, despite the quickness he has to admit this, Eric produces songs that are both smooth and easy to listen to. His favorite, Robes and Crowns was the result of a life-changing experience after visiting Ireland and England. “I came home, put my guitar in really weird tuning, and just started playing,” he said, “[Robes and Crowns] was the first thing I came up with, and I’m really proud of it.”

Like all musicians, Eric’s music has evolved enormously. The first song Eric ever wrote with his best friend, Mike, was called “3 PM”, amusingly because that’s the time that his middle school let out. “That’s the beautiful thing about music,” he says, “it changes and moves and grows up as you change and move and grow up.”

Speaking of changing and growing, Eric is sure to impress any listener with his recent cover of his favorite Bon Iver track, Blindsided. This brave and adept rendition wells up all your emotions at once. Using his voice as a musical tool, Eric sings acapella and creates a beautiful harmony by layering different tracks of his voice. The result is a calming, moving piece that only a skillful musician could produce.

“The thing that makesBlindsided so beautiful to me is the way that the harmonies intertwine with the driving acoustic guitar riff,” he says.

Right now, Eric is concentrating on recording his solo album, which will be called “Every Day is a Year.” The album will consist of two separate sides, one called “A Day” and the other “A Year.” An idea he has been toying with for quite some time, Eric hopes to demonstrate two separate sides of himself with this album. A Day will contain mostly acoustic, lo-fi intimate songs while A Year will be louder and bigger. “I want people to see and hear the wide range of emotions that I feel on a weekly basis.”

To listen to the tracks from Every Day is a Year, be sure to check out Eric’s bandcamp. Some of his other covers can be heard on his myspace.

“I want my music to reach everybody, no exceptions,” Eric admits, “There’s not a single person out there that I don’t want to touch with my music. It’s idealistic, but…. Hey. Whatever.”

By: Christina Paone

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