Student Rock Star Balances Music and Campus Activism

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Posted November 9, 2011 by Amelia Banzi

Talk about a full schedule.

We just had a fantastic chat with Richard Miron, who is both a member of the sensational new Connecticut-based band The Willow & The Builder and a Yale student activist for animals. How does this rock star for animals find the energy to do it all? Check out our interview to find out:

Congrats on the release of your new album, The Willow & The Builder! Can you give us a little background on the inspiration behind it?

Totally. Last winter, my close friend Adrian and I came up with the phrase “The Willow & The Builder”—a set of words that really struck us in various ways. To me, The Willow & The Builder started out being about constant productivity. Both willows and builders are constantly using their surroundings to create new things—in different ways, at very different paces—something I really identify with. As a builder, the urge to create all the time can run you into problems, which is where the willow comes in, to provide a sense of shelter, peace, and patience.

Richard and Adrian

As a longtime vegan, a Yale student, AND a musician, how do you stay on the vegan track with so much going on?

It’s certainly a balancing act, but veganism is actually the easiest part for me. There’s tons of great food everywhere, as long as you know where to look. I also find a lot of motivation when working with the other members of YAWA (Yale Animal Welfare Alliance) on different outreach campaigns. It’s all about the “little successes.” I see progress happening every day, and it keeps me smiling.

How’s the Meatless Monday campaign going at Yale?

It’s going really well. The movement is gaining a lot of momentum with students and environmental groups on campus. There’s a heightened awareness for the cause, and we’ve got meetings coming up soon with the dining hall managers. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re certainly on our way! [Take a look at Yale’s awesome Meatless Monday video here.]

Do you have any tips for vegan musicians dreaming of getting a band started?

What was really key for me was finding people I felt comfortable playing with, playing for, and bouncing ideas off of. Music can be a very personal experience, but sharing it with others can bring it to a whole different level. Getting support and feedback from friends can be really helpful, but the most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing. Some of the best advice I ever got was, “Make the music that you want to hear.” While we were making The Willow & The Builder, we often phrased it as “creating happiness from the world that surrounds us.”


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