Street: What’s your deal on campus? Leo Wolansky: I manage all of the arrangements for Off the Beat [OTB] as music director and I’m in SAE, which I joined since everyone else was rushing, but has been great. I served as rush chair. I’m also in Friars, which has had a member of OTB since 2000! Oh, and I’m taking a Samba drumming class for a half–credit. It’s the best class you can take at Penn: once a week for an hour and the grade is all participation and one 2 page paper.
Street: How’d you get involved with singing? LW: I’ve been singing since I was little. My parents are both singers and studied music in college. They made me do music, which I am really appreciative of.
Street: Cool. How’d that translate to joining OTB? LW: I met an OTB member when I went to Fling as a pre–frosh. I had no idea how to do the beatboxing stuff when I joined OTB, but I luckily had a single room in the Quad to practice in. Although it would be awkward when I would attempt to beatbox in the shower and people would walk in…
Street: What do you do as music director? LW: I arrange and delegate who does each song. We recorded an album last summer and I’ve spent the last year producing it, which has been the hardest struggle. The seniors graduated and left Penn, so I was like, “Okay, I guess I have to learn to use this recording software.” We make a lot of mistakes and they all get picked up, so I’ve spent like 10 hours per song.
Street: What’s the album called? When can we get it? LW: At the show! It’s called “The Difference.” The idea was that OTB is changing from hard rock to pop and alternative/indie, so the former president brought up the last line of Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Street: What’s been your favorite song you’ve sung with OTB? LW: “White Blank Page” by Mumford & Sons, which I’m singing at this show. Mumford… they really know how to get you with emotions. It’s a beautiful song. There’s this one part where it gets loud and every time I sing the first note of it my hands go numb. It’s a pretty intense thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw me crying.
Street: Heart–wrenching. What’s been the worst singing experience? LW: My least favorite was “Have Faith in Me" by the hardcore rock band A Day to Remember. I basically screamed on stage for three minutes, there’s a clip on YouTube… it’s pretty awkward.
Street: Who’s your alter ego? LW: I guess I have to say Robert Pattinson. People make jokes about how I’m a vampire and come up to me in the mall to say I look like him. At first it pissed me off but now I see it as a compliment. Although he has pretty gross hair.
Street: Describe yourself in five words or less. LW: Chill and stuff.
Street: What’s one thing you would tell your freshman self? LW: Go to Lyn’s.
Street: What are you doing next year? Pop star status? LW: Nah, digital marketing strategy consulting at this company called Rosetta. I feel like a sellout to not be pursuing music—sometimes, in the shower, I question it. I’m not gonna be auditioning for “The Voice” anytime soon.
Street: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? LW: I wanted to be a priest because I wanted to get all of the sacraments… that passed.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn… LW: People who spend their entire upperclassman careers trying to get swiped into Commons and people who never go back.