by Chandler Christopher

February 8th, 2022

Liam Kazar is a highly-skilled, multidimensional artist hailing from Chicago. A deeply rooted and experienced musician, he may have just scratched the surface with his debut record as Liam Kazar, Due North. He recently relocated back to his home of Chicago after living in Kansas City for the last few years, where he developed a community with fellow KC musician Kevin Morby (Woods) and the team at Woodsist Records. He eventually released his debut solo album, Due North, in August of 2021 on Woodsist Records. 

While Liam Kazar has been an absolute dream bandmate over the years, with the ability to quickly learn songs and adapt to nearly any type of band’s style, he finally made the decision to embark on his solo journey with Due North.  The record is astounding, with Liam describing his process in creating the album as “Just trying to make something people will have fun listening to.”  Folks, it’s exactly that. Whether you want to groove and daydream about big adventures to Shoes Too Tight or debate who you’d want to spend your last minutes on earth with while listening to On a Spanish Dune, there’s a song on this record that will resonate with you.  

In addition to being an incredible musician who has played with greats like Jeff Tweedy, Chance the Rapper, and Daniel Johnston, Kazar is also a renowned chef. He founded the Armenian pop-up restaurant, Isfahan, to honor the Armenian side of his heritage. Formerly Liam Cunningham, Kazar adopted his mother’s maiden name of Kazar for this same cultural reason to honor his family’s journey to the United States from Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. 

Check out our Q&A with Liam Kazar below, and check out Due North here!

Q:  How’d you get your start in music?

Liam Kazar:  My parents were really into music, my dad plays music and I grew up listening to his records a lot. My older sister was basically a child prodigy and she could learn things by ear, etc. As a younger sibling, I followed suit. 

Q:  Tell me about your time with Kids These Days, how did you find success with them early on?

Liam Kazar:  I was 15 and Kids These Days started in 2009. It was made up of a bunch of kids I went to school with at Whitney Young High School. And then some other people I’d met in these after school jazz club programs. We sought out people who were taking music really seriously. We knew a lot of people and my friend Nico, who played trumpet in the band, assembled the band. My friend Lain and I had the idea to form a band, and Nico put it all together. He is a very dedicated musician. He instinctively knew who was a musician and who was not.

Q:  Tell me about your time playing in different bands… How is that playing in so many different bands?

Liam Kazar:  I sort of became like a jack of all trades kind of guy with playing instruments and singing. When you start to do this for a living, you start to realize what things you bring to the table. As a musician, I feel as though I am a really good song absorber. I often have five or six sets in my head at once. So, that’s what I try and do is absorb the songs and I think that’s the most valuable skill I have.

Q:  I’m obviously an Austin guy, so, could you tell me about your time playing with Daniel Johnston?

Liam Kazar:  I did two shows with the Jeff Tweedy band I play in. Jeff is a really big Daniel Johnston fan and he put together a bunch of songs that he wanted us to play of Daniel’s. We had about 20 songs of his that we had and we played them for about a week. Just to be in Daniel’s world was really amazing. I played keys for that show. We didn’t see him until the sound check of the day of the first show. We were on stage rehearsing and I could sort of see him arrive at the stage and he walked in and arrived at the microphone. He had a little book with all of his lyrics and he just sort of opened his book and sang his song and we just started playing behind him.

Q:  How’d you get to know Jeff Tweedy?

Liam Kazar:  I grew up a few blocks from him in Albany Park in Chicago. His son Spencer is a few years younger than me and we started playing together as 12 and 9-year-olds and we’ve stayed close ever since then. So that’s where the relationship with Jeff started.

Q:  Tell me about your Armenian pop-up restaurant, Isfahan

Liam Kazar:  It’s going really great. I actually hadn’t done it for about the last 6 months because Due North had come out. So I just recently did it again. I’m also doing the thing I started with and delivering it. Isfahan started with me cooking out of my house and delivering food to people’s homes and I did that during this past New Years. 


Q:  Tell me about your journey to get to this album and to start making music as Liam Kazar…

Liam Kazar:  I’ve always written songs and have been writing songs since I was 14… I always have and always did write songs for bands I was in. Eventually, I found myself as a touring musician and eventually it sort of threw sort of a wrench in whatever band I was writing a song for because we weren’t together as much as I’d like to be because of touring requirements. I then decided to start my own project because I could write songs for myself and solve that problem.

Q:  Was it hard at all to start writing for yourself and not for a band anymore?

Liam Kazar:  It was hard to not be writing for a band anymore because now there were endless possibilities of what sound I could have so that made it really difficult for me. So, I spent about a year to a year and a half just figuring out what I wanted to sound like. I went through so many genres trying to decide and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I could do so many styles and that was overwhelming. A huge realization I had that changed everything for me was that I knew I wanted the shows for Liam Kazar to be very joyful and fun. And that’s where songs like Shoes Too Tight come from, so people can come out and dance.

Q:  I really love the song On a Spanish Dune… Tell me about this song, what’s it about?

Liam Kazar:  Have you seen the last scene of Don’t Look Up where they’re at the dinner table? It’s kind of about that. If the world was ending, who is the person you would hang out with, riding it out and maybe sitting on a Spanish dune.

Q:  Have you been able to play Due North live? How has that been?

Liam Kazar:  I was pretty lucky with some of my shows. My record came out before the delta variant was in full swing. I was able to do some album release shows at Sleeping Village in Chicago and those shows were so much fun. Felt like the best music I’ve ever made so that was awesome to share with so many people. I also did a little midwest stint with some of my band in September.  Then in November, we opened up for my buddy Sam Evian and also played in his band and nobody got Covid on any of those runs on the East coast.

Check out some of Liam Kazar's tunes and support artists by following him on his socials linked below! :)