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Artist Interviews

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New Acid Planet returns to the written version of artist interviews news and more!

A mix of questions views news and of course links to their music too!

If you would like to be included, please send message to thenewacidplanet@gmail.com with your bio and links to your music.



An Interview with

  Jake Hanney


Angela H Evans

Jake Hanney, a young 'One To watch'  takes time out from his heavy schedule ...

So let's dive in!

School and music must leave you little time for anything else. How do you manage?

I must admit, it’s not easy. I am in Year 10 and am a full-time student living in Drouin, Victoria. My school is about 20 minutes away from where I live, and dad usually drives me and my brothers and sisters to and from school. Three or four night a week I work in a local take-away shop to earn a little money, but I am hoping that will finish soon when I start getting more gigs. I travel one night a week into the city [almost] to attend a Music Performance Coaching School. I spend as much time at home in the studio either writing (songs), arranging/recording backing tracks for live performances, or just play various instruments, having fun. But yes, it is hard work!

 When was it that you decided you wanted to be a musician? Was it something particular or you just always knew?

I think from as far back as I can remember I have loved music. My dad’s love of the Beatles and Paul McCartney, in particular, rubbed off on me. From the age of two I was banging on toy boxes, making them into drum kits. When I was about four, dad had a couple of friends over and they had their guitars and were just having fun playing and singing, so I joined them on my ‘drum kit’. My love of music just grew from there, particularly 60’s/70’s music. I wrote my first song, ‘Loverbird’ when I was eight years old.

 Can you describe the style of music you produce.. and what were the key influences – time period, genres, bands… people…

When I started writing my own music, I had no intention to write a certain genre (I probably hadn’t even heard the word before), I just wrote what came naturally to me, which happened to be very 60’s/70’s influenced. I guess my first influence was my dad, not because of his singing [though he liked to think he was pretty good!!], but that fact that he loved listening to music and singing around the house. It wasn’t long before I grew to love The Beatles and got the entire Beatles collection on vinyl. That very quickly led me to post Beatles, though I have to say Paul McCartney’s music and song-writing has been the biggest influence on me. That developed into all-things 60’s/70’s! The Bee Gees, ELO, The Kinks, Queen, ABBA, 10CC, Leo Sayer and the list goes on. What struck me the most from about the age of ten or eleven, was not just the music, but the mixing, the production, the use of different instruments [in my song ‘Bethany’ I experimented with the Sitar, but have used a wide variety of instruments in the production of my songs]. Lately I have moved into the 80’s, though not the electronic music, but more the disco/dance music.

 How did you learn to do the following ..

• Sing

I learnt to sing by singing. I don’t think I ever sat down and said to myself that I must start singing now. Dad had a really cool karaoke setup, and that was something I loved doing. I joined the School Choir in Year 7 which helped, but Covid put a big dent in that. My singing still needs lots of work. I am getting professional singing training now, which will really help. While recording/producing my third album, ‘Elimination and Creation’, my voice broke, and that has led to a lot of changes in my singing, and what songs to sing.

 • Play instruments

My parents sent me to get piano lessons on two (or three) occasions. These efforts were short-lived as I didn’t have the patience to learn scales and simple pieces of children’s music, and I confess, I didn’t apply myself to doing the necessary homework.

At about the age of eight or nine, one of dad’s friends started teaching me strumming on an acoustic guitar. After a dozen or so lessons, he said he couldn’t teach me any more, and so I was left to my own devices. Another of dad’s friends gave me his electric guitar (a beginner’s guitar). And yet another of dad’s friends gave me a handful of lessons on electric guitar, but again, when that stopped I was on my own again.

So who/what was most best teacher? The internet! With both the guitar and piano, I took to looking up different songs, chords etc., mainly on You Tube, and fortunately it wasn’t hard for me to pick it up, so I got the satisfaction of playing entire songs in very quick time.

 • Write songs

I think I just started writing. I didn’t set out to write, but just did it. I wrote my first song when I was eight. It’s hard to write about life experiences at that age, so I guess I just followed the style of song-writing that those groups/singers, namely, The Beatles, wrote. Principally love songs. But also I imitated their style in the formatting of the songs I wrote. As a general rule, I get an inspiration to write the music first and that dictates the lyrics. However, I have written some songs with the words written first.

 • Record

Again, I learnt how to record by trial and error. If it sounded good, I would keep it, if not, I would try again. At about the age of 12, when I released my first album, Sympathy, I would record my track and then get my dad’s opinion. Initially, in those days, when I got dad to listen to my song, it would be the first time he had heard it, and nothing made me happier to hear dad say that the track blew his mind, or when he said he couldn’t believe I had written that. Sometimes he would put in a few suggestions, like adding a word here, or changing a phrase there.

 • Mix

I so enjoy this part of production. I think the hard work is in the recording, but once that is done, I love the mixing as that is the second area [the first being the writing] where I can be creative in the use of sounds, the satisfaction of balancing, choosing which instruments to emphasise. All these things can so change the final sound, and to think that by mixing the track, you are truly in control of your song.

 • Master

This is an area in which I am only a beginner. I have two or three mentors who point me in the right direction and give me some technical hints, but it is, for me, an evolving skill. I am looking at doing a course of Sound Production in 2023 which I hope will not only advance my mastering skills, but mixing and recording skills also.

 • I am astounded that someone of your age has achieved so much. Do you do this alone or do you have others as part of the Jake Hanney music team?

I don’t think anybody can do it all alone. As I have already mentioned, I run all my songs past my dad and get his opinion. But there are three friends of dad that I also run my songs past. The first, is a musician himself who looks at my songs from the more technical side, the timing, the pitch etc. Another one of dad’s friends is a musician and a film director. He looks at my songs in a very different way; he looks at the ‘artistic’ side, the ‘quirkiness’, the things that make my music particular to me. And the third friend is not a musician at all, but we run it past him precisely to get the opinion of a ‘non-musician’. That is also very helpful.

Also, my youngest sister, Claudia [12] often sings backing vocals and harmonies on my tracks and when I perform, and my brother, James, [10] helps when I am busking with the backing tracks: to make sure the volume is right and the tracks are started and stopped at the right time. And my brother, Michael [19] records and produces my music videos. So it’s a real family affair.

 • Are you a studio musician or do you also play live? And if so where has the best place been? What is the one venue you really dream to play? Why?

This is a really interesting question. When I am on social media, I notice that most people my age, and even those into their 20’s, are singing originals and/or covers, and doing many ‘live’ gigs; many of which are mainly acoustic. Up till now, and covid has also played a big part in this, I have predominately been a studio musician. I love the sounds and combinations of sounds of a variety of instruments. I guess I love the experimentation of sounds which probably emanated from the later Beatles’ period. It was funny when I performed at the Australian National Busking championships in Kilmore earlier this year; I was watching most of the performers carrying an acoustic guitar, a microphone stand and a small amp/speaker. Meanwhile, I was carrying around [with lots of help from my family] an electric guitar, a bass, a keyboard, microphone stands, speaker/amp, mixer….. a real struggle!

I have produced 3 studio albums, Sympathy [I was 12 at the time], Hard Work [13] and my most recent album, Elimination and Creation [15]. I have also released six singles, five of which are on my albums, and the latest, Everytime, may well end up on my next album.

Most of my ‘live’ performances have been local, council/community events and busking. It has been difficult to get other gigs, mainly due to covid and my age. Because I am solo, I rely on backing tracks that I have recorded/produced, but it is my hope/dream to form a band of like-minded musicians, my age from my local area. I have a few exciting prospects in the pipeline over the next year or so.

Where would I ‘dream’ to play? Well, I would love to join Mike Brady at the MCG on grand final day. But initially, I would like to be the support act for well-known overseas artists who visit Australia.

 • How so your schoolfriends and other friends react to your music?

It’s really interesting, isn’t it. You would like your friends and school mates to be your biggest fans. It’s not the case. A few of them have bought my cd’s (albums) and a few others have followed me on Spotify or You Tube, but in general, there is little support from there. I guess very few of my friends, are really into my style of music, so I don’t like pushing too much. Perhaps one day if when I’m famous, they might change their minds! I think that my music would be classified as ‘classic pop/rock’ or retro, and most of my school friends are into more contemporary music.

 • How did you learn to write with such maturity and eloquence? Has English language been a favourite subject at school?

That’s a funny question to me. I don’t think I would say I write with eloquence, but I guess that’s for the listener to judge. When you’re young, you can’t really write much from life experiences, so I think the imagination plays a big part. But also, because I love the 60’s/70’s music, I think my lyric writing is also greatly influenced by that.

And I don’t think English language has been a favourite subject of mine [being a creative mind, school doesn’t always fit into my plans! Haha!]. When I was in Grade Six, we were asked to write a poem and told to use certain rhyme etc. I asked the teacher if I could write it as a song (I couldn’t help myself, even in Primary School). She said I could, as long as it followed all the rules. Well, it started out that way, but when you fit the lyrics to the music, sometimes the lyrics have to ‘bend’ a little! Well, two things happened, the poem, ‘Captain Doggo and DD’ became a track on my first album, Sympathy, which I released when I was 12, and secondly, I failed the English Assignment!!

 • What do you feel is your best talent area? In songwriting, performing or in the studio?

At the moment, I definitely believe my strengths are my song writing and my work in the studio, of recording and producing. It is very exciting when an inspiration comes and a song is formed from a thought. And then the hard work of practicing, recording, mixing and mastering. I am an expert at none of these, but I think I am getting better. As I mentioned earlier, I intend to be studying a TAFE Course in 2023 called Music Production.

Now that the restrictions are over I am looking at improving my performance skills and to start more live performances. I have a couple already booked; a wedding and a wedding expo. The biggest time constraint of this, because at present, I am a solo performer, is preparing the backing tracks. I am slowly but surely doing this and hope to build a large number of songs, both originals and covers [predominately 60’s/70’s covers – which are timeless]. I have joined Dan Hamill Performance Coaching in Cremorne [a long way from home], which I attend each week to help me with my singing and stage performance. At my age, not too many places jump at the opportunity to book you, but I guess, I’ll just have to prove that I’m worth booking.

 • Do you believe you will be more of a performer than a writer or audio engineer?

 This is hard to say. I love both. As a career, I intend, at this stage, to do a degree in Music production; that would enable me to be a producer or even a teacher. While at the same time, I want to develop my sound and put it out there. If I get the right breaks (e.g. chosen to be a support act for a major band/singer and/or one of my tracks go viral [hint hint]) I guess the performing side will be my main work. I really don’t know at this stage. I just know I love music.

 • Apart from the musicians who have been an impact on your music who else and what was the key influence?

Obviously dad, who has helped and supported me throughout my journey. He has acted as my manager and my support [though he keeps hoping that I will get such a hit that he can afford to employ someone more qualified and experienced and more tech savy], and I run most things past him. I think the other key influence which impacts my music is simply, how can I say this, is simply that I have the music, or the love of music, as part of me, ever since I can remember. There is always music, or someone singing in our home, or when we are traveling as a family in the car.

 • WHY the Beatles influence? Apart from listening, what else is it about this most influential band ever that really has helped shape your own style? Is it the music lyrics compositions themselves or you just love their sound style? Is it pre Sgt Pepper or post?

All of the above. I have to blame dad for introducing me to the Beatles, so from an early age, that music was in my head. I now have a great admiration, for not only the Beatles, but many other musicians , particularly of the 70’s, and in the case of the Beatles, the late 60’s, who experimented with their music. Music then was fun. It didn’t follow a formula, like much of the contemporary music does. I don’t deliberately set out to follow the style of the Beatles, it just happens. But it’s interesting that a number of reviewers have likened my ‘sound’ to other singers of the time, especially ELO, The Kinks, but also some lesser known singers. The aspect of the Beatles that I deliberately, I won’t say imitate, but that I ‘do’, is in the production of their music and the use of different instruments and sounds. The Beatle’s producer, George Martin was a genius. Oh yes, I am looking for a George Martin! I think with the right (quirky) producer, my songs would go to another level. A couple of people have offered to produce a few of my songs, but a friend of my dad made the comment, which I agree with, that, in trying to produce my music, they have taken the Jake out of Jake Hanney Music. I know my style is a little unique, but I like it that way. I don’t want to sound like everyone else. I am hoping there is a niche of fans who will really like my work.

 And as to the question is my style pre or post Sgt Peppers; I think both, my sound is probably more pre, but my production is post. That being said, I have a growing admiration for the 70’s and my music is heading in that direction, which of course was the result of that group called The Beatles.

 • Who are your fans? Are they here in Australia or overseas? What’s it like to have fans for you?

I have to say, that at my stage of development, and my age, that I don’t yet have what I would call, fans. I have a number of people, through social media, particularly face-book, who are very supportive of my music. When I post on face-book, the majority of my ‘followers’ are aged above 35, while on Spotify the demographic is younger. I tend to have more ‘likes’ from the Philippines, but of late, where a few curators have taken up some of my songs, the followers have come from a wide range of countries. My current single, ‘Everytime’ is at present being listened to in 75 countries [not huge numbers of course]. I would like to grow my Australian fan base if possible.


• Where do you see yourself in 3 years? And 5 years?

There are two areas here. The first is I am hoping to study music production at University, so by five or six years I am hoping to have completed a degree in Music Production, and to start producing tracks/records for young Australian artists. I am also hoping 2023 will be the year that ‘something happens, perhaps I will get a record contract, perhaps one of my tracks will go viral, or be used on a TV commercial, or perhaps a touring band will hear of me and ask me to be their support act for a tour. Certainly, in five years-time, when I am twenty, I hope that music will not only continue to be my love, but that it will support me for years to come.


WHAT is your favourite food – do you eat it during recording phase or live performances? Do you eat in the studio?

Ha! No I don’t eat [much] in the studio. My favourite food? I think it would have to be between dim sims and a hamburger with the lot. I love the ones at the fish and chip shop, but nothing beats my home made hamburger!


Thanks  for your time  Jake!

Now Jake has recently released another CD Album - Elimination & Creation, and  he very kindly  sent me a copy. I have played a few times through  because its a great album. I then wrote a short review :


                                                             Review of Elimination & Creation - Jake Hanney

Elimination & Creation

A one-liner intro! Loved it jake!

·          Your Best Shot

Good introduction . Interesting  instruments mix.

The hi hat crash could be  reduced a little.

 Nice mix and multi layering of your vocals in harmony.

Good use of piano. An uplifting sing along melody in the style you favour of classics.

·         2031

Love the guitar bridge!  A thoughtful composition well written lyrics. Reminds me of Johnathan King from UK in late 60s  - 70s.  https://youtu.be/TQZSQdGJujU

Your voice and song mixes really remind me of a young John Lennon. Not sure if Australia got to hear the very rough amateur film clips of him singing! They may be on YouTube..

 Quite a deep intro.. breaking out into  a happy bouncy song about the future – 2031!

The lyrics are quite a surprise as I read them as if someone who was growing up  70s or before..  reminiscing about those days and comparing to today. I find it quite hard to believe the writer was born well after those years. Jake has a grasp on life and people despite his age. He is more observant than I would have given someone so young. Standard 4/4 beat  that takes the older listener to  those young Liverpudlians.. the introduction of some brass into the track adds some layers  reminding me of the brass bands that were quite common around that time too.

I would suggest that the backing vocals be increased in pitch a little to better harmonise.  Otherwise it’s a track I listened to twice and yes started to sing along with ( despite my vocals sounding like an alley cat).

·         I’ll Always Love You

Written and composed in the early Beatles style makes me wonder just how many Beatles songs he’s listened to and  how much he loves their early style. Its certainly my best Beatles memories!

The lyrics have been written  with such maturity, as do all the other lyrics from Jake. The melody is catchy and had me singing along . This track I would love to hear again in a few more years, re recorded by a more mature Jake, to hear if there is any further maturity in his  inflections. Wow, I really love this track!

·         15 Minutes of Fame

 Most people would love to have this at least once in their lives…

Two sections of the lyrics are the most profound:

                     I believe

There’ll be a day

You’ll be listening to the radio

And you’ll hear your music play

 

…………….But when the time runs out

                 You’ll be forgotten

                 What it was all about….

 

A very succinct description in these lyrics. And I truly hope Jake gets many  more of these.

 

Nice use of the pans in this stereo track. Best listened to with headphones.

 

·         Is This The End?

A common story here but written well. No padding  just the truth. How often have we gone through this in our younger years when love for another outside the family, was entering our lives

And we were ‘over the moon’ or ‘down in the dumps’  with emotion?  Writing about emotions  that  we relate to is a key hook in songwriting as listeners relate to the words describing what can be the most intense part of life: falling in and out of love and losing the love of our life…

Quirky  synths with piano  mixes well. This duo song is well constructed.. something I can actually imagine for a stage production.

·         Adieu

Saying ‘goodbye’ to anyone… be it a person or  a loved pet, can be quite painful. Reading the lyrics  that are so true, hit me for that emotional ride, and by the time I got to reading the third verse.. yes.. I had tears in my eyes. This is exactly what a song  is all about. Connecting with the listener and touching their emotions. Beautiful.

The piano  adds to the impact that only the tone of a piano can do…

·         The Monkey Song

Feast for the ears! An instrumental  that is trippy happy and  exciting.

Add rock to that and you have a great instrumental with a touch of a  well-known children’s tune..

A nice short jingle here…Love the guitar and will look forward to hearing more guitar from Jake!

·         Que Sera Sera

Let me start with this: NO! it’s not THAT song!

OK so this has me back to around when I was Jakes age now.

A honky-tonk piano  bright happy  rock song with that sound of  the late 60s..

A song for singing along with. Great for live shows  Jake!

The lyrics are quite well written thoughtful and  the vocals are sending a positive  message rather than one of regret.

 ·         No Clue

Nice intro…lead into a duo with Saxon Jenkins, another  young artist. Nice vocals and harmonies.

Im enjoying this song; and to consider their ages  a well written played and recorded track. I hope to hear more from these  two collaborators in the future . 

Reading the lyrics  - one wonders how such young people can  feel and understand these emotions of love yet its there in the  lyrics…in the voices .

·         1000 Reasons Why

Another catchy song that I enjoy. Well written lyrics the hook is  great and that piano just builds the hype  in a positive frame.

Jakes voice is coming through and  his strong lyrics skills give us all  a 1000 reasons why we should follow this up and coming young artist.

·         Bridge That Leads to No-where

Interesting guitar  treatment as an overtone of the song…singing along with Jake.

I could swear Ive heard it from an old Beatles album somewhere…  But  no, it’s Jake sown song and his  classic rock modern style.

The vocals sit in well and  sound great.

Perfect for dancing to ……or chilling out to…

·         Bethany

The violins add such emotional impact in the intro…

Jakes voice is delivering the sad emotional tones…

The lyrics are  touching… I truly am astounded at the maturity of these lyrics…

I am sure many listeners  will feel the emotion you deliver in the music the lyrics and your vocals, Well done.

·         Elimination and Creation

A short but quite powerful song. A fitting end to a great album that site  in the mature Jake Hanney Music  library.

 Overall this album shows maturity in most areas from Jake. I am surprised at the lyrics; most people Jake’s age would be hard pressed to write like this and   I am blown away with them. Simple and to the point and not like many  songs – all filling and no story. But each and every track  has a story.

The music  all I can say here is that some people are born  musicians and Jake is certainly one of them. Not that he likely does spend time practicing rehearsing before recording..  which is great. I mentor  adults in the arts of mixing and here we have Jake  who has been doing it awhile so well… Not perfect but   that will come with experience.

The mastering too.. wow!

 Overall Jake is a born singer songwriter. It shows in his dedication to the arts  his more than capable  instrument playing his songwriting his singing.

I cannot imagine  Jake doing anything else if its not music.

 

A great bright future awaits you  Jake.

 Angela H Evans

Listen & buy Jake's music HERE:


BANDCAMP:                      https://jakehanney.bandcamp.com/


SPOTIFY:                            https://open.spotify.com/artist/2lxKvEemQtL5MrXk2rC42x

                 click on images to view full size

Interview with Melbourne indie musician

Leigh Thomas

June 2022

 I have been following artist Leigh Thomas from Melbourne Australia, for a while, and  have always felt  he is a humble  and honest person. This is confirmed in his lyrics and music, and I wondered if he was like this in real life?

Well, my curiosity has been confirmed! I was so fortunate to have been able to meet Leigh  recently and I thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet up and answer some questions about his music career.

 I first  knew of Leigh Thomas last year when I was searching  for Australian Indie artists to appear as guests on my radio show. Leigh was a delight with his passion for music and story telling clearly shining through in his songs.

Here is the link to my show – the interview begins at 41 minutes from the start.

 https://soundcloud.com/newacidplanet/new-acid-planet-conection-show-202105001-part-one-novamerica?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

 So here are the  questions I put to Leigh Thomas at our meeting-

 1. You have been a musician all your working life - why music? What were the key ingredients  or forces that compelled you? Was it the feeling you got when listening to music you were growing up with? The idea of wanting to be famous? Or was it that you wanted to make an impact on others through the telling of stories, in a melodic way? Or was it that you just did not want to do anything else?

 LEIGH:

Probably a combination of all those things. As a very young child, I was drawn to music. I was obsessed with it and internalized it on a deep level. I felt it manipulating my emotions and was curious as to how and why mere sounds and rhythms could have this effect on me.

I internalized it to such a degree that by the time I started school, I could pick up the classroom instruments and make them sound musical. I thought this was completely normal until I realised that none of the other kids could do more than make a terrible cacophony of noise! When I didn’t have any instruments around, I sang constantly, and often got into trouble at school for singing during class, and in fact I was not even aware that I was doing it.

As I got older, I realised that I just wanted to play music, or make music, in the hope that I could make others feel what I felt when listening to music. I tried other jobs and started other career paths, but they left me feeling quite empty, and never went anywhere. In the end I just accepted that being involved in music was what I was born to do, for better or for worse.

 2. Ive read about who influenced you musically. Were there any indies in there too?

 LEIGH:

The first music that I was exposed to, was my mother’s collection, which was pretty mainstream. And growing up in the country, all we had was commercial television and radio, so, when I started buying my own music, it was mainly what I had heard through those mediums. Although there was quite a bit of alternative stuff, by the time these bands reached my ears they were signed, and not independent anymore. It wasn’t until I was older and moved to Melbourne that I heard a lot of indies, but really by that time, even though I liked a lot of them, they never became strong musical influences.

 

3. How did you learn about writing singing and playing the guitar?

 LEIGH:

Simply by doing. I sang a lot, and was pretty natural, although I didn’t really know much about the technical side of it. When I started my first band, and ended up getting really busy singing hours per night, night after night, I did get some tuition just to know when I was singing with correct technique and when I wasn’t. That really helped, and allowed me to sing professionally for hours each night without struggling or straining my voice. With guitar, I just struggled along with no teacher and really nobody to help me. It was a slow process, and it wasn’t until I jammed with others that I really learned a lot. And again, just playing constantly was the key. I’ve never had any help with songwriting either, I just follow my instincts. I probably break all the rules, if there are any.

I know there are courses for songwriting and workshops etc but that’s not really my thing. I think with songwriting, I would rather follow my instincts for better or worse. I always loved writing and poetry, wordplay and language, so I just combine that with music, and try to marry the two. Again, it is also something that you get better at the more you just do it.

 4. Who are your favourite guitarists / why and whats your top 3 guitars?

 LEIGH:

I have many favourite players and it is hard to pick just a few. It often changes depending on what I listen to. I will say that a player’s sound and expression, and their ability to integrate their playing into the music as a whole, and their creativity, means more to me than technical prowess or lightning speed. Notables for me are David Gilmour, Andy Summers, Brian May, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, B.B. King.

As for guitars, well I do love my Duesenberg. It is a wonderfully engineered instrument and beautiful to play with some great sounds. It is my main guitar live, and features in all of my recordings. It is great to use live because it is quite versatile sounding, so can cover a range of other guitar sounds like Gibson and Fender to an acceptable degree and saves me carting 3 or 4 guitars around. It is also great for playing rhythm as well as solos. Most of my recordings though, heavily feature my 3 favourite stand alone guitars, Fender Strat, Fender Tele, and Gibson Les Paul. Call me a traditionalist, but between those three, I can get all the quality sounds that I need on a recording, and the Duesenberg is great because it isn’t as identifiable, but still sounds great.

 5. As an indie it's important to ensure you are heard . Is it hard work promoting yourself? Do you do it yourself or does someone else do it for you? What would you consider as the ideal fan? And where would they be ? online / attending a live show/ buyers or streamers or a combination?

 LEIGH:

Like most indie artists, I do all the promotion myself. Of course, there are people involved in the industry who help, and give a boost just out of their own passion and generosity and to whom I am very grateful. But mostly it is trying to use those resources that are free or of little cost, like social media. Nothing is truly free of course, and you pay in endless hours of work, getting the music out, getting seen and heard, interacting with fans, networking with curators, radio programmers and other artists, across multiple media platforms.

It’s a relentless undertaking and can really burn you out. There is paid promotion too, but I find that to be a minefield trying to sort out the legitimate from the scammers. There are reputable publications, but they are expensive, and it is very hard to tell if the result is worth the money.

The ideal fan for me is a person who just likes listening to my music, and gets something out of it. If they are passionate about it, and want to share it, and want to come to live shows, then that’s even better. To make the effort of going out to a live show is really great though, and does mean a lot to me. It’s also great when people like to interact on social media, by chatting on live streams or leaving comments, which I always try to respond to. I think that is a really nice way of showing that they like what I do, and care enough to want to be a part of it.

 6. I love the accuracy and pristine sounds of music that has been recorded mixed and mastered to perfection. Yet for me to actually be there watching listening and experiencing an artist performing is something I feel cannot be replaced. As the performing artist what are your views?

 LEIGH:

That’s the great thing about music. People can get to know the music either way, by listening to the recording, or going to a live show. In most cases I guess it is by listening to the recording, which represents how the artist intended the song to be in a kind of perfect state, allowing all the ideas to be presented clearly. I think live performance can work on different levels. If you know the songs and are a fan, then experiencing those songs being reproduced and even reinterpreted by the artist in a live situation, is a real buzz.

And there is the skill factor, watching and listening to an artist do their work in real time, and the atmosphere and energy that you don’t get from a recording. And that is something you can enjoy and appreciate even if you don’t know the songs, or never even heard of the artist. Personally, I have spent infinitely more time performing live than in the studio. I will always love performing live, and feel that is ultimately what being a musician is all about.

I used to find the studio a little daunting, but now I really love recording, and I think I have become more confident in experimenting and being creative with it.

 7. You used to do cover songsdo you still perform these at live shows? Would you consider recording a cover song?

 LEIGH:

When I was a teenager, I got really smashed on vodka. It was so bad, that I have never ever drank vodka since. I feel that way about playing covers. I did it so often for so long, that I am completely turned off by it. It’s probably an over-reaction and one day I will probably be more relaxed about it, and I don’t have an issue with anyone playing covers.

I never say never, and if the right song hits me, I may record a cover, but at this point I cannot imagine it. I do play one or two chosen covers in my live set, but only because I often have to fill a two hour spot, and don’t quite have enough original material to do it.

 8. Have you collaborated with anyone? Is it something you would consider in the future?

 LEIGH:

It depends what it means to collaborate. I have had a couple of guest artists play on some recordings. I had American artist OrangeG play harmonica on a track called “Rain”, and had Londoner Joe Adhemar play organ on my latest release “Find My Way”. Both are great artists and both brought something special to the recordings that I couldn’t bring, and the experience was fantastic.

I guess in some way, all of my work is a collaboration with my producer Sam, who adds drums, bass and synths to my music, and mixes/masters it all. We also trade off ideas and I welcome any input he has. But in terms of sitting down with another artist to actually write and record together as a collaborative project, I am not overly keen to do. In that respect, I am a bit of a lone wolf, and I kind of like it that way.

 9. How do you view the live performances scene here in Melbourne & Australia?

 LEIGH:

It has always been a very healthy scene, but the pandemic really killed it, and has probably changed it for a very long time to come, if not forever. Whilst gigs are returning slowly, I think for many indie/original artists, it’s a real struggle. Bigger acts are looking at festival gigs now, rather than pubs or venues, and smaller venues have been hit hard, and seem to favour open mics, which is fine if you are a beginner, but is a bit of a cop out for free entertainment, and doesn’t help smaller indie artists who are well seasoned in live performance like myself.

There doesn’t seem to be much in between. Either get a really big following and play big venues or festivals, or go play an open mic with beginners for free. I hope it improves, but it may take some time.

 10. Whats the strangest place you have ever performed?

 LEIGH:

I’ve played some pretty weird gigs over the years. One of the strangest that always comes to mind is a gig my band got hired for by a particular fellow way out in the foothills of a mountain range on his property. He was quite an eccentric fellow, and liked to throw parties for his friends.

He paid us well, and supplied us with everything you could imagine, and some things you couldn’t imagine! We played literally from dusk til dawn, and as loud as we could possibly play. During the course of the evening, he disappeared into the woodlands of his property, and spread some napalm type stuff around, and turned the whole surroundings into a massive fireball! It was quite a spectacle and quite a night.

 11. What goes through your mind when you write a song? Do you imagine scenarios, write about real life experiences – your own or someone you know?

 LEIGH:

All of the above, in varying combinations. I never force anything. Music comes to me, melody usually but sometimes a riff or chord progression. That will conjure emotions or mental images, from where the theme of the song grows, and hence forth the lyric.

I do write poetry and lyric as stand alone pieces, but never seem to use them. I think because the music tells me what the lyric or theme should be, and also because I like to use words as a rhythm, so the words must work as another instrument. But once it is time to write the lyrics, then yes, I imagine the narrative almost like a scene, with imagery. These things seem to come from my subconscious, so like dreams, they are probably rooted in life experiences of events and people, but are not always specific, but rather are amalgamations of these things.

Sometimes though, I do write with a more direct intention, so it’s good to be flexible and versatile I think.

 12. Creating melodies and riffs - do they come easily or do you have to work on them ? Are you a perfectionist preferring to delay recording until you are satisfied the song is indeed finished?

 LEIGH:

The initial ideas for me are usually melodies, and I never go searching for them or try to manufacture them. They just come to me, and often when I am not doing anything music related. I think the key is just that, having a quiet, empty mind.

I note down anything that comes, and then when I am in a writing mood, I go through them and develop them, using guitar to flesh out chords or riffs. They come pretty easily as I just let the melody guide me.

That’s not to say the whole process doesn’t require work and thought. And I may try a few different things until I am satisfied that the song is going where I think it should. On the flip side, I may be noodling on guitar and come across something that I like, and usually let melodies come to me from that, even by free forming with my voice and seeing what comes out.

It’s kind of the same process really, whereby I don’t try and calculate or use any type of scale theory or anything. It’s all just letting it flow from wherever it comes. By the time I get a song to the recording studio, it’s mostly complete, even though a lot of the ideas are just in my head. I’m not meticulous though, and most often, many guitar parts, and even vocal parts and lyrics, are made up or changed during the recording. I quite like the spontaneity of that.

 13. Your sons work with you on your recordings in the studio and in creating the visual media. Do you find it can be more creative in the process or disruptive if someone does not agree on something?

 LEIGH:

It’s definitely more creative. They are both very talented and creative people, and having their input for me is very satisfying and I really welcome it. We listen to each other really well and respect each other as creatives. I don’t think there really has been any disagreement.

I trust their judgement and suggestions. We usually have very similar expectations of how something should sound or look, and once I hand over my work to them, I am always excited to hear and see what they do with it, and to have their stamp on my work, for me, is a priceless thing.

 14. WHERE did you learn to paint? Amazing artwork!

 LEIGH:

Thank you! Drawing and painting was another love of mine as a kid, and I studied art at school and then at Uni. But I was never quite as obsessive about it as I was music, and actually have done very little in my adult life. I have painted some of my cover art, and to be honest more out of necessity than desire. I had to relearn quite a bit, and fall back on some trial and error, but it was very satisfying. It is definitely something I will do again in the future.

It did revitalize my passion for painting so maybe I will do some practice before I do another cover painting!

15. WHAT is your favourite food and do you eat it on days you record music / video? ( this is my favourite question!)

 LEIGH:

That’s a hard one, because I like most food, except junk food. I do favour Mediterranean food though, Spanish, Italian and Greek. By the way, I class pizza and nachos as Mediterranean, not junk haha.

Because I travel to Melbourne to record, it’s pretty common for us to get a pizza in, after the session. I usually eat very little before singing, whether live or in the studio. 

               *********************************************************

Now, you will see the image of an owl.. its one of Leigh’s tattoos. Something I have always found of interest, is the back story of why someone selected a particular image to wear..and this is Leigh’s owl story…

 LEIGH:

My tattoos are very personal to me and represent aspects of my life and certain ideologies that have a permanence, like a tattoo itself. The owl stems from my childhood. I had a deep fascination with them and would go out to the forest at nightfall to watch them. I could get very close to them, and we would sit and stare at each other for long periods. To me they were magical and mystical, almost otherworldly. They conjured feelings of endless possibility, fearlessness, and otherworldly wisdom, and fostered such imagination as only a child can possess. I think as we grow older it is difficult but important to try and stay in touch with such feelings, so my owl is there to remind me of that.

 

EXTRA!   Leigh has kindly sent me some ‘Behind The Scenes’ photos! Now we can sneak a look at how he works hard with his team in delivering his music to us! A big thanks to all the team.

     ** (If you love Leigh Thomas  - go to his online store and buy his music – and if you scroll down the page.. you can download ringtones of some of his best songs!

HERE:

https://leighthomasmusic.com/store

Higher Low is AWESOME!!!   ) **

 Leigh it’s been a delight to meet you and Thank you so much for your time and especially answering all these questions…  I wish you  all the best and look forward to listening to more releases and who knows -may even rock up to a live show!

Angela

 Here is a listing of some Leigh’s releases  followed by links to buy or stream…

Miss Me, Cheap Cherry Wine, Lightning, Decent Guy, Something About You, Rain, Take It all The Way, Tunnel Vision, These Times, Higher Low, Find My Way.

 Website:

https://leighthomasmusic.com/home

https://www.viberate.com/artist/leigh-thomas

https://jaxsta.com/profile/7e848c7a-592f-4a2f-8fb5-88493cbd7f95/catalogue?view=tile

BUY:

https://leighthomasmusic.com/store

https://leighthomas.bandcamp.com/

 STREAM:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/2qgekgGrHSevwRj6JVuRq4?si=mnmM09bkSJmdTGSYxMCidw

Amazon Music ( sites vary depending on country)

 

                    
 

 

 

 

 

 

image of musician Leigh Thomas
Leigh with the staff at  The Windmill Cafe, Toora 3962
Leigh with the staff at The Windmill Cafe, Toora 3962
where I interviewed Leigh Thomas

 " My tattoos are very personal to me and represent aspects of my life and certain ideologies that have a permanence, like a tattoo itself. The owl stems from my childhood. I had a deep fascination with them and would go out to the forest at nightfall to watch them." ... Leigh Thomas

EXTRA!

Some  Behind the scenes  shots courtesy of Leigh Thomas

© Leigh Thomas, 2022

That famous Blue Guitar!

Not just a musical talent... Leigh painting his cover art for Find My Way

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