A Q&A with Leo Spauls
Pan-European synth pop, London-based…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The latest release is ‘Show Me Your Love’. It’s about meeting a guy from Brazil on a gay app who is desperately wanting to leave his country and come to Europe. It’s easy to fall in love with someone like that. Everything is new and exciting in the beginning. However, the reality is something different. Your lover is not the guy you thought he was. Perhaps you are not the guy he thought you were, either, and your romantic dream becomes a war zone. You wonder what it was that brought you together in the first place. But you’ve invested so much in that relationship. Time and energy. And now you don’t know when to let go. “And the poets sing, ‘Love is truly a dangerous thing’”, is the message in this song. For the poets, for the lovers.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
It was not a very difficult process at all. First, I recorded the background and vocals in Stockholm then sent it to the Animal Farm Studios in London to finish the production. Sometimes, you write a song in less than ten minutes; ‘Show Me Your Love’ is one of those songs. But, on the other hand, you can also sit for hours trying to get it right, and it simply doesn’t work. So, the best thing is to leave it if that happens. If you become too intellectual or technical, you destroy it.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
During the pandemic, we have developed a method of producing that works very well. First, I write the songs and make a simple recording of them. Then, when I’ve finished the demo, I send it to the Animal Farm Studios in London, and if they like it, they complete the production. Mat Leppanen is an outstanding producer, and he can do almost every genre. Even if I could produce the songs myself, bringing someone else to finish it is far better. I’m primarily a songwriter, and you can’t be good at everything. Also, I’ve never felt sure about mixing, so I gladly leave that part to someone else.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
My songs are written from an LGBT perspective. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they only apply to a gay audience. On the contrary, it’s not the kind of music you usually hear on the gay scene. I want to focus on the lyrics and storytelling. I want to evoke certain feelings and experiences in my life, like going to a gay sauna in Berlin, for example. Which is not at all what you think it is. The idea of gay music is still too limited, I guess. We are just ordinary people like everyone else. It’s 2021 and being gay is still a problem in some parts of the world.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I usually start with the piano. Then, I go to my computer to add a few loops. Next, I add vocals and backing vocals. Occasionally, I start with my computer and run the process backwards. I sometimes bring a demo to the rehearsal room and build it up from scratch with real instruments. It’s either way for the result. If the song is good, it works. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t matter what you do. I sometimes play my demos to Mike Garson (David Bowie’s pianist who played on the last album), and I can tell from his reaction if it works or not. I have developed a deep friendship with Mike. He gives me piano lessons and sometimes acts as a mentor to me. His teaching method is very sophisticated. He tells stories which could be about almost anything and makes you realise your problem without even saying it; quite contrary to what many other teachers do. When I was younger, I took piano lessons for more than ten years, but I never became a professional. If I had met Mike earlier in my life, maybe I would have become one. However, singing and song writing is my number one priority at this point.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
I try to listen to an album a day, and I tune in to BBC 6 every night. If you listen to such a quantity of music, the songs sometimes keep ringing in my sleep. However, I rarely try to imitate other artists and seldom play covers, so on what level they influence me is probably easier for others to tell. Nevertheless, an artist I have been listening to is St. Lenox. I have never met him, but I follow him on social media.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
We’ve mostly played venues in Sweden and Germany. I enjoyed playing Monarch Berlin. It’s a very indie venue. It’s at Kottbusser Tor, and the U-Bahn is running outside the windows. There is a recording of that show that you can find on Vimeo. However, the focus is now on the UK. There are so many venues in London that I want to play. Of course, I hope they are still there, but you never know.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
‘Show Me Your Love’ is a good choice. Although, it is a bit heavy-hearted. If you prefer a more cheerful track, listen to ‘Mehringdamm’.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
We are releasing three singles this year on the Animal Farm label. So that’s the most important thing that is happening this year. Also, this time we are focusing on the UK market, so that’s a big step. We’re also looking forward to doing a UK tour within a year or two.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Sometimes I use the expression Tom Robinson often ends his BBC shows with: “Stay safe”. After that, I typically say, “We’ll come back soon”.
For more info visit: facebook.com/spauls.se