London-based Swedish musician Leo Spauls got around the travel restrictions by putting a band together in London, expect a new single in September, but in the meantime, check in with Leo, below.
What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?
We formed the UK band in January 2020 in London. It’s Elina Tikkanen on backing vocals, Andy Basiola on guitar, Paolo Succo on bass, Lewis Moody on keyboards, Dan Breaden on drums, and myself on lead vocals. The members are from Italy, Finland, Australia, Sweden, and the UK, all in London, so we are a melting pot. We did a few rehearsals, had some gigs booked, but then came the pandemic. So since then, we have been focusing on songwriting. We are releasing three singles on the Animal Farm label this year.
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
With the UK band, we only came to a dress rehearsal. We did that in Camden. There is a recording of that you can find on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/398327462
We had a few gigs booked, but then came the pandemic. So, in a sense, we still haven’t played live. I did a couple of gigs in Berlin with the German band, though. There is one band in London, one in Berlin and one in Stockholm. Since travelling is expensive, I decided to solve it that way.
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourself?
It’s pop music, based on piano and synthesizers. When we play live, we go on as a rock-pop band with guitars and drums. My songs are written from an LGBTQ 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. The idea of gay music is still too limited, I guess. I’m not sure John Grant’s audience is primarily gay, and I’m not sure our listeners are either.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
It’s incredible how much new music is released all the time. Too much. But it’s a democracy thing, I guess. I suppose you need to stay focused on what you want to do. Don’t go chasing trends. Just be yourself. Eventually, it will work. But it would be best if you had patience and not demanding success too early. Also, don’t imitate others. There is this clip with Frank Zappa when he talks about the music business and the A&R people. Everything has changed since then, but the attitude towards finding the next star is still very much the same. Don’t try to be the star. If it happens to you, it’s because you are one.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
We have a new single release, “Moon Sign”, on September 10. Waiting for that, why not check out “Send Me Your Love” and “Mehringdamm”, released earlier this summer.
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
Why not Mike Garson? He made this streaming concert last winter, which was pretty impressive. It had Trent Reznor, Yungblud, Adam Lambert, Duran Duran, and many Bowie alumni. It appears that everyone he called said yes. Or why not Meilyr Jones? He has a theatrical side I like. It’s been a while since I heard from him, though.
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
A band I’ve been following for some time is Teleman. I would say they already made it. They have some outstanding songs, so they deserve it. I also listen a lot to St. Lenox. He’s on his way, I hope.
What are your first musical memories? And what was the moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
I started playing the piano when I was about eight or nine. Although neither of my parents was very interested in music, we had an upright piano that my mother played once or twice. I was probably very bored and had very few friends, so I started playing that piano. Then, as a teenager, I discovered David Bowie. The “David Live In Philadelphia” (1974) was the first album I bought, a rather unusual choice for teenagers in the ’90s. Nevertheless, it made a big impression on me, especially Mike Garson’s piano playing. I think that was the moment. Several years later, I am working with Mike, he played on three songs on my last album and gives me piano lessons online from LA, so it’s like a dream come true. Most wishes in life seem to come true, so you need to be very careful what you ask for. Creative people seem to have the ability to create and destroy, and you need to be aware of that, especially if you are experimenting with drugs, which most artists seem to do. If you believe in some higher entity, it can’t decide what’s good or bad. So every time you send a thought through the universe, it reflects and responds. It doesn’t matter if you believe in that or not. Look at your own life and judge yourself. What did you ask for in this life? Did you get it or not?
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
It was in London in February last year, just before lockdown. I went to listen to a guy I’ve been talking to online. He had this gig at some private club, and they were also doing a Gatsby show. I don’t remember the name of the club. I wasn’t a member, but they let me in any way. With a fake British accent and some tailored clothing, you can do anything in London.
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
Oh, I have a very diverse music taste. And I try to listen to an album a day on Spotify so that it could be anything. So let me check, and I’ll find something interesting. I’m a fan of Udo Jürgens. I thought it was a joke, but a friend in Berlin made me go to a concert. And I realized he was rather good. Having worked as a German teacher, I’ve also introduced him to my students. Most of them liked “Ich War Noch Niemals In New York”. It is a good tune, but it also has a severe background too it. Most people in post-war Germany never went to the States. It was perhaps considered a lack of judgement or just unnecessary. But, considering how loved that tune was, it was not all about the chorus.
Although 2020 was a year to forget for many reasons, there was some incredible music released; what would be your album of last year?
It would be The Weeknd, “After Hours”. A homeless guy I picked up on the street and stayed with me for a few months played him all the time. We had some great sex to his songs. He was a junkie, though, so finally, I had enough. But that brings back sweet memories.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
I try to respond to each message I get if it’s not obviously about sex or these thousands and thousands of fake stream sellers. I mean, my first contact with Mike Garson was on Twitter, so you never know. It might be a beginning of a beautiful friendship.