leo spauls

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Alt Pop

Artist Name, Band members names and roles

Leo Spauls: lead vocals, Elina Tikkanen: backing vocals, Andy Basiola: guitar, Paolo Succo: bass, Lewis Moody: keyboards, Dan Breaden: drums

Where are you based?

The UK band is London based. However, we've been spread out all over Europe during the pandemic. I escaped the UK at the last minute before lockdown and spent most of my time in the Swedish countryside. So now, when we see the light in the tunnel, we are returning to London.

What genre would you describe yourself as?

It's pop music, based on synthesizers and piano. When we play live, we go on as a rock-pop band, with drums and guitars. 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.

Who is your main inspiration?

David Bowie was and still is the most influential artist to me. I listen to his music frequently, and It's lovely when I discover an interview or a concert I haven't seen on Youtube. I had the chance to interview him once when he was planning his 50th birthday and doing a Madison Square Garden show. I would have loved to work with him. If I had believed a little more in myself back then, maybe that could have happened. However, working with Mike Garson (David Bowie's pianist) is the next best thing.

What is your songwriting process (which bits come first?)

I am a pianist, so I usually start with the piano. I am trying to find some chords and melodies I like. Then I go to my computer, adding a few loops. On the last album, "Heaven's Deep Blue Sky" (2018), we recorded everything with real instruments, Mike sending his piano recordings from LA. This time we are doing a more electronic production. I recorded the vocals and background in Sweden, then sent it to the Animal Farm Studios in London to finish the production.

What made you want to start in music?

I've been practising the piano since I was eight or nine, and when I was very young, I listened primarily to classical music. My parents were not particularly interested in music, but we had a few classical albums and an upright piano that my mother played once or twice. I was probably very bored as a child and had 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 a teenager in the '90s. Nevertheless, it made a big impression on me, especially Mike Garson's piano playing. In the middle of the '90s, I started the band Lord Rosse, an experimental rock group named after an Irish astronomer, with the ambition to write a rock opera based on a space theme, Creation of Heavens. Despite an extensive production, I never completed the project, and we split up in 1999 without releasing anything. Rock operas were hopelessly outdated in the late '90s, and no record company was interested in the project. Also, the music was not what people wanted to hear, and the texts were challenging to understand. So instead, I started working in theatre, which I did for several years. 

What is on the horizon for you?

The next single, "Mehringdamm", is released July 23, during Berlin Pride. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go there, so I hope you enjoy it and the following singles to come.

Who would you most like to collaborate with (alive or dead)?

I am hoping to play live with Mike someday. He made this streaming concert last winter, which was pretty impressive. It had Trent Reznor on it, Yungblud, Adam Lambert, Duran Duran, and many of the Bowie alumni. It appears that everyone he called said yes. I'm also hoping to play with St. Lenox someday, which perhaps is more realistic. I have never met him but listen to his music a lot.

What is your ultimate goal?

To finally work full time as a musician. I've been doing so many different things, acting, directing, writing for the film and theatre. Now I have gone full circle, and I'm back where I started. Maybe this time it will work.

If you could cover any song, what would it be?

Maybe something by David Bowie, with Mike on piano and me singing. But that would probably be too obvious. Perhaps something from the '90s. Maybe a Nine Inch Nails song. I don't know. I very rarely think in those terms. If you want to do a cover, you should do something with it, not just sing it as it is. If I would do a Bowie cover, it would probably be "Word on a Wing" from Station to Station. I played that on stage once, with just me and the piano. It's a beautiful tune. I doubt I could do it better than the original, though.

Tea making: milk first or last?

It makes me think of Christopher Hitchens last words. He wrote an essay on making tea while fighting terminal cancer and was as witty as always. Hitchens referred to George Orwell's Eleven Golden Rules About Making Tea, or something like that. It includes a pre-warmed pot. The water should be boiling, which means you should keep it on the flame while you pour. That's not hard to do, even if you are using electricity rather than gas. If you use milk, use the least creamy type, or the tea will acquire a sickly taste. And do not put the milk in the cup first because you will almost certainly put in too much. Add it later, and be very careful when you pour. A decent cylindrical mug will preserve the needful heat and flavour. Orwell thought that sugar overwhelmed the taste. But brown sugar or honey is, according to Hitchens, permissible and sometimes necessary.

Tell us your funniest joke!

I have absolutely no sense of humour. Swedes are notoriously dull. But I might be funny sometimes, often involuntarily.

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