Entertainment Magazine

A Ripple Conversation With Leo Spauls

Posted on the 17 October 2021 by Ripplemusic
A Ripple Conversation With Leo Spauls

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

There have been a few of those. One was when I heard Beach Boys "God Only Knows", with those contrapuntal experiments with the vocals. I never knew pop music could be so complex and so beautiful. Another one was Joe Zawinul with "The Rise and Fall of the Third Stream", with that superb keyboard sound. I suppose "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was one of those moments, although I didn't admit it at the time. I was having a Deep Purple period and started to play the Hammond organ at that point in my life. And from a classical perspective, I wanted to become a conductor when I heard Schnittke's Faust cantata.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

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 Garson (David Bowie's pianist) sending his piano recordings from LA. This time we are doing a more electronic production. It's pop music, based on synthesisers and piano. When we play live, we go on as a rock-pop band, with drums and guitars.

Who has influenced you the most?

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 planned his 50th birthday and did 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 is the next best thing.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I try to listen to an album a day, and I tune in to BBC6 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 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. I particularly like his piano playing. He uses many chord changes, which is a bit old fashioned these days, but I like it.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Since it's three bands, it's not so easy to tell. We have one in Stockholm, one in Berlin and one in London. Although Sweden exports a lot of music, I've never felt it a very creative environment, maybe in the '90s when there were still clubs to play. Unfortunately, there is no indie scene here anymore, and live bands are a thing of the past. However, if you are into EDM, I suppose it's a great place to be.

Where'd the band name come from?

We came up with the name Leo Spauls & the Dramas. But we never used it. It might reflect something of my past when I wasn't on medication for mental illness.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

One of the best scores ever written is probably Hellraiser I and II. I wish I had written those. The score to David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch" is another favourite, and Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky". When I was young, I was open to writing all kinds of music, but as you get older, you realize there isn't enough time to fulfill your dreams.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

That would be Bob Dylan's "Murder Most Foul". I haven't had the time yet to sit down and go through it properly, so this is an excellent opportunity to do so.

A Ripple Conversation With Leo Spauls

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

I found myself in a fistfight with Swedish producer Andreas Kleerup some years ago. He is mainly known for his collaboration with Robyn on "With Every Heartbeat". It was during the Ingmar Bergman festival at Fårö. I happened to mention something about his drug abuse, which he had talked openly about in the media. He went crazy and floored me with one blow. We still haven't talked about what happened. But no hard feelings on my part. It was a stupid thing to say.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

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: https://vimeo.com/281156345 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.

A great song is a song that is written out of joy. Or pain. It needs to be an honest song. Something you tell from your heart. And don't make it too complicated. It takes a lot of courage to write from that spirit and keep things simple. But, if you are a genius, you write lines like "All you need is love", and it works.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Well, it's not on our repertoire. I'm not even sure which song I should consider as the first. I wrote some very bizarre music in my early teens. I'm not sure I would even call it music. Perhaps poetic attempts with a musical background. It had some storytelling in it, and a Velvet Underground vibe. Maybe I should go back and listen to it again if I can find the tapes.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I think all three songs we recorded with Mike Garson are outstanding. Especially "Every Night and Day", which is just Mike on piano and me. You can stream it on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/2KMjoydqjLzzlV1sq6SWRr?si=vXJvjCqZTHeVP5FOKWEyfw&dl_branch=1 Also, the three new singles we've released this year are all very great songs, in my opinion.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Arcade Fire is a great band. I saw them in Stockholm a few years ago. That made me like them even more. I like that Canadian mix of French and English.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Vinyl yes. But I'm as lazy as everyone else. So I use digital daily.

Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice

I'm a wine person. But I have a whiskey from time to time. A Laphroaig if available. I stopped drinking beer many years ago when I realized it makes you gain weight. Wine and whiskey do that too, but less, I think. Perhaps it depends on how much you drink.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

The only one I know in Stockholm is Pet Sounds. I haven't been there for a while, but I hope they are still open. Vinyl is selling a bit again, from what I've understood.

We are releasing three singles this year on the Animal Farm label: "Show Me Your Love", "Mehringdamm", and "Moon Sign". So that's the most important thing that happens this year. Also, this time we are focusing on the UK market, so that's a big step. You can find the songs on all streaming services.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

I hope you will come and see us live when we go on the road again. If you like our music, please leave a comment on Twitter.


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog