We Need To Talk: Leisure [Interview]

on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Words: Saam Das

A good few years ago now, I did very early interviews with Los Campesinsos! and White Lies. They've done an alright job since so we figured it might be time to get back onto the bandwagon and talk to some new bands on the rise. First up are exciting London quartet Leisure, who recently put out their debut track as a free download through the tastemaking label, Young & Lost. We even got all of them to have a word.

Hello Leisure, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. We'll start with the formalities. How did you get together as a band?

Beth - Hello FADED GLAMOUR, thanks for taking an interest in us! The current line-up have been a group in numerous guises and musical styles for the last 5 or 6 years. Anya, Nick and I all went to Leeds University where we played in a band producing a mix of gypsy folk and indie, gaining us support slots for the likes of King Charles and although not taking over the world just yet...Films, who are now known as Alt-J.

Jon - I was playing in a band called The Peppermint Lounge at the same time and gigging the same venues they did, but our paths didn't cross until well after uni and everyone had moved to London. I was introduced through a mutual friend and after numerous rehearsals and gigs here we are!

Your band members have come from different bands with a fairly wide range of different sounds - is this a case of bringing those influences together or more about exploring new sounds?

Nick - You're entirely right, we come from bands with quite varied styles and sounds and I'd say the music we play now is more about trying new ideas, I mean you're always influenced by what you've done before, but this doesn't limit us and in fact I think works to our advantage. All the songs we currently play are put together by Anya and we then develop, rework and re-rework these in rehearsals, due to differing musical tastes we all want the songs to be pulled in a slightly different direction.

Anya - I think it's probably this friction that makes for an interesting track. It's through this process that we've come to the style we now predominantly play which has been described as a mix of soulful, synthy RnB with a dancey edge...that sounds incredibly pretentious, we never set out with a defined style in mind but it's ended up with something we're really proud of.

Soulful debut track 'Tourist' has emerged from the Young & Lost Digital Club. How did that collaboration happen?

Beth - The whole thing actually came about through Anya, our keyboard player. We originally played as the opening act at the Nest for their club-night a few months back, supporting Being There whom Anya also happens to play with, and Snakatadktal who were over from Australia. Y&L really liked our music, heard we were recording an EP and asked if we wanted to release it on their online download and also headline their clubnight.

Jon - I'm sure there'll be more collaboration with them the future, they've been really supportive of us and it's not something you really expect from people when your a relatively new band, so we're very grateful for it.

'Tourist' is a little different to other Leisure tracks we've had the pleasure of listening to. Is it more representative of the sound you're going for moving forward?

Nick - 'Tourist' is definitely more upbeat and summery than the other tracks on our EP. I'd say the direction we're now going in is somewhere between 'Tourist' and another track 'Peace' (also on the EP), sticking with the upbeat dancey feel and drawing heavily on our funky bass line backed by synth.

Jon - In fact someone mentioned that 'Tourist' had a bit of a house feel to it, so maybe unwittingly we're drawing in styles without knowing. There's definitely an RnB feel to things especially with Beth's soulful vocals.

The archive footage-filled video for 'Tourist' is considerably more nostalgic than many might expect. Can you talk us through the thinking behind the style? Will your next video be similarly nostalgia-driven?

Anya - We put this one together with the help of some friends and the Prelinger archive which had a gold mine of incredibly cheesy tourism footage. We thought it was perfect for the tune. In fact I've become obsessed with the idea of being a tourist since reading the books of Zygmunt Bauman. With the lyrics to 'Tourist' we tried to capture the sense of freedom it brings, but also the other side, the alienation, consumerism and the strange feeling of being a tourist to a new place.

Beth - Our next music video for the second single, 'Peace', is going to be really different though. We're working with a film director and producer who have come up with a dark narrative for the track which we're really excited about. That should be ready in mid October.

There seems to be a minimalism in terms of song titles and your band name. Is there an intentionally punchy theme or is it simply the way the cards have fallen?

Anya - Band names and song titles are always a tricky one. The band name actually came out of one of the tracks on our EP 'Peace', the lyric being "...all I need is peace and leisure". It seemed to fit quite nicely with the general style of music we play which we think is upbeat and inviting.

Nick - As for the song titles, I think sometimes longer more descriptive track names lead listeners into hearing the song from a particular angle instead of letting them make up there own mind. I would also just add that the song title is probably the last thing we consider when writing the tracks and inevitably comes out of needing to just describe the song concisely so we know what we're going to play!

The reaction to 'Tourist' has been positive, and we've heard it'll be part of an EP coming soon. Any further details yet? Will it be getting a physical release?

Jon - We've been impressed by the online response to the track to be honest. Blogs we really like, such as Poule d'Or, Poejazzi and The Girls Are have been really into the tune....and hopefully FADED GLAMOUR too, hah. Our EP 'Flux' is due for release in a couple of months and while we don't plan to have a physical release, the tracks will all be available for download.

Nick - Our EP was brilliantly recorded and produced by Ash Gardner at House Of Strange studios, one of the nicest guys you could meet and now a firm friend of the band. He's worked with some awesome people including Three Trapped Tigers and Emmy the Great (Ed's note: as well as being in the bonkers Emperor Yes) so it was brilliant working with him...as well as making the most of his vintage synth collection, of course...

'Tourist' is available for download in the embed above. Find more info on the band on Facebook and Twitter.

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