True Adventures, aka Norfolk based singer-songwriter Sam Leonard, first appeared here a few years ago, where he won a 2015 Award for his quite wonderful debut single, North Atlantic Ocean. He then took a break but is now back with the outstanding Down The Line, so read on to find out more about the new track, upcoming EP, his ability to talk(?), and the reason for that break!
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~ Where are you right now, and what can you see?
I’m at my girlfriend’s house in Norfolk, I can see a garden that has been flooded due to torrential rain! My one-year-old old daughter is ‘helping’ her Granddad with the cleaning up.
~ What’s the background to True Adventures?
I’ve been in a few bands over the years, they haven’t worked out for one reason or another. So I decided to go solo, it’s nice in one way as you get to do things your own way…but at the same time it can be a bit lonely! True Adventures is named after a British Sea Power song, I’ve never wanted to work under my own name, it’s useful to have a secret identity.
~ Where did the influences come from when you were writing the tracks for the next EP?
Sometimes you get into a rut as a songwriter, you get bored with your own process. So in order to mix things up I bought an electric guitar and started experimenting with different tunings. Most of them I borrowed from Nick Drake. I learned that in the end it still comes out sounding like you, it’s just refreshing to take a different route to get there.
~ The production quality on the single is very high, so would you say you’re a perfectionist?
I learned a while back that I’m no DIY artist. It’s great that so many people can produce such brilliant records from their bedroom or even their phone…but I’m not one of them. I was lucky enough to work with David Pye, he took Down The Line to a place I never imagined. He’s also enough of a perfectionist for both of us.
~ As evidenced in the videos to Down The Line and North Atlantic Ocean, the visual side to your work seems as important as the musical side, but aside from being a promotional tool what do the videos add?
I was finding increasingly difficult to get out and gig due to day job and family commitments, so I thought I’d try and get my music out there in another way. Turns out that working with filmmakers is great fun, my new video was a brilliant project to work on, we hired a lighthouse, found an actor on the internet. It’s just another excuse to mess about and make something interesting.
~ You’ve have had a break since the release of North Atlantic Ocean in 2015, so what have you been up to, and what are your plans for 2018?
I actually recorded a bunch of new material straight after North Atlantic Ocean but also became a father for the first time, so I was (happily) distracted for a while. It’s been a long year or so of walking round the park and listening to podcasts, I’m really happy/nervous to be releasing something again.
~ If you could collaborate with a famous musician or band, who would it be?
Seeing as I’m named after one of their songs it would have to be British Sea Power, I’d love to do something like their ‘Sea of Brass’ album, working with a traditional brass band.
~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in the Norwich area that you recommend we check out?
You should definitely check out Birds of Hell, it’s like the Lion from Oz has gone rogue and bought an effects pedal.
~ If you were invited to curate a festival stage, who would you invite to perform?
~ As mentioned above, you’ve recently become a Dad – congratulations – so how have you found parenthood so far, and how many minutes of sleep have you managed since the birth!?
It’s the most difficult and most fun thing I’ve ever done. Sleep deprivation does strange things to you!
~ Aside from music, do you have any other creative skills? (or obscure talents!)
Does talking count as a talent? I can talk my way in and out of any situation.
~ Which TV character would you most identify yourself with?
Definitely Milhouse Van Houten