Len Leise / International Feel / Aficionado
Where are you from?
I was born in Australia, but I’m from many different places. I’ve been gathering different versions of myself along the way.
Where are you based?
Currently I’m back in Melbourne, Australia. I divide my time between the city to record and the Dandenong’s to relax.
What made you start?
I don’t know exactly. There was no defining moment. I guess I found a deep connection to certain pieces of music and thought that maybe I could create some connections of my own.
When did you start? How long have you been making music?
I started making music about 15 years ago. It’s taken me a long time to find my voice.
What makes you continue?
I’m the most inspired I’ve been in the last decade. So I guess it’s this inspiration that makes me continue. I feel like I have all of this music inside me that needs to find a way out.
How would you describe your sound?
Peru’s Jazz lessons seeking A Dip in the Pool, David Cunningham crying over Coil`s Dark Rivers, Giant Steps a study of Interiors, Watanabe woe’s, Proto Polynesian Percussion, Geese chasing Ghosts, Guem guarding his serpents, David Darling’s Darling’s, Jun’s Nicole to Hiroshi’s Claudia, Francis a survivor of 99 versions.
There`s an obvious tribal sound to you current recordings, does this reflect your Australian home, or the places you have visited on your travels?
I guess a bit of both really. I’ve spent most of my time in Australia so there are naturally many influences that appear in my songs. A lot of the time I like my music to be a reflection of the natural environment around me. From a neighbouring Jazz saxophonist in Munich, live tribal percussion elements from Papua New Guinea and birdsong from the Dandenong`s they all play their part.
Do you use field recordings in your work?
Yes in all of my songs. A while ago I had a conversation with a certain UK label head who had a running joke with a certain US label head where the US label head was like “I’m going to make a T-Shirt that says “No more fucking birdsong”. His advice was to ditch the field recordings in my music. But I can’t, as I said my music is a reflection of my environment. In my studio I don’t have any soundproofing and most days the windows are wide open. Every time I’m making a song there are birds chirping through the windows and other incidental nature sounds creeping in. When I bounce out a recording and listen to it in the car it always feels lacking without the natural ambience in there, so I’ll take a walk outside with my beaten up Zoom and sample what’s happening around me.
How does the music on your upcoming Aficionado release differ to that on the International Feel E.P.?
Nado12 was written about 3 months after IFEEL035 and that`s pretty much the only difference. I think they compliment each other well.
On the Aficionado release I can hear stuff like Nuel, Jansen, Barbieri, and Takemura Nobukazu. Are you aware of any of these artists? Were they an influence?
No not at all. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t just google them all just then. Although after we locked in Nado12 Moonboots referred me to the Nuel`s ”Trance Mutation” LP. I can’t believe he wrote it all in a week. That blows my mind.
Were they recorded at different times, under different influences?
The only influence difference would be location. Some of the Aficionado track sketches were written in Summer in Greece. Where as IFEEl035 was predominately written here in Victoria.
Had you released any music prior to the International Feel records? Are the stories about the tapes true?
There was definitely a tape, but the stories surrounding its discovery seem to grow wilder every day. I love Piccadilly’s write ups! They are good for a laugh. I received a Facebook message from a kid who said he found a copy of “Songs For Sunsets” in a Red Cross Charity in Leeds. I don’t believe him.
Where is your favourite place to play / party / other?
My favourite place is at home in my apartment with friends over, sitting on the floor in animated conversation, wine in hand, playing background music that no one pays much attention to. If I have to venture out I like to play records at small intimate bar settings. During summer playing outdoor venue’s in the afternoons is more my pace. I like slower scenery.
What are you most proud of?
My releases on International Feel and Aficionado Recordings.
Who are you working with?
No one previously, but I’ve scheduled to work with a couple Jazz and Funk players on bass and guitar in 2015.
How did you get involved with the Oceans Apart project?
A while ago I was recording in Brunswick and was introduced to Dan Whitford at the studios there. We must have both been doing an extensive recording session because we kept bumping into each other every second day or so for about a month. We’d talk about music and how our recordings were going. One day he was like “We’re putting a comp out would you be interested in contributing a track?” Dan’s a really great guy so of course I said yes.
Do you feel supported by a Melbourne scene? Is there a lot of collaboration, sharing of ideas going on?
I wouldn’t say supported. There is an amazing scene down here of really talented people all with different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds so it’s easy to feel really spoilt to be involved in such a great community of talent. But I`m no-one here. I doubt anyone has really heard of me. I don’t actively seek out gigs or throw my own parties. I like the anonymity.
Why do you think that this young scene has developed in Melbourne?
You know that is a really good question. I don’t know. As Australians we really are stuck on a desert island really far away from the rest of the world. So with a lack of physical accessibility breeds an intense desire to create something for ourselves.
What are your plans for 2015?
Firstly I’m really looking forward to Nado012 getting released, and then to keep writing as much as I can and enjoy the summer here in Australia before heading overseas again. I have a few edits I might self release. And a tape I`ve almost finished called Multiplication of Machinery, which is a live analog study. Side A is a diversion into Ambient minimal synth and Industrial mechanical sounds. Side B is a reflection of Side A but all made with organic materials and field recordings. Then there’s some funkier explorations I need to tie together. There`s a lot of sketches to finish. Should be a busy year.
Len Leise`s “Music For Forests” is out now on International Feel, and his “Landscape Language E.P.” will be released on Aficionado later this month (there are some clips over at the Aficionado Soundcloud page https://soundcloud.com/aficionado-recordings/len-leise-asmat-images-ambient-mix).