Interviews

The wonders of songwriting and the grand powers of collaboration with Nicholas Leech

Easy listening mastermind Nicholas Leech released his stunning EP Wild Heart a month ago, a transcendental and wholly individual take on soothing pop.

We reached out to Leech after hearing the record, eager to dive a little deeper on where it all came from.

nicholas leech wild heart album

He may have only just released his spellbinding EP Wild Heart, but songwriting sensation Nicholas Leech still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

HAPPY: Hey, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?

NICHOLAS: I’m great! I’m just relaxing and taking a second to take it all in!

HAPPY: This is your first EP, but when did you start making music?

NICHOLAS: I started singing before I could talk, but started really writing and creating my own music about six years ago now. I just felt like, the way the industry is at the moment, the best way to get a foot in the door would be to become a songwriter. After a few years, couple hundred songs, and a lot of time perfecting my style, here I am.

HAPPY: And how long have you been playing live? Have you had any standout shows?

NICHOLAS: I’ve been playing live for seven or eight years now. It all started at school actually, I was the only one at my school who had the guts to get up and sing, so I got every opportunity thrown at me! I had the opportunity to sing at Sydney Olympic Park with my mate Jai Waetford, sing at the Seymour Centre, Town Hall a few times, heaps of great opportunities, and meanwhile branching out and singing weddings and events all around Sydney, but I always loved performing my original songs at my school the most, for some reason!

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HAPPY: Run us through your process. Do you self-produce? Which instruments did you play on Wild Heart?

NICHOLAS: Yeah, I self produce. For Wild Heart, I actually wrote five full albums and scrapped them all before getting to the final album, which I still scrapped around 40 songs from the album.

I’d say my process varies for everything. I play all the instruments on the album, from guitar to synths to drums and all the vocals (except the featured vocals of Atalya Masi on When I Come Home). When I write, an idea just kind of sparks. It’s not a planned thing, it’s not something I control, it just kind of happens, and when I get it, I can literally hear the whole song, it’s just a process of making it. So, from there, I recorded all the parts and ideas to each song, wrote the lyrics, and recorded, mixed and mastered (all on a laptop, a broken guitar, a stage mic, and a cheap keyboard from JB Hi FI). Some songs were ready for release in three hours, some took nine months. There’s no real way to learn or write a song, it’s something everyone finds different, it’s a personal thing.

HAPPY: The EP is really varied, is there a main theme to the songs or is it more of a collection?

NICHOLAS: I ultimately wanted to create a human album, something to make you feel and experience. In my head, I wanted this to be the album that, if you lived alone without ever meeting a single person, and you found a CD that perfectly describes what it means to be human, this was it. And, being a songwriter, I wanted to capture how the mind of a songwriter works as an artist. So, when I planned it out, I was really corny and made a mind map with the title in the centre, and wrote down all the branches of genres that I write and I feel encompass my music, and all the working titles of songs branching off that. From there, I stuck it on my wall and worked towards it everyday, an album that was eclectic, diverse, and made so that everyone would like a different song, no matter what musical preference. It was really a songwriter’s playground.

HAPPY: I’ve seen you post about a few ‘Songwriter Sessions’ on your Facebook. Could you run me through the idea behind these?

NICHOLAS: Yeah, gladly! Songwriter Sessions was created to highlight both my songwriting times and availabilities, and to help boost the people I am collaborating with. I have been able to write songs with so many people, both international and domestic, and of a variety of levels, from independents like Corey Woods and Benny Nelson, to people off the X Factor like Jayden Sierra (The Collective) and heaps of huge international artists, and I really want to show the world the amazing people I am blessed to work with, and help promote these artists by saying “hey, we’re working on a track, which means THEY’VE GOT NEW MUSIC!”

It builds a network between all of us, and a chance for other artists to gain new a new contact by saying “you worked with so and so, how did you get in contact” and voila, an instant community for us.

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HAPPY: Why do you think it’s so important to highlight the talents of your collaborators?

NICHOLAS: After I learnt how to write songs, I started collaborating with local artists around my area, I started working with my mate Icepak and featured on a few of his tracks. I would watch him work Garageband and Logic, and would go home and try it myself, and that’s pretty much how I learned to produce! So for me, I learnt a lot of what I know today through taking a risk and collaborating. I was kind of the ‘go-to’ kid in the area if you needed lyrics, so I got to work with literally everyone around, and it brought about this amazing community of people that grew to be my friends. I look around when we all get together and I always kind of gasp in shock, not knowing how I fit in!

There’s so much talent in such everyday people in the world, it always amazes me. Two years after I met these people, one of them has opened Waratah Records, with such amazing artists under it, another is a resident DJ at Candy’s, another just started a creative online movement called MOONSTONE, and is working with one of Jaden Smith’s friends, it’s just jaw dropping! I mean, you can go on talking about famous people and boosting your work with them to look like a big shot all day, but to be able to support amazing locals and friends who inspire me everyday, who wouldn’t want to showcase that!

HAPPY: Do you have anything else coming up?

NICHOLAS: I’ve always got something in my calendar! I am doing a few smaller gigs around the area at the moment, as well as heaps of radio promos and live promotions for the album. We’re working on possibly doing support acts for artists gigging around Sydney soon, and just a lot of reaching out and building up the music to showcase it to a wide audience. I’m also literally always writing songs, so expect to hear more and more music soon (an EP at the end of the year sounds alright to me).

HAPPY: And where do you think you’ll be taking Nicholas Leech in the future?

NICHOLAS: Look, my mum always thought my dreams were a bit far fetched, but you’ve gotta reach for the stars. Michael Bublé once said “when you play Madison Square Garden, that’s the home of the greats! That day, that day you’ve made it!” So, until that day, I think that’s a pretty good goal to set!

The dream is always there, but I honestly just want to spread the word about music, life and happiness. And if my music can help one person put a smile on their face, well, that’s made two of us!

 

Stay up to date with Nicholas Leech on his Facebook page.