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A Dirty Dozen with LEO SAWIKIN – February 2021

| 9 February 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Produced by two time Grammy winner Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker) and largely mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Tony Black (Alicia Keys), Leo Sawikin’s previous single, “Golden Days,” and its late 2020 single release, marked the beginning of a unique rollout of tracks (including several double-sided singles and videos) from Sawikin’s debut album, Row Me Away, tentatively set to drop in May 2021. These include “Born Too Late”/”Take What You Want” (February 5), followed by the release of the “Born Too Late” Rockwood video and music video, as well as the release of the “Take What You Want” Rockwood video.” We get Leo to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo credit: Griffin Lotz

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

“Born Too Late” and “Take What You Want” are probably two of the most visceral things I’ve ever written. In “Born Too Late,” everything is very upfront and apparent. The only thing people might not get right away is that the bridge is in a different key than the rest of the song. “Take What You Want” has more things hidden in the background. There is a lot of ambient noise worked into the reverb in the song, some of which is backwards, which the typical listener will feel but not necessarily know it’s there. Also the back half of the song is an entirely different tempo.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realize you wanted to be a musician?

I was inspired by “School of Rock” to learn guitar when I was 9 and fell in love with the idea with being in a band.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

When I was a freshman in college, I listened to Smile and Pet Sounds for the first time, and that really helped me to find my voice as an artist. The albums demonstrated to me the amazing power of using harmonic complexity to create a unique vibe and dream-like perspective in a song.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Brian Wilson, Radiohead, Jimmy Webb, Jimmy Page, and Joni Mitchell.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

My ideal collaboration right now would be to do something Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes. I would love to have him do a background vocal arrangement on one of my songs. I feel like our styles would work well with each other.

6. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’m a solo artist so I do all of these things by myself.

7. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

One time I was running at Equinox, and I realized that Jonah Hill was running next to me in a hoodie with his hood up.

8. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I just love the rush of it all; it’s a very out-of-body experience for me. I love the feeling of sitting in the space of a song and being surrounded by sound. Also, I love the thrill of the competitive aspect of music, and touring is so much fun when I get to do it. My dream job if I couldn’t be in music would be to be a chef or to be a paleontologist. I would love either of those occupations.

9. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I love answering questions about my writing process and philosophy and my influences. I once was interviewed by Huffington Post, and the first question they asked me was, “Have you heard of Rick Astley?” and I said no, and they said, “Ha ha, you just got rick rolled.” I did not like that at all.

10. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Spending tons of money on high-budget photo shoots and music videos was probably my biggest mistake. There was really zero ROI, and I didn’t even like what we would get back half the time. We probably spend less than a third of what we used to spend on all that stuff. Wish we had spent that money elsewhere.

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Definitely the recording of Pet Sounds. It would have been so amazing to see the Wrecking Crew and Brian Wilson at work recording a lot of this stuff live. In addition to having some of my favorite songwriting ever, the production is also truly astonishing. The vibe of the live recordings, all the bleed, combined with the best chord progressions anyone has ever written, is truly breathtaking. It would have been so cool to see that come to life.

12. Due to the current world situation with COVID-19/quarantine/shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

The thing I miss the most is being out and about in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn going to bars, seeing and playing shows, using gross bathrooms, and using my weed vape that looks like a walkie talkie in public.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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