Yhan Leal: A Journey into the Musical Sublime
Interview by Nicole Hind
You’ve described your music style as chilled, ethereal and meditative. It’s the perfect sound for the Bellingen Shire, but is this region the main source of your inspiration or have you always had a bit of ‘ocean-forest pixie’ in you?
I think I’ve always had it. My favourite songs on albums are almost always the mellow ones. My earliest memory of a connection to nature in a serene and calming way is when I was a boy in Colombia. My mother would take us to the river and we’d swim and sit on rocks and I remember the sound clearly, it was alive and soothing at the same time. When I go to the Never Never it’s similar, and I relive those memories.
What does performing your music to a live audience mean to you?
Everything, it’s a way of life. Music is a way of communicating beyond words and gestures. Even I don’t always know what I’m communicating, but the music has a way of resonating with the deeper parts of myself, the more sublime parts. Playing live is also like exploring reality in a different way, a more spontaneous and playful way.
How does your Colombian background influence your creative process?
That’s interesting. Lately I’ve been reading some Colombian novels and getting inspiration for my songs. I do ponder my past, my roots and it’s part in my creative process. My Great Great Grandfather Carlo was Italian and a multi-instrumentalist. He made his living as a musician before immigrating from Italy to Venezuela. He had a son also called Carlos who had my dad Armando who had me. It’s all there, you can’t escape your roots.
Are you writing any new songs at the moment? Can you reveal anything special listeners might like to know about your latest offering?
Yes I’m writing a lot, I actually have 10 new demos on my new Fan-Club website http://yhanleal.com, I’m trying to release a new song every month, hopefully with a video. The goal is to write over twenty before I choose the tracks for album four. I’ve recently dropped a new song called ‘Luna” which is a love letter to a past lover and recorded a video in a really beautiful space. I’m excited.
Recently you’ve been playing with a band in addition to going solo. What’s the biggest difference in having Scot Aird on bass and Lawrence Pastro on drums involved in your sound?
Having a band is such a satisfying experience, to feel the bass and the amazing vibe it adds to the songs. Then to feel the drums create movement and rhythm, and when the whole thing becomes one, amazing. The chemistry is the biggest difference, vibing off each other and hearing the song bigger and better than the solo version. It also lends my songs to a wider audience; it’s not as subdued, or as mellow. The band is called Yhan Leal and the Neverland Band, which a special friend named for us!
We love playing your beautiful recordings here at 2bbb. Like a number of artists these days, you mentioned you have a crowdfunded fan club to support you to continue to produce music. How does that relationship work?
Thank you, I love Triple B and all the crew, so supportive of the local and touring musos. My last record was crowdfunded and it made all the difference. For this next album I’m allowing fans to subscribe to my website in return for exclusives such as being the first-to-see and receive content, like my demos, secret songs, and videos. The goal is to create a community of patrons that value my work especially, and it gives me not only the monetary means to create and record music, but also inspiration and unique feedback from dedicated fans.
You’re a keen surfer… would you be willing to tell us one of your favourite local surfing spots?
I discovered surfing in Lennox Head when I lived there. It was the soothing sound and feeling of water. I’ve become a devotee of the ocean and it’s magical elixir. On the East Coast the good waves are plentiful, so wherever I’m playing, I’m surfing. Or swimming. Or floating about. I do spend a fair time busking and playing in and around Coffs, so I always love the breaks there. As for my favourite wave, I’d like to keep that to myself, but I may see you out there! Aloha