Interview: Five Minutes with Leyya

With the bold intention of not producing a commercial song after a two-year break, duo Leyya has unveiled indie-pop gem ‘The Paper’ via Minor Changes. Humorous as much it is tragic, this song sums up the disaster the year 2020 has been for all. Winning two Amadeus Awards as a duo,  Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer have been celebrated their independent success as well. Sophie is the founder of the band My Ugly Clementine who featured on Spotify’s “Radar” Campaign and Marco won an Amadeus Award for his solo work. Despite the bleakness, this year has offered, some good things that have resulted, including this track.

We find out more about this acclaimed duo below.

It’s been two years since you’ve released music together. Tell us a bit more about your adventures and what you’ve learned during this time?

We have developed as people and as musicians. You can hear that in our new music. 

We have worked with other people and made music for other projects. We figured out what we like and don’t like even more, and what we can and cannot do or where we are good at, and where the other part of the band is maybe better.  We have refined our sound, even more, knowing that it will probably change in one or two years again.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

It’s the way we can communicate with ourselves and our emotions, as well as the audience.

Do you feel art (and music) should reflect the current world or be an escape from it?

I guess it always does even if you don’t see it. People who make art mostly process everything that is going on through their work. Some decide to directly speak through it some don’t and it’s a decision you make (that you can change over the years of course). I think the best combination would be to reflect on it but escape it at the same time, that’s what we try to at least.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It always depends on our mood and situation. We always try to start differently, to not repeat ourselves, and come up with new ideas. So sometimes we play around with sounds to trigger a certain emotion and feeling. And sometimes we have already an idea in our heads that we then try to translate into a sound.

When looking for inspiration for your work, how much of your attention is focused on the work of other musicians vs. completely external sources (people, places, emotions)?

I can’t really tell how much from one side or the other, but I can for sure say that both of them inspire us. We process our emotions and experiences with and through our music and the music we listen to ourselves subconsciously inspires the way we make it. As we change what we listen to, we do change our style as we experience more in life we change the way we express ourselves. It’s pretty balanced I’d say

What’s on your current playlist?

The Neighbourhood, Haim, Young Fathers, The Beatles, Julia Jacklin, Hether, Funkadelic, …

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

It’s like a cycle of emotions and energy that you give and get back, that builds and builds.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

We don’t really experiment. Sometimes a certain sound or instrument speaks to us for whatever reason. And when we use it, it feels like it snaps into its place to stay where it should be and to inspire us for a certain song or a whole sound experience.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I guess we both always kind of knew that we wanted to do music as a profession because we both knew that this one of the only things we were good at. But we as well knew that it is hard to actually make it as a musician, especially in Austria. So we just tried and tried and gave our best and did what we always did – make music. Somehow it worked. But there was never one certain moment, we kind of always knew and did everything for it.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Dextrose sugar, because Marco is diabetic. And water, because one can get pretty thirsty on stage.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Aze, Sharktank, Doppelfinger, Don’t Go, Liz Metta.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Experiences, emotions, encounters with people, music – I guess life itself.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

We have this old acoustic guitar that was lying in a church for a while until we bought it from there. It inspired us to write ‘The Paper’ and other songs. We use a UAD Interface which has really nice plugins we both love. An old kids-piano from the Netherlands, that now has its place in our studio as well. A Jazzmaster Marco and his dad built from old pieces. Some synths that always change, cause we get used to their sounds too easy.

Any side projects you’re working on?

We both are very busy working on music. It’s not always Leyya, but working on other projects inspires  our main project. Marco started a project called Sharktank and Sophie’s other project is called “My Ugly Clementine”.  Both of them are completely different but I guess you can still hear ourselves in there if you listen closely.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Always. As we change as people, we change our music taste and the way we work and write. We have gained more experience in producing and writing too. That’s why none of the Leyya albums and the new stuff we wrote fit together or repeats. We just love making whatever we want and fits for the very moment we write them.

As the industry has been ravaged by the pandemic and its economic consequences, it’s tempting to focus on the negatives at the moment. Tell us about some of the positive experiences you’ve had with music this year.

We had a lot of time to write new music. Not just for our main project Leyya but for other projects as well that inspire Leyya in the end. It’s a cycle. And I feel that people are drawn to music more than ever, as a comfort, and it’s nice to see listeners feeling safe and heard when they listen to music we make.

As festivals and other forms of live music are reshaped, do you think we can expect to see a dynamic shift in the way music is experienced by the general public? 

I guess we can only wait and see. At the moment we can’t play live at all, so I hope we can do that soon again at least.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

2020 is almost over so ‘The Paper’ is what you get for now. Next year there will be more things to come. Maybe an album. Who knows.

Famous last words?

Thanks for listening.

Stream & purchase ‘The Paper’

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