When we first started listening to some of Jef Leeson’s music, we were struck by the seemingly whimsical nature of this musical artist (I mean, that avatar alone!!!). However, as we progressed through his videos and tracks, we quickly heard the maturity and clarity of sound that can only come from years of practice and experience.
Check out one of our favorite videos from Jef Lesson, Anything Like Me, which has that “down home” country sound that may make you wonder if he’s in Texas, not Ontario:
Who is Jef Leeson?
Jef Leeson has been playing and writing pop, rock, country and folk music since his mid teens. He grew up in a very musical (and musically supportive) family. In his early twenties, he found full-time work as a performing musician and toured around Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. During that time, he appeared on many local TV and radio shows, leading him to start his own studio and boutique label.
He’s released 5 albums and has produced dozens more by other artists in Ontario in numerous genres, from gutter-punk Christian (this is a thing?) through barbershop quartets.
Q & A with Jef Leeson?
Do you play with bands or only as a solo artist?
I perform mostly as a solo artist, but have the duo The Pub Krawlers on the side, and, occasionally, hire myself out as a sideman.
What instruments do you play?
Vocals (…play ‘vocals’?), guitar and bass. Have studied piano and drums… missing out on the required fine-tuned coordination, though.
Do you record in a professional studio or an at-home studio?
Both. I use larger pro studios on bigger budgets and my own studio for most of my own (and own label) releases.
Give us a little insight into your home recording process?
My studio is built around a custom recording computer, running the DAW Reaper with Superior Drummer and a variety of VSTi instruments. The system and accessories are very adaptable to any genre.
I use some Line 6 guitar mod hardware/software, Gibson, Fender, and Epiphone guitars, and many different mics.
The right performing gear depends on the genre of music being recorded. Proper selection is key to bringing the tracks to life.
I edit, mix and master almost everything I produce. Again, with a good budget, I may farm out any of those services.
What musical genre do you classify yourself as?
Pop/rock, country and folk, personally.
How would you describe your music?
A fresh and relatable take on almost anything about life.
What was the first song you recall performing publicly?
Well! It was a song at a church Christmas concert… probably Frosty, but, then again, so is my memory on this!
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
Mike Oldfield, Andy Partridge (XTC), Don Dixon, Guy Clark, Roy Forbes, Barry Brown (Canadian country artist), The Knack, Klaatu and many others.
What milestones have you reached in your music career that you’d like to share?
– touring Canada, the Caribbean and in Europe
– performing at shows to +15k audiences
– establishing my own label & producing dozens of albums
– releasing my own albums
– making music my career – best milestone!
What is your fondest musical memory?
Hearing my song & voice on the radio for the first time… probably tops it all.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what song would it be?
Tubular Bells… side one. Yes, it’s long but it IS one track!
[Well played, sir. Well played.]
How often do you perform live?
About twice a week.
What types of events/venues do you generally perform at?
Everything from pubs to concerts to corporate & private parties.
How do you handle mistakes in a live performance?
Ignore them, mostly, as do most listeners. The show must go on.
Any totally embarrassing anecdotal story from one of your performances?
Not really. A zipper broke one night on stage. Much more embarrassing things occurred off or back stage, though.
[back stage shenanigans have been censored]
Do you write your own songs?
Yes. I imagine the total is over 1000 by now. It started out as catharsis and turned into something others want to hear.
What projects are you currently working on?
Finishing up 2 tracks for an animated film, preparing some acapella cover songs, and always working on new shows & promotion.
What needs for elevating your music career aren’t being met?
Promotion. Promotion. Promotion. I may wear too many hats.
Anything not covered you’d like to add?
Unsolicited music biz advice: keep your ears wide open and chops well greased, select your working relationships and decisions very carefully, and work your ass off.
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