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Interview with David Leask
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I would answer that question by saying that I heard the music and followed it. I did have a few pointers along the way. There was a piano in our scout room and I would get the caretaker to let me in early so I could fool around with it before I had any lessons or ability. I eventually recognized this as the pull that music had on me. But my dad was a drummer in a skiffle band which probably influenced me to play drums in a band and I also absorbed as much as I could from listening to my older brother’s record collection.
I was very keen on art at school and had visions of venturing into the graphic world so that could have been a different artistic adventure!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Maybe it sounds vague but I like to stay alive in the life I’m living - be present to what is around me, whether it’s a bird call in nature when I’m taking a walk, a conversation in a pub or at home with my wife, making up a recipe in the kitchen or something I see that intrigues me to read it in depth. All of those things I believe can feed the creative process of songwriting and playing if you are living creatively.
How long have you been making music?
Four decades in some form or another from piano lessons in my teens to playing drums in a punk band and now being an acoustic guitar playing singer/songwriter!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based out of Morin-Heights, QC, having moved here a few months ago and I would say it has a different cadence from life in the city of Mississauga where I lived the last 25 years. The surroundings and pace of life can inform the writing in a more reflective manner. That said, I’m always open to writing an angst-filled heavy rock song when it comes in on the wind!
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I think one of the most memorable shows was opening up for Mike Scott of the Waterboys in Toronto. I got the call the morning of the show as the opener couldn’t make the show. It was at the Trinity Centre and he was touring his album “Bring ‘Em All In”. Mike had been a big influence and I loved the album. The experience was nerve wracking and life changing at the same time.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I’m not so much about the space but the place between the audience and myself. That can be created in an intimate setting at a house concert or a cool club if the stars are aligned and some amazing musicking can take place. I’ll play anywhere if there’s a chance of making that happen.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Hothouse Flowers, The Wooten Brothers, Darrell Scott and Blue Nile
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Allow yourself to be taken on a journey by music, let it teach you and help you fulfill your truest nature. Be prepared to discover some gold in all the struggles you will encounter along the way and if you love it enough, you will never give up!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Obviously, that’s a tough question, like asking which one is your favourite child. For now, I would say it’s my most recent song that I wrote only a few weeks ago. It’s called “Gold in the Golden Years”. It captures observations of people in the last chapter of their lives and all the struggle and gold there is still to be found during those years, if you are able to “move through the pain, climbing mountains of change, to reach gold in the golden years.”
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Ancestors’ Eyes is a crowd favourite, as is Red Balloon.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
My creative process is to listen to my instincts and pick up a guitar or wander to the piano when I feel the urge to do that. When I get there, I try to let my fingers do the walking and keep listening but not controlling. Oh, and make sure you have a tape recorder or phone nearby if you hear something!
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I guess I write a lot of song about struggle and pain, burdens and blessings, that I feel are ultimately trying to send out a message of hope, but not in a Pollyanna way. My upcoming record “One Ray Of Light At A Time” will be a record weighted with those kind of tunes. They are the songs that often feel like they are coming to me as rays of light, to encourage me or reveal something broader about where I am and what’s going on. I find that writing from a place that is authentically personal translates to songs that are, at the same time, universal.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My latest single is “Feet In Your Shoes” which is a song about empathy that I’ve released as an E(empathy)-Card that you can send to someone you think needs encouragement. The E(empathy)-Card can be found at http://www.davidleask.com/ecards. My upcoming record “One Ray Of Light At A Time” will be out in November.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Best to sign up for my mailing list at davidleask.com or follow me on Facebook and youtube @davidleaskmusic