September 4, 2015

We go behind the scenes with singer-songwriter, Leo Stannard at a Manchester prison on shoot for his new music video ‘19‘, featured on the upcoming Free Rein EP. We’ve fallen head over heels for the young singer’s raspy yet soulful vocals. His Notions EP, released last year, is a folky and dreamy soundscape that transports you somewhere beautiful and wild. It’s quite a contrast then, that the shoot for his new video takes place in a Manchester prison. We caught up with Leo on the video, the upcoming release of his EP, being in an 8-piece band and his inspirations…

UO: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

I started playing guitar when I was 9 and I’ve been songwriting and been playing in bands ever since. I’ve always loved music and have always wanted to do it, but never really thought that it’d be possible. Then, when I was 15 I realised that I could actually do this professionally and contribute to the music world.

UO: How would you describe your sound?

I think that’s a really hard thing to do. I hate appearing pretentious about this sort of stuff but I prefer people to listen to my music and make their own minds up.

UO: Who inspires you personally and professionally?

I like to listen to a wide variety of music from Snarky Puppy to Neil Young. For me, I find that it is beneficial to listen to as much great music as possible, and I feel like I am definitely influenced and inspired in some way by all the crazy things I listen to (obviously, some more than others). I think it’s good to not only be inspired by people who are working in your supposed ‘genre’, so you can to create more musical possibilities.

My close friends definitely inspire me personally, especially with the way they think about general things. Also, a lot of the people I work with are very inspiring, from the business side of things, to the creative side of things. I learn so much from these people and it’s an absolute pleasure to be working alongside them.

UO: What’s your favourite musical era?

As much as I love and admire some of the greats that have been writing such incredible songs in the past (especially in the last 60 years). I think what’s happening now in music is very exciting. If you look a little deeper into what’s going on, I think there’s some really great stuff happening now.

UO: What bands or artists did you listen to growing up? Has that had an affect on your style?

I grew up listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, The Beatles, Sting, Bach, Dave Brubeck and many more. These artists have had a massive affect on me musically, so I suppose this must have helped to create my style.

UO: One of the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt in your career so far?

Trust your own judgement. Don’t be persuaded to do or think the wrong things by professionals just because they’re professionals. Obviously, being young in the music industry, it’s very easy to just give in to what other, older, more experienced people are suggesting. But you have to stand your ground on certain things.

UO: What has been your summer highlight so far this year?

Quad biking through the Sanai desert.

UO: Name an experience that’s had a strong effect on your approach to song writing.

Being in a band called MATTAYOUX, which was formed almost entirely of my A-level music class. It was an 8-piece band with drums, keys, guitar, bass, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet and cello. There were a few of us doing the writing for the band, so I guess working with all those different instruments really changed my approach to writing. When you have all those different instruments, you’re capable of so much. You learn a lot about how the other instruments work and what kind of sounds and melodies you can achieve – it’s very different to it just being you and your guitar.

UO: What’s the journey from initial seed of an idea through to final product?

It’s different every time. But mostly I mess around on my guitar, find something cool on there, then go on to vocal melodies. The lyrics are the last things I do in terms of the song. Then when the song is done, I go on to production/instrumentation ideas.

UO: You’re shooting the video in an old Manchester Prison. What’s the inspiration behind that decision?

I had total faith in the production company and they were really excited about this idea so I just handed over a lot of the creative side of things to them – something I’m not too used to doing. It’s all worked out really well and I’m excited for the video to be released.

UO: How are you feeling about the upcoming release of your EP and what’s next for you this year?

I’m feeling great about this new EP. I think it’s definitely the best thing I’ve done so far in my short career. As for the rest of the year, I’m just going to carry on recording my album. Also, there will be a few shows – a couple in America, one in London, one in Leicester (my hometown) and a few around Europe I think.

Check out the video for 19 below