Interview with Composer and Sound Artist Clem Leek

Clem Leek is a composer, sound artist and sound designer, the latest creator to join us for an interview in Monologue Blogger’s Conversation Series.

Clem Leek derives from the U.K. and grew up playing music, most notably being trained as a pianist, but also gravitating towards any instrument he could get his hands on to create sound.  He draws from a wide range of genres that inspires his music with a contemporary mix that has become known as ‘Modern Classical’.

You grew up studying as a pianist, as well as played other instruments, do you come from a musical family?

Clem Leek:  I grew up in a house appreciative of music, I was very lucky. Although my parents are not musicians, they exposed me to music and the arts at a young age.

What were some of the other instruments you grew up playing?

Clem Leek: I enjoyed playing all sorts of things! Piano, guitars, singing and anything else I could get my hands on.

At what point in time would you say you began to realize that you were a musician?

Clem Leek: From a very young age! I used to fall asleep under my bed signing as a toddler and have always loved and played music.

Have you ever had any doubt about pursuing your passions?

Clem Leek: Not really. When growing up I did a lot of music and drama and knew it would be either one or the other. Going into the arts is not an easy thing and it has taken a lot of work to become fully professional. I am sure I will always keep drama in my back pocket in case it all goes wrong haha.

Your sounds are described as Modern Classical, for those people that are not familiar with the term, can you share in what that means personally for you?

Clem Leek: I agree it’s a little ambiguous. I suppose what it means is using my classical background to make music in a modern context. My music is so intrinsically linked, not only with acoustic instruments, but to an ever-changing world of modern technology. It is a mixture of traditional techniques and instrumentation with a modern electronic processes.

On your website it says on your about page that you are often inspired by natural sounds for your music.  I was hoping you can elaborate on that…

Clem Leek: I guess that comes from growing up in the countryside. Not only using actual sounds and field recording in my music, but allowing the pace of country life to feed into my tracks. Now I am in a city, it certainly has changed my musical process. My future releases will definitely show that!

Can you name some musical artists that you would be interested in collaborating with?

Clem Leek: Oh so many….. My honest answer is any musician. I love collaborating, especially with my friends!

Do you ever get choked up with your music, meaning, do you ever go through a period or a situation where you feel you cannot create music or struggle with creating music?  If so, what do you do to get out of that funk?

Clem Leek: All the time! I actually have almost a full hard drive of nonsense music that I have rejected. You just have to work through it and not get disheartened. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t.

Who are some of your influences or musical artists that you admire?

Clem Leek: Oh my! So many! I listen to jazz, electronic, classical etc…. You name it, I listen to it. It’s too hard to answer that question.

Would you say that you approach your music differently when it comes to working on a video versus a song versus a sound track for a film?

Clem Leek: Yes I think so, but it’s subconscious. All projects are different and I try to take a slightly different approach with each one. It all depends on who I am working with too.

One of my favorite songs you’ve created is, “Blessed Those Tired Eyes“.  How did that song come about?

Clem Leek: To be very frank I can’t really remember the full details. At the time I was travelling back and forth a lot between the UK & USA at the time to see my girlfriend, who I have since married. The track is named that because of a time she got off the plane to see me and she was so very tired. She is a wonderful person.

Is there a difference for you in the feeling of playing your music before an audience versus recording an album for example?  

Clem Leek: Oh yes, totally different! I love playing in front of an audience. It is where all the hard work pays off! I also love the privacy of the studio however. I feel no-one is judging me haha.

Do you have a favorite venue that you’ve performed in?

Clem Leek: Oh so many! I have been very lucky to have very attentive audiences and beautiful venues from houses to old wool mills! I honestly cannot pick one.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve ever had playing before a crowd?

Clem Leek: I have had a few, but I guess the one that sticks in my mind is spilling beer all over my laptop. Luckily it turned back on but it did make me look like a numpty haha.

Clem, what advice could you give to other musical artists that are trying to get their sound heard and shared?

Clem Leek: Keep trying! Put all of your effort into the music and you will have something you are very proud of. Talk to other musicians, they will always be happy to help and push you in the right direction!

You’ve worked with video artists, can you talk to us about those projects?

Clem Leek: Oh yes i’ve worked with many. I have really enjoyed all of the projects I have taken part in! I have great respect for video artists.

What’s on the horizon for you?  Are you currently working on a new album? Have any performances coming up?  Anything that you would like to share with us?

Clem Leek: I am currently working on a number of projects and it looks like I will have an album out shortly, along with some other things! I am very lucky to have such great people to work with!

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Chris Jacobs

Chris Jacobs is a Contributing Writer for Monologue Blogger. He is currently working on a graphic novel, expected to be released come 2017. In addition to being a writer, Chris is also known to create music for independent films.