Sydney’s Leura burst onto the scene with her breaktaking singles ‘Drifter’ and ‘Shallows’ and followed these up with her stunning debut Creatures of Sight late last year. Tomatrax caught up with Leura to discuss her music.
Where did the name Leura come from?
Obscurity – Holistically from the name you can’t gather much info. I like the mystery of not being able to tell if it’s a solo act, a band, a female, male, a name, a different language, a place, and so on. It’s a complete coincidence that there is a town called Leura in the Blue Mountains.
Why did you choose to use a stage name rather than your actual name?
Obscurity again 🙂 Also, my name and surname are both pretty unusual. If they can’t get it right throughout high school, or on my coffee, I didn’t think I’d have much luck in the media world.
Where did you get the inspiration for the hunter and bleeder cycle?
Everything I write about comes from personal experience, including the hunter/bleeder cycle in a relationship. Originally, I wrote a song with the lead line “Go forth, into the east, beast” – Instead of keeping it as a song, I decided to explore the topic as a whole, flesh it out and create a cycle. After all, if you only keep heading east, you end up exactly where you started.
You’ve mentioned that the concepts revolve around distorted hindsights, do you think there are still times where you take on the hunter and bleeder personas at the same time?
Absolutely. While I’ve learned a great deal about myself and others from that experience, half the irony of the record is about cycles, and the difficulty humans have learning from their mistakes.
You’ve described your release as 8 tracks of agony, was there any agony in writing or playing the tracks?
Writing is very much a cathartic experience, there is agony involved, but it’s good agony. Playing is a different story. I relive the experience every single time, but I hope that only carries through as an authentic performance. Playing live is a moment to vent for me, and while it can be excruciating, it’s also healing at the same time. Generally I’ll become completely consumed in the show, lose all track of time and emerge exhausted, yet completely refreshed. Pain can be a beautiful thing if used correctly.
There is a mix of interesting instruments, how did you pick what instruments to use?
I have a standard set-up of drums, two guitars, piano and bass – And a pretty extensive pedal board. Any other instruments were determined by the mood of the song, and the general mood of the EP. There are actually two bass guitars playing on every track, except one has an enormous amount of reverb and tremolo to create a very spacey, signature sound on the whole record. All other instruments or sounds like glockenspiel, cello bows or shattering glass were added in the moment, to reflect the ambience needed to convey the emotion.
Where did you get the idea to use drumming on a steering wheel of a car?
I spend a large amount of time in my car driving around for no reason, listening to music. My steering wheel is totally battered, and my knuckles have calluses from all the years of drumming along in my car. It’s where my creative juices flow the best, and drumming along to other songs is basically how I learned the confidence to multi-task instruments, stay in time, and discover time signatures. I’ve written a lot of melodies and beats just from sitting in my car, so it was a pretty nostalgic and sentimental thing to have it on the record.
What was the inspiration behind the video for Drifter?
‘Drifter’ is about hindsight and regret. There is a sub-tone of suicide, but it’s more of a suicide as a renewal, rather than a finality. The location is a lake near to where I grew up, and one at which I spent many peaceful hours writing and reflecting. The lake was there for sentimental reasons, but the concept of the video is all about despair and renewal.
Is it hard to transfer the studio sound to the live stage?
Not at all – between me and my lead guitarist, our pedal boards are pretty extensive, and we easily re-create what we did in the studio. There are no tricks on the record, and aside from having to choose which of the many layers are most important to play, I’m quite proud of how we accurately we re-create the soundscape.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Unashamedly, yes 🙂 It’s a genre that speaks close to me. It doesn’t happen very often, but if I’m feeling nostalgic, or my heart is tugging on that particular experience, I find it cathartic to go back and listen to it.
What other music do you listen to?
In no particular order, a few of my ultimate are Laura Marling, Warpaint, Silversun Pickups, A Perfect Circle, Jeff Buckley, George, Lauryn Hill, Coco-Rosie, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Tallest Man on Earth. My influences are pretty broad across genres. I guess Radiohead is probably a given.
Now that the EP is out, what do you plan on doing next?
I’m currently working on a video for Skeleton Swoon, which involves some beautiful imagery and a lot of fire! Otherwise, I’m very focused on the follow up album. I’m stepping away from heartbreak completely, and exploring the festering notion of secrecy and harm. It’s a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ kind of approach to terror, where the ‘Hydes’ of this world become the devil’s royalty.
Check out Leura’s Facebook page to find out more!