Culture

‘Feeling’ Zachary Leo’s New Sound

28 July 2020

In today’s age where the majority of mainstream music is filled with mind-numbing beats, Zachary Leo’s sound is a breath of fresh air. The 21-year-old Melbourne based artist began his journey in 2019 releasing the singles She and Lay You Down, and more recently released the extremely catchy single Not That Easy. Fresh off a string of live performances as part of a 5-piece act supporting Australian bands in 2019, Leo has been working hard to build his fanbase, performing live around Melbourne and working relentlessly on new music. His dedication is evident in his new single Feels, the first off his upcoming EP of the same name. The intimate lyrics establish a deep consideration of the emotional and fearful aspects of falling in love, which is sure to resonate with his listeners.

Sitting down – virtually of course, because of the lockdown – with Zachary to pick his mind regarding Feels, he emits the same calming vibe and feel as his music. A genuinely kind person, his passion for music and song writing is awe-inspiring.  

After leaving his band to pursue a solo career, Leo found himself “writing a lot more funk songs” to create his new style. He taught himself “how to play the organ and piano and started creating this new sound” for himself. Leo filled Feels with a plethora of carefully composed instruments, all of which add texture and create an impressive arrangement to the single. 

Leo shared his influences for the musicality and riff of Feels. His creativity was sparked by a D’Angelo record. After establishing the riff, “all the musical parts flowed after that from random spouts of creativity.” Sometimes his process involved trying to remember his musical ideas when out in public – “I’ll make a cringy recording of it on my phone and finally when I get home, I come up with a proper version of that melody,” Leo laughed.

“It went from me writing very simple rock songs where it’s two guitars on either side and a bass, to now finding what weird instrument I can pop in the back corner”

                                                                                                   – Zachary Leo

Leo’s soothing vocals remind me of a tree swaying softly in the breeze. His voice is entirely calming, and this song would be perfect to listen to whilst lying outside on a warm summer’s day. If an upbeat headbanger is more your style, I suggest you look elsewhere. Leo’s vocals demonstrate an ability to venture into other genres, however the calm and comforting sound he currently employs works best. 

Leo shared a heartwarming story of how he would “walk around the house and make up songs” when he was little. From a young age he “always wanted to be a Rockstar” and “write music” and now we’re privileged enough to follow Leo on his journey.

The lyrics written by Leo for this single are about his current girlfriend, and he reveals that Feels is “a lot more special to me because it’s so personal.” The honest nature of the lyrics exposes the universality of “wanting to fall in love” and “being scared and nervous to”, all written from Leo’s personal experience. The heartbreaking lyric of “things we never said” perfectly encapsulates the complexity of falling in love. Sharing his personal lyrics with his listeners requires Leo to expose his vulnerability, but Leo’s passion for this project has outweighed his nerves about sharing his personal experiences with the world. 

Leo’s upcoming EP will “play like one long piece” with “each song fading into the next”. As you’ll discover by listening to Feels, as well as the other songs on the EP, they tell stories of “feelings towards love and attraction and falling in love and being too scared to because of what might happen”. Each song on the EP is “about love in different ways” and Leo shone with happiness saying he’s proud of each song and will always love them and hopes someone else will. The kind and passionate way Leo discusses his work is inspiring.

“Originally it was just going to be Feels the single – it’s the stupidest story – but when I got the photo taken for Feels, the cover, I just got it back and I loved it so much that I couldn’t put it out as a single, I really would love to put it out with a  heap of songs attached to it”

                                                                                                   – Zachary Leo

After struggling with producers who “didn’t understand the sound” Leo wanted to convey through his music, he shared that he “thought I need to get really good at this quickly” and “worked my butt of and learned as much as I could”. He loved being in full control with no time limit to record and produce Feels and his EP.

Leo’s original sound and style is likely to help him build a loyal fanbase who will no doubt be lining up to hear him perform. Many artists may narrow down their demographic, however Leo’s sound is timeless and has the potential to reach listeners of all ages. His meaningful and heartfelt lyrics are something everyone can connect with. His talent extends beyond his lyrics, with the entire array of instruments present in Feels performed by Leo himself. The song’s melody does not intensify throughout, instead stays the same, allowing Leo’s deep and profound lyrics and musicality to shine as they are not lost amongst sudden tempo changes.

Leo’s EP will also be released on vinyl for a limited time! This decision perfectly aligns with Leo’s somewhat retro style and aesthetic, as hearing music in this form definitely taps into nostalgia. Leo’s funk soul style is exactly what we need right now amidst this incredibly bizarre time in the world. 

Overall, Leo wants his listeners to hear Feels with an open mind, feeling there is something “special about listening to a song for the first time”. 

“As long as people know it’s a love song and then they can listen and hopefully feel something – no pun intended”

                                                                                                   – Zachary Leo

Ultimately, this piece is a tender expression of the human condition. If the other songs on Leo’s EP feature similar heartbreaking and relatable lyrics as well as relaxing instrumentals and vocals, he will surely become a favourite around Melbourne in no time.

Zachary Leo’s new single Feels will be available on all streaming platforms on August 14th.


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