In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to Leon Chatterton. #CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the the talent working within them.
PW- Hey Leon! How’s it going?
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
I chose scrawny upper middle-class guy for the album promotion as it’s catchy. But I guess I’m really a sort of upbeat guy with a very deep and thoughtful side and that’s the side that comes out in my music. I’m in a very privileged position and feel I have a plinth on which to say things so I want to use it.
As to what I do, I’m a contemporary folk singer songwriter, and I write poetic folk music to comment on my inner workings and the world around me, to document and understand what others and myself feel. I then perform it solo but we add extra instruments to the mix in recording. I like to keep the songs melodic too, lots of ups and downs, keeping the emotional stuff in it.
PW- You released an album in July called “Please”. What inspired you to give it this title, and is there a running theme evident in the music?
Haha! Been asked this a lot! “Please” was a song that was very edgy in terms of the things that were being said in it. All the words were written with good intent but when my mum literally lectured me on how some of the lines could be taken wrong, it was an instant “I love you, it’s a beautiful song, but you sit here quietly, and I’ll give you sweets every now and then”. The song was initially going to be on the album but obviously I felt it best to leave it behind. “Please” was still a pretty cool name though, so I left it for the album name (also cheeky advertisement because it looks like the album is literally being asked to be bought).
Regarding a running theme, nothing was in mind when I wrote the album. But it is sort of loosely based around personal development. This includes understanding the issues in local communities, with songs like “Song of The Unwanted” and politics and war in “Babes of War”, to understanding my own mental health in songs like “Those Ghosts”. So, in some ways you could interpret the running theme as myself growing up between October 2016 to September 2017.
PW- You’ve taken the album on a tour, which has a few dates left (at time of writing). What has been a highlight of this journey for you and why?
The tour has been totally humbling. When you’re playing in your home town you have an audience you have built and all these cool dudes, dude-ettes and those between that, who with one Facebook message will be down to come. I have had some absolute clangers of tiny audiences and some bigger ones at gigs on the tour, and it’s the smaller ones that make you humbled. I guess my main highlight was on the first date I stayed with a guy called Simon in Bristol. I didn’t know who he was until an hour before the gig, but it turned out that he was one of the kindest, most interesting and fun guys I’d ever met. He was so kind man, he got me tea, coffee and an omelette for breakfast before an enormous and thoughtful conversation on various topics. We also walked his dogs, legend. If there is ever a type of person you want to sofa surf with, it’s this dude. I think as well as that experience, just the general highlight is finally being able to be calm and relaxed in even the tiniest and hardest crowds. Having that thicker skin has already proved to be useful in these later dates. So yeah, highlights, Simon in Bristol and thick skin. Oh! Audiences in some places have been electric for a few gigs, folk gigs too mind you, so that’s been incredible. I’ve loved the tour in general, if you can’t tell. I can’t pick one highlight can I….
PW- The music industry as a whole has so many pathways and destinations, it can be hard as a young artist to focus on just one. What are your aspirations for the next few years of your career?
Well, I want to do this as my job. So so badly. I love everything, it’s a bit of a calling. So, my aspiration is to get signed eventually and get the music out and tour professionally. Unfortunately, I have to balance the point up to there with a day to day life as music currently is not financially sustainable. I’m moving to university in Birmingham in September to do Computer Science, but I’m really determined to not stop playing. I’ve already got 3 tours in the works for after the “Please tour, so I’m definitely trying my hardest to keep this momentum going and ensuring nothing stalls. So yes, I’d like to make it professional in the next few years. I’ve also written quite a lot of songs to make a second album, so I also hope to get a few more out in the coming years.
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
I work like this:
Something happens that makes me feel emotional. I sit on it for a day or two. I then hear a song that makes me feel the same type of emotional. 30 minutes later I have written a song. Then the song is given time to mature, I learn it, if I still like it once I’ve learnt it, I perform it, more maturing as I perform, then I’ll be in the studio recording it, and only then, once it is recorded, is the song possibly considered done. So, I guess it’s a mixture of both of those methods you listed.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I look back on everything I have done, all the compliments I’ve been given, all the confidence I can have on a good day and tell myself. Look mate, after all that, you can’t be that bad. You might just be good. Go get ‘em, keep working and show everyone what you can do, and change the ones that are making you stall mind. You have this skill and, like everyone’s work, your work has value. I’ll then go do something crazy like apply for a few festivals, tour dates and hastle my favourite artist for a support slot on his tour (the latter hasn’t worked yet…). But I’d suggest to follow something similar to what I do, put a positive spin on your losses!
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can see etc, no judgement!
Okay! So, I have a gig on the 25th at a pretty little Café called The Docks Coffee House in Southampton and Victorious Festival in Southsea on the 26th (on the Strong Island Acoustic Stage at 19:30). So all very fun and busy. I’m then back in the Studio at Armistice Records in Winchester to record a single with my producer on the 27th, before my last gig of the tour at The Talking Heads in Southampton on the 1st of September! You can find my album on Spotify and all the other ones, I have CD’s at gigs too! Hope to see you all around! And give me a like on www.facebook.com/leoncmusic/ and a follow me on Spotify, my artist name is Leon C and it has a blue tick next to it!