Story by Amy Fennie
Photo by Miranda Chiechi
It’s 2012 in Coppell, Texas. Stuart Leach’s high school band, Seastroke, decides to break up after putting out an album and an EP. Each member is going to school in a different part of the country, and let’s face it: long distance relationships are hard.
But Leach has been taking music seriously since he was 14. “I’ve been doing rinse and repeat since then, putting out albums and promoting them,” he says. After the breakup, Leach moved to New York to study electronic music at Bard College, and started making music under the eponymous alias Leach, which he calls “a recording and performing project.”
Fast-forward to today. Leach transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and has released two albums in this city, cutting three music videos with the help of his roommate, RTF major Ryan Wittle.
Leach released his first album “Roman Candles” in April 2014. Aside from his move to Austin, the album was inspired by another separation: a breakup after a yearlong engagement. “Roman Candles” is also filled with “circumstances of life” and “a feeling of being uprooted,” he says.
That same feeling permeates his second album “Kokedama,” along with updated themes of “isolation and modern love with a pop backbone,” as Leach describes them. “I am inspired by whatever I’m listening to at the time,” he says, and given his current affinity for Sufjan Stevens and Ryan Adams, this may explain his desire to branch out of electronic music to an acoustic style in the future.
If it seems like Leach has done a ton of of work in a short amount of time, it’s because his music is constantly on his mind. “I go through these cycles of, ‘I should be creating right now’ or, ‘Why can’t I create?’” he says. “But when I do, it’s a huge pay-off.” Leach compares his music to a crying baby, and thinks of himself as a mother who is constantly wondering, “How’s the babysitter doing?” He writes and produces all of his music himself, consulting only “a close circle of opinions he holds dear” for external feedback.
Leach practices his craft in his apartment — “unfortunately for my roommate,” he jokes. Although he uses a sampler, vocal looper, vocal harmonizer and electric guitar while playing live, he incorporates any instruments he can access on his albums, including midi and electronic elements.
The young artist feels his project hasn’t had a defining moment yet, but says the best moments for him are, “jumping around in my apartment, thrilled with what just happened musically.”
The acoustic “Down to a Science” off “Kokedama” may hint at the new direction Leach will take on his next album, which he hopes to release in January. “I hope this doesn’t come off as snotty or anything , but I’m kind of tired of electronic music now because it is so ubiquitous,” he says. “Anytime you turn on the radio, it’s probably two guys and a synth and either a male or female vocal,” Leach continues. This trend has prompted Leach to steer away from his early electronic sound and step out of his comfort zone.
Leach is currently on the tongue-in-cheek Texas World Tour, including a stop at the Gatsby tonight and the Swan Dive on Friday, the latter of which will feature support from Mr. Kitty and Esposa. To see all of his upcoming dates, follow him on Facebook and Instagram . In the meantime, check out Leach’s favorite track, “Blueberry Queen,” and mine, “Tru Luv” and Roman Candles,” at his website.