Leo Stannard is a young, britsh singer-songwriter with a lot of talent. He plays the guitar in a special and very uncommon way. In mid-October he visited Switzerland the second time this year for a little tour. In the comfortable backstage of the Mahogany Hall in Bern Leo had a chat with Negative White and talked about being on tour, guitars and notions.
You had a tight program this afternoon organised by PlayLIVE#Bern. How was it going?
Really good. We were in the Boulder Studios for a few hours and we did also an acoustic session they filmed in the old town of Bern. I played a couple of new acoustic tracks as well. You can find them on youtube and I’ll be playing all of them tonight.
This show will be in the Mahogany Hall in Bern but that’s not your first concert tour this year. In which countries have you performed up to now?
I did a short tour in April. That was in Basel, Zürich, Copenhagen and Berlin. Just four days, that was nice. Now I’m here for three days in Switzerland. It’s cool to come back and play in the same cities again. I will go to Germany again for a few more days next month as well. Actually it is just the beginning. But it’s good!
You said once that you like to travel around the world with your music. Now you’re at that point. Is being on tour how you imagined it to be?
I think obviously at the moment is kind of the beginning of everything. I only just really started touring. It is kind of how I imagined although I didn’t think that the crowd would be so nice and turn out as such an engaged audience. I thought that it would be a harder start to visit all this different countries and suddenly play all this headline gigs. But it had been amazing so far.
Is there a big difference between playing in England and playing in Switzerland?
Oh yeah! Massively different! The crowds here are a lot nicer! Generally nicer people. In England everyone is chatting and drinking at the bar even if they paid a lot of money for the ticket they will come to the show and they won’t focus on the actual gig. Here just everyone seems to enjoy the music, to come to the show to listen. That’s great.
You have a special technique to play the guitar. You use the guitar as your own percussion instrument while playing your songs. This technique is self-taught isn’t it?
Yes, that’s true.
But was there at any point of your life a guitar teacher who taught you a lot?
I had an amazing guitar teacher who I just stopped having lessons with. Since I was nine years old I had the same teacher for my whole life. He’s a really talented guitarist. But I was doing completely different stuff. He didn’t teach me anything about the percussion technique but he told me a lot about guitar playing in general. If got to thank him a lot for, definitely!
How many guitars do you own?
Yeah. But not all of them are very good though.
Do you have one favourite guitar?
I do! I got it just last year – it’s a Lowden guitar. They are handcrafted in Ireland in a tiny, little workshop and they make the most beautiful guitars with the most amazing sound. So that’s by far my favourite guitar. I have it with me and I’ll play it tonight.
You will also play the piano for us?
No, I’m not! *laughing*
But you’re learning to play the piano? I saw you playing it before the soundcheck.
Yes, I’m being kind of learning to play the piano for the past couple of years. I’m waiting to get to a better standard before I step forward. But definitely I would like to do that in the future.
You talk about the future. Let’s talk about the near past: Your latest EP was released just in the last weeks. Its title is Notions – can you tell us what’s behind this title?
It’s all about this difference experiences and different perspectives on things and it’s kind of what a lot of my songs are about.
So the songs are all out of your perspective?
Sometimes. I tend to write in the first person even if I’m writing from someone else’s point of view. The thing is it’s a good motive technique. I used to write about the people but I realized you make that proper connection if you just put yourself in someone else’s shoes and say what they might be thinking and feeling in the first person.