THE past couple of weeks…
have been pretty busy for Caspar Leopard! Not only is the man about to get married (unless he already has!) but he has released his new single, Is This Real? He chats about the song and its stop-motion video; how he is juggling new responsibilities whilst keeping his eyes focused on future music – Leopard talks about treasured albums and artists.
He provides some advice for artists coming through and reveals his ambitions for the remainder of the year; how he dedicates his space away from music; why he tackles the big questions about life in his music – the songwriter chats about his filmmaking work and composing the score for the film, Through the Gates.
Hi, Casper. How are you? How has your week been?
Good, thanks - if a little overworked. I’m getting married at the end of the week; just released a new single and the deadlines, for various composition and film projects I’ve been working on, have somehow all ended up being due this week! – but, I’m looking forward to the wedding and some downtime...
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. I’m an Alternative solo artist, film composer; producer and filmmaker based at Baltic Studios - a recording studio I run with my brother in London.
Is This Real? is new. How did that come to be? What started the process?
As a song, it actually manifested pretty quickly. I was messing around on a guitar and it was one of those nice moments when a song just appeared pretty much fully-formed. I went into the studio with Luke Smith and we recorded it in two days and that was it.
The process for the video we’ve made for it was a little more complicated - but I’ll come on to that in sec….
I know there is a look at the big questions in life. Was writing about quandaries and big issues a good way of solving things out for you?
I’ve written quite a few songs that are trying to work out what life’s all about: I’d be lying if I told you I’ve found the answers. I’ve always wanted to work out life’s mysteries, but part of what makes them alluring is the fact that we’ll never find the answers. I reckon the most we can hope to do is make peace with this and enjoy the journey. I’m getting there - give me a few more songs (smiles).
You deal with philosophy and existential concerns in your work. Is that a result of your musical tastes and readings? Do you study a lot of these subjects away from music?
I read into these subjects a bit - especially neuroscience, yoga; spirituality and science fiction. My wife to be is a yoga teacher; my uncle’s a physicist and one of my best friends is training to be a psychoanalyst. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people posing questions like me - and that inspires me to explore my own.
What was it like working with Luke Smith on Is This Real? Did he bring new aspects and elements into our work?
He’s an incredible producer and has become a good friend. I’ve learnt a lot working with him on my first few releases for this project and also engineering for him on other projects in the past. We share a vision for trying to make music that’s a bit off the beaten track and had a lot of fun making this one.
Tell me about composing the score for Through the Gates. How did that offer come in? What was it like putting the music together?
I’ve actually just finished the score this week. The director, Stella Corradi, got in touch having heard some of my previous work. I totally connected with the direction she wanted to take the music - and it was a pleasure working on such a great film.
I love the way there are so many ways to interpret a story, sonically, and it’s refreshing for me to take a break from my solo work and compose in a different way. Getting out of my head and into the characters - and responding to the picture - is a nice change of scene.
What comes next in terms of material from you? Might we see more before the end of the year?
The big thing on the immediate horizon is a stop-motion animated video for Is This Real? which is coming out next week. It’s been a privilege to collaborate with ex-Aardman animator/director Stefano Cassini (Chicken Run/Wallace & Gromit/Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride). It’s been a long labour of love, as stop-motion animation is a hugely time-consuming process - very much looking forward to sharing it.
I’m also just putting the finishing touches on a surreal, dark fairytale drama which I’ve co-written and co-directed with Hannah McKibbin - and scored by me - which will be hitting the film festivals later this year.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
I decided I wanted to spend this year focusing on writing and recording solo work; making films and composing scores. (Which hasn’t left me any time for touring). The plan is to start doing some shows early next year supporting the release of my second E.P.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Finish the film and composition projects I’m working on and get stuck into my second E.P. – but, more importantly, enjoy life with my new wife (smiles).
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I’m a bit of a futurist, so I don’t look back that much. If you push me, though, I would say the tours I did with my last band (Get People) supporting Metronomy and Crystal Fighters for their Star of Love Tour stand out. We had an old, beat-up Mitsubishi van and drove around exploring the U.K. regional towns for weeks on end; nursing hangovers from the previous night’s after-show party, trying to find our way to the next city for the next gig.
A lot of fun had – and it brings a smile to my face.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Many great new albums out there, but the ones that mean the most are the ones I’ve listened to the most. Here are three of them:
Kid A – Radiohead, Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd and Demon Days – Gorillaz.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I still feel like a new artist myself so don’t feel fully qualified for this question. But, the one thing I’ve learnt is the only way to make a mark on the music industry is to be resilient and stick it out. These days, there’s no fast-track; especially, in Alternative music.
IMAGE CREDIT: Vinyl Williams
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I’m very bad at unwinding. I’ve promised myself I’ll take on a bit less after my wedding and live more of a normal life. There’s been a lot going on in 2018 and I miss the pub.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
One song…tricky. Well… here’s one of my favourite tracks for a headphones moment:
The Rainbow - Talk Talk
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