Autumn Dawn Leader
Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Autumn Dawn Leader to find out more…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I was born in the U.S., but have lived in and called the UK home for 15 years now. I reside in Loughborough, Leicestershire - in the East Midlands. I don't ever know a time that I wasn't into music. My mother was a professional musician, and I performed in my first gig, with her, when I was 4 years old. I began writing songs at the age of 16. Making music is all I've ever wanted to do, all I've really been made for.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
My mother had me when she was 40, and my sisters were a lot older than me. So, I was influenced by many generations of popular music (the 40's to the 80's). Plus, my grandparents loved classical music, and I was classically trained as a vocalist, so that comes into play in a big way for me. I have never been comfortable with pigeon-holing myself into one certain genre, and the reason for this is because of the wide range of influences I had while growing up. One genre, both to listen to and to perform, is just far too restrictive! My genre is basically a great big soup made up of many different genres. But, I have always focused on lyrical content; so, my favourite artists have always been strong singer/songwriters. People who tell a story, or have a message. I listened to a lot of James Taylor and Carole King, Carly Simon and The Moody Blues in my formative years. My main influences now include the music of Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Marillion, Melanie Pegge and Loreena McKennitt.
How would you describe your sound?
😂 Well, I would just say, 'read the above answer', but I will attempt to answer this question is some way. It's funny, fellow musicians will tell you that I don't sound like anyone else, while non-musicians will tell you that I sound like whatever other contraltos they happen to know of (Annie Lennox, Carly Simon, Alison Moyet, etc). I think the latter group are only listening to my vocal range and not MY voice itself, if that makes sense. Basically, sticking with my soup analogy from above, my music has a strong flavour of folk, seasoned with blues, classical, prog rock, and blended all together with emotive lyrics and strong vocals. Hmm, I can put this answer more succinctly: My sound is the sound of longing. There.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
My latest single, which was released on Jan 4 2019, is called 'The Colour of These Years'. This is a punchy little track; it leans more toward a bluesy sound and has a strong emo edge to it. Short answer? It was inspired by my entire life. The musical style of it was greatly influenced by another Leicestershire musician friend of mine, Paddy McCullough.
What’s your local music scene like?
I am blessed to be part of a vibrant local scene. Leicestershire (and all of the East Midlands, really) is bursting with talent. Most Leicester musicians really support one another, as well. Many of us feel like we are one big musical family. I'm proud to be a part of such a great scene.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
In addition to being a solo artist, I am also one-half of the original prog-folk duo 'The Secret Magpies'. We are very busy this year with gigs, continuing to record and release music and, in addition to our regular gigs, we are booked to play the Folk On The Lawn fest in Wales, July 11-14; I will also be playing a solo spot there. Most of my time now is filled up with The Secret Magpies shows. However, I plan to continue recording and releasing solo music, and I will continue to pick up the odd solo gig here and there. I adore what I do with The Secret Magpies, but I will always need to do my own thing, as well. I need that self-expression that is all just my very own.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Ooooh... I've always said that I'd love to do something with Steve Hogarth of Marillion.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
One of the instruments I play is the 10 string medieval lyre. Generally, I'll have to tell an audience what it is, because many people have never seen one before, let alone heard one played. I have a little joke I tell about it, saying 'this is a medieval lyre, I saw it in a museum, liked it and stole it'. Most audiences just laugh and know it's a joke, but there was this one gig where a drunk guy was like, 'Really?! You never got caught?' He assumed I was dead serious. I had to take time out from the set to reassure him that I wasn't actually on the run from the police, on the lam with my stolen lyre!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I just want more people to know about my music; I want to reach more people. I write from a place of loss and I sing and play from a place of passion. My music will resonate with the disillusioned, those that struggle with this thing called life, with those who have ever honestly known regret, sorrow and pain.