A few weeks back I posted a review of some songs by Swedish country-artist: TJ Leonard. Now he has graciously agreed to an interview to speak about his music which I find fascinating.
MW: Mr. Leonard, thanks for being here!
TJL: Hi thanks for having me.
MW: I’m curious, as I think most readers are, what brought you to writing, recording, and performing country music?
TJL: I come from a family where music always were in the centre when we got together so it came natural. I studied music for a couple of years and after that I started to write and produce music. We formed the band Chestnut about six years ago and I wrote most of the songs. I got into country music at the time Keith Urban released Somebody like you in 2002 and I haven't listened to or written any other kind of musc since then. So that song really inspired me and I started to listen to all kind of country both old and new.
MW: Sometimes country music (in the USA) is seen as a “national-music” and while there have been a few notable non-Americans performing it, there haven’t been many. What has the reception been like for you among US audiences?
TJL: I get fan emails that says that they think my music is awesome and that they can relate to the lyrics so that's great and the songs are climbing the charts too so I guess I'm doing something right. So far everything is happening in the cyber world so I would love to come over to perform face to face with the US audience :)
MW: Are you ever afraid of being treated like a novelty?
TJL: HAHA that is a new word for me.Well the weels of music business turns very fast these days so it could be that I am a novelty but does it worry me? No not really. It is what it is. I will write music and release it. Some will like it and some will not.
MW: Your songs are beautiful and very engaging, no question about that, could you cue us in on your process for writing?
TJL: Thanks for saying that. Well, I often get an idea while driving my car or taking a shower for example. I record it on my phone so I don't forget it. I have a studio in my basement so when I have the time I can go down there and start working on the song. Most of the time I write the music and the lyrics at the same time and the topic of the song will decide the content. I write about things in my life or about stuff going on around me. I meet a lot of people in my job and a lot of stories comes up when I talk to those people.
MW: Where has been your favorite place to perform so far?
TJL: We used to have a big country festival close to Stockholm called Lida country festival. The stage was huge and it was a great place to perform at. I also did a small gig in Nashville in 2014 and that was also a special one.
MW: There seems to be at least a small folk-element to your songs – am I correct in this observation?
TJL: Yes, I try to include those elements. I love the sound of dobro, fiddle and banjo and to me a country song should contain some of those instruments. Coming from Sweden my songs will have a kind of pop feal to them of course, so without those instruments they would be pop-songs with country lyrics.
MW: Do you have any tours or other projects on the horizon?
TJL: I have a couple of gigs booked for this summer but no tour. I have a day job and a family so it's not that easy to just take off. Country music is getting bigger and bigger over here and my kid is growing so I hope there will be one in the future. I've started on a second album though. I haven't decided if it will be a full album or an EP yet. The plan is to go to Nashville in October to write and meet people and to get inspired. I love that city!
MW: Thanks so much for your time!
TJL: Thank YOU and thanks for the great review.