Words Arianne James
Images Stephanie Eslake
Not many people would consider music to be a science. However, Christopher Leon has taught me otherwise.
Being involved in the electronic music scene for the past five years, Christopher explains that to write great music, you need to understand the physics of sound. Different wavelengths work together and interact to form melodies – a complexity that isn’t always easy to notice as a listener.
Christopher has a quiet, friendly personality and is easy to chat with. Music runs in his family. His mother performed with leading rock musos in her day and bought Christopher a guitar when he was 5 years old. Initially, he rejected the idea of learning to play, finding the various chords too difficult to grasp. However, from the age of 12, he started to gain interest and was introduced to Spanish guitar by his neighbour, who had studied with Flamenco star Paco Pena. What followed was a love affair with acoustic guitar and years of dedication and enjoyment.
Christopher studied both Journalism and Music Technology at the University of Tasmania. Finding the courses rewarding and eye-opening, this kick-started his electronic music journey. Interestingly, Christopher mentioned that to start with, he had no respect for electronic music. “It has to be a real instrument,” Christopher first thought, saying he believed music should only be made with tangible instruments. “I had a really ignorant mindset.” This view quickly changed and now, his major aim is to break away from the acoustic guitar and perform mostly electronic songs.
I was curious to get to know Christopher’s daily creative process – though he doesn’t really stick to one. He prefers to go with the flow and jot down ideas as they come – at concerts, in bars, from life itself! According to Christopher, most of his best songs are written in about two hours when he is able to sit down and let the music pour out of him. Like most of us, he wishes he had more time to spend working on his passion, and is thinking about dedicating a few months of the year to focusing solely on his music. One of his motivations for this includes performing at the Youth Arts and Recreation Centre for the launch of this Platform issue.
Christopher has many other ambitions, and in the next 10 years he hopes to create scores for film, television, and video games; release a few albums; learn to sing; and become successful as a producer in his own right. I can easily imagine all of his dreams being made a reality, simply from the quiet determination and confidence he exudes.
Christopher has been greatly influenced by K-pop and J-pop, and is also a fan of experimental singer-songwriter/producer Beck (known for many styles including hip-hop, funk, soul and rock); and Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi, who delights audiences worldwide with his romantic and joyful film music.
Christopher’s favourite performance venue has so far been Brookfield Vineyard in Margate. He has also played at the Republic Bar, considering these some of his greatest local gigs among many others.
To young and aspiring musicians, Christopher advises: “Don’t ignore the importance of electronic music. Learn to write music on a computer because it really opens up a whole new world of creativity”. Christopher aims to take his listeners on an emotional journey and make them really think about the music. Of his role in it, he says: “It’s like being a scientist, combining all the elements to create new objects or compounds in terms of musical genres and sound”.
I know next time I listen to one of his songs, I’ll be trying to make connections between the melodies, notes, and harmonies. I’ll be trying to find the physics of sound.