Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable indie and alternative artists on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive PREMIERE interview, experimental singer-songwriter Connor Leimer:
We recently talked in-depth with Connor to find out more about his influences, creative process, and of course his take on all things alternative culture. Read on to find out more about how this incredible artist creates his innovative sound, plus scroll down to hear the exclusive premiere stream of his first single Keep Knocking, off upcoming debut Postcard.
My fondest musical memory is when I discovered songwriting by picking up the guitar. I'd grown up as a drummer so the guitar offered something new and different in music for me at the time and that was songwriting.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Currently, I've been really into soul and R&B like Michael Jackson meets Justin Timberlake meets John Legend. I'm enjoying Leon Bridges new album and Lake Street Dive is a favorite right now too.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
Songwriting for me is all about experimentation. So I typically start writing a song by finding a chord progression or catchy riff that I then sing and tryout melodies over. After the melody is established I start adding lyrics like puzzle pieces. The lyrics take the most time for me to develop because I change them as I figure out the meaning of the song.
I’m a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. Your upcoming release Postcard features collaborators from all corners of the Kansas City music community, and is inspired by some of your high school experiences. How would you describe the Kansas City music scene? How has the area inspired your sound? Has your recent relocation to Nashville influenced your sound as well?
The music scene in Kansas City has been incredibly supportive from the beginning. I've had countless opportunities to promote and grow my music because of the programs, festivals and radio stations here in KC. There's some really great festivals put on each year that I've been lucky enough to be a part of like Middle of The Map (OKGO and Iron & Wine headlined) as well as Crossroads Music Fest coming up in September. I'm really proud that KC has become such a hotspot for new artists like Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear who were just signed by Glassnote. You could say my new album "Postcard" is defined by Kansas City and the upcoming artists that make up this community. Everything from the tracking (21 year old producer Max Griffith) to the musicians who played on it (all great friends of mine) was all created through friendships and collaborations. This record was created by friends and I'm proud that I could involve so many different people on one project while keeping it all about the songs and lyrics. Nashville to me represents a benchmark of how far I've come as an artist and a place to begin working on entirely new material.
I define my songwriting as experimentation. So this record is a taste of the various styles I can write in, while also offering a glimpse into the genres and styles I grew up listening to. My live show has always been collaborative and in a sense innovative. I can play shows completely solo/acoustic or with my band. As of late, my live shows have been a four piece band consisting of Blair Bryant on bass, Brandon Thomas on drums and Max Griffith on lead guitar. We're all around the same age and have played music together in KC for a while now and somehow I equate this lineup to my version of the John Mayer trio (steve jordan/Pino Palladino) - except of course it's a four piece. I consider these players some of the best in KC who perform on a very professional level.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
As an indie musician, I really think social media is a great tool for promoting music and branding and it gives the rising musician a place to interact with fans, try new ideas, etc. Streaming is an interesting topic, because while it is incredibly convenient it has also impacted artists' revenues from music sales both digital and physical. So as a fan of music, I want my favorite artists to be able to produce the highest quality sound recordings possible and I don't know how that can sustain if artists struggle to make a decent amount of money from the recordings themselves.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
My dream collaboration would probably be writing and recording a song with Jack Johnson in his solar-powered studio in Hawaii. The beaches really speak to me and Jack has always been an amazing influence on my lyrics.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
This entire year (2015) I've been recording my debut full-length album "Postcard". It's set for release Oct. 2nd and I'll be on the road supporting it with a very unique tour that we've nicknamed the "Dorm Room Tour". I'll basically be traveling along the East Coast visiting friends at various colleges and hosting acoustic shows in apartments, dorm rooms, etc. The idea is to create an intimate setting and truly connect with the people there.
What can fans expect in your upcoming album release? Can you tell us about the narrative of the album and what inspired the title? How was the recording process, and working with other artists such as Gracie Schram?
So this is my first ever full length album of 10 songs so it's exciting to present a complete work this time around. The ideas behind "Postcard" stem from the opening line of the title track "What about the coast" - which to me represents this concept of longing to go somewhere new or to live somewhere other than where you currently reside.
Working with Gracie Schram was an absolute thrill. When I brought her the song we worked it out in her living room (we're sort of neighbors) and then took it to the studio for a session of tracking (instrumentals) and then a vocal session. My fondest memory is standing in the studio booth looking through the glass at each other when we were singing. We recorded the vocals at the same time and in such a personal way that I think stands out on the recording. We also brought a piece of wood into the studio to record the shoe tapping. I wore oxford wing tips and felt like Paul McCartney from the session where he recorded Blackbird.
Finally, a couple questions we ask all of our artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Currently listening to the 2006 John Legend record "Once Again" and my favorite new act is Lake Street Dive (Listen to their record "Fun Machine")
I've always been a proud fan of Dispatch and I dig The Lonely Biscuits from Nashville, TN. For indie bands, I wish more people knew about Del Water Gap from NYC. My favorite indie band from KC is She's A Keeper.
PREMIERE: Keep Knocking ft. Gracie Schram--Connor Leimer
IndieBeat is proud to premiere the first single Keep Knocking off our latest Alt Rising Act Connor Leimer's upcoming debut full-length. The track is a fantastic introduction into the exploratory folk styling of the forward-thinking singer/songwriter. Leimer's Postcard collects a diverse set of sounds spanning reggea, mid 2000s alt-rock, and coastal infused folk-song sentimentality, yet Keep Knocking takes a subtler approach in showcasing his coming-of-age narrative. With its lovely call and response aubade--featuring the talented Gracie Schram--the song is delicate yet passionate, personal yet universal. It's a charming first-impression of vocal intimacy and cadence, captivating listeners before Leimer leads his experimental alt-folk journey with the rest of Postcard. Indicative of his Jack Johnson and Jake Bugg inspiration, Connor seems to creates a unique voice for himself that is both familiar yet refreshing. You'll definitely want to check out his debut album come October 2nd, as it blows you away with innovative multi-genre layering, but for now encapsulate yourself with an infectious acoustic prelude available exclusively here one week before digital release on September 2nd.