Along came Leyya … Masculine and feminine, brunette and blonde, tall and short, strong, but, oh, so shy. Marco Kleebauer’s electro beats collide with the fragile, soft voice of singer Sophie Lindinger, creating music that sends a chill down the spine.
The Red Bulletin sat down with the 22-year-old musicians to talk about their successful debut album, Spanish Disco, their concept that is not supposed to be one, and superegos.
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THE RED BULLETIN: How would you describe your music in one sentence?
MARCO KLEEBAUER: We would hate it if you could characterise our music in just one sentence. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one category.
What about the genre then?
SOPHIE LINDINGER: Experimental electropop perhaps? But we try not to restrict ourselves to a specific type of music. We’re continually evolving and we’re currently looking at new directions for our new material .
What’s your musical philosophy for life?
MK: Mhm, by no means ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ … more like ‘smoothies, beer and electropop’.
How did you two meet?
SL: We grew up in the same tiny village and had already known each other for more than ten years. Not a lot of people were doing this kind of music and, like it or not, you will at some point bump into each other. I was initially working on a singer-songwriter project, and by that time Marco was already focussing on electro music, so we decided to merge our projects.
How did Leyya originate?
SL: There was no point when we decided, “okay, let’s have a band,” it was more of an on going process and eventually we named the whole thing. We started to contact labels about a year and a half ago and we released our debut EP “Drowning in Youth” last autumn.
MK: The process was quite a pain in the ass. We didn’t want to release anything that didn’t meet our standards. It was very important for us to not just be one out of a thousand electro-duo projects.
SL: Every song has to have a certain character that represents us. We have scrapped so much material over the last few years that didn’t feel quite right.
Sophie, you started making music at a very early age.
SL: I wrote my first song when I was eleven, but I went to music school like most kids in the countryside. The only difference was that I kept on making music! I wrote my first song in English, using the very few English words I knew.
So you started writing music in English?
SL: Yeah, I don’t know why, it just felt right. It has never occurred to me to sing in German. I don’t think I could even write in German!
You both come from a place with little over 4,000 inhabitants. How did that influence your musical development?
MK: It is hard to say, because we only know what we have experienced and you can’t grow up twice (laughs.) It wasn’t easy to find a place to make experimental music though. Hardly anyone identified with our kind of music, we didn’t even have a music scene.
SL: We kind of had to make the most of what we had, and the very few people we knew. I imagine that it is much easier as a youth in a city to get involved in a scene and make music, but you can also get lost in such a big crowd.
Do you have a plan B?
SL: No, which is actually really scary to think about. I often worry about what I am going to do if this doesn’t work out, you know? I have devoted my life to music, the only other thing I think I would be good at is waitressing.
MK: I don’t think I could do anything else, and I am definitely too clumsy to wait tables. You need a lot of luck in this business, but you can also reduce the risk of failure…
SL: … by committing all your energy to it.
Your Facebook profiles states that, “Leyya means “marketing strategy” in Alaskan Yup’ik” – really?
MK: That is meant to be ironic; I just thought it would be funny if someone would actually take the time to Google it to see if it was true.
Why the album title Spanish Disco?
MK: I wanted to give our album an ironic twist. The artwork, title, and album don’t fit together. You’re not supposed to understand it straight away. We wanted to keep it as open as possible, but still have a certain concept.
What does a Spanish disco look like?
MK: It’s empty, because it’s too hot inside. (Laughs.) No, we don’t really go to those kind of things … it’s a metaphor for generation Y. You have so many options, but you still don’t know what to do. It’s a place where everything is crazy and yet nothing has its place, or feels at home, that’s a Spanish disco in my opinion.
What inspires you?
MK: I’m inspired by things that have absolutely nothing to do with music. Just recently, I had a conversation about tofu, and suddenly I wanted to drop everything and make music.
MK: Yes, tofu!
What do you do to rid yourself of the dreaded artist’s block?
SL: Those are the worst days of my life. I get so grumpy. All I do is lie down and sleep. Marco is the one that knuckles down and keeps going.
MK: Sometimes you can give up too quickly. You can’t produce a good song every single day, that would be unrealistic, but when I go to bed, I want to have the feeling of having achieved something, otherwise I feel useless. It’s almost an obsession of mine.
So what does Leyya really mean?
SL: It doesn’t really have a meaning, it is from my time as a solo artist.
MK: A lot of people think that Sophie IS Leyya and that I’m just this dude who is randomly on all the photos.
One of your songs is called “Superego” - who has the bigger ego?
MK: We both have almost non-existent egos, we can’t even answer the question.
SL: (Laughs and nods.) What’s the opposite of super?
M.K.: We have a “Sub ego” you could say…
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
MK: Being able to live without sleep.
SL: But sleeping is beautiful.
MK: No, you could do so many things in that time. Superman has to sleep, I don’t. When he’s asleep, I can do crazy stuff.
SL: I would love to be able to teleport. Teleporting would be amazing.
Do you have a song that you wish you had written?
MK: Yes, the one with the highest royalties. (Laughs.) No, just kidding, I am never envious of other people’s achievements, I just listen to it, love it, and that’s it.
MK: I love food, and there is a restaurant just around the corner from us that makes something so delicious with spinach. I wish I had invented that.
SL: Greek farmer’s spaetzle. Wow. With us, it’s all about the food …
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
MK: Yeah, we have a dance.
SL: Completely naked.
MK: No, I’m diabetic, so I have to eat something with dextrose in it.
Your Facebook description says “Chaos vs. Routine, Woman vs. Man, Art vs. Pop” – who wins those battles?
SL: It’s not about winning; it’s about the encounter, about the clashing of those opposites. In the end a fusion of everything comes out, a kind of man-woman.