THE sciences discover the factual truth of matter while the arts reveal the emotional truths of life. – Len Lye, 1959, Is Film Art?
Someone said “the best defense is living well” and to remain sane in our world of perpetual madness, it’s best to have something, anything, under your own expressive control. It’s that simple – we need art! Luckily, I received a guitar at age 9 and hadn’t stop since.
Now, I function as a rogue biologist studying New Zealand beetles and began writing songs on Sundays more seriously after the death of Jerry Garcia and having a sour breakup. I mostly write in quiet spaces, and enjoy modern classical, experimental, and jazz music, Grateful Dead, and a bit of old time Americana. An instrumentalist first, lyricist second, corporations would label me a “singer-songwriter”, which sounds akin to “office-worker”.
Apart from entertaining my cat that comprehends nothing of my lyrics, I perform irregularly as soloist and have toured/gigged with some fantastic musicians: Yvette Audain (composer, clarinet), Eamon Edmunson-Wells (jazz bassist), Nigel Gavin (guitar), Vanessa McGowan (double bass), Maree Thom (bass). I was also an early member of Wires & Wood, and surprisingly, performed Indian classical music with sarod and tabla players at Diwali festivals. The first NZ concerts I can remember were at the Bunker and the extinct Kings Arms with folk muso Geoff Wright as support for Midge Marsden.
There are six albums (two solo) and was fortunate to have Robbie Duncan engineer three of these. Some tunes have aired on NZ Concert & National Radio, 95Bfm, Whole Wheat Radio, Taproot Radio, Americana Homeplace, and featured on Upbeat, NZ Live, and Air New Zealand.
“Lyric writing (and improvisation) is the action of capturing the arrival of the sublime sunbreath before it vanishes”
Intimate and ambient, the real richness comes from Leschen’s brilliant lyrics; very melodic, engaging and genuinely far-reaching with significant depth, this is low-key brilliance – Ania Glowacz, NZ Musician
Leschen writes with his heart on his sleeve, and captures the moment with cynically crafted and surreal references to worldly ways, posturing by the undeserving and aloof in front of a backdrop of Americana. – Andy Bramwell, Waikato Times
A wonderful guitar picker, who sings a set of Dylan-like lyrics, heavily influenced by his American cowboy background. Maybe he can’t ride a horse, but he certainly takes you there with his songs. – Roger Giles, President of Devonport Folk Music Club & Auckland Folk Festival Inc
Comfortable backporch music best suited at the end of a hard day and a cold beer. His easy going style belie a knack for literary detail and story telling that’s way above the typical folk singer. – Calvin Powers, Taproot Radio
A strong set of songs, stormy folk music based around deft picking and strumming. His lyrics are worldly and transcend the sadly usual cliches that seem to come with the territory. – Simon Sweetman, NZ Musican
Many of Leschen’s songs are timeless … Along the way Leschen reminds us of the poetry of life – throwing in references to Kafka and Greek Mythology as well as numerous striking images of his own. Dreams do, in the end, come true: people do head out of their mediocre lives and into the sunset of their dreams. – Renee Liang, poet and author of Chinglish
Leschen is, on evidence of the album, a fine guitarist … in fact, I would go as far as to say he is a very fine guitarist. The lyrics are pertinent and the playing flawless. – Keith Redgrave, Americana UK
Interview: National Radio New Zealand
*Consumer note: Skyless Countries received a negative review, confirming that I was on the right track with that album.