Singer/ Songwriter Yhan Leal’s self expression and admiration of life, its lessons and spirtuality can be heard and felt through his music. Focus chatted with Yhan about his life with music …
Tell us about your musical background. When did your love for the art begin?
I was about eight years old. My brother brought home a nylon string guitar, but wasn’t keen on practicing. I walked in one day and saw him play Sunshine of your love and instantly knew in my mind that I was born to play guitar and sing. He gave me his guitar, and away I went!
First I went to a local Yamaha school, learning to read music and play classical pieces, while learning popular songs at home on my own. I really loved Elvis and would mimic his tone, moves and style.
In my teens I started on the electric guitar; the local music shop was called “Blakes Music Centre”. I really loved that place; all the teachers there were my heroes. They taught me Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Clapton. I eventually taught there myself.
Also, at this time the brother who gave me his guitar began writing poetry and asked me to turn his poems into songs. This is how I started writing my own songs. It made so much sense to me, to be a songwriter. I could put my thoughts, feelings, visions and dreams into songs. I’ve been obsessed by the process ever since.
How would you describe your vibe?
My vibe is definitely chill. I love all music, but I’ve always written in a chilled, ethereal and meditative style. I feel there was a split in my personality when I was about 19; I started to see all the suffering in the world and was deeply disturbed by it. I went on a big spiritual search, and my music developed in that direction. I started using my songwriting as a way to bring peace to my mind, and I found a new appreciation for chilled songwriters like Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley.
What or who are your influences?
Growing up with three older brothers with a broad taste in music, I was constantly immersed in their ever growing collection of vinyl, tapes, and later, CDs. I was into every style of music, from jazz to metal to pop and folk; I just loved music. My favourite thing to do was to lie on the lounge and sing along with the record sleeves.
I love to be inspired by life, nature, relationships, and hugely by the artistic and spiritual side of life. I’m also influenced by artists like Sufjan Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Angelo De Augustine, Molly Burch, Justin Vernon, Patrick Watson, Ryx and Daniel Johnston.
You’re playing a couple of shows around the Coffs Coast over the next few weeks. What do you like about playing music to the people of our region?
I love that we have the ocean; it’s such a boon for us, a source of endless inspiration, and it feeds into the arts culture. I feel people have more time to listen here compared to big cities; I always love to play at home on the east coast. People are super supportive of my efforts to be a musician.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I want to travel the world with my family playing music, meeting people and seeing as much as I can. I want to keep writing songs and making records and become a better human being, also mastering the art of performing and connecting with people from all walks of life. I want to make my music career to be a sustainable and humble endeavour. The goal is to bring myself and those listening into harmony and joy.
Where can people go to follow you and support your journey?
You can stay on touch with me and hear my music via my website: www.yhanleal.com
Catch Yhan Leal at the following locations:
February 16, Twilight Food Market, Coffs Harbour;
February 17, 63 First Ave, Sawtell;
February 28, Element Bar, Coffs Harbour;
March 15, Rezinate Retreat, Bellingen;
March 24, Growers, Bellingen.