With their first single BIG LOVE just released from the forthcoming album of the same name due out mid March we managed to get hold of the bands singer and founder Sheyana all the way down in the deep south of Australia – Tasmania to be exact. The interview reveals theres a lot more to this rocking blues band and Sheyana’s influences than you may think – London, Sri Lanka and even Keith Richards earn a mention……
What inspired you to become an artist and who are your early influences?
“Born in the UK, I was inspired by the British 70’s era. Raised in London, watching “Top of the Pops” and listening to music by David Bowie, Jimmy Hendrix & The Jackson 5, we would often go to concerts at Hyde Park to see our favourite band, The Rolling Stones. The feeling was overwhelming and I knew back then, I wanted to write songs and play music. I come from a musical family. My Nan was a mezzo soprano champion and my Pop hand-crafted acoustic guitars. After my Pop passed away and my Mum & Dad separated, we migrated from the UK to Tasmania and I found inspiration in our local chapel listening to the beautiful harmonies from my mother’s family choir. David Bowie, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Renee Geyer, The Beach Boys, AC/DC & Alice Cooper, and Kiss were all constant on my record player.”
Your Bio Mentions Keith, tell us the story?
“My Tasmanian mother and my Sri Lankan father met in the late 60’s on a ship bound for England. I was born in the UK, living in London in the early 70’s. We were living in an apartment at Ivor Court in London, two doors down from The Rolling Stones. I used to ride my tricycle up and down the hallway, and Keith Richards took a shine to me. He used to always take the time to talk to me and pat me on the head as I rode by, learning to ride my first bike. I have early memories of being drawn to him, often talking with him as they were going in and out of their apartment. This is a memory I will never forget. I went on to begin my music career in the late 90’s, with my song “Wash me in the Water” being selected to feature on “Bloomers One” – Australian Women’s Singer Songwriter’s Album. Following with my debut album “Firehorse” in 2002, and EP “Sweet Honesty in 2010, which received an International songwriting award. During this time, my Dad who was now living in Sri lanka reconnected with me after all these years and we set up a Sri lankan tour with a promoter in Columbo, which included MTV appearances, live shows, radio interviews and airplay, and I made my first video clip for the single “Undone”. It was a successful, exciting, emotional time for us all. The missing piece in the puzzle was found. I also found a new fanbase for my music and a second island home. The 2nd EP release, “Keep the Change” ( first release with The Sheyana Band), hit the charts in Columbo at Number 6, and The Sheyana Band were nominated in the Top 5 Band’s in Sri Lanka 2015. We were invited to their awards night, so I headed to Sri lanka to make my second video clip, along with TV & Radio appearances and some shows. This has been the journey, which has brought me to the release of the latest album “Big Love”. I’m hoping that my Father will be around to see my new music, as he is battling with cancer. Im planning to meet him in the UK later this year and play some shows. So it has come full circle, as I will return to the UK for the first time since I was a child meeting Keith.”
What current Australian acts inspire you and why? What international acts?
“Meg Mac, Gang of Youths – I recently saw both when I performed at Party in The Paddock. They have become favourites. I love their stage presences. Both send clear messages with great vocals, loads of soul, with catchy riffs and good hook lines.”
“Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age – these International acts have been a huge inspiration for me, with their clever songwriting, high energy & big guitar sounds, and I”m really inspired by the way they have always done what they believed in without wavering or selling their soul, much like Tom Petty did throughout his career ”
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
“The songs and our live shows are exciting, edgy & accessible. Featuring great musicianship from my band, there is something for everyone in our music, From heart wrenching acoustic ballads, to rocking dance songs and catchy riffs, rooted in the blues, we cross over into rock, country and pop.”
Whats your favourite Place?
” Laurel Creek – in the midst of a NW Tasmanian rainforest by a babbling brook. This is my property with 50 acres of wilderness. Its a magic healing place with naturally formed hexagonal sandstone rocks and crystals, which I built my house from.”
What are your future plans for 2018/2019?
“Developing songwriting skills and collaborating with other artists. Going back to my roots to Perform in the UK & Sri Lanka. Going back into the studio to record some new material with The Sheyana Band & to record a stripped back solo album.”
Thanks Sheyana , finally what shows have you coming up ?
Stream, buy, connect –
Update: The full length self titled album, featuring the singles Up On The Mountain, Venice and By the Wayside is available NOW and you can get it here: http://yhanleal.com
Yhan is currently on a massive National Tour to promote the album
see dates here
Watch the videos here
Listen to the new tune Venice right here
Heres a recent Interview
Yhan Leal walks the line with light feet. The Colombian born, now Bellingen based singer songwriter dedicates his waking hours to honing his artistic craft. After 20 years of performing Yhan, a truly gifted guitarist and angelic singer, has found his musical identity. Yhan Leal represents a new direction of Folk.
When did you settle in the Bellingen Shire?
I’m sure this is my 6th year, It’s flown by but I’ve had had such a wondrous time here.
- Can you describe your earlier life in Colombia?
Well I was only in Colombia until age 5 so the memories are very dreamlike, enormous white houses, wild rivers, and I remember leaving for Australia in a confused state in the middle of the night.
- Have you always had music in your life?
Yes, my mother sang to me, spanish love songs and nursery rhymes. My three older brothers had very diverse taste in music, from Opera to Metal, and we always had the record player going.
Are you musically trained?
Yes, I started in a Classic Guitar school at age eight for a few years then started learning electric guitar at my local music shop, I loved hanging around in that shop, ended up teaching there myself.
I also started singing pop songs naturally with the guitar at age 8, then took singing lessons at around 17 for many years. I loved learning everything I could about music, I bought countless books and videos and had many teachers, but my high school music teacher will always be my most revered.
Would you describe your music as ‘folk’ based?
Yes, folk means ‘people’ and my ideas for songs are always about the experience of the individual. Intimacy and an acoustic guitar is also very folk, but I also embrace modern sounds like samples and effects, so I call my genre ‘modern folk’.
You can hear those kind of sounds on my new single and video ‘Up On The Mountain.’(premiered on Triple J Monday October 2nd)
- You are performing at the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival. Is this the first year you have performed for this festival? Can you describe what you are expecting?
Yes this is my first time performing at the festival, I’m excited to play to an audience who appreciate that less is more! I’m going to play as stripped back as possible but give my songs everything I’ve got.
- Have you got any exciting plans for your music into the future?
Yes, I will be launching a brand new album this November 11 at the Bellingen Memorial Hall. I’ll be performing the entire album and recreating it;s production with the support of mostly local musicians, including an electronic score. Tix are on sale now via my website www.yhanleal.com and from Roots Records in Bellingen.
I also have a bunch more shows