When 2020 kicked off, Dallas-based singer-songwriter Austin Leach was ready to hit the road and play venues throughout the country. In February, he was performing in Philadelphia, in a string of shows he expected to be the first of many. In March, COVID-19 hit, and you can imagine what happened.
While home in Dallas between tour stops, Leach consulted with his brother about booking dates. The musician was hoping to play three shows in New York in May, but his brother was fretful at the idea.
“He said, ‘Hey, I would actually hold off on this for a second, because we don’t know what this is all going to look like,’” Leach remembers. “Quite literally, a week later, a bunch of gigs of mine got canceled. Everyone’s buying all of the toilet paper they can find. For a solid week or two, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Following the closure of several venues nationwide and a slew of tour date cancellations, Leach decided to go back to the drawing board and started reaching out to writer and producer friends in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York. One day, when he was experimenting with new sounds, he came up with a chorus for a song that would turn into “Daydream,” a single that was released last Thursday.
The track is replete with Tame Impala and Miike Snow influences as Leach fawns over a woman whom he “can’t get enough of.” Leach says the melody came to him as a “happy accident,” and when he came up with the chorus for the song, he sent a recording of it to Shane Becker, better known as Indian Runner.
“Within an hour or two, he sent back a drum loop, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty sick,’” Leach says of Becker. “Then he goes, ‘Let’s make a song.’”
With many studios closed, Leach was forced to come up with a creative way to record and produce the track. He immediately built a home studio in his closet.
“It was definitely a little bit unorthodox compared to what I had experienced,” Leach says. “I’m typically used to working with a few different producers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and they all have beautiful studio spaces. But at the time, obviously, no one is going anywhere. I literally put up blankets and pillows in my closet, set up my Shure SM7B and just started going for it.”
To create a more festive studio vibe, Leach also hung up ‘80s-style lights on the closet walls.
Over the course of several weeks, Leach and Becker went back and forth changing lyrics, instrumentation and adding and subtracting to “Daydream.” Without the pressure and the constraints of studio time, Leach says he was able to have more creative control.
While Leach couldn’t work directly with producers, he learned new studio techniques. He watched tutorials on YouTube and sought advice from other producers who have been working at home remotely. Without feeling the pressure of having to complete portions of the song within a certain timeframe, Leach has been enjoying newfound freedom.
“There were some days when it just felt that we got so much done, and it was just so quick,” Leach says, “quicker than it would’ve been if we were in an actual studio.”
Leach estimates that he’s written “about 15 to 25 songs since this all started.”
For the foreseeable future, he plans to embrace producing and recording remotely.
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For the next few months, Leach wants to “aggressively” put out new music. While COVID-19 has taken its toll on musicians and artists, Leach hopes his music will bring joy to creators and fans alike.
“Everything's gonna change directionally and everything's going to change sonically,” Leach says. “We're going to go tell some stories that hopefully make people feel excited about love again and that make people feel excited to go get in the car and jam again.”
Listen to "Daydream" below: