Happy coincidence turned musical success
Bigoa Machar, Arts Editor
The last thing Dave Hodge expected while he was sitting in a Brooklyn coffee shop in the middle of Hurricane Sandy was a life changing opportunity. Passing by was an old friend, Leah Siegel, and opportunity presented itself.
“We had done some stuff a few years prior for a commercial thing and somebody had recommended Leah and we did this thing together, which turned out great” says Hodge. “So I just saw her walking by and I said ‘Hey I’m starting a record right now, why don’t you come in and write?”
While both had other things on the go, Siegel says there was a little bit of luck in their reuniting.
“There were lots of other writers that Dave was working with at the time who were friends of his. It could’ve been anyone walking down that street,” says Siegel.
Two passionate musicians, Hodge and Siegel began to do what they do best. Hodge says the gelling process was simple and allowed the two a new gateway in music.
“It wasn’t really effortless, but we kind of just flowed really well together. It just kept going and we just had momentum. So we wanted to keep going,” says Hodge. “We even made a record before we even knew we were going to be a band, so there was a delay in getting the band all set up. When people are on the same page stylistically, that’s where the effortlessness comes. We had our challenges, but we were still on the same page in the end.”
After their first record was finished, Siegel and Hodge formed their own duo and named it Leisure Cruise. Both coming from previous bands, the two say the transition period wasn’t hard, but had it’s own struggles.
“They weren’t insurmountable, but we always agreed to end up on the same page. I remember some of the creative conflicts we had after writing for several months together and to me what I remember from the early struggles is that we were always willing to yes to each other, because we had no expectations to what we were writing, says Siegel. “We had a few projects on the go and it was really easy to go along with each other and to say “Hey, I’m totally not feeling that, so let’s try that again.’”
This brutal honesty with one another allowed the two to write freely and without restrictions, leading to the Synth Rock with melodic vocals which they perform. It’s a unique style, something that Hodge says just comes naturally.
“There’s really no road map stylistically in terms of breaking out a certain style or choosing one or another. It’s more about writing what we like, so I’ve never really thought about being in a particular genre. It’s more so we like that, so that’s what comes out naturally.”
Hodge goes on to say that he chooses to write music the way he knows best and not trying to sound a specific way.
“If you’re making records and all you do is chase trends, you’ll never be ahead of it,” says Hodge. “If you write this way, it’ll be old by the time your record comes out and you start touring. So that’s why we just want to make what we think sounds good.”
Siegel adds that writing music this way allows it to come from a more genuine place, which can connect with themselves and the fans better.
“It was never really about creating a specific sound, it was just like ‘Let’s write today and see what it sounds like.’” Says Siegel. “There’s really no limitations when you do that. After several sessions of writing together and a number of completed songs, we kind of realized that there were real themes in what we were doing and even when there were times like ‘Let’s try doing even more of this or that, it doesn’t matter because you just end up doing what is right in that moment.”
While being in music is definitely nothing new for Hodge, Leisure Cruise has provided him with a new opportunity to explore himself and the art that he loves.
“With Broken Social Scene, it wasn’t my band. I’m still technically in the band but the other guys are doing all the writing,” says Hodge. “Here, we’re doing all the writing and producing on your own.”
For Siegel, she says her experience in Leisure Cruise has helped her grasp the concept of compromise when it comes to music.
“All of my previous work as a musician was totally solo. I was always the leader of everything and I was doing everything basically alone,” says Siegel” It was a long, long time of only having myself to answer to and to then come into a full 50/50 agreement was really an incredible experience and takes a lot of practice.”
Despite there being more compromise needed, Siegel says working with Hodge allows her write and sing freely than what she was able to do before.
“The biggest change was writing with Dave allowed me to write more optimistically. I had come from a very dark place of writing that I was drawn to and where my voice carried, and that’s what people expected of me,” says Siegel.I was able to explore something that I really wanted to explore, which was movement and optimism.”
Music has taken Leisure Cruise all the way from Brooklyn to around the world. Most recently, they were in Calgary with Metric and Death Cab for a Cutie. Siegel says performing with these bands has been a learning experience for the two, while at the same time a good reminder of why they do what they do.
“Opening for bands can be a precarious place to be. The fans have all been so warm and the reception has been amazing,” says Siegel. “Playing for 50 devoted fans who know the words is just as exciting as playing for a full stadium.”
Siegel also says that touring with these bands has allowed them to learn from what they have done and apply it to their own musical adventure.
“Nick, the bassist for Death Cab for a Cutie, told us he got two pieces of advice when he started out in 1997. The first was that your musical career is like a mountain range, with lots of different mountains,” says Siegel. “Over there you have the Beyonce peak, and over there is the U2 peak and what not. And then you have your peak. All you have to do is concentrate on making the path up to your own peak. The moment you look at someone else’s mountain and say ‘I want to be up there,’ then you’ve screwed yourself.”
Be sure to follow Leisure Cruise on social media to keep up with all of their new music releases and tour schedules.