Sasha Leonov Talks Shop


A number of the musicians we review on NeuFutur have worked in factories, fast food, or any one of a multitude of fairly banal occupations. Can you go into detail about what occupations you held before your music career began?


I’ve held several different jobs before things started to happen for me on the music side of things. My first job was in a pizza place, making the dough and answering phones. Funny story: I used to pretend to take a phone call order with about 15 minutes left of my shift. Upon “taking” the call,  I would put in an order for the kind of pizza I wanted to eat. Upon closing up, because I knew nobody would show up for that pizza, I took it and that became my dinner. I’ve also worked at a job mowing grass with big, rough bikers in the summer heat, have been a tennis coach, a retail salesman and a teacher.



Our readers are not familiar with your music aside from our brief look into Spring Into My World. How have your compositions changed since your first release?


My music has changed a lot since my first release. My first instrumental release was an all-piano record. My instrumental music now, although still piano-based, has diversified in style and instrumentation. I’ve come a long way since my first lyrical release, which was a collection of songs leaning towards the ideal, towards concepts and ideas taught to us as being essential for a happy life. Pretty much all the songs on that album are love songs, praising, promising, rescuing, searching for that feeling so often found in songs: love. In a way, that album was a hark to a bygone era, a nod to the musical influences of my childhood.

Now, I feel I am writing songs that are more serious, more real and complex, more drawn from my own stories and experiences, rather than from ideals. There is a darker edge to some of my songs as I explore a more real life. The lyrics for my single “Spring Into My World” probably still belong to that bygone era I’ve just mentioned, but the piano chords are more geared towards a newer direction in my song-writing. Songs coming out next year will show a far deeper and more complex side of me, which is something I’m really looking forward to.


What sort of influences have had the most impact on your music? Is there a dream lineup of performers that you would like to set in if given the chance?


In terms of influences on my music, I need to say the following: Cat Stevens, Coldplay, U2 and Moby, amongst many, many others. Also, having been brought up surrounded by Russian music, I have gained a deep appreciation of the melody and lyricism present there, which has also no doubt crept into my music.

I haven’t really got a dream line-up I’d like to see. I love watching live performances within various styles because this can be a motivating and inspiring force, reminding me of the person I want to become, and the reason I make music.


What story does your current album Towards Mirages tell about you? What successes and failures did you experience during the recording of the release?


“Towards Mirages” is a story of a worthwhile and strong experience. It starts with the energy of possibility in the song “Rise”. Following this, comes the realisation that whatever it was that made you rise, was actually a mirage; hence the sadness and melancholy. It is a sadness in this song, but a hopeful and real sadness, one from which you have learnt and moved on. The next track, “Goodbye” is the farewell to whatever it was that proved to be a mirage. A powerful piano song is perfect for this farewell. The album continues with several memories and harks to the times that were. The final song, “Traces”, is a suggestion that every strong and worthwhile experience leaves a trace somewhere inside us. This album is essentially a story, woven through melody; my story.


To get into a bit of the technical, what does your recording set up look like (what do you use to record, what are your favorite instruments)?


When it comes to recording, I’m incredibly happy in a recording studio. The possibilities excite me, and my favourite instruments are the acoustic guitar and piano, which are always a significant presence in my music. I usually let the engineers set things up as they see best in terms of microphones, positioning and equipment. My job is to give 100% to the music and to produce the best sound that I can. It’s all about performance. It’s also vital for me to be extremely well-prepared upon entering the studio, and to be in the right mind frame for really feeling what I am singing and playing.


What does the rest of the year hold for you?


The rest of the year will see me continuing to write, record and release music. As well as this, I’ll be doing gigs and traveling in order to gain inspiration for future song-writing.

How have your life experiences influenced the music what you have created during your time as a performer?

Life experiences should the basis of a performer’s music. They should be the force that allows creation and guides it. For me, my experiences have been the heart of my songs. My music has corresponded with chapters of my life, from the idealistic “Remnants of Tomorrow”, to the hopeful realisations of “Skies Change”, to the story of a mirage in “Towards Mirages”. In between, released singles refer to various movements and experiences in my life. As I continue to experience, my music will continue to reflect what I learn, see and feel.


How have the internet and social media helped you grow your fanbase?


The internet has become very important for unsigned artists because it gives them a platform from which they can show what they do. There are countless opportunities on the net, and it is essential for any serious musician to learn about how best to use this tool. Having said that, it is an ever-changing and growing climate, so one needs to adapt and learn all the time. For me, the net has been helpful in finding people who like the type of music I create, and to communicate with them. This has enabled me to build a fanbase, and there’s nothing more rewarding than listeners commenting on my music.


How can interested readers of NeuFutur find samples of your music?


Readers can find samples of my music on my website, ITunes or CDBaby. The 3 links are below.

Main website:




Do you have any final thoughts for us here at the magazine?


Thanks very much for the interview, and I hope that readers now know a bit about me. Music is the movement out of that which lies within, and I hope that people listening to my music connect with it and find some correlation with what they might be feeling or experiencing.



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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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