Leo’s dancing night away

COLOURFUL CHARACTER: Leo Sayer returns to Geelong next month.

by Luke Voogt

Getting on stage still makes Leo Sayer feel like dancing – even after celebrating his 71st birthday earlier this year.

“I might be 71 but everything’s there and all the songs come back,” he said.

“There are times in between where you feel your age and struggle to get up in the morning.

“But as soon as I get up there on stage the adrenaline takes over.”

Sayer said he still sung hits like You Make Me Feel Like Dancing in the same notes as when he recorded them in the ’70s.

“It would be easy to take them down a key to make them more comfortable,” the English-born singer said.

“But I like reaching for the sweet spots. According to everyone else I’m still singing well and reaching the notes.”

The pop icon comes to Geelong after returning from a “massive” tour of Europe and England.

“I’m surprised with how many young people we’re getting,” he said.

“We’re all in this really strange situation where we’re even more popular than ever.”

Online platforms and the return of vinyl had led to a new generation of kids discovering ’70s music, Sayer said.

But, ironically, he and his musical peers never thought the songs they were recording would be “classics”, he explained.

“It was just intended to please the kids at the time,” he said.

“Then somebody discovers it 20 years later and says, ‘wow this is a classic’.”

In his latest recording venture he shut himself in a barn, discarding the commercial studio to produce new album Selfie all by himself.

“It was time to finish the whole thing myself rather than pick up the phone and rely on everybody for the finishing touches,” he said.

Countless up-and-coming musicians were producing music this way, Sayer explained.

“I thought why don’t I shut myself away and do this,” he said.

“We can do a lot of it at home – I’ve got a big barn that I’ve put together where I live in the southern highlands.

“You can manipulate all the strings and the horns yourself. It got easier as I went along.

“I thought, ‘oh my god, I can do a guitar solo on a keyboard!’

“I think the album arguably has ended up sounding very human – as if humans are playing.

“You’re playing something that is just digital signals but you’re tricking people into thinking, ‘hey, that was played by a bunch of guys in a room’.”

While Sayer dabbled in modern production methods for the album, its songs still echo his hits from the ’70s.

“I’m not Missy Elliott, I’m still Leo Sayer,” he laughed.

“When we played (the new songs) in Europe, my god, the effect was as if they had always been there. They blend in very well with the originals – people almost couldn’t tell the difference.”

Sayer looked forward to playing his new album weaved into his classic hits at Geelong Arts Centre on 30 November.

“Geelong’s a really happening place and a lot of good musicians are from there.”

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