LEISURE prioritise good vibes first, music second

LEISURE prioritise good vibes first, music second

Photo: Nicole Brannen
Words by Eliza Booth

LEISURE have been making waves ever since they burst onto the scene in 2015. Conceived during a fateful beach getaway organised by band member Jaden Parkes, the Auckland-based electro-funk powerhouse has since embraced an eclectic mix of genres, resulting in a sound that absolutely oozes coolness.

The five-piece recently travelled across the pond to play sold-out shows in Melbourne and Sydney ahead of their sophomore album, Twister, which is due out on Friday July 26. Beat spoke with LEISURE’s Tom Young and Jordan Arts about vibes, playing live and the new album.

Arts recalls the quintet’s first time writing together on that beach trip in Auckland. “There was no preconception for it to be anything, so that was a nice place to be,” he says “There were no rules and I think it wasn’t until after that week when we basically all sat around and played these songs back to front [that we] thought, shit, these are actually kind of good.”

Describing those first songs, which included their breakout single ‘Got It Bad’, as “kind of good” is an understatement. The band’s first album, 2016’s LEISURE, debuted at #2 in the Official NZ Music Chart and has clocked up more than 50 million Spotify streams. But that understated vibe is part and parcel for LEISURE.

“I think the energy is number one,” says Young. “Whenever we go away we always make sure that it’s not really about the music initially, it’s more about being all on the same vibe so we’re sort of establishing that backdrop and then the music kind of comes through.”

“We’ve figured out that we’re creatures of our own environment and there’s something to be said about making music with atmosphere and in new, fresh, kind of unfiltered space,” Arts says.

As creatures of their environment, the new album definitely shows signs of the band’s upgraded touring schedule, with several more danceable, bubbly tracks compared to their debut.

“We’ve been playing live a lot more since the first album, so we’re kind of used to that live environment and the feeling that we get from playing live,” says Young. “We want to accentuate that feeling I guess, so we’re not as afraid of upbeat things as we maybe were on the first record.

“For us playing live now we can really connect on a different level,” says Arts. “We’re not freaking out about playing live and we’re not freaking out about who’s going to enjoy themselves because we’re enjoying ourselves on stage. I think having those connection points and seeing people connect with us, with the music, it’s taken on a much more energetic form than we ever thought it would.

“You have some LEISURE songs that are just so perfect for a campfire, but some LEISURE songs that are perfect for pouring out a cocktail to.”

Their ability to flit from laidback, infectious numbers to funkier, layered tracks is just one of the reasons that LEISURE have captured the attention of so many in such a small space of time. The band members have always wanted the music and emotions to speak for themselves, which is what catapulted them into the spotlight in the first place.

The fact that they were able to grow so organically, without the intent of being a massive band, sets them apart from others.

“I think for a lot of us, some of our favourite music is the music that we can discover on our own and it doesn’t have to shout at us,” says Arts, and if there was ever a way to really describe LEISURE’s music, it would be that sentiment right there.

Twister by Leisure is available on Friday July 26. See them at the Corner Hotel on Friday September 20. Tickets via the venue website.