Writing, recording and producing an EP from your bedroom with Leo HC

By Alex Jones

31 May 2024

The word bedroom musician gets thrown around a lot amongst up and coming artists. Mostly used to describe an artist playing for fun, your typical bedroom musician doesn’t perform gigs or release music. But Rochdale born Leo Howard-Cofield, Leo HC, is redefining what it means to be a bedroom musician, writing, recording and producing an EP from the comfort of his Sheffield flat, all the while having access to a studio through Octagon Records. 

A bizarre decision? Some would say. But here’s how working from home has actually aided Leo’s production. 

First of all there is a personal challenge aspect for Leo, working in this way. He seemed to enjoy the tough task of being alone doing all sorts of technical tasks when the help of people at an established label was an option for him. He said: “I think to be honest the unique aspect about my music is just that I have tried to do everything alone. The production, mixing, attempted mastering and then art and stuff like that.”  

Leo also alluded to the element of control that comes with working alone. Feedback wanted to know if working solo on software you are familiar with gives the chance to experiment a bit and add some new techniques to your songwriting. Leo explained: “I have got so used to using Ableton that it is like if I went into a studio and it was a different set-up I wouldn’t be able to just add all the things I want.” 

The EP, which is called The Shades, certainly does include some experimental tricks. Working alone has enabled Leo to hone his own fresh songwriting techniques. He said: “I’ve been experimenting a lot. I had a go at sampling my own voice, and then chopping into a keyboard sort of thing.” 

Yes, you read that right. Leo has programmed his voice to come out of his keyboard in his own personal keyboard choral setting. 

“It is quite a cool one because, depending on what you are playing it changes the length it plays at as well. On a couple of them (songs) I have sampled the hook of the song and the chorus and turned that into something I can play. It is just a little bit more texture because everything else I am playing is just guitar and singing.

“I know that Bon Iver kind of uses that on the album 22, a million. I wanted to make it less about that and just have it as sort of ear candy in the background I guess. On the songs where he does it, that is the main part in the song.”

This is difficult of course to incorporate into a live set. For Leo HC, the solution has come via branding his gigs as stripped back and raw performances of his songs. The Sheffield based singer-songwriter has been playing guitar since he was in year three at school and is no stranger to performing live. He said: “I just go with me and my guitar. (to gigs) A lot of the songs that are on this EP use finger picking. So I’ll usually do some embellishment at points where I can’t have a guitar solo. I’ll mix up the vocals so it doesn’t sound too samey I guess.”

Leo gave Feedback exclusive access to The Shades. For fans of Bon Iver, Naima Bock, The Smashing Pumpkins and J Mascis, Leo’s biggest inspirations, stay tuned for the EP’s summer release, which contains four heartfelt tunes. He has said to expect: “A lot of emotion I guess. My main sort of goal going into the EP was to have a look at a lot of different kinds of relationships… friendships, good one and bad ones. It is very emotional and sad. Not much joy there but people like that I guess.” 

You can watch Leo HC play in Sheffield with Make Noise on the 8 June. 

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