Jamtronica keyboardist/producer Jason Leech has opened for the likes of Griz, Galantis, and Big Gigantic. But he’s not a DJ. No USB. No decks. Instead, he opts for a rack of keyboards and a pair of headphones, and from there it’s all live leads, stabs and pads. Incorporating elements of bass and electro, Leech’s stage presence and understanding of tension and release allow him to connect with electronic music audiences much the same way great DJ’s do.
After uploading bedroom performance videos to IG and TikTok, Leech got the attention of electronic royalty REZZ, Excision, ILLENIUM, CloZee, Griz, and ZEDS DEAD, who shouted Leech out for his innovative takes on their tracks. Since his debut Brownies and Lemonade performance in 2017, he’s landed bookings at Electric Forest, Lost Lands, Secret Dreams, Interstellar and Asteria – and he’s not slowing down.
We connected with Jason Leech to talk about his roots in classic rock, what it took to step into the electronic music scene as a hybrid solo act, what’s on the horizon for his original music, how he sees electronic music transforming, and more. Stream Ghost here and check out their SPIN SET below. Want more? Head over to SPIN TV to keep up with all the latest and greatest DJ’s/producers pushing the boundaries of electronic music.
Who is Jason Leech and what do you stand for?
I’m a keyboardist/producer who loves to create and perform music. I hope to use my platform to inspire creatives to put their work out into the world, no matter how out of place they feel. I’ve seen the benefits first hand, and its given my life so much purpose. I stand for chasing your dream, no matter what.
Tell us about your sound – where does your style originate from and what have been your biggest visual, social, and sonic influences?
I grew up on my parents music—classic rock like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Deep Purple. These bands really opened my eyes to the multiple uses of the keys, outside of just piano. It got me into playing organs, synths, etc. Soon after that, I discovered electronic music through Daft Punk, and the early days of UKF with Skrillex, Zeds Dead, and Flux Pavilion. When I first heard Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, I remember thinking, “Is this guy playing all these parts on a keyboard?” Although that’s not what Skrillex was doing, I knew that I wanted to perform music like that. As a keyboardist, I thought I had to find my place in a band in order to have a career in music. These artists opened my mind to what was possible as a solo act.
Another big influence for me was an early YouTuber named Ronald Jenkees. He set up a camera to the side of his keyboards and made performance videos playing over a backing track. It looked so fun, and he got a huge positive response online. It inspired me to start making my own keyboard vids, which led to the start of my entire career.
You take such a unique hybrid approach to your sets. When did you start playing piano/keys/synth? Ever been in bands or have you always been solo?
I started playing piano when I was 5 years old. I was fortunate enough to have piano lessons growing up. I got my first electronic keyboard a few years later and loved that I could play thousands of different sounds using the skills I already learned from piano. I played in a couple bands growing up, first starting off playing pop punk with my high school friends. After that, I played in a funky jam band in college, The Manor & Friends, where I was exposed to playing on different stages and for different crowds. Playing shows with them really helped me with my stage presence.
Was there a definitive turning point to your success?
I’ve never had anything impact my career more than playing Electric Forest last year. I did two sets on a 360° stage, with the largest crowds I’ve ever played in front of. People from all across the country go to that festival, so it seems like no matter where I play now, somebody from Forest is at one of my shows. I also meet a lot of EF people who bring all their friends to see me when I play a show in their hometown. A lot of doors have been opened for me because of those sets and I’m so grateful for it.
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When did you realize the magnitude of your impact within the industry/community?
Within that last couple years, I feel like I moved beyond just being a keyboardist who posted videos online and stepped into the realm of the music industry. The artists that I looked up to and remixed in my videos became friends that I worked and collaborated with. In 2018, I made a video remixing CloZee’s tracks on keyboards because I was such a huge fan. As of last year, I have a collab out with her, an original release on her label, and performed on her festival Voyage. I used to listen to Marvel Years all the time and study how he worked live guitar into his set. Now I’m in the Marvel Years Trio, and we’re playing Envision Festival in Costa Rica next week. When I first started making keyboard videos, I would’ve never dreamed I’d be where I’m at now. Its been such a mind-blowing journey to be on, and so exciting to see a real world impact.
Where do you want to go next with your music and what can your fans expect from future releases?
I want to make piano a more prominent instrument in my mixes. I love playing classical piano pieces and I think that sound blends so well with electronic music. I recently made a video remixing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and it quickly became my most viewed video ever. I do a live performance of Komuz’s Fur Elise Remix, and it always gets a reaction from the crowd. There’s something there that I definitely want to explore.
Where have you not performed yet that you want to perform?
In what ways have you pushed yourself beyond existing self-imposed limitations?
I never thought I would ever do more than just put out keyboard videos on the internet. I remember toying with the idea of turning my keyboard performances into a full length live show, but never acting on it. I told myself that it was too weird of an act to ever gain any kind of traction. I hadn’t seen it done before, so there was really no proof that it would work. Even if I wanted to do it, it was going to take countless hours to put together an hour set. I spent years just putting out content from my room. However, I started getting reposts from big artists, and getting more and more followers. I’d get comments from people asking if I perform live. The love and support from the online community made me realize that I needed to leave my comfort zone. Funny enough, now I’m at a point where I’m on tour, playing all over the country, and miss being able make keyboard videos in my room. Still trying to find that balance, but so thankful that I was able to break through to performing live shows.
What’s next for Jason Leech?
I want to put out more original music. I love making vids remixing other artists’ tracks, but I feel like I’ve gotten my production skills to a point where I can be putting out EPs and albums now. I also want to work with more vocalists. I just released an original track called “Ghost” with an amazing singer Raddix, and had a great time creating a track to compliment his voice. I can make almost any sound with synthesizers and keyboards, but never the sound of a vocalist’s singing voice.
What do you wish for the future of electronic music? In what ways would you like to see it evolve?
I’d love to see lineups include more artists who fuse live instruments into their sets. The added human element in a performance adds so much to the sound. Our ears like it when certain rhythms and notes aren’t perfectly in time in a song, and playing an instrument on stage can really bring out that special flow. I know many DJs who can play instruments really well, but don’t feel like they could or should include it in their set. I think seeing the live act become more common would make artists more willing to try it out. This could bring out so many more original styles and sounds, pushing electronic music even further.
Any last words for the SPIN universe?
Thanks to anyone who has ever supported my music in any way. I’m so lucky to be able to do this for a living and I owe it all to the people who have listened to and shared my music. Your words of encouragement to keep pressing on has helped me through the hard times as well. If you’re new to my music, thanks for checking out this interview! I had a great time answering these questions and hope you check out my new single “Ghost” and my keyboard mix for SPIN.