Q&A: I Know Leopard

October 3rd 2013


Some things are instinctive. I Know Leopard‘s band name story involving a Chewbacca mask and an indignant (and now kind of famous) costume shop owner is one of those things. I Know Leopard tell us all about it and guide us through their sleepy pop, their forthcoming debut EP Illumina and their new single ‘She’ which features on this month’s The Rip Mixtape.


FBi: Firstly, the question on everyone’s lips, why leopard and not say… tiger?

IKL: One afternoon, we were in a fancy dress store looking for costumes for a jungle themed party. I fancied myself as a leopard so I asked the store clerk if he had anything similar to a leopard mask. He appeared to rise to the challenge confidently, leading us down an isle and directly to a particular mask featuring the unmistakeable face of Chewbacca. I said, “Nah, that’s not really the kind of thing I’m after. I’m after a ‘leopard’ mask. You know, leopard?” The store clerk, of Indian origin, replied disgruntledly in sublime broken English, “I know leopard!” He dropped Chewbacca on the floor and stormed off in a huff. We knew in that moment that we had found our band name.

Your debut EP Illumina – how did it all come together? And how do you feel now that it’s all completed?

We recorded it with our great producer and friend Craig Willson at REC Studios in the city. For an EP, it actually took quite a long time to come together. With an amazing studio full of gadgets, vintage synths and amps at our disposal we got pretty carried away with exploring different sounds and textures. We even re-wrote a lot of it in the studio. I guess we decided from the outset that we didn’t want to rush it. Especially if we wanted to make something special. We’ve all played in previous projects and usually we look back on a recording, hate on it and wish we did things differently. This time round we’re actually really proud of the result.

You’re not native Sydneysiders. How did the move from Adelaide influence the sound of this EP?

We moved to Sydney a few years ago at the tail end of a previous band. I think the move played quite a significant role in the birth of I Know Leopard both stylistically and lyrically. I guess the recurring theme of the EP is displacement – that feeling of not really fitting into a certain society or environment. The whole square peg in a round hole thing. I was plagued by that for a while after I moved here. Although I was keen on broadening my horizons, I lamented the wide open spaces and relaxed culture of my hometown in the Adelaide hills. Until the move, I hadn’t realised the extent to which that environment had been conducive to my creativity. However, in time I suppose I learned to draw upon these feelings and in turn let that nostalgic kind of sentiment influence the style of music we were making too.

What can you tell us about the single ‘She’? Can we ask, who is she?

‘She’ is the opening track to the EP. It’s a slow burner but its just as pop as the rest of the EP. It is indicative of the sonic concept of the rest of Illumina, as I think they’re all quite concise pop songs but set against more sonically liberal, ‘dreamy’ if you like, backdrops.

‘She’ is honestly not anyone in particular. It can work in the literal romantic sense of someone you fall back on when everything else sucks but on another level it can also work as a personification of sacrifice for art. Often times I think artists of any type can become so consumed by their work that it is at the expense of maintaining social or financial stability.

What should we expect from the forthcoming tour? Tell us about the I Know Leopard live experience?

We are doing a pretty solid east coast tour. We plan to do Perth and more regional stuff next year. We have really tried to achieve most of the same effect live as what we have on the EP. We like to push the big, celestial wall of sound a little further live. Thanks to things going a little overboard in the studio, we have made it hard for ourselves to translate it but I’d like to think we’re getting it pretty close.

Personally, I think Jen is the big drawcard live. She plays violin, keys and sings like an angel (sometimes nearly all at once).

What’s next for I Know Leopard after this tour?

We will release the whole EP early next year, tour some more and then hopefully punch out another record. In the meantime, gotta keep writing to get past the shit songs and get to the goodies!


‘She’ by I Know Leopard is on The Rip VII: FBi’s free monthly mixtape of local music.


WHO :: I Know Leopard + Dr Goddard
WHERE :: The Marlborough Hotel, Newtown
WHEN :: Thursday 3 October, 8pm
HOW MUCH :: Free!


RELATED: View + Free Download :: I Know Leopard ‘Useless’



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