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Leo Sawikin is a New York City-based singer/songwriter whose 2021 debut solo album Row Me Away produced two tracks, “A Whole World Waiting” and “Born Too Late,” that scored indie radio spins in the U.S. and the UK. The album’s first single, the ethereal rock ballad “Golden Days,” earned a prominent spot in the influential American Songwriter, which wrote, “We’re in contemplative times, and old soul Leo Sawikin followed the path paved by pop music’s classic songwriters, effectively capturing the longing for the simplicity of the past.”


Leo sees the lockdown era as a creative dividing line between Row Me Away and the exciting new material he’s been writing for the last two years. The music on the previous album was steeped in a sense of anxiety and dread, while the new songs are about learning to live in the moment and find peace, even in the face of an uncertain future.


When the opportunity arose to work with legendary Seattle-based producer Phil Ek –whose resume includes breakthrough albums by Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, The Shins, and Fleet Foxes—Leo jumped. The two have already recorded seven tracks at Studio Litho in Seattle and are currently working on more.


Leo will be releasing these tracks throughout 2023 and into 2024 (leading up to the release of a full collection) reflecting a new aesthetic he describes as “sort of indie folk-pop with a dreamy shimmer.” It’s a guitar-driven vibe that evokes an array of 90’s and early aughts bands, from The Sundays to The Goo Goo Dolls, that Leo grew up hearing from the backseat of the family car. Out so far are “Hold On,” which Earmilk called “a true gem… that takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster,” and the moody follow-up, “The Same Mistakes,” according to Celebmix, a “gorgeous, shimmering… lusciously pensive” track. The song asks why so many of us, both collectively and personally, seem powerless to escape cycles of self-sabotage and self-destruction.


Musically, Leo says, he wanted to approach the sessions with Phil differently from both his 2021 solo work and his time as front man of the NYC indie outfit, The Chordaes. “I’m always trying to develop and explore new musical possibilities,” he says. “For one, I wanted to do a record that showcased my chord voicings in a much more up-front way than I had in the past. And on previous recordings, I worked with a full backing band, but this time Phil encouraged me to do all the guitar parts myself and to come up with and play all the keyboard parts as well. It was quite a challenge, but I feel like there’s more of me on these new tracks, and that we really were able to distill the songs to their essence. Now, I’m just looking forward to seeing how people respond!”

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