Singer-songwriter Joe McLeod heads into the unknown

Queen's student takes Clark Hall Friday night

Joe McLeod will be playing Clark Hall this Friday. 

Joe McLeod has words of wisdom for just about anyone: if you work hard and put yourself out there, you will go far.

After just under a year of committing to seriously pursuing music, McLeod is a testament to his advice.

Now working on his first professionally produced album under the mentorship of The Elwins, McLeod plans to release his new music in 2019.

It will be the conclusion of a long journey that began with guitar lessons at eight years old. They didn’t last long, but McLeod had higher hopes for his music career. At ten years old, he was performing with his friends in his front yard.

“We were just singing some stupid song I wrote and the ice cream truck pulled up, and [the owner] liked that we were playing music and he offered us free ice cream,” McLeod said. “I guess he was a drummer and thought it was cool. Every time we saw him for the rest of the summer he’d give us free ice cream.”

Since then, McLeod’s approach to music has changed a bit. He spends four hours a day playing guitar and writing music. It’s no longer a hobby to fill his spare time, but a daily ritual that brings him closer to his aspirations.   

His songs from these sessions are deeply expressive, ranging from joy and relationships to heartrending loss.

“When I write I feel like I’m saying what I need to say and releasing it into the world,” he said.

It’s an intimidating prospect to be vulnerable with his listeners, but it motivated McLeod.

Heading into these uncharted waters, McLeod returned to advice he received from singer-songwriter Frank Turner in an interview for his side project AverageJoe Media.

“If you’re scared of the unknown, go into it,” Turner told McLeod. He carried that advice forward.

McLeod recalls his first solo performance of original songs at Clark Hall—he was terrified.

"It was my first time playing any [of my own] acoustic folk songs live and it’s nerve-wracking, going up to play songs for people," he said. The bar was almost empty, heightening his nerves as he played to a handful of patrons. 

“It’s Clark, right? There was like, no one there. But I was really proud that I did it. I played my own songs to no one.”

McLeod hopes to bring his attitude of doing things in the face of fear forward with him into the future.

He has plans to release some songs this Christmas, and to finish another single before the end of the school year.

McLeod’s adamant that none of this would have been possible had he not put himself out there.

"Don't be discouraged. Don't be afraid to try new things," he said.


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