By Ash

STM: Let’s start off with, why the name “The Sick Leaves”? 

TSL: When I started the Sick Leaves alias I thought about how wonderful it would be to be on permanent sick leave from an eight to five job and instead do music. In England I regularly put in sick leave to play live shows and coming back to South Africa it was my dream to be a full-time musician.

STM: How do you find the balance between making music that sounds like your classic work while also moving forward musically?

TSL: There’s no point in re-doing a sound with each new recording. Music is constantly changing and evolving landscape. Music inspires new music. I constantly look for a new direction, sounds, production techniques, songwriting styles etc. The music you create also evolve with age. There is no way I could have written my latest album when  I was 25. I just did not have the life experiences I’ve had since then. In the same sense I won’t be able to write my first album now…I’m just not that naïve anymore. It cuts both ways.

STM: Do you feel like you have succeeded as a musician?

Absolutely. Not in the way the world sees success but I’ve achieved my own personal ambitions and goals a hundredfold over.

STM: What’s the best part of success? What’s the worst?

TSL: The best part is the recognition for your effort and skill. There is nothing bad about being successful.

STM: The Sick Leaves have been nominated twice for the SAMA’s and have played at well-renowned music events, why is it that you have decided to stay in White River to pursue your music career and not move towards the bigger cities?

TSL: I’ve lived in London, Pretoria, and Johannesburg while pursuing a musical career. I came to a stage where I could do no more and needed a change of scenery. The Lowveld has opened up new possibilities in my life which would not have happened had I stayed in the city. There was nowhere left to go, nowhere new to play. I will never go back to the city. The quality of life is far inferior. These days I’m a recording artist only. With home recording technology advancing so rapidly I don’t need to be near the hub anymore. I wrote, recorded and produced my latest album all from home. It’s now on iTunes and anyone in the world with an internet connection can listen to it and buy it. That is incredible.

STM: What are the most important rules that you live by?

TSL: Integrity, honesty, openness and hard work ethic.

STM: What is it that inspired you to write music?

TSL: Music inspires me. I hear a great song, riff or hook and it inspires me to try something similar. What comes out is always different and before you know it there’s a new song.

STM: Do you feel that you have a set theme when it comes to your lyrics?

TSL: It’s probably lost love, missed opportunities. Chances you didn’t take.

STM: What’s the best musical advice you have ever gotten?

TSL: Practice, practice, practice. Keep writing.

STM: Do you have a “normals” job, other than music?

TSL: Yes. I have an import business and I’m also a freelance photographer.

STM: How do you feel about the new music that is being produced?

TSL: Mainstream radio music is lifeless. Over produced. Suited for mass consumption. If you dig deeper though there is a plethora of amazing bands and artist who create original music.

STM: What music moves you the most?

TSL: Rock ‘n Roll. Groove. Blues.

STM: What advice would you give to someone starting on their own musical journey?

TSL: Practice your craft or instrument until you master it. Only then start to think about performing and recording.

STM: How was it working with Darryl Torr? (who worked with bands such as Zebra & Giraffe, Al Bairre, Jesse Clegg, Gangs of Ballet and the list goes on.)

TSL: I was fortunate to work on two albums with him… “Last Dance of The Sugarplum Fairy” and “Breaking Away”. I learned a lot from Darryl and respect him tremendously as a producer. He is a perfectionist and won’t rest until everything’s perfect. This does tend to make music lifeless though…I’m all about rawness and energy. He’s had fantastic success though and that speaks volumes about his ability.

STM: You’ve probably heard this before, but your sound is quite similar to Muse. Was this intentional?

TSL: No, Muse is an influence of mine but I would never try to emulate what they’re doing. It would also be arrogant to kid myself that my capabilities are anywhere near Matthew Bellamy’s. He is a one-off. In my humble opinion THE best songwriter/singer/guitar player of the past 20 years. Non-musicians does not have a clue how incredibly good he is as a live performer. It’s mind-boggling.

STM: What are your goals for the next 5 years?

TSL: Too many to mention here. It would, however, be nice to bring another Sick Leaves album out before then. I’m currently learning to fly and can’t wait to see where that road leads me to.

STM: What type of a journey do you hope to take your fans on when listening to your music?

TSL: To feel the same type of emotions I feel when I listen to it.

STM: You’ve performed with artists such as Tamara Dey in the past, how is it performing with an artist from a different music genre and what other collabs do you hope to be apart of in the future?

TSL: It is wildly different. It is like two comets coming from opposite sides and colliding, forging a new one. You learn a lot, which is good. It also inspires you to be the best musician you can be. Andra (Cilliers) and I did a little side project, Tenkai Pennies, for a short while before I moved to Nelspruit. I would love to collaborate with here again for some sort of project. She performed backing vocals for “Underneath it all” on my new album, Travels with Charlie.

STM: What’s the most unforgettable music experience you’ve encountered?

TSL: Playing in 2009 the Friday evening 22:00 Oppikoppi main stage slot. As a two-piece.

Get the brand new album “Travels With Charlie” from The Sick Leaves today from iTunes or visit one of the following websites:

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.