Leon Kechayas first sat behind the drums on his Father’s lap at the tender age one years old, whom was also a drummer. He was instantly captivated by the drums thanks to his Father’s introduction and other family members involvement with music. Leon has since created a very bright future ahead for his drumming career and overall life journey. He has had the opportunity to be mentored and work closely with some huge names in the industry, travel all over the country and continue to network, gaining very high regarded contacts in order to keep moving forward. However most importantly, Leon looks forward to working with anyone who shares the same strong passion for music.
Leon started off playing and singing along to records at home closely watched by the family video camera. As he grew older and started primary school, it was then Leon had his first band experience at around age six to seven. The occasional Monday morning assembly concert was exciting for Leon, especially when the school band joined events such as the ‘Northern Metropolitan School Of Rock’ events. School bands from around Victoria would gather at venues such as the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, giving young students the chance to play in front of a few hundred people. Although Leon’s involvement with his first professional group came at age ten in 2006, when he joined the Australian Youth Band ‘Southern Stars’ Drumline. It was from this that Leon marched in events such as the Anzac Day and Myer Christmas parades in Melbourne, Victoria. It was also around this age when Leon started to attend the annual AUDW (Australia’s Ultimate Drummers Weekend) expo, also held at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre. From a young age Leon was exposed to meeting the greats such as Virgil Donati, Dom Famularo, Tony Royster Jr, Darryn Farrugia, Cindy Blackmen, Benny Greb, Steve Smith, Mark Schulman, Graham Morgan - the list goes on. At around age eleven, Leon also began taking up lessons with Melbourne’s very own heavy weight, Damian Corniola at Drumtek.
Leon’s drumming career took a serious turn in 2011 when he was fourteen, deciding to enter the intermediate category (12yrs - 16yrs) of Australia’s Best Up & Coming Drummer Competition. This competition is held at the annual AUDW, the largest drumming festival in the southern hemisphere. From hundreds of audition videos received around the country, there were to be only three top finalists to perform live at the AUDW, in front of an intimidating judging panel of the world's best attending that year - Dom Famularo, Graham Morgan, Darryn Farrugia, Grant Collins, Scott Pelegrom, Stanton Moore, Jason Bittner, Frank Corniola and more. Leon was successful and landed a spot as a finalist, now focusing his time on the written snare piece and open solo he had to perform on the Saturday morning of the festival. Once the performances were over, Leon was crowned the 2011 intermediate Australia’s Best Up & Coming Drummer. Rewards included vouchers to be used for the four main sponsors that year, including Vic Firth drum sticks and Zildjian cymbals. But most importantly the recognition that Leon received from the judges and fellow drummers around Australia was priceless, including a feature in the DRUMscene magazine issue published after the AUDW and local newspapers around Victoria. This is definitely an achievement that Leon holds significantly as one of the main ‘motivation boosters’ to strive and become the best player he can be.
Leon went onto auditioning for the Victorian State Schools Spectacular in 2012 and received the part as the main drummer in the rhythm section. The Victorian State Schools Spectacular is one of the largest Performing Arts events in Australia. It is a professionally staged production, performed annually to an audience of over 10,000 people at HISENSE ARENA (Melbourne, Victoria) which is also broadcasted on Channel 7. The Spectacular includes a cast of almost 3,000 Victorian government school student musicians, vocalists and dancers. Mentored closely by some of Australia's best well known musicians during the masterclasses such as Chong Lim, Stuart Fraser, Craig Newman, Rod Davies, Susie Ahern, Janine Maunder and other members of John Farnham's band, all student participants work together over a 6 to 7 month period of extensive rehearsals, to what then comes together as a 2-3 hour scripted concert that is performed twice in one day. The concerts aim to celebrate a diversity of performance mediums, including choir, dance, vocal, drama and orchestra. Leon continued to play in this production in 2013 and 2014 (his last year in High School). This has been one of the biggest events Leon has performed in yet, adding an extensive amount of playing experiences, reading abilities and networking to his name which has enhanced him extremely as a player.
As a bonus of gaining valuable contacts within the Australian music industry through the Victorian State Schools Spectacular, members of the 2012 Spectacular rhythm section including Leon himself, vocalist and dance casts were offered another unbelievable opportunity… however this time it was taken to a whole new level. The members specifically chosen for this performance were to put together a private shortened 'showcase' of the 2012 Victorian State Schools Spectacular show, personally performed for Prince Charles of Wales and his wife Camila, the Duchess of Cornwall. This performance took place during the royals stay in Melbourne around late November 2012. The showcase was titled 'Jubilation' and was also performed to members of the Australian Government and Victorian Education Department.
During late 2012 Leon joined an original band, Faith & Gasoline. This was to be Leon’s first touring band, playing gigs all around Victoria and interstate. This group also released various music videos published to YouTube, one which racked up well over 150,000 views within its first week thanks to recognition by reporters for the Herald Sun. In mid-2013 the boys hit the studio to record the second EP of Faith & Gasoline, yet the first that Leon was playing drums on. The EP titled song ‘Better Left Unsaid’ also gained over 100,000 views on YouTube very quickly, however the video was removed due to false copyright issues and later re-uploaded..
During and after the busy days of Faith & Gasoline, Leon has moved onto performing with various different groups and artists. Some permanent, some sessions. Leon has performed with some TV personalities such as The Voice 2013 Winner (Australia) Harrison Craig whom he met in the Victorian State Schools Spectacular and 2011 X-Factor contestant Emmanuel Kelly in late 2013, for the debut of his hit single ‘Let Love Find You’. The event was also broadcasted on ‘The Project’, Channel 10 Australia.
More recently in 2014, Leon gained the attention of four of the world’s biggest and most well known drum brands - DW Drums, Zildjian, Vic Firth and Evans. Leon signed his first endorsement contracts with Zildjian cymbals and Vic Firth sticks mid 2014, going on to secure DW Drums and Evans drumheads in early 2015 - achievements that Leon has been working on for years and is most proud of above all.
Leon then went on to join two groups in 2014. An original/covers band Mojo Jacket and an original act under the front man's name, Frank Dixon. The Mojo Jacket boys had toured Australia wide the previous year before Leon’s presence supporting Ringo Starr and his All Star band during their visit down under. Since they have supported Rick Astley, members of Daddy Cool and toured the east coast of Australia in early 2015. On the side the band fills in gaps with the usual corporate and wedding events and plans to record a second EP (another of which will be Leon’s first to play on) later 2015 - early 2016. During this same time, Leon also spends time playing live shows with the Frank Dixon band. Frank at only age sixteen has gained national and international recognition from industry heavy weights and fans, also winning various national original songwriting contests. In 2015 Frank took part in the new series of The Voice Australia, forcing the band to hit the studio and work on new material until the series is over, being best prepared for future live shows and possible international touring.
Leon is currently working on these projects and doing as much fill in, teaching and recording work for various groups as possible. With the connections of some great local drummers including Stevie Cat Jnr (Kimbra), Dan Kerby (Bliss N Eso), Stan Bicknell (Ecca Vandal) and more, drumming for Leon is becoming an increasingly exciting journey as each day comes. He is also working on an up and coming RnB/Funk/Soul/HipHop band crafted with some of the best young up and coming musicians in the country, of which is being guided by very high regarded musicians. Leon also focuses on spending time working on his own playing when possible during his busy schedule and taking on any new offers that arise, whatever they may be. As long as it is something that will propel him forward as a drummer, Leon will jump on it and show full commitment.
If you would like to contact and/or follow Leon, check out these links below:
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