Artist profile: Leif Saya

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 1999

From Bach to rock: Leif Saya asked for a violin for his seventh birthday and he's been playing ever since. Now 19, he plays from two to five hours a day, everything from J.S. Bach and John Coltrane to Irish and rock tunes.

He took Suzuki lessons the first four or five years, but said all the while his mother, who loves Irish music, was dragging him to Irish jam sessions. He started learning the tunes and has since played in a number of local contra dance and Irish music bands. He also played in the symphony at Juneau-Douglas High School, which he graduated from last year.

Feed your mind: ``I want to try to find my own voice on the violin, so (lately) I haven't been listening to other violin or fiddle players. I've been listening to horn players. I've been really influenced by jazz. There's so much in it. As an instrument player, whatever you feed your mind is what comes out,'' he said.

Irish pilgrimage: Saya has been to Ireland twice, and said he played music non-stop while he was there.

``They were really welcoming. I think they like the idea of a young guy from Alaska playing their music,'' he said.

Soundman: He said he's always been interested in recording and sound, and was a regular participant on KTOO-FM's ``We Like Kids'' program before he turned 10. He bought a Digital Audio Tape recorder with his Alaska Permanent Fund dividend when he was in fifth grade to explore his interest in recording.

By age 12 he was assisting Juneau sound engineer Albert McDonnell with recording and sound reinforcement, and he has since recorded and played on tracks for local musicians and mixed sound for a number of live concerts.

Love the kick: ``I've always been fascinated with sound, but then I got more interested in the music part than the technical part,'' he said. ``My dream is I'd really like to put together a band and play music. I'd like to play every day, and I love the kick of playing for people.''

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