Under the Spotlight: Leonie Tremain
The amazing people that make Tonic a success go Under the Spotlight.
For this edition, we meet the incredible Leonie Tremain, leader of the Tonic Ska Choir. Leonie has led the Ska Choir since its inception in 2019. Her dedication and positive approach are central to the choir’s success.
Leonie before a Tonic Ska Choir performance
A few words from Steph:
Leonie is the beating heart of the Tonic Ska Choir. She radiates positivity, encouragement, confidence and love to every member.
It's hard not to adore her – she is funny, passionate, kooky, and possesses the most incredible talent for singing and sharing her skills. Leonie's strength lies in her humility, and in her ability to share her vulnerabilities with the group.
It's obvious how much the Ska Choir love and respect her. Their praise for her is limitless, and they have achieved things they did not think possible at the start of their Tonic Ska Choir journeys.
The Tonic Ska Choir is a family, and Leonie is the beating heart.
Leonie on leading the Tonic Ska Choir:
Leading the Tonic Ska Choir is the most wonderful job. From the moment the doors open to the second I’m locking the door behind me, I am full to the brim with positivity and purpose.
I’ve always had a love for Ska music, but it has multiplied massively since exploring songs more deeply. Breaking down harmonies and structures for a choir arrangement means I’ve discovered elements I would’ve probably missed as a listener.
For me, melody is everything. A song made from two simple chords can evoke an emotion just through the choice of melody.
Breaking down The Melodians ‘Sweet Sensation’ was such a treat for me. I love the raw, exposed emotion in Tony Brevett’s voice. I wanted to keep the delivery of the verses true to the original, so my Alto section, the biggest of the choir, is the driving melody force of this track. The Mezzos and Sopranos introduce sweet but subtle harmonies over the verses, and all three sections erupt into a three-part harmony over the choruses.
It’s such a powerful yet simplistic love song and, without fail, will always have a huge impact on our audiences. A true example of fantastic songwriting.
As a singer myself, I’m always seeking little nuances in tracks that will bring out the best in my voice, and I apply that to the Ska Choir as well. I attach myself to certain elements of a song to help build an atmosphere.
The choir’s version of The Beat’s ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ is a great example of using vocal shade and light. The song is repetitive, but builds with suspense to lyrically and melodically convey a very important message about mental health.
On this particular track, all three sections of the choir sing the verses in unison. My vision for this track was for it to sound powerful and almost sinister, like an army of voices.
Softly sung three-part harmonies echo and build up into the third verse to create suspense, with the choir projecting their voices on the lyric ‘Make no sense, drift gently into mental illness’ – a subject that resonates with many of our members. The song ends with the choir repeating the line ‘Mirror in the bathroom’ a capella.
It always feels really haunting when we perform this song. For a track with a lot of lyrical content, it feels like the easiest one for our audiences to digest.
I love that I get to explore, dissect and redeliver some of the greatest Ska classics in a choir format. It’s so exciting hearing tracks come to life, but most of all, I love seeing my amazing choir members’ faces when they do.