Jeff Greenleaf, a Braille Specialist for blind children, released 2 albums in 2007: Chill Factory and Dragon Eyes. Chill Factory is a combination of New Age, Chill, Downtempo, World Music, and Soundtrack music. "I've been working nights as a massage therapist for several years and I realized that it was time to record an album dedicated to relaxation," explains Greenleaf. "It started out as a simple project focusing on droning hypnotic soundscapes but it quickly changed into something much more," Greenleaf remembers. While the album is very atmospheric, it also includes some beautiful world music inspired from Jeff's experience in the UCSB Middle Eastern Ensemble, Indian Ensemble, and Balinese Gamelan. "As an anthropology major, I focused my cultural interests strictly on the arts, specifically ethnomusicology," adds Greenleaf. Some of the songs, including "Sleepwalk to India" and "Bali Sunset" take you on a musical journey throughout the far east. Chill Factory is exactly what the title suggests: It's a downtempo, electronic chill album that truly ignites something magical in the listener.
Jeff also teaches blind children how to read and write Braille music notation. "To blind children, sounds are unconfirmed by visual impression," says Greenleaf. "I just give them the basic tools they need to create their own wildly original music."
Jeff Greenleaf has played guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and bass in various rock bands for the past 20 years.When he moved to Santa Barbara in his college years, Jeff started to write, record, and perform his original music as a solo act. Greenleaf also produced music festivals which featured Santa Barbara's best bands. He performed in a multitude of festivals, coffee houses, and parties. Greenleaf experimented with recording electronica music and gained a loyal following through his performances.
In his second album, Dragon Eyes, The Malibu based songwriter steps forward with a stirring and reflective collection of cool, propulsive melodies and warm, hopeful ballads. Textured with a deft blend of acoustic and electric guitars with old skool keyboards, Jeff Greenleaf archives his best musical ideas and stylings. Dragon Eyes is the result of Jeff's construction of a new, state of the art home studio in 2006. "In the 6 years since my last album, I have learned so much about running a recording studio, producing, and engineering" says Greenleaf. "I'm really excited about the release of Dragon Eyes for so many reasons, but mainly because it demonstrates my ability to skillfully produce and shape a musical moment."
Jeff has always had an appreciation for electronic music, but his time spent in Spain was a real turning point. "I spent a week in Ibiza Spain, which is this tiny island that revolves around electronic music (techno, house, chill, drums n' bass, etc). They literally have the biggest clubs in the world on this beautiful little island on the Mediterranean Sea. Every single billboard along the roads advertise for the clubs with these amazing colorful graphics. Young people from all over Europe come there just to listen to this music because all the famous DJs live there," explains Greenleaf. "The music was so fresh to me and I'll never forget being in the middle of the dance floor with hundreds of people at 7:30 in the morning getting covered with foam bubbles!" The electronica flavor on Dragon Eyes is a tribute to the foam parties in Ibiza.
"With all of my previous recordings, there are always things that bother me now when I hear them," explains a thoughtful and self-effacing Jeff Greenleaf. "I think this is the record where I've really got it right," he adds with a laugh. "It's the record that seems to have that mysterious combination of elements, all falling right into place." Greenleaf points out "My earlier recordings are all my babies, but this one I get excited about, because it bounces around a lot. When the engineering was complete and the album was being pressed, I had this image of myself running through a war zone with it, holding it like a baby --- protecting it. Bullets whizzing past my head," Greenleaf says over pizza in his recording studio.
The songs heard on Watercolor Blues, Jeff's debut album, stemmed from a period of personal upheaval and romantic dissolution. "There were some pretty significant changes at the time," says Greenleaf of those tumultuous days. "At the same rate, a lot of my songs come from a kind of realism - not overly optimistic but just accepting things and being hopeful" he explains. "I guess I'm often just writing songs of reassurance to myself," he adds. "So I think that's where the guarded optimism comes from," suggests Greenleaf. The strong undercurrent of optimism that runs through Watercolor Blues ultimately becomes its thematic arc.
Greenleaf admits that songwriting remains a labor. "It's hard. Music has always come pretty easy to me, the melody and all that, but I always get stuck on the lyrics. It's this thing where you get an idea and you try to get as much down as you can when you're right there in the moment. You know, just take it as far as you can. But sometimes, you don't have time to do that. You get an idea, and then you're distracted by something. I say this, but I'm also very careful as to what I get distracted by. I have a whole bunch of songs that I'm working on now that would be finished...if I could just think of a second verse."
"These days, when you turn on the radio, all you really hear are these artists targeting a very young audience. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just something I can't really compare myself with. I'm just trying to be relevant to myself," adds the good-natured Greenleaf. "Obviously, there's a lot of people doing really well who aren't that talented, but they know how to work the camera or push people's buttons, and they can project themselves or this image," says the singer-songwriter. "There have been so many artists that have emerged in the last few years that are not challenging anything but are doing something that sits well on radio and gets played and housewives sing along. That's an art in itself, I guess. But that's not where I'm coming from, and I don't know how to do that," he finishes without any sense of malice.
"What I can honestly say is that I’m proud of every single song that’s ever been on one of my records. I’m not always proud of the production or the singing, but there’s not a song that I couldn’t play you now and not feel good about it."