Make/Work Episode 16: Cheryl Leonard


In Episode 16 of Make/Work, host Scott Pinkmountain speaks with composer, performer, and instrument builder Cheryl E. Leonard. Leonard is known for creating compositions using materials she finds in the natural world—things like stones, wood, water, ice, sand, shells, and feathers. She’s travelled as far as the Arctic and Antarctica in search of new sounds like calving glaciers and her set of penguin bone instruments.

Leonard talks about some of the challenges of making her microscopically quiet music while living in a city, like having to wake at 3 a.m. and climb into her closet to record. She also discusses the benefits she gets from her other two passions, Aikido and mountaineering, and how making art doesn’t necessarily trump those things.

It’s really hard to wake up at 3 a.m. and be creative in a cold dark closet.


Listen to Episode 16 (and subscribe to Make/Work) now in iTunes. Or get the direct download. And you can now get Make/Work through Stitcher.

Check out an excerpt from Cheryl E. Leonard’s performance of “Polarnatt” at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival below (or click here). It features her performing on Norwegian seashells, Antarctic limpet shells, stones from Svalbard and Antarctica, glass, and sea salt:

Every creative laborer has a different story to tell about how they negotiate their relationship between their creative work and their paycheck and how they balance their lives to sustain their creative practice. In Make/Work, Scott will speak with emerging and established artists working in a wide range of creative mediums about how they survive, how they make a living, and how they maintain their work over the long term. New episodes will be released every other Thursday.

Scott Pinkmountain is a writer and musician living in California. He is the creator and host of The History Channeler comedy podcast and has written for This American Life, A Public Space, HTMLGIANT, and other publications. He has also released dozens of albums of both instrumental music and songs including the recent No Country Music. He can be found at More from this author →