The GROUND met with 24 year old British musician Leon Else to find out more about this young man who from seating in his room making music appeared in the front row seats of all the majors show during the latest Milan’s Fashion Week alongside Kanye West. He also had an exclusive with Givenchy, making of him the only new musician ever recognized by the fashion house. Life has been an intense journey started with a MySpace account and leading up to the first contacts with producers and the music industry but this is the same kind of intensity that we hear in his warm and soulful voice. His recent release Protocol displays an innate passion that combined with his outspoken attitude promises to produce a debut album that will sound honest and sincere, “I’m not into making things up when I’m writing because to me if it’s not real then your song isn’t real” he tells us. GQ Magazine UK already named him No. 1 most stylish man of the Fashion Week and as he prepares to take his seat at both Paris and London Fashion Weeks, we have a feeling that his music won’t be just a seasonal trend.
From your very first music attempts on your MacBook Pro and Garage Band to signing your first deal, how do you feel about your musical journey so far?
I feel exhausted! It has been a journey of self discovery both musically and personally. I got to learn more about the business and hone my craft as a songwriter. There were times when I felt bitter or angry about my musical journey but I see and hear things in different ways now and I feel good about this journey, I come from a small working class town called Margate and now I’m in between London, Paris, Milan, LA so my world has totally changed. I’m very much one of those persons who likes to look ahead though; I’m always looking for new opportunities and doors to open. However, before my first gig in London I spoke to a friend of mine and when she mentioned how far I had come I thought… fuck! I can’t believe I’ve been on this journey and now I also see those many dark periods as something worth going through.
What was the first thing you loved about working in a proper studio?
My first proper studio was at the Universal Music Publishing in Fulham, London. When I was walking up the road to it my heart was pounding, I’m not lying! I stood outside looking at this building with the famous sign of Universal and the only way I can describe it is that I felt like Charlie Bucket looking in awe at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I was standing in front of a place that could make your dreams come true. Obviously Willy Wonka didn’t come back flipping out of the studios but the first thing I loved was actually the recording booth, the place were you actually put yourself on the track. You see it in films and on the TV but I remember thinking that the mic looked more like a bomb than a microphone!
Your lyrics are pretty straightforward, what does inspire your writing process?
I always write from my own personal experience, opinions and thoughts. I am a very direct person in life so if I have something to say then I will just say it. Inspiration comes from my past, my present and my hopes and fears for the future. I’m not into making things up when I’m writing because to me if it’s not real then your song isn’t real. I have been through a lot in my life so I use this as my fuel.
What about the girl you sing about in “My Money, Your Body” ?
She is one of my closest childhood friends and to this day we are still really close. She is someone that works in the adult entertainment industry all over the world and in all different kind of establishments. I have seen first hand the effects of this, both positive and negative. I have seen it all from her perspective and it somehow changed my own way of thinking about it. The world we live in today is so judgmental and people are so quick to label each other that I wanted to write a song and create a video that made you think. You never know the person sitting next to you, you don’t know their journey and how they came to be who they are and what kind of job they do, so maybe we should stop and think just for a second before being nasty and judgmental.
You have been photographed alongside Riccardo Tisci and Anna Dello Russo during the Fashion Week in Milan. As a fashion lover what did you enjoy the most about attending the event? Any must have item in your radar?
I am a massive lover of art and fashion and I can relate to designers because they express through fashion what I express through songs.Being invited to sit front row at shows like Salvatore Ferragamo and Givenchy was amazing and I felt really honored to be meeting Riccard Tisci, Giorgio Armani, Dean and Dan Caten, and Anna Dello Russo to name a few. It was a real privilege and I love building relationships and making new connections with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I met so many amazing people and everyone was amazingly nice and kind. I loved the buzz and build up to the shows, they last for ten minutes and then everybody runs to the next, it’s crazy! The highlight was to see from the front row the amazing collections and the details of the design. It was also amazing to be dressed by everyone! The must-have item was the Givenchy outfit I wore for the show in Paris. It was insane, from the shoes to the printed shirt and the simplicity of the suit jacket.
We can see you covering Sia’s ‘Titanium’ and Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ on your YouTube channel. What do you like about these two artist? Who would you like to duet with if you could choose?
Sia is incredible! I have been a fan of hers for a very long time since her first two albums and I was sold. I thought her writing was so unique and yet so amazing. I used to always think why isn’t she bigger? Why isn’t she getting the recomigtion she deserves? When Titanium came out I immediately knew it was her singing it and I was really happy. My management pushed me into doing some covers so I thought it had to be Sia and she actually tweeted me saying holy shit dude… This is amazing it’s the best cover of Titanium, so I was freaking beaming! She’s a big inspiration to me. Adele is someone I just want to go and get drunk with! She seems like so much fun and her talent is second to none. She’s a huge ambassador for British music, she’s doing her thing staying true to herself in a world that went EDM crazy! She’s a total star that has a voice to die for and a writing ability that makes of her a world class act! I want to do a Bond song one day, the theatrical sounds and cinematic feeling makes me feel like I can conquer the world so that’s why I have covered Skyfall. A duet would be with Prince pleaseeeeeee!
My debut album in my head looks like a collage right now. On paper it shouldn’t go together but it actually works, it’s a journey going from RnB to soul, indie, and full pop but then back to experimental; from light to dark. I am not only one thing as a person so my album and music reflects that. I suffer with ADHD so I can change a lot on a daily basis, it’s a beautiful mess but that’s me. It’s my way or the highway, I can’t help what I write, I just do what I feel.
You have only just started and yet in ‘Tomorrow Land’ you sing “we all fall down”. What are we to expect from you in the future and do you have any fear about it?
The biggest killer and danger to this planet we live on is “humans”. We are not only destroying the world we live in but we are ultimately destroying ourselves. It does make me sad that one day there will be no tomorrow, whether I will be here to see it or my children. We are abusers of our position, we are so caught up in our own “intelligence” that it is actually becoming our biggest downfall. We all fall down eventually… Unless we can change… eventually… I am very passionate about animals, Eco-systems, and the world we live in. I’m not perfect but I try and if we would all try harder, things would be very different.
It is hard to believe but Leon Else likes… ?
Moths. I love them! Also raw jellies and… The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! That’s my guilty pleasure, Yo!
Upcoming UK Live Dates:
Feb. 20 – The Water Rats, London
March 7- Club NME @ Koko, London