Leon T. Pearl - Interview
Interview with Leon T. Pearl August 2013
London based Leon T. Pearl caused a reaction with his debut single Take You to Market leading to the 24 year old to be being linked with Disclosure affiliated, Method Records. Leon continues to build his sound and reputation promising a stylistic and lyrical develop in his up and coming material.
Leon talks about his musical influences, making a music video and his new found love and excitement for live shows!
CM: How are you?
Leon: Yeah I'm good, go for it!
CM: Your debut single Take You to Market has recently been released. What's the reception been like?
Leon: I think the receptions been good. I mean it's early days; obviously it's just come out but I'm feeling pretty psyched about it. We've got shows this week which we've really been focusing on and that's the bit I'm most excited about at the moment.
CM: You had previously released samples and demos on your Soundcloud. Did you feel you had support from your fan base prior to the release of the debut single?
Leon: I think there's quite a few people who are anticipating it. People have heard the track before. There's no big surprises at this stage because there's no sudden new track but there's lots in the pipeline.
CM: Bloggers and newspapers have related you to: The Streets, Frank Ocean and Disclosure. How do you respond to this?
Leon: I definitely feel like it's an honour because I like all those artists. Hearing Frank Ocean for the first time completely changed my life so I don't feel like that's a deserved comparison. In terms of the Streets, I try to talk about things honestly - I'm not trying to glamorise anything and I guess that's what The Streets did. They were such a defining moment in British music. I feel like they were a revolution in thinking about song writing so it's hard to be compared to that as well. In terms of Disclosure, it's current and its dance and it's electronic - I'm a huge fan of their stuff as well.
CM: You produce your material as well, can you explain that process?
Leon: I just produce it in my bedroom. It's a pretty modest setup at the moment. Eight or nine months ago I was sat in my bedroom just making tracks and I suppose it progressed from their but nothing has changed in terms of my circumstance or the equipment I'm actually using - It's all pretty basic.
I'm more excited about the future because hopefully I'll be able to get some studio time. It was only a few weeks ago I was in a professional recording studio for the first time so it's a very new experience for me.
It's all home made at the moment.
CM: Do you think the internet is a positive way of getting yourself publicised?
Leon: I don't think I was old enough or aware enough to know what it was like before then. I don't know about the internet, obviously it's a brilliant resource but the thing that is brilliant is the fact that you can produce songs at a professional level cheaply. I'm not a brilliant mixing engineer but the fact I can produce tracks to a professional level on budgeted equipment is absolutely the best thing about the new music industry - If you want to call it that.
It gives you complete creative freedom.
CM: You're signed to Disclosure-affiliated Method Records, what's it like being associated with such successful dance artist such as Disclosure?
Leon: I really like what Disclosure are doing with their music. When I first heard Tenderly and Flow it just blew me away. They're were the most interesting act coming out of Britain at the time, and that was a year and a half ago now, that I heard that, and was completely gobsmacked by the production. It's amazing to be here and be affiliated with them and the guys at Method are wicked so I'm just really happy about it to be honest.
CM: You mentioned preparing for your live dates. What can people expect from a Leon T. Pearl live show?
Leon: A lot of storytelling - It's very vocally driven and the production focuses on the lyrics. It's driven by the electronic and the dance - It's not heavy, but the point of it is to get up and dance. It's quite intense, but I want to melt that with lyrics that actually mean something and tell a story and create an atmosphere. Hopefully it's engaging in a lot of different ways all at once. I didn't want a bunch of people standing there - I wanted it to be intense.
Producing the tracks in my bedroom [meant] it was hard to imagine putting them into the live atmosphere and imagine how it would work. I've been doing it with my friend, who's in the band; it's just the two of us who create the live show. I love the fact the tracks are quite dance driven and when we've worked it into the live show, it's worked quite well. We're really looking forward to getting out there and going for it!
CM: How do you control the live elements with their only being two of you? Is there a backing track?
Leon: There are a lot of electronics that are live controlled. There are a lot of piano in the tracks so I focus on playing the piano or keyboard and do the vocals. We've got a lot of live filtering of the electronics being played and triggered.
CM: When did you start playing the piano and found your ambition for music?
Leon: My Mum started forcing me to play classical piano at the age of eight because she always wanted to and never had the opportunity. I stuck it out and at the age of fourteen I started really composing things and that's when I got really, really hooked on music. I would never sit and learn a piece but instead find a chord that stuck with me and I would put the classical piece aside and writing my own composition built around that chord - I just wanted it to be my own. From that I got into producing, got an eight track and synths and got obsessed with electronic music and I've been doing it ever since.
It was always a bit of a pipe dream to think I could do something with it but in the last couple of years I've really focused and tried to actually develop it into an art.
CM: Obviously you're not playing Classical pieces now, is your Mum a fan of your electronic music?
Leon: I don't know if my Mum's a fan. It's hard to say to be honest but she's very supportive and that's the main thing.
CM: You recently released a music video for your debut single Take You to Market. What was this experience like?
Leon: It was just one of those things where I had a track that I hadn't put out yet and some industry people were getting interested down here in London. Some people gave me some advice 'Why don't you go and make a promo video for your track?' So it was a case of me going back up to Edinburgh and saying to my mate 'I need to make a music video'. He was from the States and was only over for a week so he was like 'We've got four days. I can make you a music video but we've only got four days' and so we just went for it. Obviously the track was called Take You to Market so we had the idea of B it being in a fruit shop. We had a great fruit shop that we knew and went to to buy our fruit. We just decided to go and shoot in there. It was three days of intense shooting and editing shot on a handy cam and cost 45p to buy one person in, so there wasn't much preparation which I think comes across in the video.
CM: Were you expecting the success the video received?
Leon: There's a more recent version of it with a new mix on the track and it's all been cleaned up.
No, I didn't know how it was going to be received because it's quite tongue in cheek and that was the point, to play with people's heads: 'is he taking the p**s or is he actually trying to be serious?' and that's the way I was feeling in my head about it. I wanted to be in the music video and it was the idea of getting used to being in front of a camera.
We had a bit of a heavy weekend so I was like 'I'm going to put some sunglasses on and hide my eyes' (Laughs) and it became this weird piece where you're not sure what I'm trying to say. Obviously it's created a reaction and I'm here now and a lot of things have moved on since then.
I didn't expect it to go down as well as it has.
CM: You've got a successful track and you've mentioned making new material, are you hoping to release an album?
Leon: I'm assessing music and producing. There are a lot of ladders to climb but it's the only thing I invest and put a lot of effort into really - I'm writing a lot of songs that are in preparation and you're expecting to hear what you want from them and [the expectation of] how you want them to sounds increases. I'm taking my time with them and not rushing it. I'm hoping for an album eventually.
Albums are my favourite pieces of work and I feel like I engage with albums a lot so that was the aim but no rush, get it right.
CM: Is Take You to Market a fair reflection on the rest of your material?
Leon: I think a lot of the inspiration is the same. I like dance driven beats and that's the crust of it and it's electronic so there's a lot of that. Lyrically and stylistically I think I've developed a lot since that track which I wrote about ten/eleven months ago. Things like what I can do with my voice and my vocals, I've worked a lot on. I feel like I'm developing as an artist and I feel a lot more sophisticated, I hope so anyway, In terms of what I'm trying to say and how I'm trying to say it.
CM: Are there any specific artists who have influenced you?
Leon: It's hard to say. If I try to emulate something it just sounds like my stuff but I definitely have huge inspiration. I go through phases of things but I just love old school pop. Justin Timberlake is my favourite artist in terms of writing addictive pop music but obviously Frank Ocean and Drake - I'm really into R'n'B even though I'm not actually writing R'n'B - the solo and the delivery of the vocals.
CM: You've built the foundations of a successful career. What would you like for the future of Leon T. Pearl?
Leon: Obviously I'd like to be able to do this and live from it. If I can get a roof over my head and have a nice meal, that's all I want. I've been really getting into the performance side of things and feeling comfortable as a performer, wanting to show people my work in that live setting - I feel I'll get a lot of satisfaction and I've only recently been learning to love that.
I really want to be out there. Wanting and loving playing shows, getting people moving. I want the audience to relax and for me to relate to them on an intimate level but where everyone is comfortable and laughing and it's not too serious where as some of the content is serious - it's always taken with the lightness of heart.
CM: Thanks for talking with us; we look forward to see hearing what comes next!
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