Noted for his versatility and taste for infectious beats, R&B singer/songwriter Leon DC has been building his reputation, and his following, with sell-out gigs in his native London.
The Clapham boy, 26, makes music that draws from multiple genres and stylistic roots. His reflective lyrics and laid-back vocals have seen him likened to artists such as Giveon and Khalid - comparisons he’s more than willing to accept.
We met up with Leon to chat about his latest single – ‘Other Side’ – his career to date, and volleyball.
How did you get started in music?
Music has always been there in my life. I grew up doing musical theatre at school, and then at uni. As time progressed, I found myself being drawn to the music side of things more and more.
I’ve always made music – I can play piano by ear – but I really got serious about it during lockdown. That’s when I really started to focus on making beats. I started recording covers at first - Omarion, Years & Years, Rihanna - then writing my own songs. I like to experiment with different sounds, just so long as there’s a great melody.
When did you switch from recording covers at home to performing live?
My first ever gig was at the Moustache Bar in Dalston, East London. Really cool venue. I guess that was May 2021. That night was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions! I really didn't know what to expect, with it being the first time I'd performed my songs live. But honestly, it couldn't have gone better! Such a relief! Loads of my friends and family were there to support me, which was great.
Was it squeaky bum time?
I was nervous before the gig, of course. But when I was performing, it just felt right. I had a moment of realisation right there, on stage, that this was what I wanted to do. A new chapter had started in my life.
Tell us about the new chapter.
It’s been going well, thanks. I sold out my first headline gig, which also happened to be on my birthday. That made it even more special. A career highlight! It was at The Spice of Life in Soho. Another great venue. Great atmosphere. Smashed the performance. Even had a cake brought on stage, with everyone singing happy birthday. Amazing night!
Since then, I’ve been performing all over London and meeting loads of new artists and fans, which is incredible.
Tell us about your new single.
The single – ‘Other Side’ – is a mix of UK indie rock and R&B tones. It’s a song about letting go, having fun, enjoying the sun. It’s the perfect song to vibe to in the summer.
I wrote the track with a friend, Austin Corcoran. We were vibing to some beats on the Internet and we stumbled across some beats by Lewin Riddell: aka In Bloom. He’s an amazing music producer, based in Perth, Australia. We immediately reached out to him about producing the track.
The track features YvngError on guest vocals. How did that come about?
I’d heard his music and liked his sound. I thought he’d be a perfect fit for the song. I found him on Instagram and sent the track over to him to see if he’d be interested in collaborating. He said yes, and sent me his verse recordings a couple of days later. I then put it all together.
We didn’t actually meet in person till we shot the video, even though we both live in London. Yeah, the first time we met was at the shoot. It was such a fun day from the get-go. We bought a crate of beer and then strolled around Uxbridge, filming as we went.
What’s the reaction been like?
Really good. Loving the support so far, for sure. Just got to keep promoting now.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
I play volleyball. I’ve been playing for more than a decade now. Started playing in school. It just happened that my PE teacher was volleyball coach for Wandsworth at the London Youth Games. I was a tall kid, so I fitted right in and began training regularly. I represented the national squad on numerous occasions, from junior to senior level. I also played abroad, in France, for a season and a half. That was a great experience.
I’m also really starting to enjoy photography, videography, and film editing. I’ve done the edits for all-but-one of my music videos. I wouldn’t mind learning more and taking the skill further.
Tell us one surprising fact about yourself.
I can down a pint in just under 7 seconds.
Impressive! What’s the secret?
Competitiveness and alcohol.
Makes sense. What's in store for the next months?
It’s busy. I’m currently rehearsing some new songs, ready to start gigging again soon. You can bet there will be a few surprises! I like to keep people guessing. I have a lot of new music I’m working on. Not sure yet if the next release will be a single or an EP, but something's coming.
You’ve done a lot since that first gig. Do you have any advice for someone starting out?
Yeah, create music you vibe with. It’s important to make music you’re proud of. Do that and the rest will follow.
And where can people go to find out more about you?
It's tempting to end on that cliff-hanger, but is there anything you want to add?
Just big thanks to anyone and everyone who’s listened to or bought the single. And huge thanks to Ten of Clubs for this interview. It’s been fun. Really digging the art and clothing. 'Other Side' out now! Enjoy the ride!