Blessed with a richly soulful voice and a fondness for pulsating beats, UK R&B artist Leon DC has amassed an impressive fan-following, as we discovered when we published our previous interview with him. The Winchester has rarely been so busy!
Now we're back at his East London studio for a sneak peak at the video for new single 'Zen'.
A collaboration with digital artist Swifty Creative, this latest video is completely animated and something of a departure for the singer/songwriter, albeit one that ideally complements the confident, empowering vibe of the track it accompanies.
An elite athlete as well as a successful recording artist, this time we grill the 6’3” singer on his new single and his impressive volleyball skills.
Read on for big power hitting, dislocated pinkies, and more.
What have you been up to since we last saw you?
I’ve literally become a bit of a hermit: non-stop recording new songs and working out how and where I’m going to be performing gigs next year. I’m really trying to perfect my sound, getting a solid batch of songs ready to perform for next year.
I’ve also started a part-time Masters in Music Performance at the University of East London. I got a volleyball scholarship offer to study and play volleyball. Really looking forward to seeing what I’ll learn and where I’ll be in two years' time.
Never stop learning. You mentioned last time that you’d been on the national volleyball squad.
Yes, growing up playing volleyball, I was a part of the junior and senior national team setup. Over the years I’ve travelled around Europe for international games.
I still play, but volleyball had to take a back seat because of my music. I’m a working man now! But maybe I’ll go back. I wouldn’t mind playing professionally again for a season or two.
Who do you play for now?
I’m currently playing for Malory Eagles, based in Tooting, London. It’s my home team. I first played for them right at the beginning of my career, so it feels good to be back.
Volleyball is very fast paced. Is it as physically demanding as it looks?
Some positions in volleyball can be physically demanding, depending on if you do or don’t have a height advantage on the other team. At 6’3” I’m tall in comparison to most, but small for a volleyballer.
But height doesn’t really matter if you’re playing the defensive role. I play the opposite: the attacking position. I’m supposed to be the big power hitter that wins the majority of the points.
The speed of the game is very impressive to watch, especially for someone that’s never watched it before. Volleyball’s not a contact sport, so it’s not as dangerous as say rugby or other sports that could potentially cause a few collisions.
I dislocated my pinkie finger two seasons ago; apart from that, I’ve been quite blessed when it comes to not suffering any injuries over the past decade.
Let’s not tempt fate. You’ve bulked up since we last met. What’s your training regime?
It's quite flexible; it has to be because of work. It changes depending on my schedule and how fatigued I am, but it’s a mixture of muscle-building and endurance-based exercises.
When I’m having my strength and conditioning sessions, I mainly try to work on speed and agility exercises – the more explosive the better. I try to do as little running as possible. I find it very tedious, even with the world’s best music playlist.
I usually try and incorporate my cardio in volleyball or exercises that still involve lifting or shifting of some sort. I’m squatting over 150 kg and benching over 100 kg. I’m always trying to build each week.
How big is volleyball in the UK now?
In comparison to the rest of Europe, it’s definitely not as big. Since the London Olympics in 2012 things have been getting progressively better. And now that anime is becoming more popular, a lot of people – especially young people – are learning about the sport because of the Haikyu! anime.
Haven't seen it. Is it good?
Yeah, it's great. You should watch it. I’ve binge watched the first two seasons and I have yet to continue watching the rest. It’s definitely one of my favourite sports animes. I’m waiting for it to finish so I can binge watch the rest, without having to wait for new episodes to be available.
We’ll give it a try. Tell us about your new single: 'Zen'. What’s it about?
It’s about feeling empowered, determined and passionate about what you do. I’ve been learning to take things in my stride – enjoy the process – and the track is basically about me working through that.
I’ve previously been overly eager to impress, especially when it comes to music, because I’m so passionate about it. Whenever I come up with a new sound my instinct is to show more than I really need to, and too soon, before I’ve really developed the idea.
It took me about a week to get the lyrics down for 'Zen'. The track has an R&B, hiphop vibe. A soulful blend. The beat’s by Kofi Cooks. So good!
I’m at a point now where you can basically say I’ve gone full circle and remembered why I picked up a mic in the first place. I’m buzzing to see what the next couple of years hold for me.
The track was released earlier this month. What has the reaction been like?
Yeah, it came out on October 7. People have responded pretty well; the reaction’s been great. And I’ve been so excited about people getting to see the video, which drops today. It’s fully animated.
Very cool. How did that come about?
Well, the person behind this artistry is Swifty Creative. He’s a very talented and imaginative digital creator. He’s done a lot of work for other artists that I am a fan of and quite close with.
Me being a fan of his work, I approached him to do a video for me. He came up with some design concepts a few days later. I liked how he had expanded on the things we’d talked about.
One thing I wanted to highlight was the story of the song, and to include my music merch in the video. When it came to the look of the animation, I pretty much gave him full creative control. I had faith in the quality of his work.
The animation is a step into my imagination, with a supernatural theme. It shows my morning ritual and how I usually attempt to start the day: showing gratitude and a lot of imagination.
It’s a great video, dude, and it’s been great to catch up.
Likewise! It’s great working with you guys. Thanks for all the love you continuously show. I really appreciate it and I’m a massive fan! I’m literally in love with my black Wave Hoodie. And I’ve swapped out the laces in my volleyball shoes for my Ten of Clubs laces.
Guaranteed to enhance your performance! Any final words?
Just thanks to everyone that’s supporting me. 'Zen' is available now on all the major streaming and digital platforms. The video drops today on YouTube. There are lots more videos in the pipeline, and definitely more music. Stay tuned!
📸 Volleyball image courtesy of Steve Smith.
Sup. We're a design collective of young artists. Defiantly alternative and passionate about music - alt rock, metal, hardcore - we've been creating fresh apparel and unique wall art since 2021.
From graphic tees, long sleeves, hoodies and headwear, to art prints, hand-painted skateboards and more, we help you express your individual style.
A share of the proceeds goes straight to the designer each time you shop with us. It’s why we tell you who designed each item we sell.
Stay cool and spread the word ♣︎