“If you don’t care deeply about every single aspect of your artistry, how can you call yourself an artist?” – Leo Kalyan
There is a very redeeming quality about listening to an artist that cares about every aspect of their artistry. It makes your listening experience more enjoyable when you hear an artist’s vision come to life both sonically and visually. UK artist, Leo Kalyan is a perfect example of this. He is involved in the creative process from beginning to end, even creating his own artwork. His sound has blends smooth melodies with beats that you can get lost in.
In our latest artist interview, get to know Leo Kalyan, his musical taste, creative process, and how he will incorporate elements of the ocean into his live show.
Sonic Selects (SS): Let’s start from the beginning with your musical taste. What songs did you listen to growing up? Who had a major influence on your musical taste? Was there an artist or genre that inspired you to get into music?
Leo Kalyan (LK): I grew up listening to a lot of different things. I discovered artists like Massive Attack, Sade, Portishead and Prince through one of my cool aunts. My parents listened to stuff like Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles, Madonna – plus a whole lot of Indian Classical music and Bollywood film soundtracks. So it was a very mixed bag of influences, both Eastern and Western.
SS: Building on your musical taste. When did you discover your passion for music and was there a specific moment that you realized that you want to pursue music full-time? Do you remember the first song that you ever made?
LK: I guess I was always passionate about music, kind of like an innate thing. But I started to think about it seriously after my school friends told me that I was good at imitating singers after I’d heard a song once. One of my best mates was training in Indian classical music, and he introduced me to his teacher – who then became my teacher. After that, I branched out into production and songwriting… and here we are now!
As for my first song, yes I do remember it – and no you can’t ever hear it because it’s awful!
SS: You have your hand in every song that you create from the production to the vocals. Why do you think it’s important to be involved in every aspect of the music creation process?
LK: If you don’t care deeply about every single aspect of your artistry, how can you call yourself an artist?
There are loads of singers who just sing – a lot better than me probably – but they don’t write lyrics, they don’t think about visuals, they don’t have any actual ideas. That’s all well and good, but to me, it’s not being an artist.
SS: What was your creative process when you made the “Silver Linings EP”? Was there a specific song or life experience that inspired you? How does your process differ when you are working with another artist like SG Lewis on “Fairground” or Luke Fitton on “Fingertips”?
LK: Sometimes I start writing a song with a beat that I’ve made beforehand, and sometimes I write to a chord sequence… It depends on what kind of mood I’m in.
I often collaborate with other producers because I like their vibe, and think they can bring something different to what I would ordinarily do on my own. But lyrics are always 100% me. For the EP, each song was it’s own story – I didn’t know which four songs would go onto the final EP until I had finished all of them – but luckily they all worked together as a group.
SS: Are there artists you haven’t worked with from the UK that you’d like to collaborate with in the future (both from a production and vocally)?
LK: Off the top of my head – I’d love to collaborate with AK Paul, Nao, FKA Twigs and M.I.A. There are a lot of amazing music-makers emerging from the UK right now, it’s a very exciting time.
SS: You’ve worked with some great artists from the UK including SG Lewis, MNEK, and Karma Kid. How has the UK music scene embraced you since the release of your “Silver Linings EP”?
LK:The response has been great, I think! Everyone is really supportive of each other and I am lucky to have a group of very talented, musical friends who I collaborate with all the time.
SS: You’ve said that you create all the artwork for your songs. How does the creation process differ from creating album art vs making a song? Are there any similarities?
LK: No, I’d say the artwork is something I think about after the song is done. When I sit down to make artwork, I just put the song on repeat and think about the colours and textures it instinctively brings to mind. I use that as my starting point and it evolves from there.
SS: How do you incorporate your inspiration of the ocean, surf into your live show?
LK: My live show is all very soundscaped. I want it to feel like an experience of the senses. Obviously, this early on in my career as a live artist, there is only so much I can do in terms of lights and visuals – but I have a lot of exciting things planned for the future.
SS: What is in store for you for the second half of 2016?
LK: I’m just making more music and pushing myself as a writer and producer. I don’t want to say too much – watch this space! 🙂
SS: Finally, what are your favorite 3 songs at the moment?
Stream Leo Kalyan’s Silver Linings EP below and if you are in the London area on July 26th be sure to check out his live show at The Pickle Factory.