For the last few years he’s been travelling the world to promote his music. The public believes in him and he never disappoints them. Leon of Athens’ latest album was released in February with the title “Xenos” and Leon talked to us about the maturity and the evolution in his creations. During our telephone conversation we talked about his relationship with his songs and with his fans as well, his future appearances in the U.S. and the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.
Ambitious and “soldier”, as he states for himself, Leon of Athens is ready for big things considering the hard work of himself and his band. Talking about his collaborations so far, Leon has achieved and gained a lot of things, distinguishing his relationship with Yorgos Lanthimos and Pavlos Pavlides.
Read the whole interview he gave to SounDarts.gr, talking about all these and many more subjects.
Leon, welcome to Soundarts.gr! A few days ago you were at the Berlin Music Video Awards’ ceremony. What happened there?
Thank you very much for the hospitality! It was a crazy experience. Berlin is a very nice and interesting city. In fact, it kinda reminds me of Athens. We went well. We won the third place, after Post Malone, in the category for “Best Editor” for the music video “Xenos”.
During the last three years, your career has evolved rapidly. How do you deal with such publicity?
Nothing’s different for me, in the sense that I’m doing the same thing, just now it seems to be doing better. I am the same person, I do the same thing and I receive positively the fact that the audience is interested in my work. It’s a very nice thing for sure.
Are there times that all this scares you?
It’s something I like and I do not like very much, at the same time. I see it as an important part of my work and if you can “exploit” it in a way through which you can say what you have to say, then you can see it in a good way. This is how you can pass the message through your work.
How easy is it to stay focused on your goals? Does your team help you with that?
I generally stay focused on my goals. I’m a little soldier. Without my team and all those people I have worked with over the years, I would have done nothing. It’s a collective work and also personal.
Non-stop concerts, non-stop recordings. What is your motivation to continue your musical journey?
The motivation is to write better things and to create better songs and at the same time to be able to work a lot, to give concerts for this thing to evolve.
Where do you gain your inspiration to write the lyrics of your songs? Would you comment on the political scene through your music?
To a great extent, I’m inspired by personal experiences, but also by social matters, in the sense of observation. You can be inspired by a picture of two irrelevant people or an image that has nothing to do with your own personal experience.
As far as the political scene is concerned, commenting on it would be on a global level, especially after my visit to America and the Southern States for my tour. There, I learned first hand, how Trump was elected. So, in short, I understood very well the reason why he was elected. In my album there is a song that talks about the rise of fascism in the years of the crisis in Greece, furthermore in Europe as a whole. It is “Serpent’s Egg”.
It’s no lie that 2018 is your year. New album, new opening in America and participation in the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. How do you feel about all these?
I feel very nice. Within a year, so many things have happened that didn’t happen in the past years. All this is the result of many years of work. I’ve put my soul into this thing.
What will we hear form you at the Athens and Epidaurus Festival?
This concert is on Tuesday 5 June and I will be with my band, which is consisted of five musicians. There will be also Marina Sati’s team, which is a vocal group of five girls. Alexandros Livitsanos has done the voice orchestrations and generally this team has worked very well in the past and it’s always a great joys for me to work with them. We will present all the songs of my new album, Greek and foreign adaptations of bands and artists that I love very much.
Does the fact that people recognize you more easily than in the past, makes you feel more reliable?
I believe that I always have the same feeling of responsibility as a person to the public. I don’t change with what’s happening right now. I am ethically the same person, as before. I am interested in expressing what I feel. It is not enough to express some kind of introversion, just a personal matter of mine. I want to communicate through this. I think that my feelings, often meet what other people feel. That’s what I like in music.
In February, your new album, “Xenos”, was released. What makes it so special to you in comparison to your previous albums?
I guess it’s a more daring album in terms of sound and writing, I mean lyrically, and the production as well as. The result is a more mature step for me, without turning my back to any of my previous albums. Each one of them has its own beauty.
Personally, “Xenos” fascinates me with its rhythm, but also with its music video clip. Which is your favorite song from this album and why?
“Xenos” is a song that I feel good about, too. I would not change anything in that. I feel it has something to say. So it’s one of the songs I love, but it’s also very hard to separate it from the rest. There is a piece on the album, called “Moonlight”, which is very close to my heart, lately, for personal reasons.
You love Greece, and that does not pass unnoticed. What does Greece mean to you?
First of all I was not born here, I was born in the U.K., but I didn’t live in England as a child. I was born there because my parents worked the U.K. at that time and after three months I returned to Greece. I have lived all my life here. My parents are Greeks and I am very connected to this country. The last five years I have moved to England clearly for professional reasons, but for me Greece is the place I want to return to sometime in the future and probably make a family in this country. I want to live here. It is a place that is truly unique in images and energy. And its history, what can anyone say? … it’s huge.
Of course, there are so many things that hurt me, because I love my country.
Thinking of all your collaborations so far, which is the one that stands out for you and why?
There are a lot of collaborations that I’ve done from which I have gained many different things. There are people for who I feel great appreciation. Pavlos Pavlidis is a songwriter who I love very much and Ι covered his song “Ela konta mou” on this album. In the past I have worked with Yorgos Lathimos for “Baby Asteroid”, whose work I appreciate too. In “Xenos” I worked with Yiannis Dimitzis and RootlessRoot, a terrific dance group, which is consisted of Linda Kapetanea and Jozef Frucek.
What is the story behind the cover of “Ela konta mou” as “Fire Inside You”?
“Ela konta mou” is a song I loved from the very first moment I heard it and I felt that its music and lyrics could “travel” abroad. Pavlos liked the idea and so I wrote English verses inspired by Pavlos’ lyrics and music.
Young artists like you, are always giving their in trying to promote their music in any possible way. Do you think that internet is helpful for that cause or do you believe that there are dangers lurking?
On one hand, internet seems to have democratized the world of music, in other words, it has enabled people who don’t have a big record company or a big financial capital behind them, to promote their music. This is the one side that I certainly believe is very positive. The downside is that there is over-information, and many times it can cause a mess in people’s heads, which means that some really good stuff doesn’t get the chance to be heard.
Finally, please tell us firsthand about your future plans.
We’re playing at the Athens Festival on Tuesday, June 5th and before that, June 1st and 2nd we will hit on two festivals in England, the SummerBall at Royal Holloway University and the Camden Rocks Festival. After the Athens Festival we will go for a tour in America that will last for twenty days.
As far as a disc is concerned, it’s a bit early, but I’ve already begun preparing stuff. I don’t think there will be the same delay as there was before, between my previous albums.
Do you have a motto in your life so far? And if so, what is it?
We have to put as much pleasure into things as we can. I am trying to do this, so many times things get easier. I mean authentic joy, like when kids play.
Leon, thank you so much for this interesting interview and especially for your time. I hope to talk to you again soon!
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