UK artist Alex Lleo has been creating lush, soulful melodic music since childhood, touring and performing as a teen throughout the UK and Europe at the turn of the decade, then breaking onto the scene with two back-to-back releases in 2018. Three-track EPs Park Studios, JQ and Emanate each caught the attention of fans and industry alike with their raw honesty and contagious mellow vibes, garnering Alex Lleo an international, dedicated fan base. Now the rising artist is thrilled to reveal his first new material in two years, with his stunning new single ‘4:05’ out today! We had the pleasure to chat with Alex all about it.
Hey Alex, how are you? Congratulations on your new single ‘4:05’! Can you tell us a bit about this track, besides being 4 minutes and 5 seconds long I guess?
Hey, I’m good thanks, thanks very much! Well, it’s actually 4:06 in length haha! Don’t quite know how that happened! The title’s actually a reference to a train time I was waiting on last summer. I was heading down to the coast for a change of scene and some inspo which consequently ended up being this new batch of tunes. ‘4:05’ is the intro track to that whole journey, and it’s a song that reflects on the necessity for change really.
You recorded this song with a full band, can you tell us a bit about the people involved in this and the recording process itself?
Sure did! Well through the power of social media really, I had the chance to make a record out in New York last autumn. All the guys are Brooklyn based operating out of a little self made studio above a pest control unit! Haha. Quinn Devlin was kind of the Catalyst for this whole venture. An incredible musician himself, he was the one that reached out to me after he caught a Sofar gig of mine doing the rounds on Instagram. Keen to help me achieve the sounds I was after, he helped curate a sweet band consisting of a bunch of great players including people like Willem De Koch (Fleet Foxes). Sahil Ansari was at the helm on production bringing it all together in an effortless flow. It was the first time really meeting these guys, and I was so taken back by their hospitality during my five-week stint. Nothing bonds people quicker than making music together though, so needless to say I made some pretty sweet friends during my stay!
How important is working with fellow creatives to you? Are you a fan of collaboration or do you prefer to stick to your own devices when it comes to writing music?
I love working with other people! I’m pretty guilty of procrastinating, but I find with the right people, it can keep you focused! I think there’s definitely a time and a place for both. These songs for me came at a very reflective moment in time, and with it feeling so personal it felt right to kinda shut myself away and get it all out before bringing it to the rest of the guys. But collaborating can give you so much in terms of broadening your craft!
Who are your biggest inspirations musically?
Always a tough one, always evolving. I grew up listening to a lot of the old households, Neil Young, Dylan, anything Motown! But more recently I’m actually in love with the Aussie scene! Angie McMahon of course, Merpire, Feelds to name just a couple. Lyrically I’ve always been a huge fanboy of Leif Vollebekk. Supporting him last year was funny, I really had to play it down haha.
What’s it like releasing new music during isolation? Does it feel strange to not be able to follow it up with live shows?
Uum I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks! Haha. Honestly? It’s a strange time for sure. As most creative people know, self-doubt is always an ongoing battle and with the world being so crazy in so many areas right now, it’s easy to feel very insignificant. But music is always one of the first things I turn to as a fan when I’m feeling pretty weird like that. So if someone gets something from them, then they’ve done the job!
Can you describe for our readers a bit about your local music scene over in the UK? What do you love most about it, and do you have any favourite local venues, local artists, festivals etc. that we should know about?
Obviously geographically we’re a tiny place! Haha. So the one advantage on that is you can get around to quite a few different cities to see all kinds of different shows. I’m currently in the middle of England so I’m like two hours from most cities, so pre COVID you were always spoilt for choice in terms of shows to see! Birmingham has a great scene for heavy rock and a lot of urban, hip-hop genres. Bristol is just a melting pot of so many cultures all with so many cool little venues to see bands. It’s a pretty tight scene, I would say for the most part really friendly. Everyone wants to help each other out!
How are you getting through the general day-to-day of lockdown? Have you developed any new skills or hobbies?
Well, it’s been a bit of a running joke online, but at the start of lockdown, I decided I was going to turn my garden in a full blown veg patch, so that’s kept me reasonably entertained! Haha. Loads of spuds, cabbage, cauliflowers, carrots, peas and lettuce! I’m not messing around!
You’ve performed all over the place from Norway to Scotland and your home soil of England. ‘4:05’ is also the first song to be recorded in your new home of New York too. How have these travel experiences shaped your songwriting, and how have the varying audiences from around the world responded to your music?
It always comes down to the people for me. Having the privilege to travel with music never ceases to open your eyes to all the amazing quirks that people and their cultures offer. You don’t even need to go that far! There’s an endless pit of inspiration when it comes to travel, so long as your mind is open! Audience of course change too. I actually find English crowds some of the trickiest. It can take a while before you get an attentive crowd in certain places, but my experience in the U.S has been really respectful. People in NY seem to really value those little vulnerable moments in a live show, they do a great job at welcoming you!
If you were stuck in isolation with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
It might have to be on the other side of the world over on Matt Corby’s ranch. I had the pleasure of opening a couple of shows for him here in Cornwall, and it was insane to witness that level of musicianship. Also, Rainbow Valley just looks like the dopest place to lose a few months!
Finally, what’s the first thing we’ll find Alex Lleo doing once we’re completely out of lockdown?
Gigs, gigs and more gigs!!