Leon Vynehall is an artist of distinct talent.
His DJ sets sparkle with vibrance and elation. The first time I saw him play he pulled out one of my all-time favourite records, Oni Ayhun’s ‘OAR003-B’, in the packed-out main room of Manchester’s Store Street venue, creating a moment so special it made me want to immediately run to the hometown we share (Crowborough, East Sussex), tear down the statue of Arthur Conan Doyle and use the materials to erect one of Leon in its place.
His musical output meanwhile is singularly creative. It’s not attached to any trends. Instead, he operates within a deeply personal sphere, working influence from experiences spanning his lifetime and old-skool records picked up from charity shops into beautifully crafted productions.
Take 2014’s ‘Music For The Uninvited’ on 3024, which is a record drenched in nostalgia, drawing upon the music his mother would play him as a child, and featuring references to 1988 Nintendo games and samples from 1989 ballroom documentary Voguing: The Message.
Yet among the emotional fragility 'Music For...' also retained a strong dancefloor focus, with ‘It’s Just (House of Dupree)’ and its swelling synths proving to be among the most popular club tracks of the year. The overall result was a release that connected as closely with people’s hearts at home as it did with their feet in the club, and one that launched Leon firmly into the spotlight.
Despite the widespread acclaim, Leon has been reluctant to refer to the record as an album, instead labelling it as a “mini-LP” or “double-EP”. His next outing follows the same path. Titled ‘Rojus’, it’s an eight-track release conceptualised around a perceived similarity between the courtship rituals of birds and strangers’ attempts to attract each other through dancing in the club, and sequenced to reflect the energy of a night from doors to close (read the full explanation here).
There’s less personal weight attached this time, but a similar depth of thought extended to his work beyond the beats is apparent through vivid imagery and feeling conjured across its 48-minute runtime. Before ‘Rojus’ arrives on Running Back on April 1, we had Leon talks us through the release.
Exclusive Q+A and premiere of new track ‘Beau Sovereign’ below