Leon Jean-Marie

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L eon Jean-Marie's first involvement with music came aged 10, when his dad bought him a guitar, kindling an early love of Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. In his mid-teens he was part of a five-part R&B group called Syndicate. 'You know, five black guys, bit like Damage...' He laughs at the memory of his ultra-smoove former self.

But Syndicate had recorded some demos in a top-flite London studio. In those windowless rooms full of kit Leon felt he'd found his calling. One of the owners of the studio spotted his enthusiasm and gave him as a job as runner. As he learnt his way round a mixing desk, Leon began experimenting with his own tunes, and immersing himself in the arcane world of music production.

Thing is, at home Leon was also being told he was wasting his time. His mum and dad - like most of his family, they were born in St Lucia - are old-fashioned. Leon's dad felt that music was no job for his son. It was bound to end in disaster. He needed a proper job, and a degree.

So Leon went to college, albeit to study Performing Arts, then landed a place at University. But he deferred his place and went to live back home. He had so many song ideas, 'I just wanted to dive into the industry'. He was a studio whiz and a gifted multi-instrumentalist, skilled on drums, bass and keyboards. But still his dad was having none of it. 'I was as stubborn as my dad,' he says guiltily. The barneys got so bad that Leon moved out, roaring off into the night in his trusty Fiat Punto. He lived in his car, at mates', semi-rough. It was a period of, he admits, drugs, sex and occasional depression.

Throughout this period Leon had to put aside his music. Finally though, after eight months of not speaking to his parents, he went home: his dad had a cancer scare. Happily the test results were negative. But the traumatic experience reunited Leon and his dad. His dad still didn't think the music thing would work out. But he gave it his blessing. 'All the music I'd thought of while I was homeless was logged in the memory. 'Cause I was denied it for so long, it all spewed out...'

With renewed focus and enthusiasm Leon got his act together (he barely drinks 'n' stuff now either; his wild times were already out of his system). More tunes spilled from him, like the ultra-catchy brass-driven 'She's Gonna Kill Me' and the tech-folk lament 'Beg'.

Word of his talent spread. Mark Ronson got on the blower. This was some months before his work with Robbie Williams, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen would make him one of 2006's most in-demand producers. Did Leon - who wasn't even signed at this point - want to come over and do some tunes?

And on it rolled. After hiccups and humps and detours, Leon Jean-Marie was, finally, flying.

Leon’s debut album ‘Bent Out Of Shape’ was released in July 2008 and he is looking to be a hot contender in the charts of 2009

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Source: lastfm


dance, indie, rock


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