Chatting with: J.J Leone

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Unsigned Interviews were lucky enough to have a conversation with emerging singer songwriter, J.J Leone, who blends his masterful guitar skills with touches of R&B and soul.

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I first picked up the guitar when I was 12, largely due to my older brother. He was already out touring when I was a kid but when he’d come home, I was amazed by what he could do with this piece of wood with six strings. My first guitar cost £20 from Argos. Patience is something I’ve never had a lot of, so when I couldn’t play anything by Metallica after a day, I lost interest in it! Then I heard this guy called Jimi Hendrix one day, and it blew my mind completely and made me pick up the guitar again. Just by listening and watching live videos on YouTube, I taught myself how to play, and I did the same with drums, bass and electronic production too.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I grew up on a lot of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Rahsaan Patterson and other soul singers. This was mainly my brother and mum’s music as my dad was into Bowie, Thin Lizzy, Rod Stewart – all that type of stuff! The guys I would include as my top three influences are Stevie Wonder, Prince and Cody Chesnutt. Prince was just an incredible artist, a real musician and he had such a wide variety of music. I really liked his attitude towards everything too, he just wanted to play music and that was it. Stevie Wonder has been in the game so long and made maybe two songs I don’t like. Both he and Prince have influenced me so much in terms of their longevity, it’s something I really aspire to! Cody Chesnutt influenced me as a DIY musician – he’s someone who in the early days really didn’t fit in to the manufactured scene. ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’ which he recorded entirely in his mum’s kitchen is still one of my favourite albums today. They’re not necessarily influences in terms of a musical style, since what I write doesn’t sound like their material, I would describe them more as role models.

How long have you been playing/writing?

I’ve been playing music since I was 12, but only really gigging and performing since I was 14. My first show was in a high school assembly where me and two of my mates performed ‘Californication’ by RHCP, I just played guitar though, didn’t sing. Then I won the school talent contest the next year with an acoustic version of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Last Request’ – and that’s the first time I had any confidence in my voice. Then me and some mates formed a band where we’d play birthday parties and ‘battle of the bands’ kinda stuff before we started writing originals – I was lead guitarist and singer. Then we got picked up by a promotions company at 15 and we opened for Hot Chocolate and Suzi Quatro amongst others, we toured Barcelona and other places in the UK- we thought we were the bomb! I write everything myself, including all lyrics and instrumental sections and perform them all too.

How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

I play live pretty regularly, back in 2011 when I was living on the streets – I performed everyday for six months so I’m trying to put that to good use! I’ve been lucky enough since then to play in so many different countries though, and met other amazing musicians and great people. In July I’m playing at the ‘Urban Food Fest’ in Shoreditch, then in August I’m going to Murcia to play a show for ‘Sofar Sounds’ and will be performing at another one of their events in Birmingham in late August.

5 – What has been your favourite moment in music?

I haven’t really got one favourite moment, but rather lots of little ones that have added up. Just seeing people’s faces when you play something you’ve written that touches them, or messages of support from people saying ‘your song really meant something to me’. Even in different countries where the culture, language and values are so different, music really brings people together and that always gets me – it let’s me know that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. It’s still kinda weird to me that people are coming out to see me – a traveller who’s had some real hard times, and they want to come and see me sing my songs!

6 – Where is the best place to find you online?

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using: @iamjjleone. My website is over at www.jjleone.com too, which has got further links to my Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube – come along for the ride!

 

Listen to J.J’s latest single, ‘With You’ here:

Introducing: The Outside Illusion

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Unsigned Interviews got up close and personal with Brazilian guitar band, the Outside Illusion’s lead man, Denis Salgado. The band have recently released their new album Silent Communication which empowers the ethics of instrumental music. Check out what he had to say below:

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I first got into music when I was 11. I asked my father to teach me a song he was playing on his acoustic guitar (Day Tripper by The Beatles). I was so excited about learning the riff that I couldn’t  put down the guitar that day until I had learnt it and could play the whole thing – I didn´t even know how to hold a guitar pick. Next day, when I got back from school, I was completely in love with the possibility of becoming a real guitar player, so I spent the whole afternoon practicing that unique riff again. I think also there was a wish of  impressing my father. Anyway, after that, I’ve never stopped playing the guitar (now an electric one). I can say my father was my main inspiration at that moment.  

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

There are so many artists and bands. I used to listen to Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, a-ha, and Michael Jackson at the age of 4. It was around 1986/87 and again influenced by my father, who also introduced me to Queen, Elton John, George Michael, Tina Turner and Phil Collins. My favorite concert at the age of 5 was “The Prince’s Trust”, which I used to watch on a Laser Disc Player. But there´s one band who have impacted me in every way. From their music to the way of doing business: Iron Maiden. They are a kind of guide to me, since I was 11, 12 years old, until now. They have had and continue to have a great influence on the musician I am today. Some other metal bands have influenced me a lot, like Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Dream Theater (their first albums) and guitar players like Adrian Smith, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai… just to name a few. Apart from all these artists and bands, Electronic Music is a universe which also influences me a lot. I really like listening to DJ Marky, Zedd, Robin Schulz, Skrillex and some other talented guys.

How long have you been playing/writing?

I have been playing since I was 11. But the first song I wrote was when I was 20, more or less. 

How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

I love being on stage. But at the moment I´m concentrating on recording the new promotional videos. I´m setting up new dates from October/November. Probably around 10 dates in different areas of my state, São Paulo.  I am ready to go anywhere in the globe and can´t wait to come back to the UK.  I was in the UK a year ago for a very special event, which resulted in me creating a very special 28 min documentary, available on Outside Illusion´s Youtube Channel.  

What has been your favourite moment in music?

My first international gig in Guernsey. June/2016. The very best and happiest moment in my career until this moment.

Where is the best place to find you online?

www.facebook.com/theoutsideillusion

www.youtube.com/theoutsideillusion

www.theoutsideillusion.com

Spotify / Deezer / Google Play: The Outside Illusion 

Instagram: denis_outside_illusion

 

Watch the video for ‘Silent Communciation’ here:

 

 

An interview with: Soul-man Les Kirsh

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Unsigned got the lowdown with 70s soul-man, Les Kirsh, who’s making a comeback with his remastered tracks of old.

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

It started in the 60s when some friends and I started a band and because at the time I couldn’t play an instrument, they said I should be the singer. We started to get lots of good feedback from the students and teachers who used to come listen to us rehearse in the school hall. I was inspired after a friend played me some imported LP’s from America which featured artists such as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and the rest of the soul scene.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I grew up listening to lots of Motown and early soul and I try to combine the two. I love writing songs with meaningful lyrics.

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

Since the 60s

 

How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

I haven’t played live since the 70s. It’s been a long time.

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

I have had so many good moments its hard to say which was my favourite. Probably my first recording contract.

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

Sound Cloud , YouTube – check out the links below:

https://soundcloud.com/leskirsh

https://www.facebook.com/LesKirshMusic/

https://twitter.com/LesKirshMusic

 

Listen to ‘Tell Me To My Face’ here: