For those that may not know: Leon is an Italian producer who knows how to get a party pumping. He makes big, playful and chunky house tracks that have driving drums and slick synths, as well as clever samples thrown into the mix.
They come on labels like Desolat and Moan Recordings, and as a DJ he uses his music to really conjure up a great array of moods. He is soon to play at Caprices Festival in the mountains alongside Ricardo Villalobos, Sonja Moonear and more — so we sat down with him to talk about skiing, his DJ style and more besides.
LEON, welcome. What’s good, what’s bad? How has the year been so far?
I am fine, thank you. Now I'm home, I just got back from Miami for a few days and then I go back on tour to Venezuela, I have quite a bit of jet lag at the moment, plus I also had very intense gigs in January. In February I took a little holiday and now I'm back on tour.
How has your style and musical taste changed since you first emerged? Do you have the same aims when producing as you did when you started?
I'm a very eclectic artist so I prefer to play eight-10 hours to include everything from house to Berlin techno to minimal underground. When I'm in the studio I can do different things but never techno, always something more tech house and minimal... my production style has not changed much from when I started.
And what about DJing, has your style or sound evolved the more you have played? Can you tell us about that?
not much has changed, I can mix different styles together, that's because I grew up with idols like Danny Pincer, Laurent Garnier, Masters at Work, Marco Carola, Ricardo Villalobos, Frankie Knuckles, Carl Cox...
What DJ set up do you use and why - are you a vinyl or digital man? Does it matter? Why use the setup you do?
From 1995 to 2000 I used vinyls, then I started using Pioneer CDJ and Traktor Vinyl, now my set up is very simple, USB and Pioneer FX. I do not care anything about what is said on the web about the DJs playing vinyl are better than those that use USB, it is, in my opinion, bullshit. The most important thing is what you actually play.
You played a long set at Heart Miami recently - how much do you like playing these longer sets? Do you approach them different to usual sets?
For years now in Italy I have my own party called LEON ALL NIGHT LONG where I play 7-8 hours. I think is the best way to express myself as a DJ. The last time I played 8-9 hours in Miami, I started slow with ambient, minimal, deep, until when i get to something more electronic as some things of Roman Flugel or Robag Whrume. I love playing so much - it is a characteristic of mine.
What is the hardest thing about playing for more hours? Keeping up a groove or concentration or something else?
I would not know, because I get so natural are very concentrated, this is perhaps the secret. I look constantly at the dancefloor and what I feel from people. I try to always create something special and magical, it's very important to have a great sound system and great lights.
Are you a skier, have you been skiing before? Will you do any at Caprices Festival?
When I was young I would go with a snowboard but I was not really that good.
Caprice is one of the most magical places to have a party - it will be great.
Will the weather and setting make you play anything different than normal?
I don;t know as I never prepare anything beforehand. Surely I will make a selection of special tracks for the occasion. In both Miami and New York I played the soundtrack of STRANGER THINGS in my set which got an amazing reaction each time.
How do you like playing festivals vs club gigs and if so, what do you do differently? Do you play bigger, as it were?
I maybe like to play more in the club because I can play more hours, but the festival is always nice because there are so many people. I like the play of light and the incredible sound system, then I can be more dark and techno.
Finally, what else is on the horizon for the rest of this year?
music on residency in Ibiza, music on festival in Amsterdam, Sonus Festival, we are festival, Caprice for sure... some special party in Italy - especially in Milan - then at amnesia and Social City Festival, then Cocoricò and Cromie. I will also go back to the US soon and on top of all this, I have some great collaborations in the studio booked in with Hector Couto, Pirupa, Nathan Barato, Detlef and a talented new guy called Malandra Jr.