Leo Leal Interview

Leo Leal is a Mexican native who currently resides in New York. The owner of the Unike Muzik imprint, he’s also a producer of some acclaim himself, and he’s welcomed the likes of DJ W!LD, Kindimmer, Markus Homm and Okain to the label since its conception some years back. His most recent A&Ring, however, might just be his best yet, as Leal has paired up with Swiss duo L’N’F for an EP that’s high on sweltering and intoxicating house vibes. Needless to say, it’s already got some of the scene’s foremost players giving it constant rewinds, too. We caught up with Leal recently, as he talked us through his winter in NYC, his ‘studio-cave’ and the label he calls home…
So Leo, how you been recently? What’s been keeping you busy?

I’ve been very happy of late actually. I’ve spent the winter in NYC which I really enjoyed, I’ve been working a lot in the studio and enjoying time with my family and now I’m in Mexico for a couple of weeks and playing a little tour in the south of the country. Not bad!

You live in New York but you’re from Mexico, right? What made you move to The Big Apple?

Yeah, I’m from Mexico, from the north. Well first of all, I love NYC, and of course the opportunities one has here. Great producers, great people, lots of art. Who wouldn’t want to live here!? It’s one of the best cities in the world…

How does living these compare to living in Mexico then? Is it a nice city to live in for you?

Well it’s completely different in so many ways. But I’ll say this much – I miss the tacos from Mexico and my home!

Are you actively involved in the scene in NYC? What’s it like?

Yeah, I’ve played in a few different spots. My last gig was at TBA in Brooklyn, which is one of my favourite places to play; so intimate and powerful and full of lovely people. I’m starting a bi-monthly resident in May. NYC is so hot right now though; Black Market is another party that’s absolutely killing it. Great parties all over the city…oh, and I should mention Resolute too, who put lots of love back into the underground scene.

What’s been your favourite DJing memory in NYC over the years then?

One of the last parties I played was very cool actually. It had been snowing for some days and the vibe was wicked. All my favourite people in NYC such as my girl were there, so that was pretty memorable. The first time I played in NYC at Cielo was fun, too.

Tell us about your latest EP and the inspiration for it. These L’N’F guys seem to make really great music…

The inspiration just comes from love for music really. I really enjoy L’N’F’s stuff; they’re really talented and they have great taste in music. We’re all music nerds I guess!

Your label, Unike, is fast becoming recognised for its great output. What’s your secret?

No secret really – just lots of hard work and effort. The label is my life; I’m always working on it.

And how are your own productions getting along? Do you get to the studio a lot yourself?

I’ve been in the studio a lot and I’ve done a few productions recently with friends such as Markus Homm – a producer I admire a lot – and another friend of mine, Daniel Cantisani, who’s very cool and humble person and also smart and super talented. Sometimes the studio’s like a cave where I don’t see any sun for a week…so yeah, I guess you could say I spend a lot of time in there!

What’s your favourite thing about being in the studio? Do you let go of life’s problems when making music?

There’s no one rule with music. Sure, I love to get crazy with my emtoions through sounds, but sometimes I like to tell a story too. I don’t see the studio as a way of getting rid of life’s problems though. I think it’s a place where I’m in peace though.

So how long have you been doing it? What’s the most important lesson that you’ve picked up along the way?

I’ve been involved in music since I was a kid but I’ve been making music since 2005. Then I returned to making music again with two friends; Nikko Gibler and Daniel Cantisani who I just mentioned. We did our first release in 2009 for Dieb Audio, and Sasse, Martin Dawsomn and Arthur Oskan did remixes for us, which was a true honour for me.

What’s been your proudest moment since you became involved in house music? Is the best yet to come for you?

I’m proud but I’m still wary that I’ve a lot yet to learn. The only thing that’s important for me is to give love with music and to have fun. The whole experience…that’s it…

And what 5 tunes are you really digging right now?

Anthony Collins – Panther Lies
Salah Sadeq – Paris with a k (Jef K Remix)
Amilcare – I Wanna Become A Pilot One Day
Mr Tophat & Art Alfie-Pajala Sunrise
Tripmastaz – Taped (Djebali Garden Remix)


About the Author

A house music veteran, growing up with the sound before it was even called ‘house music’. A successful DJ and producer in his own right, an ex-label and record shop owner. It’s safe to say house and techno music has been a large part of James’ life for longer than most of today’s clubbers have been alive. Despite being a self-confessed ‘underground monkey’ James appreciates the adage ‘house is a feeling’, and that the scene is all about bringing people together no matter what sound you’re in to."