Leon Of Athens Shines Light On Turbulent Love, Growing Up In Greece, & The Excitement of Touring [Q&A]

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When you’ve found the right person, it can almost seem impossible to live without them. This spirit can be echoed in Leon of Athens’ music video for “Aeroplane.” The London-born, Athens-raised musician sings of young love and the multiple stages it travels through while enduring a lifetime’s worth of memories. Stitching together home videos and new footage, the visuals best accentuate how this love is like an airplane. Reinforcing the lyrics, “Going down then flying high, you take me for a ride,” the video takes you on a whirlwind timeline of the ups and downs a relationship may encounter.

Though “Aeroplane” has a cute message on love, it mainly tackles a more poignant angle. It’s impossible to escape the trials and tribulations life throws your way, but sometimes it the love of another that can aid in the development of your personal resilience.

Now that Leon of Athens is in the U.S. for some West coast shows, we took the time to get to know the musician ahead of these performances. 

OTW: Talk a little bit about your musical journey. How did you decide on pursuing music as a full-time career?

Leon: I remember writing my first song and feeling Iike I found home. School wasn’t my cup of tea so I would spend my time constantly writing lyrics and melodies. I formed my first band in high school with my closest friends and did that for a while until I started my solo project. A few years after that I got my first record deal.

OTW: I see you play guitar. Do you play any other instruments? If not, what’s one instrument you’d love to learn?

Leon: Along with guitar, I play uke, some bass and bouzouki. The bouzouki is the most popular greek traditional instrument and its sound awakens many childhood memories. I always wanted to learn trombone. I love all brass instruments, but the trombone specifically for its darker timbre.

OTW: You were born in London and are currently based there, but you were raised in Athens. How did you decide on identifying yourself with Athens instead of London in you artist name?

Leon: I’ve lived most of my life in Athens and thus have been deeply influenced and inspired by the city. I still spend a lot of time there, and I’m very in touch with its independent community.

OTW: What is it like to experience those two cultures? How much do they influence your music?

Leon: The cultures are very different, but I appreciate both for different reasons. When you grow up in the Mediterranean, it’s hard not to miss the climate, the sea, the food, etc. I’m still discovering how far back its history goes. It’s a place that always inspires me and where I’ve written most of my songs. On the other hand, I admire London’s cultural diversity and openness as well as its work ethic. It’s a city that easily keeps me focused and grounded.

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OTW: What kinds of music did you listen to growing up? Who were your idols?

Leon: The Clash, Nina Simone, Nirvana, The Doors, The Cure, Brian Eno, Elliot Smith, and Radiohead.

OTW: What inspired you to write “Aeroplane?” Similarly, could you talk about the concept behind the music video for the song? It’s full of “home video” footage, which I find makes it really personal.

Leon: “Aeroplane” is a song about young love; its extreme highs and lows. The opening line of the music video reads, “There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen,” so the video focuses on different crucial moments/stages in various relationships throughout time. It was written and directed by Robert Francis Muller, and we mostly shot in London and Brighton, minus the phone footage my friend Melia Kreiling sent us from LA.

OTW: So you’re about to tour in the U.S. with some dates in Europe. What’s the best part about touring?

Leon: Definitely taking your music to new audiences, meeting new people, and visiting places you’ve always wanted to go. I’m very excited about going back to Los Angeles where I lived for a year in the past. It’s also the city that’s given us the most streams in the US and we can’t wait to reciprocate the love.

OTW: Aside from these live performances, what’s next for Leon of Athens?

Leon: I’m currently working on a new EP.

OTW: What artists are your Ones To Watch?

Leon: Katerine Duska, Vogue Noir, Marine and Irene Skylakaki.

OTW: Anything else you’d like your audience to know about you?

Leon: I play a lot of soccer and my favorite Grecian island is Corfu. If I hadn’t pursued a career in music, I’d probably be a film director.

Be sure to catch Leon of Athens before his West coast run ends! Find your city and get tickets on Leon’s website here

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