Leo Napier is one of a kind. Born in Los Angeles to British parents, he moved to London when he was 19 years old. In 2016, he ended up on stage with Wu-Tang Clan rapper at Coachella which introduced him to a wider audience. We had a chance to talk to Leo Napier and we can’t wait for you to read it:
Hi Leo, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. How are you today?
It’s another gloomy day in London, but I’m fine.
You were born in Los Angeles, but live in London now. Your musical range goes from folk, funk to hip hop and electronica. Do you remember the first memory in your life that is connected to music?
I remember listening to Hit The Road Jack at 5 years old, sitting in the bathtub at our house in Los Angeles. When the song was about to finish I’d run out to the living room and hit back on the stereo, then I’d jump back in the tub. I’d do it over and over again until my parents would eventually notice that I was tracking water all over the house and put a stop to it.
In 2015, you started to breakthrough and collaborated with DJ/producers Griz and Gramatik, and appeared alongside the Wu-Tang Clan rapper at Coachella in 2016. Do you feel any pressure coming along with starting a music career and being in the public eye?
No, I’ve never felt any pressure or anxiety about public performance or being the subject of people’s attention. It comes with the territory as a musician. And it’s usually a sign that things are picking up. My Dad was an actor and had his 15 minutes of fame in the 90’s. I think I took the concept of celebrity for granted, growing up.
As you write your own songs, are they all based on personal stories or where do you find your inspiration?
No, my songs aren’t always based on personal experience. Sometimes I write from the perspective of others. I’ve always had an active imagination and loved writing stories as a kid. I just see music as a platform for story telling. But looking back on my songs, the most poignant, in my opinion, are written from personal experience.
The mission of our website is bringing people together with the power of music and letting them share a story to a song that is connected to something special in their life as a song that helped someone might be able to help someone else too. Is there a specific song that helped you and would you mind sharing the story?
There’s so many. But I remember around the time that my Grandmother died ( I was about eleven years old) I was listening to The Harder They Come, the great Jimmy Cliff record. Many Rivers To Cross still makes me tear up to this day. Sometimes I cover it at my shows. But I can honestly listen to that record over and over again, it just never gets old. What a fantastic collection of songs.
Do you use other artistic expressions next to music and in your opinion, what makes music so unique?
Music might be the most powerful form of art. There’s a special science to why it works the way it does on the the human psyche. I wouldn’t know where to begin. But there’s something about the combination of words and musical sound that can be so intensely stimulating, it can bring you to tears and have you jumping for joy within a few measures. It can bring back memories so vivid that you feel like you’ve been through a time warp. When music is done right, it’s arguably the most powerful method of communication humanity has come up with.
It seems like one the one side there are people who say music saved my life while on the other, people deny that music itself has not the ability to save someone. Would you mind sharing your own opinion on this?
I am a firm believer in the healing power of music. I can’t say if it’s saved my life or not. Maybe if I hadn’t picked up an instrument, I’d be dead by now. No way of knowing. But if my music can play a small part in brightening someone’s gloomy existence, even for a moment, then that’s vindication enough for me to keep cranking it out!
Before we come to an end. Is there anything you would like to say to people who are struggling at the moment?
Exercise, eat well, lay off the booze and T.V. Listen to good music and count your blessings as often as possible.
Again, thank you so much for taking the time!