We had the good fortune of connecting with Leon Zai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leon, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking has honestly been vital in everything I’ve accomplished so far, and I think it is in most people’s careers. to this day I think the biggest risk I took was leaving home at 18 to pursue music. I grew up in the UK, and after graduating High School I told my parents I wanted to move to Los Angeles to become an artist. My parents have always been super supportive, and they did everything they could to make that transition easy on me. Another risk I took was leaving my tech job in 2019 to move down to Los Angeles and attend the 1500 Sound Academy. I had like a month in-between finding out all the details, and needing to move down. I was so stressed about finances, housing etc. but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This, along with many other situations have shown me that things will ALWAYS work out. As long as you keep moving towards your purpose, God/ The Universe will always make a way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m most excited about all the music I have coming out over the next year. It’s crazy how just a few years ago I really stopped thinking of myself as an artist and solely as a writer. And now I’m getting ready to release my first full-fledged project. I’m learning more and more how important authenticity is as an artist, and I think what sets me apart is just me being me. We all reflect the divine in our own way as we were intended to, and I’m excited to put out a body of work that reflects who I am, and what I’m capable of as an artist. It hasn’t been easy, especially over the last few years I think I developed imposter syndrome more severely. It was a lot of questioning whether I’m good enough, and if this really meant for me. I’m not sure if it ever fully goes away, but for me, I think trying to proactively change the conversation in my head has been really helpful. Reminding myself how far I’ve come, listening to the music I’m making, and surrounding myself with people who uplift me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’re definitely going to the beach that’s for sure. The beach is my favorite place on earth. Malibu is pretty sweet and can be a little more secluded so we’re definitely headed there. I stay in K-town which has amazing food, it also borders little Bangladesh which has amazing Bengali food so we’re definitely hitting up those spots. I really like museums/art galleries, so the Getty is on the itinerary for sure. The arts district is pretty cool, and there are some nice breweries in the area. I’m not the biggest hiker but there’s so many amazing views in LA that you just have to go see, so I’d definitely do some cool hikes with my friend. Don’t get me wrong though I’m definitely a homebody, if my best friend was visiting we’d also just be chilling and catching up over some drinks.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Where do I begin? First and foremost I want to shout out my parents who did everything in their power to support me on my journey to success and raised me to go after what I love. Also in my family, my brother who has taken photos and videos, driven me around, played for me at shows, and really just been there for me. Also my cousin Grace who’s been there for me every step of the way I mean from the moment I moved out here to LA. I’d love to shout out some of my mentors: Vicki Mack Lataillade, Lisa Fortune, everyone at the 1500 Sound Academy/ 1500 or Nothin’, Kass Dawson (my boss from SBRA). These are all people who’ve been pillars of support for me in the past few years in their own way.
All photos taken by @angelo_zai