With over 10 years experience behind the decks, its not hard to see why LEON’s reputation as DJ, which was outstanding in Italy before his productions broke through, have now skyrocketed in the past year.
With support from the likes of Carl Cox, Marco Carola, and Loco Dice, there is no question why Leon has been making waves in the club scene since 2009. Having played at some of the worlds most famous clubs such as Cocorico in Italy, Pacha & Cielo in New York, Ministry Of Sound, Zouk, Arma 17, Sunwaves Romania, Rex Club, Stereo Montreal, and released for Viva, Cecille, and ReBirth Records, remixing artists such as Audiofly, Felipe Velenzuela & Ali Nasser, Leon has carved out quite a reputation in such a short period of time.
On 2 September, Leon will return to Music On and Amnesia Ibiza for a late summer appearance alongside Dubfire and Stacey Pullen in the venue’s Club Room. Anticipating that event, and continuing to highlight the Friday night Ibizan extravaganza that is Music On, we managed to catch up with Leon so he could give his direct insight into Ibiza, Music On, the DJ lifestyle and more.
“This thing [Music On] has made me a man, introduced me better to the value of meritocracy and respect!”
When you first began breaking in the decks, what were your initial influences? How have those influences evolved?
I started very young, I remember having a small console at home and buying my first records at the age of 15…we are talking about 20 years ago! My uncle influenced me, he used to work for a radio station in the 80s and he loved electronic music such as Depeche Mode, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kraftwerk, Duran Duran… and my dad was a drummer and made me listen to artists such Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Genesis and many more!
Later, I was introduced to house music thanks to the American scene… Maw, Todd Terry, David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Danny Tenaglia, Junior Vasquez and the Italian DJ Ralf!
You began producing at the age of 23. What were some of your production techniques back then, and how are they different now?
At the beginning it was hard. I started with software such as Cubase and then I moved to Ableton Live. I had so many ideas in my head, they were good but I was never happy with the sound, the mix nor the mastering. Slowly I started to use some external machines, drum machines and synths to create a warmer sound!
You’re originally from the small coastal town of Teramo. What’s the scene like there, and in your eyes, how is it connected to the larger dance scene in Rome?
Teramo is really a very small town where everybody knows everyone. In the past years, there have been a few house and techno parties, all my friends were there and they had a great time. Teramo is very different from Rome. Rome has many clubs, a population of five million people and every weekend artists from around the world play in the city. It’s fantastic! It’s like London or Paris you know…
You’ve become more of an internationally focused DJ. What are some of the challenges behind that versus say being rooted within a particular local scene?
Over the years many things have changed, for example, I was a lover of vinyl and I used to buy a lot in the past, then I discovered Traktor and now I use USB with CDJ Nexus, and, as you can see, there have been some big changes. I love to play hours and build long DJ sets, six to eight hour sets. It does not matter how you make music, the music has to be the most important thing. For me, using vinyl or Traktor does not make any difference. Everyone is focused on this social debate, the people who think that a DJ who plays with vinyl is better than the one who plays with Traktor just make me laugh. It’s called progress, you cannot stop it, those are only choices. The important thing is to entertain people, to dazzle, excite!
In a small town like mine, there are still people who judge you for what you do, what you use and how you do it. They are envious, they do not have culture and this is a big problem, and perhaps it’s an Italian problem. People are more concerned with judging without the knowledge to get informed!
How do you bring a localised approach to DJing, and vice versa?
Right now, the approach to the scene for a new DJ is easy, because if you can emerge with good productions, then you’ll get the chance to get on some important stage and put on a show, but there is such a big difference between being a DJ and being a producer!