Get To Know: Brother Leo
2Pac, Robyn and Mozart. Three artists you wouldn’t think would influence one artist. This week we’re finding out how they did, along with an imaginary twin in this week’s GTK with Brother Leo!
After previously releasing music as Ola Svensson, 2018 marked a new chapter for the artist now known as Brother Leo. With inspiration for his alter ego coming from his childhood imaginary twin, Leo, Ola wanted to take inspiration from his fearless and free-spirited imaginary sibling and so is now pushing his music and songwriting with no boundaries. He says he was terrified, excited and proud, but he never felt more himself than when he made this decision to start making music as Brother Leo.
With an eclectic mix of inspirations, including the likes of Robyn, 2Pac and Mozart, Brother Leo has variety in the production of his tracks, but there is an authenticity that is consistent in his writing. You do get a strong sense that he is creating music that he really wants to, and is genuinely interested in experimenting musically. This is no more apparent in his latest release ‘Hallelujah’. The track is recorded with the London Community Gospel Choir, giving an anthemic, religious quality to the track, compared to the laidback, colourful pop track ‘Shine’ he released back in 2019. Brother Leo has taken time to carve out the sound that he wants to create, and we’re enjoying listening to his musical journey.
1) For those who don’t know about you and your music, tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from…
I'm an artist and songwriter releasing music under ‘Brother Leo’. I don’t eat meat and I love to gamble. I’m Swedish and live between Stockholm and London atm.
2) Describe your sound in three words…
Like a rainbow.
3) Who inspired you to start a career in music?
My grandpa was definitely a big inspiration for me, we sang and played a lot together when I was a kid. There was always some kind of music going on in our house when I grew up. When I was about five or six my mum pretty much forced me to join the church choir and to start taking piano lessons, which I'm really thankful for today. A couple of years later listening to Michael Jackson and 2Pac I guess I really started to understand the impact and power that music had on me.
4) Who are your biggest musical influences?
There’s so many... I listen to all different types of music and genres, everything from Mozart, Robyn to Paul Simon, MGMT and Miike Snow. It’s hard to be objective when it comes to your own stuff but I think that reflects my own way of writing and making music, at least I hope so.
5) Tell us about the writing and recording process for your new single/album…
I wrote most of ‘Hallelujah’ on a bus ride on my way back to Stockholm after a Christmas holiday about five years ago. I was in a pretty dark place at the time. I wouldn’t call myself religious, but the song came out almost like a prayer. I don’t think I’ve been this open, intimate and vulnerable in my music before. Even though I knew this song meant a lot to me, it took me years to finish it. I guess it was too associated with painful memories that I kept avoiding it. I’ve done at least four to five different productions on it and I’d really struggled to finish it but I think a lot of the production fell into place when we recorded with the London Community Gospel Choir. To hear their voices singing those lyrics was a really big thing for me.
6) What can we expect from your live shows?
Energy and presence. And the best band!
7) What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Working with the legend Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) is definitely one of them.
8) Have you met anyone and been totally starstruck?
I don’t know if I’ve been "totally starstruck" but the first time I met Max Martin l was definitely a lot quieter than I normally am haha...
9) What’s on your playlists that people wouldn’t expect?
The Magic Flute by Mozart… I’m obsessed.
10) When can we see you live?
'Cause of this whole corona situation I don’t really know to be honest.. but I really hope I’ll be on a stage as soon as this tragedy is over.