- Words Notion Staff
Dirty Hit's Leo Bhanji tells us about his musical firsts as he shares the stripped-back single, "Raw".
Eclectic, poetic, intimate. Those are just three of the thousand words that describe Leo Bhanji’s music. With five singles and an EP under his belt since 2019, the LA-born, London-based artist crafts intricate and candid songs that are often so delicate it’s almost as if Leo was in the room with you, performing a one-man show.
His latest offering, “Raw” is a prime example of this. With gravelly, uncooked vocals reminiscent of King Krule and minimal production, it’s a Trojan Horse of a track. The self-produced single asks questions such as “did I do you wrong and did I let you down?” as Leo allows us into the insular number that’s first from his forthcoming EP ‘Birth Videos’.
Speaking about the track and forthcoming EP, Leo said, “This is music that I just wanted to keep learning with and look back on as something special kept from whatever was going on at the time; I don’t actually remember what was going on at the time, but that’s not important right now. I hope everyone enjoys it and is doing OK in general”.
We asked Leo about his musical firsts – from his first instrument to his festival. Dive in!
First song you ever made?
My first song, or close enough was this tune I wrote with this wobbly dubstep sounding preset and 2 drum samples and I think I was riffing off that Father line “who’s gonna get fucked first”; I wasn’t that original with words when I first got my mic lol but it’s a cool reference in hindsight.
First song you officially released?
That would sort of be “Heart of Gold” with Donalee since it’s the one that first got on the radio by Jamz Supernova on her 1Xtra show, and that was the catalyst for a lot of things that happened afterwards until I ended up on Dirty Hit.
First CD you owned?
I’m honestly not sure because I used to always be ripping CDs from the library or the charity shop – I think we already had streaming back then but I just wanted to dig lol. According to my iTunes, the first album I got onto it was Scientist at the Controls of Dub: Rare Dubs 1979-1980.
First time you realised you wanted to be a musician?
I think as a kid I respected music as a good middle point between creativity and attention-seeking, so the interest was there from early. I think when I was 13 or so I started pacing myself and trying to practice and get good at it but I don’t know if I was really admitting it out loud back then.
First gig you went to?
Seriously I have no idea. My memories aren’t in order like that, and plus my dad probably took me somewhere before I even remember. I was never really into live music, I tend to zone out just standing there.
First festival you went to?
First I went to was Latitude I think. I was mostly people watching, I don’t remember any acts except potentially Azealia Banks but Google doesn’t think she was even there. I’m not saying I don’t like festivals though, I just don’t hold on to the memory. We will hopefully perform at over 1,000 festivals in 2021-22, including my first ever.
First instrument you owned?
Tiny red toy keyboard. It could only do 2 notes at once except one time I got it to do 3 I think.
First time you felt like giving up?
I don’t know. I do a lot of other things than music, but this is definitely what I’m good at. I really don’t want to waste it. The more I realised that, the less I considered stopping a possibility.
First time you were starstruck?
I don’t think I get starstruck beyond the same shyness I have with people to begin with. I tried to stop idolising artists as well since I felt like I was ‘lil bro’-ing myself by making a big deal over them. The main person I’m still in awe of is Arthur Russell.
First time you heard your song playing somewhere?
One time my friend texted me she was at the airport and they were playing “Heart of Gold” in Joe & The Juice.