Paris-based singer/songwriter Léonie Barbot details the cathartic process of writing her latest EP 'COMMUNICATION' and discovering the power of intimacy
For Léonie Barbot, communication is key. The 22-year-old artist navigates the intricacies of new relationships in her latest EP aptly titled ‘COMMUNICATION’. Reflecting upon personal experiences, Barbot opens up about how trivial misunderstandings can be detrimental to blossoming romances and why honesty is always the best policy.
With her soulful sonics and R&B undertones, Barbot’s voice captures the emotional vulnerability that budding relationships unearth. A self-confessed muser, Barbot offers a meditative project that taps into a universal longing for stable love. Collaborating with revered producers Darius (Roche Musique) and Jay Prince helped Barbot bring her sound to life – catalysing her musical evolution. Whether it’s breaking down walls for a partner or contemplating what happened the night before,’ COMMUNICATION’ shows that there is strength in self-introspection.
Barbot’s creative horizons are far-reaching. A self-taught painter and violinist, the musician blends her love for art and music by painting her own album covers. Her interdisciplinary approach to the industry is testament to her inherent musicality, despite not growing up in a musical household. Yet, that didn’t hinder her voyage into songwriting. With only two singles, Barbot has generated over 4.5 million streams in the past year – marking her as one of Paris’ most organic ones to watch.
Looking back at her career so far, Barbot discusses letting go, female representation in the music industry and exciting future endeavours.
What stimulated you creatively during the pandemic?
It got tricky at some points because everything has been moving slowly and it’s hard to travel and perform, but the first lockdown was definitely a blessing for me. Staying at home all day, AgaJon would send me beats all the time. I made a lot of songs and had so much free time that I started to try new things. Adding a lot of harmonies to my lead vocals, working on texture. Actually, the first time I laid down strings on a song was during that time. I found out I was pretty good at it. You can hear me play on “Nothing to Me” by Kadhja Bonet and Darius.
What has it been like to collaborate with Darius and Jay Prince?
I loved working with those guys. I’ve known Darius for a while now. At our first session he played that one beat and I knew it was a hit. I went home and started working on what became ‘COMMUNICATION’. Jay Prince is a crazy talented artist and a great producer. We had a couple of sessions when I was in London in March 2021 – we really hit it off. One day, we linked up downtown. He’d just bought this guitar and I was starving so we went to this burrito spot. I was just eating and he started playing these beautiful chords. I recorded the whole thing. We ended up going with the same chord progression for my track “Sunday” and I loved the memo so much that I added it in the EP as an interlude. The title is actually the address of the restaurant we were sitting at.
What is it like to be a young female musician in Paris?
There are a lot of male artists/producers in Paris. The only female artist I met, who is dope, is Astrønne and that’s when I realized there aren’t many of us out there. When I was in LA though, I met Gwen Bunn (produced Collard Greens – SchoolBoy Q ft. Kendrick) and it really made me feel like I could get into production too. Representation is very important.
Who are your musical influences?
It’s hard for me to answer that question because I didn’t grow up listening to music. My mum is a voiceover artist. She had her set up at my house and she needed complete silence to work so we really weren’t listening to music like that. I found out about Frank Ocean and Sza aged 14/15 and they both play a huge role in how I work on my music now. Childish Gambino has also been a game changer for me regarding my story telling and how to put a project together.
The themes of introspection and love in ‘COMMUNICATION’ are very intimate – what was it like to be so emotionally vulnerable when writing the EP?
It’s like crystallising a moment of your life and then letting go of it. The whole process is very therapeutic. Up until ‘COMMUNICATION’ I had never worked on an actual body of work. I usually just go with song, one story. But working on a larger canvas is interesting too. I had a lot of people involved in terms of features, the mix and master. I also had musicians replay some parts of ‘COMMUNICATION’ live. They’re all friends of mine and it made it way more intimate.
You’ve been selling paintings since you were sixteen – does your artwork inform your music in any way?
I paint my own covers (including that of ‘COMMUNICATION’) and I made a 2D painted animation of my first single ‘Bleu’s’ Spotify canvas. I’m really glad I found a way to combine the two things I like the most in this world.
You had 1.5 million streams on Spotify last year despite not releasing any new tracks – how do you think your music resonates with listeners?
Last year’s stats were a big surprise. At that point I hadn’t released anything in over a year and seeing how involved people were still getting actually made me want to work even harder and step up for my following release.
The music industry is saturated with talent – how do you hone your sound in order to stand out from the crowd?
I really don’t see it like that. I couldn’t even tell you how many artists I listen to within a day. There is room for everyone. It’s more about being authentic and true to yourself when it comes to your music and if people don’t like it, then it’s ok. If it resonates with them the attention will follow.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I would love to work more with Gwen Bunn, on her artist side and production-wise. Also, my friend Emanuel and I have been talking about working on an EP together so I’m excited to see how it’s going to unfold in the future. But on a bigger scale working with Childish Gambino and Bon Iver has always been on my bucket list.
What do you have planned for 2022?
I’m working on a much bigger project at the moment. The single is dropping in February with the next EP released later this year. I would definitely love to tour this year though.