Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: LLEO

The alt-rock-influenced singer-songwriter chats latest EP “am i making sense?” and bringing ‘bipolar pop’ to the masses.

ILEO
ILEO

“I hope songs like ‘mouse voice interlude’ will help to provide even a tiny bit of insight into what a bipolar person’s mind feels like,” lleo tells us below. The track is taken from the artist’s debut EP “am I making sense?”, a six-track collection of tracks, hook-driven, arresting, and danceable all at once, drawing on everything from retro alt-rock to indie and hyper-pop.

lleo uses their work to convey the intricacies of the experience of someone living with bipolar disorder. Whilst discussion around mental health has become far more commonplace in recent years, as lleo mentions below, “everyone talks about [it] at such a surface level”. The realities of those living with more complex or chronic conditions remain underexplored and often stigmatised as a result. When their mum heard “mouse voice interlude” she messaged lleo saying: “I think I finally understand what it’s like for you in your head now”. Such is the power of lleo’s work which seamlessly conveys a myriad of sensations, “it’s the highest highs and lowest lows condensed into songs,” they explain. EP “am I making sense?” follows a stellar run of singles since 2020 debut “Trust Issues”, which has seen the artist draw praise from none other than the likes of Radio 1 and Apple Radio.

Head below to find out why by listening to “am i making sense?” and reading our chat with lleo on ‘bipolar pop’, being candid in their work, and goals of joining the cast of Peppa Pig…

Congratulations on your new EP! In the title you ask “am i making sense?”!
Thank you! It feels so surreal that my first EP is finally out in the world! A lot of things aren’t making sense, to be honest. I feel like the world is going through so much change at such a rapid rate – everything feels so over-connected and disjointed all at once.

The EP is very honest, like your work as a whole. How did being so candid in an unfiltered way become such a prominent feature? Was it something you ever shied away from?
I think for a while, I tried to write about what I thought was cool, or what people would respond well to. The songs were cool, but if i’m being honest, they weren’t magic. When the pandemic hit, and I was alone with my thoughts and my instruments, I really started being honest about my emotions in my music. It was like an unfiltered stream of consciousness, and I would send those demos to friends and they would be like “Wow, this made me cry” or “this feels so real, it’s amazing”, and I just realised that the more honest I was about my feelings, the better people were responding to what I was making. Now when I write, I try and delve into the deepest part of my head, because that’s where the best stuff happens. Sometimes it’s really scary, and I would rather just put my head in the sand and ignore my feelings, but that’s not gonna help me in the long run. I’ve realised that uncomfortable honesty is just part of who I am.

You’ve spoken about your experience of bipolar disorder, and how you want your music to feel both sad and happy and resonate with listeners. Can you tell us more about the relationship you want supporters of your work to have with it?
I want people to feel like they can experience any emotion with me. If they feel euphoric, angry, in love, sad, or confused, I want them to be able to feel that emotion 100%. Unapologetically, extremely emotional. I’ve never struggled with expressing my emotions, but I know a lot of people do, and I want my music to be able to give them a space to do it without fear of judgement. I’ve felt like a little freak for a lot of my life, and I want other little freaks to know they aren’t alone.

As you mention, it can be extremely difficult for wider society to truly understand the daily challenges of bipolar disorder, but your project attempts to convey some of those feelings. Have you found it helped anyone around you understand how things are for you?
There’s one tune on my EP that seems to make people cry. It’s called “mouse voice interlude”, and it’s me trying to explain what goes on in my head. I made it in an hour in my room whilst crying. When my parents heard it for the first time, my mum messaged me saying “I think I finally understand what it’s like for you in your head now”. That was the most moving moment for me. It’s so difficult to explain what it’s like, but I hope songs like “mouse voice interlude” will help to provide even a tiny bit of insight into what a bipolar person’s mind feels like, and how they might feel the same – we’re all pretty similar people deep down.

ILEO New Noise
ILEO Interview
ILEO New Noise
ILEO Interview

The project features quite a lot of throwback sounds – nostalgic alt-rock seems to have been a big influence! If you could pick an era of music to only listen to forever, would you opt for today or yesteryear and why?
I grew up listening to a lot of rock and pop rock, so it makes sense that I love guitars so much! That’s a difficult question though! It’s such a basic bitch answer but I’d have to go for the ‘80s. There are too many bangers I couldn’t live without.

Can you tell us about the early days of approaching the EP? What came first and what were you setting out to do?
To be honest, I didn’t know I was even writing an EP until I was about three songs in and I realised that I was trying to explain what was going on in my head and that couldn’t just be done through singles alone. I realised that if I was gonna properly try and explain everything, I needed to do it through a body of work, and then pretty quickly after that, “am i making sense?” was born!

Your music is gaining traction quickly and rightfully attracting praise from industry tastemakers. The sky would appear to be the limit, but what’s one thing you would love to achieve?
It’s really cool how people are responding to my tunes, it feels amazing. I want to bring bipolar pop to the world, and show people that it’s ok not to be ok. I want to start a no-bullshit, honest conversation about mental health – the good bits and the bad bits. Everyone talks about mental health at such a surface level, and I’m bored of it. So yeah, I want to be honest about the highs and the lows, even if it is uncomfortable. I also really want to voice a character on Peppa Pig, and play a show in japan. All in good time.

Ileo
ILEO Am I Making Sense?
Ileo
ILEO Am I Making Sense?
NEW NOISE: LLEO

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