In the spotlight – Just Leo

In the spotlight – Just Leo

Leo Düzey aka Just Leo (NL) released his self titled debut album in February 2021. The album was as written in a short period between 10th October 2019 and 9th December 2019. Signature sound on his album is an Irish Bouzouki. Leo grew up in Zutphen. He wrote his song ‘I Am Home’ about his hometown. The video of ‘I Am Home’ was also shot in Zutphen.

“I have lived in Zutphen (NL) my entire life and to be honest, I hope that I can stay here forever. It’s surrounded by a lot of nature and it’s usually pretty calm which is perfect since I’m very introverted myself. I can’t say that I’ve had a normal life so far as a half-Turkish autistic guy who has a tic disorder, but I try to make it work.”

What got you into music? How did you learn to sing, write, play?

“I’ve always been into music and there has always been a lot of music around me really. I picked up the guitar when I was about 9 years old, but I dropped it a few months later as I was probably distracted by video games. However, I randomly picked up the guitar at the age of 17 and then the bass at 18. I learned how to play these instruments by just playing a lot every day. Eventually I started singing even though I was terrible at it at first. I did have a vocal teacher for a few months, but I stopped it as I felt like I wasn’t learning anything. In the end it was more about having the confidence to sing rather than learning a specific technique.”

Your brother, Ridvan, plays guitar on your song ‘That’s Alright’ and you also have a band, Orien, together. What’s it like to work with your brother?

“Oh it’s been great fun. We’ve been writing music together for years now and I’m always pleased with the results. Orien is currently on hold, but Ridvan will definitely play a few more solos on the next album. Although I wrote most of the music on my debut album, Ridvan definitely added some layers to some of the songs like ‘That’s Alright’ or ‘Come Back’. All the string arrangements are basically on the album because of him.”

Do you come from a musical family?

“My parents don’t play any instruments, but my Dutch grandfather used to be a musician. He co-wrote a popular Dutch hit back in 1966 so there’s that.”

We’ve just talked about working with your brother. Is there anyone in the music industry you’d like to work with?

“I’m not sure really. I find it difficult to write music with other people as I typically have a good idea of where I want to go with a song. I would love to have Jan-Henrik Ohme (Gazpacho) on a future album since he’s a big inspiration to me. His voice would be a perfect fit I think. But in general, I choose to work with people that I know personally.”

You mentioned Ridvan added some layers to songs like ‘That’s Alright’ and ‘Come Back’. ‘That’s Alright’is currently in our chart. What can you tell me about that song?

“‘That’s Alright’ is really just a song for my oldest friend. I wrote these lyrics a few minutes after I heard the news that he was getting married. I believe that the song has a nice contrast between light and dark. On the one hand I’m very happy that he’s doing well in his life, but on the other hand I feel like everyone in my life is growing up and doing well while my life isn’t really going anywhere. But… that’s alright.”

You released you debut album, ‘Just Leo’, in February. What can you tell me about your album?

“It was written in about a month and it was meant to be just a short introduction album. All of the songs were written in my room, in the dark and in the evening after work while I would just sit on the floor with my Irish Bouzouki. Most of the songs are personal except for ‘Come Back’ which was the first song I wrote. I still have no idea what this song is about.”

The Irish bouzouki can be heard on most of your songs. Where did the love for this instrument come from?

“Ridvan and I decided to buy an Irish Bouzouki in 2013 after seeing Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation) play on a very unusual medieval instrument during one of their songs from “BE”. We couldn’t find the exact same instrument so we decided to buy an Irish Bouzouki instead since it comes very close to it in terms of the sound. So it sat there collecting dust for about 7 years until I finally decided to actually use the Bouzouki in a song. It ended up being part of the signature sound of ‘Just Leo’.”

What can you tell me about your creative process? What inspires your lyrics?

“I’m very much a “music-first” type of musician. I tend to write the full instrumental track before I start thinking about vocals. However, I always know what the songs are about and what they should sound like which makes it a lot easier to write music.”

“The lyrics on my debut album are quite personal so that wasn’t very difficult to come up with. But I feel like anything in the world can inspire me which can feel more like a curse than a blessing at times. My next album is a concept album about influences for example. But I have also already written the full story for my third album so for me it’s more about deciding which ideas I’m going to discard and which ones I should actually keep.”

What are you currently working on?

“I am currently recording the bouzouki and bass parts in my home studio for my upcoming full length album called ‘Rolled Into One’ which should be out somewhere in 2022.”

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

“In 10 years from now I’ll be 34 years old so it would be really nice to be financially stable at that point. While I am really happy with the way things are going in terms of music, it’s definitely stressful thinking about how I am going to make things work in life. I can’t imagine not working on music in my life. Keeping a job is the issue for me and autism unfortunately plays a big role there. So that’s really all I want in 10 years. Not worrying about that.”

You have quite a successful YouTube channel Leo Bass Covers. Would you rather be successful with your YouTube channel or with your own music?

“Definitely Leo Bass Covers. As much as I love my own music and making my own music, it doesn’t even come close to knowing that you’re helping out thousands of other musicians. The community is super friendly and wholesome and that is not something I will give up easily. Besides, I don’t see myself touring continents and playing live shows all the time. I don’t think I would be able to keep up with that for very long.”

Your music reminds us of Belgian artist Tamino. Is he the influence you are referring to on your Spotify profile?

“I’m honored to even get compared to Tamino! He definitely is the one I’m referring to yes. My best friend Radina Dimcheva (guest vocalist on ‘Terra’, ‘I Am Home’ and ‘Singulars’) introduced me to his music a few months before I started writing my own music. Although my music is a bit more folk-inspired, I do believe that Tamino and I probably have some things in common as we both grew up in similar Western European countries whilst having roots from Arabic/Turkic countries. He’s also a few months older than me which made me realize that it is definitely possible to write oriental-inspired music and still be successful with it.”

What are some of your favourite artists/bands?

“My favourite bands are definitely Pain of Salvation, TOOL and Gazpacho. But I also really like John Frusciante, Tori Amos and Avi Kaplan so I find it quite difficult to answer questions like “what kind of music do you listen to?”. One day I’ll listen to Talk Talk and Pavlov’s Dog and the next day I’ll listen to System of a Down or Ralph Vaughan Williams. I guess I like very melodic and atmospheric music.”

If you could open a show for any artist who would you pick?

“Gazpacho or iamthemorning. Not only do I feel like the music would fit the setting, but I have noticed that their audiences are really quiet during shows. I definitely would prefer a very intimate and atmospheric setting with only 50 people over a big festival show with thousands of people.”

What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?

I hate to say it, but it’s a song called ‘Hello, Forty-Five’ which is going to be on my next album. I do believe that this is common for artists however, especially during the recording process. ‘Heat Above’ by Greta Van Fleet is also constantly in my head.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20?

“Oh definitely ‘Borrowed Time‘ by Dean Dovey. Apart from the fact that it’s a great song and that it has a lot of energy, the quality of the mix is really good which is something I find important. I’m extremely picky when it comes to liking music in general, but I have a feeling that I will save this one to one of my playlists.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’m going to go with ‘In The Evening’ by Kristoffer Gildenlöw. He used to be part of my favourite band Pain of Salvation, but later on decided to write his own music as an independent artist a few years ago. This song is just beautiful.

More about Just Leo:

Youtube Just Leo Music