Russell Leon's latest recording State Of Mind, is a musical journey through an electro/acoustic soundscape that begs comparison to Beck, Flaming Lips, or a tripped-out Death Cab For Cutie - a stark contrast to his past recordings.
The big change began in the spring of 2009 when Russell began working with electronic producer Tino Zolfo (collaborator with such artists as Hawksley Workman, Candy Coated Killaz, and Soul Decision) and they began to explore the balance between electronic and organic sounds. After a period of creative experimentation, Russell reinvented himself and his sound.
The result is State Of Mind an ten-track recording scheduled for a fall 2011 release. Lyrically Russell calls this "an observation or a fly-on-the-wall" record. The album features songs that range from the up tempo party track of "Boomerang" to the pulsing reflective moments of murder-ballad "Power of Love". The album is a celebration of Russell's musical reinvention. It's also a record where Russell proves he's not afraid to have a little fun along the way.
Russell's current sound is a stark contrast from his acoustic musical roots in rural Ontario. Living off the grid, (no running water, telephone nor electricity) Russell was surrounded by artists and creative thinkers. His musical inspiration was rooted in live performances, late night jam sessions, and battery operated sound systems that wore out his Led Zepplin, Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Young records. At the age of 6, en route to California, during a mother-son winter sojourn, he had his first guitar lesson from a biker named Val who inspired him to be a musician. No looking back. Shortly thereafter, he wrote his first song.
In high school, Russell worked with several bands, playing local hotspots as well as touring the festival and club scene throughout Ontario and Quebec. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with honours in Music from Toronto's York University. After university, Russell released his first self-titled solo EP which led him to form the Russell Leon Band. In 2007 the band and released If Red Was Green as well as an independent music video The Beginning of the End. The Russell Leon Band has opened for some great acts including Corb Lund, the controversial Ike Turner and ironically Leon Russell. Russell won a "Songs from the Heart" award at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals in 2007 and the Band was runner-up in the "Best Live Band" category at the 2009 Toronto Independent Music Awards.
From humble beginnings to a whirlwind of musical endeavours Russell considers this new record a great accomplishment. It's an honest reflection of where he is at musically and embodies a lifetime of musical cultivation. It's the kind of record where on first listen you can feel the passion in the writing that only a true music lover could emulate.