Kristian Leontiou Biography
Last updated: 04/21/2013 03:00:18 PM
It's pronounced Lee-on-tyoo, and this is the only time you'll need to be told. Once you hear the voice, the name will stay with you, and before 2004 is over, it'll be as familiar as Alicia Keys, David Gray or Damien Rice. As will the look for now confine yourself to the thought that Kristian Leontiou's Brit-Cypriot colouring and skatepunk dress sense mesh...well...let's say "harmoniously."
Actually, the baggy/denimy/XXL thing is deceptive. You'd assume, if you saw this confident youth on the street in Wembley, North London - his home till a couple of months ago - that his taste ran to metal and/or garage. The old saying about not judging a book by its cover comes to mind here: he may look that way, but he sounds like a soulful angel. For want of a better description, he's a poignantly insightful urban singer-songwriter.
Kristian's songs (many co-written with husband-and-wife team Pete Wilkinson and Sarah Erasmus) tap the late-night vein and the seam of morning-after reflectiveness. "Classic songwriter melodies with beats behind them; simple songs," is his description. It's fully-formed music that yields more with each listen. The songs and lyrics have great youthful energy and are brought to life by Kristian’s calming, yet powerful vocals which possess a seemingly angelic individuality.
Kristian’s album would be an achievement if he were 30, but the fact that he's barely 22 makes it all the more remarkable. (He was born in February 1982 the same year that Depeche Mode, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Spandau Ballet, presented the world with their new sound and The Human League released ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’). How does Kristian write songs with such - for want of a better word - depth? Doesn't he feel self-conscious about baring his soul at an age when most guys think "emotions" are what you feel when your team wins their most important match in the World Cup?
"I'm fine about putting my emotions on the line in songs, and if I write a love song, I'm not too direct. You can put your own interpretation on the lyrics. Have you heard ‘Shining’ or ‘Hanging’, from the album? They might sound like love songs, but they've got a different meaning to me." Indeed, Kristian’s songs (like many of the most memorable hits through history) present situations that most people can relate to.
London born Kristian found school difficult because of undiagnosed dyslexia, and left at 16 with no qualifications and a fierce desire to make music, instilled by an older sister who was in a band and let him come to the studio with her.
Kristian wrote his first song at age 10 called “I've Had Enough", it was about having your own Playstation. He was also very active at this early age earning himself a black belt in karate as well as starting up motorcross.
At 15 Kristian admits to auditioning, unsuccessfully, for a band while in the meantime, he was working as a hairdresser, and putting his wages toward recording demos. Then, one day...
It was one of those chance encounters straight out of a Richard Curtis movie. Kristian had gone to South London to play his demo for a management company, which declined to sign him. That would have been the end of it except that, as he was leaving, he bumped into Mike Sault of Warner/Chappell (publisher of Dido, Artful Dodger and Faithless amongst others) who heard Kristian’s songs through the office wall, and realised that the youngster had "one of the best voices I've ever heard."
With Warner Chappell behind him, Kristian began recording eight track demos at a flat belonging to his songwriting partners, Pete and Sarah. The results, fresh and modern, were so impressive that most of the vocals and a lot of the production recorded there in their small room made it onto the album. As Sault tells anyone who'll listen, "The tracks are amazing. They're not like anything else around."
He professes nervous anticipation and excitement about what will happen next. He is, after all, just a cool young guy from Northwest London who’s recorded his first album in someone’s flat and lives in un-groovy Uxbridge. "Fame isn't my big thing. It's doing the music I want to do. If you're really into what you're doing, that's all that matters. And my heart is in this."
Anyway, it's Kristian-with-a-K, Lee-on-tyoo. But everybody will know that soon enough.