Before today, there was a void in the music scene. Of course we have dance music, we have R+B, but we needed a fusion of both. We needed some sultry synths, moody beats, and smooth vocals. Leonard Friend brings all that and more.
You probably recognize Alex from the XYZ Affair. Remember, that video with the random Nickelodeon people? Yep, that’s him. The band emerged in NYU, eventually selling out shows at Mercury Lounge. They were hooked up with amazing lawyers, managers, agents; overall, it seemed like success was near. But like many hyped NYC bands, the XYZ Affair slowly dissipated.
Alex describes the process of ending the band feeling like a breakup. He was already down in the dumps, then his grandparents both passed away. But, that feeling of hopelessness ended when he had this idea of starting a solo project. He came up with the name “Leonard Friend” in the shower, named after his grandfather who had to sacrifice his musical talent to have a "real job" and provide for his family. Alex muses, “There is more pressure working for someone else’s name not your own.” Being kind of homeless in New York while working on the songs has a strong effect on the lyrics, but he pushed on.
The stakes were raised, and he made the decision to up and move to LA with his girlfriend. He didn’t have any other friends or family, but it felt right to him. Along the journey to the west coast, he listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and Stevie Wonder. You can hear those influences on the album, along with some dancey R+B, but he jokes, “I’m not all of a sudden singing like Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake”.
The music of Leonard Friend is inspiring to listeners, similar way the real Leonard Friend inspired Alex. There’s something to be said when you’re working for something greater than yourself. Thank you, (the real) Leonard Friend, for serving as a role model and influence for this artist. The world needed these groovy beats. His new album drops today here. Do yourself a favor and take a listen!