Leo The Kind is a true musician if there ever was one. Hailing from Massachusetts, the self-taught singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist discovered his musical abilities at the young age of 9, making his first beats on his Playstation 2. At age 14, he began making his own music and in 2016, he realized his own desire to sing on records — thus Leo The Kind was born.
The moniker arrives as a symbol of his sign, a Leo, and the fact that he’s one-of-a-kind. Transitioning from behind-the-scenes to in front of the microphone, Leo debuted his EP titled The U.G.L.Y., 5 songs created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after, he followed it up with his standout single, “Ain’t Nobody Gon’ Judge,” reminding you to live your life to the fullest at all times.
Thanks to the mentorship of Grammy award-winning producer Swagg R’Celious and Grammy nominated production partner Keithen “Bassman” Foster, Leo proves he’s on his way to the big leagues. Every single day he’s living out his dreams on the daily creating feel-good music for his growing fanbase and vlogging on his own Youtube channel. Flaunt caught up with Leo The Kind via FaceTime, as Leo is located back home in Boston. Read below as we discuss his sound, coming up in Boston, the inspiration behind “Ain’t Nobody Gon’ Judge,” creating his EP during quarantine, hearing his music on TV, goals, and more!
How would you describe your style of music?
The style right now [laughs], I say right now because I’m always making different stuff. I want to say it’s alternative R&B. I take so many different aspects from different genres of music, but that core sound there, which is my background, is alternative music and R&B. So put them together.
Being from Boston, what was the household like growing up?
Boston’s dope, I really love being from here. We have some of the best sports teams but besides that, I experienced a lot of different things because Boston is so diverse in many different ways. That played a part in my growing up here and I love it. I’m still trying to figure out if I want to move, I don’t know yet. I really like the winter and different seasons.
Biggest influences coming up?
Coming up, it was a lot of different people. In the early 2000’s when I was growing up, it was a lot of 50 Cent, but then throwback to Michael Jackson. Anything that Timbaland touched, I was listening to. Anything that Pharrell touched, I was listening to. It jumps back and forth all the time. I go on this binge where I listen to 80’s music for months, then I come back like “alright, what’s poppin’ now?” I check out the latest on Spotify. I’m all over the place, but I love listening to music.
What are all the instruments you play too?
I started with keyboard, just piano. I was learning songs I listened to on the radio. In 2016, I picked up guitar. This year, I started playing bass.
At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
When I was doing different beats for other artists in the city, my dad had introduced me to somebody who brought me to an actual studio environment. Before, I was walking over to people’s houses. Definitely not the same as a real studio. They brought me to this crazy facility in Boston. From that moment literally walking through the door realizing, “wait you guys do this all the time? And live off it? [laughs] I want to do that.” That’s the moment. I was only 15 or 16.
You released “Ain’t Nobody Gon’ Judge” back in July, who or what inspired this one?
“Ain’t Nobody Gon’ Judge” has a really interesting story because the song was written two years ago, I’ve had it for a while. Swagg and Bassman were the ones who convinced me to put it out. I moved out of my parents’ house, a complete weight off of my shoulders. As an expressive individual, I don’t have it now but I used to have a nose ring. My gauges were freshly gauged. I got my first job in the city. I was living on my own full-time and felt the weight of “man, I could really do what I want.” No one was judging me for it. I was heavily inspired by that. I wanted to speak from a perspective where everyone needs to have that mindset every now and then. You have to do your own thing, don’t worry about anybody else.
Talk about the positive energy you bring in both your life and music, where does that come from?
It comes from me wanting to live a positive life. I can only show so much through the music and through social media, not everyone knows what’s happening in my life everyday. I want to show no matter what’s happening, no matter what season it is, I’m still trying to be better than I was yesterday. Always staying in the positive realm no matter what happens.
Talk about your passion for making YouTube videos as well, you have a series called Sound Design.
I’m still the biggest producer nerd lowkey. I wanted to be able to show people, you don’t need all this fancy equipment to make your record sound dope. These are things I learned over the years through using plug-ins and stacking things together. You can get this sound easily, you don’t have to pay X amount of money. I’ve been doing that, got great feedback so that’s going to keep me going. Youtube is an awesome place, I’ve always been on Youtube since it started. I want to be a part of that environment too.
Talk about your partnership with Swagg R’Celious, what’s it like working with him? How has he inspired you as an artist creatively?
Most definitely, Swagg is a mentor first, then he’s my brother. He’s a great and fantastic producer, writer. It’s interesting because coming from Boston and doing what I do, having someone who has a Grammy with one of the top-selling artists now is extremely humbling. He teaches me things without him even knowing, by how he carries himself. He’s a businessman so when we’re talking and making business moves, I pick up a lot from him there too. I’m really grateful to have him on my team, a huge inspiration to me definitely.
What have you learned working from him?
Definitely to stay humble. He’s got a Grammy and still one of the hardest working people out here. He’s got kids, all these things going on. He teaches, then still making music business moves which is awesome. That’s something I want to do, I want to be able to keep going after the achievements.
3 things you need in the studio?
I need water, possibly some food. I’ve been doing good, I haven’t been smoking a lot. But edibles are crazy so edibles. My voices don’t like smoke at all so I stopped smoking a while ago, but that edible still gets the creative juices going. [laughs]
One thing you want fans to get from The U.G.L.Y. EP?
I want people to know that we did that in such a short time – the fact it sounds the way it sounds to me is pretty amazing. We did it in COVID, we did it by flying each other files. No in-studio session. We did that all from behind our computers and our separate studios, putting it all together. Really a dope project.
What was your reaction to being featured in NBC’s show Connecting?
That was really, really cool. Another song I made and had it sitting there. Swagg and Bassman said, “hey, you should probably finish this one.” I’m like “alright,” I finished it. I sent it to them, they added their elements. As soon as I saw it on Connecting, it blew my mind because the piece they used it for made so much sense. Almost like the song was made for that scene. A good feeling to know my music works so well on TV. For an up and coming artist, that’s a huge way to make extra money and to get your name out there too. A super blessing.
What can we expect from your forthcoming EP?
Expect some different vibes. This one’s on par with The U.G.L.Y. but in such a different way. We spent a lot more time on this one. [laughs] I still can’t pick my favorite song off it. I can’t wait for people to hear it.
Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
To stay consistent, that’s been my biggest thing this year. With everything happening, to still be able to get on the phone and have interviews, talk to radio stations and get my song on TV, that’s already a huge win for me. I want to keep going, I don’t want to be held up by anything. I’m trying my best everyday to be on top of this stuff because you never know when that one super crazy connection can happen, you wake up and everything’s different the next day. I want to be consistent.
When’s the last time that happened to you? Waking up to something crazy.
Being signed to Republic. [laughs] Crazy. Not only was Republic one of the biggest labels to be part of, I was always going around saying “if I ever get signed to any label, I want it to be Republic.” You can ask any of my friends, this was always my dream label. I still wake up like wow, I really did that.
Because they have a huge team, also they held some of my favorite artists of all time. Everyone knows their artists: Drake, Ariana Grande. Those 2 alone are household names. Republic goes crazy with their artists. Now everything they’re doing with Post and everybody else, you want to be a part of that for sure.
I want to work with Pharrell or Timbaland, that has to happen. I feel like it could, I gotta work super hard. [laughs] That’d be amazing. The first hour of the session, I’d be talking their ear off. Then we get to working.
Do you identify more with the producer side of you?
Definitely more the producer side, because I knew that side longer. The writing and the artist, I’ve had that for a while too, but I had been producing since I was so young. I love being able to write my own record, produce it, do it all in one go, but I also love producing a record. Not having to think about “alright, how’s the writing gonna go?” Send it to somebody else and they kill it, they send it back to me and I’m like “aw see, this is beautiful.”
What can we expect next?
Look forward to that EP and a super crazy record we’re still working on. The EP’s what I have my eyes working on. It’s been done, I’ve been listening to it. I’m super excited for everybody to hear it too.