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KIRAN LEONARD

Kiran Leonard is a 22 year old musician from Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. Debut album proper Bowler Hat Soup (2014) and follow-up Grapefruit (2016) were both recorded at home, with Kiran playing virtually every instrument himself. Dervaun Seraun (2017), a concept album in five movements inspired by five pieces of literature and arranged for piano, strings and voice, was an ambitious departure from his usual sound.

Western Culture now sees him return to the signature sound of his first two records, yet marks a huge sonic progression thanks to the involvement of his venerable live band on record for the first time, as well as being the first to have been made in a professional studio (Old Granada Studios in central Manchester). Please read on for Kiran's statement on the record, discussing the themes within.

I like the phrase “WESTERN CULTURE” very much because it is a resounding clang from a hollow vessel, connoting so much (grandeur; authority; hostility) without possessing a concrete meaning in of itself. What does ‘western culture’ consist of? This question changes shape depending on who is speaking: e.g., ’culture’ is constantly evolving and autonomous, rapidly reacting to and altering the present in which it unfolds, but is simultaneously regarded as something static and possessed, corresponding roughly to ‘tradition’ or ‘heritage’, something people can call on when the world seems precarious and alien and antagonistic. And so very often when we talk about culture, we reveal our personal conceptions of world events and of what is to be done.

"“WESTERN CULTURE” — these heavy phrases without substance are of great importance because they are easily manipulatable agents with the potential to sustain great impact on the real world. Not every issue stems from language, and sometimes we allow our discourses to replace real things, which belittles violence and misunderstands the very real violence that phrases inflict. But I wanted to write about the relationship between the two, and show how a lot of very real brutality is distorted and justified by how we choose to depict it.

"In part, then, it is a response to brutality. We seem inundated by a brutality beyond our comprehension: the kind of nationalisms and capital, and the brutality of not knowing. The latter is particularly damaging because it is so difficult to oppose what you can’t understand/articulate. I wrote this record about all this not because I wanted the real world to be eclipsed (that is; I didn’t want to self-absorbedly change a problem of violence into one of self-expression) but because I don’t understand any of this, and the struggle to depict the world and lived experience in a more truthful way is waged discursively.

"Process of understanding; process of recognising perspectives beyond your own, and the historical, political forces of imbalance that engender them. I am interested in where songs might fit into all this; I think that it might be a valid means of approaching an articulation of violence, but I also suspect there is something totally absurd about the whole venture."


In 2014 I was invited to perform at a residency commemorating the re-opening of Manchester Central Library. I wrote a piece in five movements for voice, piano and string trio and called it “DEREVAUN SERAUN”. Each movement is written about a different piece of literature, exploring the value I see in each work and the impression it has made on me, and there is nothing more to it than that. The pleasure of books – of good verse and stories and ideas – is a very simple thing, and I felt that some lofty unifying theme for the entire piece would be a betrayal of that belief.

I think that when a work resonates with you it is an instinctive response to something. You can be taught to understand a challenging book, but not to feel affection for it; I think a lot of conversation around art, especially around literature, sometimes forgets this. In my experience, the art I like the most, irrespective of its 'difficulty', is the art I can advocate most directly and plainly, and about which I can say: “I read this piece and now I do not read or think in the same way that I did before”, or: “This is a story that I could not explain to someone; I do not understand it word-for-word, yet I feel like innately I understand the whole, and that the whole spoke to me”. This is a piece about five books that I like and why I like them

Following several self-released digital only EPs and homemade CD-R releases, mercurially talented 20- year-old musician from near Oldham, Greater Manchester Kiran Leonard has signed to Moshi Moshi to release ‘Grapefruit’, the follow-up proper to 2013’s acclaimed debut ‘Bowler Hat’.

“A singular new talent is being forged” - Sam Richards, The Guardian

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Inventive and original art-rock from Manchester native Kiran Leonard. This album twists and turns like a startled beast, at once from a melancholic fingerpicked guitar refrain to mournful orchestral stabs. Not as much challenging, but exciting and fluid. Rousing melodies float above lively guitars and galloping drums, only to break into dissonant snaps and starts, all painted with a liberal coat of Leonard's emphatic lyrical bursts. If this is even a hint of the creativity and ingenuity that is to come, we're onto a good thing. Recommended.

16 track self-produced album from 18 year old genius Kiran Leonard.

A fiercely inventive and unique piece of work from an important young artist, ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ will appeal to fans of Elephant 6 era modern psychedelia, prog, and classic alt pop.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xLP Info: LP format features gatefold double vinyl with
lavish 16 page booklet.

2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.


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