Born and raised in London, UK, singer, rapper, and producer – VAS LEON grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson; of whom he says is his biggest musical influence.
From a young age, VAS learned to play several instruments, and as a teenager found a profound connection and love for poetry. This inevitably lead to the spark that was to ignite his musical career.
Vas Sat down to discuss his journey so far with Ray Sang.
Where and how did your musical journey begin?
Well west Philadelphia born and raised, in a the playground is where I spent most of my days! haha. I’m kidding, however Will Smith has been a big influence in the journey. Especially after him and Jazzy Jeff winning the first Rap Grammy. He has been a big influence alongside MJ (both), Stevie Wonder, Tupac, and my mother.
When I was young my parents introduced me to musical instruments, at first it was piano, then violin, guitar, clarinet… it pretty much grew from there.
Then I started writing poetry during GCSE and learnt how to compose music and write on manuscript paper. From then I started singing over my tracks, song writing and taking it from there. Oh my when I listened to the music I made in my room on a headset it’s funny, but it was very deep, emotional and poetic. I showed people what I created, some loved it, some really hated it. A couple of girls got teary eyed when I played them some stuff. They were like “oh vas this is beautiful” and things like that. From then I said I’m going to continue with this hobby and get better at it, work on it. It meant something to me, especially when some of the things I discussed were stories of other people. I realised I could make a difference somehow.
I never knew I would actually pursue it as a career or anything, but I did want to do it from when I was young. Crazy how it can actually become reality, and also how your perception can change when you’re older!
Having spent some time overseas which crowd would you say has given you the best vibe?
It’s so hard to judge with that! Every show has had its own vibe! For some reason the states have given a more positive vibe than over here in London which is very very weird! Not sure why but I’m sure that will change haha. You also got to know what songs to play for what type of crowd. During my sets I perform my typical (commercial) tracks, although I do switch it up; sometimes with my less conventional pieces depending on the audience and venue. I remember I was rocking the mic at Shoe Gallery once with some friends in Miami and they went crazy over some grime there, so you’d be surprised, I’m always surprised and I love every crowd I’ve played to. Its always a lesson for me and always makes me want to do better no matter how great the show went!
What has been your most memorable performance to date and why?
Opening up for FatBoy Slim at O2 Brixton! It was just amazing! People who didn’t know me before… well and truly knew me after! And hearing them say my name was just… inexplicable. The vibe and everything. I had so much fun on that stage!
You’ve always kept to your own unique style, how would you describe it to someone who had never heard your music before?
Thank you so much for that, appreciate it. Erm… I would say it’s something that will channel into something that you feel. If you listen to Krossover for example, something will get to you and relate to you. So I would describe it as an experience! Close your eyes, let the music take you away!
Break down the writing and recording process for “Nah Nah”?
Woah… Honestly I was chilling in my living room and was… well just chilling talking to my mum whilst she was watching Arsenal Fan TV haha. I just then had an idea and put my headphones on and made the beat. Didn’t take long at all to be fair. That night I think I produced about 4 or 5 beats, and yeah, Nah Nah was the first one really. I wrote to it there and then, as well as the other tracks. I think there was just one track I didn’t finish writing but I think because I thought that beat may have suited someone else so I left it alone and only wrote the chorus to that. I spoke to my engineer on the phone and he heard it and said to run with it as I might aswel do something with it. He does this all the time. I’d make something for fun and he’d say to run with it. Leggo was one of the quickest one. I made the beat, lyrics, and recorded it instantly. Once he heard it he said I should release it. Literally a couple of days after that, the video was shot and yeah, we went ahead with it and released it.
My recording processes, in fact the process of all my songs and videos are just fun! I don’t sit down and think too hard about what I’m going to say too much, unless its a VERY important matter. Because I’d rather just give you me! I let the music take me places so I can take you places with my music
So what is the song really about?
Well I’ve worked hard on my music, like, I constantly work! I became a workaholic to the point I was producing all my tracks and just editing everything possible! Roughly 3 hours sleep a night because I’m so passionate about it, and I thought about the people that are still here with me through the journey. A lot of people came and left, empty promises and all that, you know how that goes. I thought about the people here and just thought… nah… no-one can mess with that. No-one can mess with the strong bond we have. Especially with my engineer, that dude has been there from the beginning. I remember coming home from my first studio session EVER and my dude couldn’t make it. I played him what I made and he was like no way you’re better than this, I can feel it. From then he kind of mentored me and then started mixing my music and I just thought… this dude is the best! haha. Me and him, are the craziest duo, you can’t war with us. I have my own sound, he makes it crisp. Just like me he’s a perfectionist.
And its just about no-one being able to compete with me. Im very confident in my sound and my messages and what I have to bring. No hater or anything can get in the way of that! I’m all about positivity.
What makes you stand out from other hip hop artists?
I have my own message. I have a lot to say about myself and my life. My mind is different, I think different, I flow different. and…. I follow nothing really. I don’t follow a trend, I do my own thing. Also I’m from Jupiter, a completely other planet so yeah! haha.
Who are some of the artists from the UK scene that you look up to?
Ed Sheeran is a complete ledge! haha. Met him a few times especially many times on the come up, and he’s just such a cool guy. So talented too. So so talented. His vibe, he’s just such a down to earth person, and thats whats most important to me.
Other than that it’s hard to say, for me it’s more about personality. That’s where it’s at for me. But I respect and have love for pretty much everyone in the UK scene to be honest. Especially my friends and people I’ve met and continuously meet along the way.
So what’s next for Vas Leon?
Takeover! Stages will be coming out very soon which I am sure everyone will love. It’s a complete wave, and just … me being me really. Thats what to expect! More of me, and just honesty! I also want to help people a lot. In any way possible that I can, in a positive way. So that’s what’s next for me. More of me finding ways to spread love and positivity, laughter and fun. That’s definitely what’s next. I have messages and energy I would like to share!
Any final shoutouts or plugs?
Hi mum! haha. Well first I’d like to say thank you for the opportunity. It means a lot. Sometimes people skip music especially when it’s not from an artist that isn’t already majorly popping yet, and not many people take the risk because they’re afraid, but you went with the vibe and I really appreciate that. Other than that thank you I don’t think I have anything else really. My shoutouts I will not say names, basically everyone that has supported me through good times, bad times, and my career. So personally and musically shout out to you. To all the people who never have and never will give up on me. My plugs are basically my social networks, @thisisvasleon on twitter, Facebook and instagram. My soundcloud is soundcloud.com/vasleon and my official website is vasleon.com! Lastly… Stages will be out soon and ‘Nah Nah’ is up to listen to right now on Youtube! I may be doing a competition soon too so keep on the look out for that!