Leon Vynehall

BIOGRAPHY

Upon turning 30 in Los Angeles, far from his London home, and as anyone pursuing a creative outlet will do at some point in their process; Leon Vynehall found himself wondering about what he’s trying to say in life, where he’s trying to go and thinking about his career to date. After bringing euphoria to dancefloors all over the world with the humid house of ‘Rojus (Designed To Dance)’, he took a sharp left turn with debut album ‘Nothing Is Still’...

Upon turning 30 in Los Angeles, far from his London home, and as anyone pursuing a creative outlet will do at some point in their process; Leon Vynehall found himself wondering about what he’s trying to say in life, where he’s trying to go and thinking about his career to date. 

After bringing euphoria to dancefloors all over the world with the humid house of ‘Rojus (Designed To Dance)’, he took a sharp left turn with debut album ‘Nothing Is Still’—a masterclass in subverting expectations, with that Pitchfork noting (in their 8.2 review) that “Vynehall is more than a producer with a great ear for texture and a nostalgic streak—he’s a storyteller, one who demands and merits our full attention.” Released as part of a wider multimedia experience spanning film—with video elements directed by Young Replicant (The xx, Lorde, Flying Lotus)—and literature, it garnered widespread praise including appearing in ‘Album of the Year’ lists from Rough Trade, Mixmag, Esquire, The Vinyl Factory, RA and more, was #1 on the NACC Top Electronic chart, and drew support from KCRW, KEXP and others. It also spawned a celebrated “Nothing Is Still” live-show which saw him hold sold-out residencies in London and at New York’s legendary avant-garde hub The Kitchen, building on his established reputation as a mainstay at festivals worldwide including MoMA PS1 “Warm Up”, Glastonbury, Primavera, Nuits Sonores, Sónar, Melt! and more. 

With his subsequent entry to the renowned, long-running DJ-Kicks series (seeing him join the likes of Moodymann, Four Tet and DJ Koze), Vynehall turned further away from convention, putting together a mix that naturally and creatively blended everything from industrial and techno to dancehall, soul and ambient in a way that Resident Advisor described in their 4.4/5 review as “brilliantly executed”.

Those who have spent time with Vynehall’s music over the past decade will know how much it is rooted in family. ‘Nothing Is Still’ was dedicated to Vynehall’s grandparents and traced their emigration from London to New York in the 1960s, his own journey to Los Angeles striking some distant, ghostly parallels with theirs. 2014’s ‘Music For The Uninvited’ was inspired by the funk, soul and hip-hop tapes his mum used to play on car journeys to and from school. But on ‘Rare, Forever’, he investigates for the first time who he is as a person and artist in the very moment, rather than looking to the past to discover what and who has shaped him. “After writing those ‘chronicle-heavy’ releases I started to think about what I wanted to do next,” he explains. “I wanted to write purely from the standpoint of free expression: whatever came to me is what I’d go with.” 

Here he showcases all the strings to his bow—creating music that’s borderless and unbound. ‘Rare, Forever’ is a beautiful marriage of everything he's done so far while remaining genuinely progressive; the end result sounding like ‘Nothing Is Still’ but with the narrative toned down, and the dancefloor dialled up. It will feel familiar for fans of Vynehall’s DJ-Kicks mix. his eclectic excursions on NTS or his 2018 Resident Advisor Podcast, while simultaneously sounding unlike anything he’s ever done before. As much as there are dancefloor memories and moments, it’s not strictly a dance record—instead, ‘Rare, Forever’ is the clearest representation of the broad spectrum of music he’s made to date, deftly weaving newer shades of post-punk, ambient, techno and drone. 

It would be unfair to say that ‘Rare, Forever’ isn’t a multimedia project like ‘Nothing Is Still’. The songs first debuted on ‘A Little More Liquid’, the stunning audio-visual exploration/livestream project that Vynehall collaborated on with Eric Timothy Carlson and Aaron Anderson (both Grammy nominated for their work with Bon Iver), and the record’s themes were brought to life throughout it. What’s more, “In>Pin” sees Vynehall utilising words as instruments—an additional texture that adds depth that already takes a deep-dive into the human psyche. Playing with words borrowed from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, as well as Vynehall’s own, the song explores what it’s like to spend time inside your own mind, brilliantly setting up the course of the album: “Is it strange to feel it? / To lose one’s self / Occurring quietly in the world, / As if it were nothing at all.”

Opening track “Ecce! Ego!” picks up where ‘Nothing Is Still’ left off for just a minute, its sweeping strings and ethereal atmosphere quickly giving way to something much darker and sinister—“like “Envelopes (Chapter VI)’’s fucked up cousin,” as Vynehall describes it.

With that said, there are opportunities to take a breath too. “An Exhale” precedes “Dumbo” with exactly that—a long, cathartic gasp of hyperventilating synths and distant vocal cries that acts a sort of calm before the storm. “Dumbo” itself is another playful moment on a record that packs more of them than you might first imagine. A tough, percussive track that leans on the syncopated rhythms of hard drum, it becomes royally unhinged around the three-minute mark, dancing more ecstatically than anything the first post-lockdown ravers could pull off. “I wanted to put this on to serve as a reminder that these experiences are like saging yourself, and can be really fucking fun!” Vynehall says. “The vocal “If you know what I mean?” is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek poke at the fact that I always do these fairly in-depth pieces.”

And while Vynehall has chosen to focus on his own inner workings, there is the spectral outline of a character—known as Velvet—scattered throughout and acting as a guiding force. “Velvet pops up in this LP a few times, and I wanted its ambiguity to be alluring. Is Velvet a person, or a thought? Human or metaphor?” Vynehall explains. “Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been” is closer to paths of house and techno that Vynehall as trodden before, all stabbing synths and acid flashes—but is deconstructed and warped in a way that’s completely in tune with where Vynehall currently is as an artist, and sounds resoundingly fresh in the scene-at-large.

The album closes with one final gesture, a conclusion to the song-and-dance that Vynehall has played with his own mind—with Velvet—throughout. “All I See Is You, Velvet Brown” features Vynehall’s interpretation of a poem originally written by Will Ritson named ‘Harbouring’. As hazy saxophone flourishes and beatless textures twirl around each other, a voice suddenly beckons: “I would do nothing differently in harbouring my errors / My small ships / Those battered vessels that will not sink / That never set sail / No longer go out to fish / But remain bobbing in the water / Meditating / Like soft words of advice.” 

More recently, Vynehall has set up a new recording space 'Studio Ooze' to expand his collaborations and has been writing and producing for the likes of Kam-Bu—including the recently released “Are You On?”—Wesley Joseph, Kenzie TTH and Jeshi, with a number of tracks slated for imminent release.


Forthcoming Events

June 2022
July 2022

Leon Vynehall


Latest News

BIOGRAPHY

Upon turning 30 in Los Angeles, far from his London home, and as anyone pursuing a creative outlet will do at some point in their process; Leon Vynehall found himself wondering about what he’s trying to say in life, where he’s trying to go and thinking about his career to date. After bringing euphoria to dancefloors all over the world with the humid house of ‘Rojus (Designed To Dance)’, he took a sharp left turn with debut album ‘Nothing Is Still’—a masterclass in su...

Upon turning 30 in Los Angeles, far from his London home, and as anyone pursuing a creative outlet will do at some point in their process; Leon Vynehall found himself wondering about what he’s trying to say in life, where he’s trying to go and thinking about his career to date. 

After bringing euphoria to dancefloors all over the world with the humid house of ‘Rojus (Designed To Dance)’, he took a sharp left turn with debut album ‘Nothing Is Still’—a masterclass in subverting expectations, with that Pitchfork noting (in their 8.2 review) that “Vynehall is more than a producer with a great ear for texture and a nostalgic streak—he’s a storyteller, one who demands and merits our full attention.” Released as part of a wider multimedia experience spanning film—with video elements directed by Young Replicant (The xx, Lorde, Flying Lotus)—and literature, it garnered widespread praise including appearing in ‘Album of the Year’ lists from Rough Trade, Mixmag, Esquire, The Vinyl Factory, RA and more, was #1 on the NACC Top Electronic chart, and drew support from KCRW, KEXP and others. It also spawned a celebrated “Nothing Is Still” live-show which saw him hold sold-out residencies in London and at New York’s legendary avant-garde hub The Kitchen, building on his established reputation as a mainstay at festivals worldwide including MoMA PS1 “Warm Up”, Glastonbury, Primavera, Nuits Sonores, Sónar, Melt! and more. 

With his subsequent entry to the renowned, long-running DJ-Kicks series (seeing him join the likes of Moodymann, Four Tet and DJ Koze), Vynehall turned further away from convention, putting together a mix that naturally and creatively blended everything from industrial and techno to dancehall, soul and ambient in a way that Resident Advisor described in their 4.4/5 review as “brilliantly executed”.

Those who have spent time with Vynehall’s music over the past decade will know how much it is rooted in family. ‘Nothing Is Still’ was dedicated to Vynehall’s grandparents and traced their emigration from London to New York in the 1960s, his own journey to Los Angeles striking some distant, ghostly parallels with theirs. 2014’s ‘Music For The Uninvited’ was inspired by the funk, soul and hip-hop tapes his mum used to play on car journeys to and from school. But on ‘Rare, Forever’, he investigates for the first time who he is as a person and artist in the very moment, rather than looking to the past to discover what and who has shaped him. “After writing those ‘chronicle-heavy’ releases I started to think about what I wanted to do next,” he explains. “I wanted to write purely from the standpoint of free expression: whatever came to me is what I’d go with.” 

Here he showcases all the strings to his bow—creating music that’s borderless and unbound. ‘Rare, Forever’ is a beautiful marriage of everything he's done so far while remaining genuinely progressive; the end result sounding like ‘Nothing Is Still’ but with the narrative toned down, and the dancefloor dialled up. It will feel familiar for fans of Vynehall’s DJ-Kicks mix. his eclectic excursions on NTS or his 2018 Resident Advisor Podcast, while simultaneously sounding unlike anything he’s ever done before. As much as there are dancefloor memories and moments, it’s not strictly a dance record—instead, ‘Rare, Forever’ is the clearest representation of the broad spectrum of music he’s made to date, deftly weaving newer shades of post-punk, ambient, techno and drone. 

It would be unfair to say that ‘Rare, Forever’ isn’t a multimedia project like ‘Nothing Is Still’. The songs first debuted on ‘A Little More Liquid’, the stunning audio-visual exploration/livestream project that Vynehall collaborated on with Eric Timothy Carlson and Aaron Anderson (both Grammy nominated for their work with Bon Iver), and the record’s themes were brought to life throughout it. What’s more, “In>Pin” sees Vynehall utilising words as instruments—an additional texture that adds depth that already takes a deep-dive into the human psyche. Playing with words borrowed from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, as well as Vynehall’s own, the song explores what it’s like to spend time inside your own mind, brilliantly setting up the course of the album: “Is it strange to feel it? / To lose one’s self / Occurring quietly in the world, / As if it were nothing at all.”

Opening track “Ecce! Ego!” picks up where ‘Nothing Is Still’ left off for just a minute, its sweeping strings and ethereal atmosphere quickly giving way to something much darker and sinister—“like “Envelopes (Chapter VI)’’s fucked up cousin,” as Vynehall describes it.

With that said, there are opportunities to take a breath too. “An Exhale” precedes “Dumbo” with exactly that—a long, cathartic gasp of hyperventilating synths and distant vocal cries that acts a sort of calm before the storm. “Dumbo” itself is another playful moment on a record that packs more of them than you might first imagine. A tough, percussive track that leans on the syncopated rhythms of hard drum, it becomes royally unhinged around the three-minute mark, dancing more ecstatically than anything the first post-lockdown ravers could pull off. “I wanted to put this on to serve as a reminder that these experiences are like saging yourself, and can be really fucking fun!” Vynehall says. “The vocal “If you know what I mean?” is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek poke at the fact that I always do these fairly in-depth pieces.”

And while Vynehall has chosen to focus on his own inner workings, there is the spectral outline of a character—known as Velvet—scattered throughout and acting as a guiding force. “Velvet pops up in this LP a few times, and I wanted its ambiguity to be alluring. Is Velvet a person, or a thought? Human or metaphor?” Vynehall explains. “Snakeskin ∞ Has-Been” is closer to paths of house and techno that Vynehall as trodden before, all stabbing synths and acid flashes—but is deconstructed and warped in a way that’s completely in tune with where Vynehall currently is as an artist, and sounds resoundingly fresh in the scene-at-large.

The album closes with one final gesture, a conclusion to the song-and-dance that Vynehall has played with his own mind—with Velvet—throughout. “All I See Is You, Velvet Brown” features Vynehall’s interpretation of a poem originally written by Will Ritson named ‘Harbouring’. As hazy saxophone flourishes and beatless textures twirl around each other, a voice suddenly beckons: “I would do nothing differently in harbouring my errors / My small ships / Those battered vessels that will not sink / That never set sail / No longer go out to fish / But remain bobbing in the water / Meditating / Like soft words of advice.” 

More recently, Vynehall has set up a new recording space 'Studio Ooze' to expand his collaborations and has been writing and producing for the likes of Kam-Bu—including the recently released “Are You On?”—Wesley Joseph, Kenzie TTH and Jeshi, with a number of tracks slated for imminent release.

Forthcoming Events

June 2022
July 2022