Flowing out of our speakers this week is a fresh mix from a DJ who has been making some serious waves in our community. With regular showings at local haunts like Headquarters, Offtrack and various pop-up parties across the island, Leland's diverse digs and excellent mixing has been absolutely shining. For 028 in our series, he weaves us through a very well considered selection of music bent on comfortably lifting moods while keeping you guessing. Best enjoyed on a sunny afternoon with some wine!
Hey Leland, great to have you on the series. How are you doing these days?
Leland: Hey Bong, gladly, thank you for having me on TAV mate. I'm good and well. There's lots of new energies and transformations around me as of late, which can be stimulating at times but also daunting and scary at others. It's also been nuts - and I say that with a lot of gratitude and love, but also hecticness.
You've been pretty busy on the gig circuit lately, how's that going?
Leland: It's such a privilege. I'm often bouncy/smirking on dancefloors and that bit hasn't changed, I'm just on controls sometimes now. And that still does my head in when I think about it for too long. I've been blessed to be able to play at some spots regularly, and with some vets and senpais with me no less. Many good folks around me like yourself have shown me the utmost grace and faith, and I wouldn't be playing out without all yous lifting me up. That being said, the busyness demands some tricky balancing acts of my day to day, of which I have not yet mastered...
Tell us a bit about how your obsession for music began, where it has taken you, and what kinds of digs excite you most these days?
Leland: I always credit a lot of my early exposure to my parents. Growing up my family used to do really really long road trips to Pahang, Langkawi, or Desaru with my dad's other motor-head friends and we didn't have other entertainment in the car besides what he had on the stereo and my gameboy. This was maybe when I was 4 or 5 years old, so really unformed. My parents both have wide and differing tastes, so we had stuff like Kenny G, Anita Mui, Enigma, Jeremy Monteiro, Billie Holiday, MJ, to Blue, Beatles, or Andy Lau always playing - good mix of chart hitters/cult classics and then some. A very graphic and core memory was Sadeness playing on repeat for like hours on end while we drove thru Malacca, and me not fully understanding/appreciating what I was listening to yet it evoking tons of...fascination? Wonder? I only recently found out that it kept my dad calm when he was navigating unfamiliar roads. Those road trips I guess served as a starting point for what other types of tunes were out there, which led me to ransack their stash back home for their cassette tapes and CDs and always making a mess lol, I think I ruined a few by pulling the tapes out. Since then I've never really stopped exploring and searching out, whether that's at home or in the stores or after the internet became a thing. I hit up gigs a lot when I was schooling too.
When I first started as a music journalist back in Naarm, Melbourne from 2017 onwards covering shows and speaking to artists from all over, that sorta expanded my palette and gave it a lot more breadth than before. The gigging culture in that city is immense and there's something round every nook, from its dingy eclectic crevices to massive stoner dive bars with a crowd of three that were always music-programming focused, both locally or internationally. There was a lot of character to even the shittiest places. Some gigs I loved covering, some I got (pleasantly) lost in, but it was a massive advantage to be able to be following beats of a city of which I was still acclimatising to then. In many ways that 'job' helped me anchor myself to a new home, and then its music. From then on what started out as overzealous sharing of these artists to my mates, to just mixing for the fun of it then, is a huge part of why I love doing what I'm doing these days.
What really feels good for me, (and I've only recently realised this) is that my relationship with being in the crowd has not diminished despite but has shot up instead. Lots of sounds continue to pique my ears but recently I've been navigating through tons of cheesy garage edits, some Liquid, Downtempo, Afro Desi, and Japanese hiphop. I've also finally embarked on ripping some of my wax to digital, so that will be lovely in adding to my library.
Such a positive vibe on this mix from you. What inspired this mix and how did you go about picking out the tunes?
Leland: This mix was a blend of some new stuff I've been playing out so much, like that DJ SUDI Amapiano number that always works a treat, as well as some existing ones from saved tracklists gone by that I think really speak - the Karen Gibson Roc bit with its lyricism epitomises this the most. Some of the artists were also illuminated from selectors I really dig locally and in the continent specifically, of which there are so many (ask me face to face!).
Introspection has been a key theme for me personally this year whether that's with music, direction, relationships and all that kinda jazz, and plenty of these hit the mark for me in this one. Night Swimmer's Xia Ye and Shan Shui are really substantial pieces of works and have also been my go-tos for an anxiety riddled year, so I had to include him before the year closes. The former is easily one of the releases of the year in my eyes.
It's pretty hard to pinpoint your sound (that's a great thing), you go through quite a few genres here but manage to stay on track with the mood. What's the common thread that draws you to so many different styles?
Leland: I've always had varied tastes, so this was another way to express what else there is beyond the surface. This one's tough to answer but the blending/mix-up of it, jumping from one atmosphere to another, haphazardly or calculated, and fitting unlikely pairings together has been a strong urge of mine recently, and I now think surprises often make for a more colourful experience and listen. I used to shoehorn things into buckets but I'm challenging that a lot these days, music and else wise.
What's coming up in your calendar that you’re looking forward to, and where can people catch you playing next?
Leland: The past few has seen me play with so many insanely talented folks, and one upcoming set is with Anwar that's towards the end of year who has great, warm selections and an even warmer demeanour. The lovely HQ is also where it's at towards the latter half of the month, and a certain listening bar/resto that's been my hideout for so many nights is also in the cards. In between, a week or so's downtime away from it all in Thailand with my partner is also a welcome breather. Super stoked to also catch Marco Weibel's return here, Dita at Wonderfruit, and reuniting with old friends in Naarm next quarter.