Suite 101 Interview

Thursday, 22nd April 2010

The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for X Factor winner Leon Jackson, and he is definitely on an upward trajectory right now…

Leon Jackson tells of New Musical Direction

A recording contract, hit records, singing with Kylie Minogue and Michael Buble, performing at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party and being voted Young Scot of the Year for being a positive role model would normally have been enough for anybody, but that was just the start.

Right Now Tour

Since then, Leon has transformed himself from teenage heartthrob to dedicated songwriter and musician ready to present his new repertoire of songs to an expectant public. The 2009 ‘Right Now’ tour gave him the opportunity to sell out some premier venues, and many fans correctly sensed that Leon was changing direction musically. Since that tour, he has concentrated on crafting songs whilst playing a handful of intimate acoustic shows.

02 ABC Glasgow

So far this year, he has two concerts planned, the first on 8 June at the Half Moon Putney, and then on 10 July at the 02 ABC in Sauchiehall Street Glasgow. Leon realises that to be authentic is best and he is ready to present some of his new songs at these events. He explains, “It’s a glimpse of my new musical direction. I’ve hinted in the past that it would be a more acoustic, more guitar-led style and that the gigs would be intimate, honest and at a more grass roots level.”

When You Believe

Tickets are selling out fast, so anyone wanting to go should buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment, but be warned, if you are expecting to see the trademark suit and hear Leon sing his number one hit ‘When You Believe’ you will be in for a surprise, although you certainly won’t be disappointed.

On the prospect of playing these acoustic gigs Leon promises that the experience will be very special.  “ It’s these kind of venue’s I’ve dreamed of playing - thank you to the guys who have bought tickets. I look forward to playing to a packed venue.

“I’m taking a new musical direction and want to re-educate people as to who I am. The hardcore fans won’t expect the shiny suit as they have kept track of my development and I think they sensed I was changing direction at last year’s summer shows.”

X Factor

It’s hard to believe that Leon is still only 21, and it’s been two and a half years since the West Lothian youngster shot to fame on the X Factor. A Christmas number one should have been the launching pad to greater ‘success’ but even then, he felt uncomfortable in the manufactured image he was forced to portray. Not that he would change anything:  “I have absolutely no regrets. The show got me a career in music, and it was an amazing thing meeting my idols at concerts and being able to say hello. The whole thing was awesome, and I feel very privileged to be able to do something in life that I love. I still keep in touch with a couple of the other contestants and talk to Dannii on twitter, but the whole experience was part of my clichéd journey which has landed me where I am today.”

For the last year, Leon has locked himself away, sometimes for hours on end to work stuff out. He has improved as a musician, becoming an accomplished self taught guitar player, and experimenting with the piano and ukulele but it’s the song writing that has shaped his new direction. He said: “I want the music to be an intimate experience for the listener and I believe that the new material is quite emotionally resonant. The songs are organic and less polished, covering topics that people can relate to and I would describe them as heartfelt and soulful. They are personal, almost melancholy, really putting myself out there, and are about the rigours of living life and reflect parts of my journey.”

So what drives him on? Leon doesn’t hesitate: “An absolute love of music. There’s no way to express that love, and nothing else makes me as happy. Hopefully I can keep on doing what I am doing in the years to come, learning my craft and improving, for the fans who are the foundation of everything I do.”

Despite an emotionally demanding year, Leon feels more at peace and happier having one through everything as it helped him understand some things that he needed to. For the first time he feels liberated and fulfilled with his work, believing that music is a conversation between the singer/writer and the listener.

By John Hislop April 2010
Suite 101 Magazine


Tickets for the 02 concert are available HERE

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