Mexican native Leo Leal is best known as the man behind the Unike Muzik imprint; a label that has roots in Mexico but is now based in New York City. Indeed, the fledgling imprint has seen its stock soar recently, thanks in the main to a number of on-point, contemporary sounding gems from the likes of Carlos Sanchez, Figueroa & Obando and Markus Homm – not to mention remixers by Alex Celler, Chris Carrier, Terrence Terry, DJ W!LD and more. We caught up with the main man recently to talk Mexico, NYC and his future plans…
You’re from Mexico but you’re living in NYC now, right? How did that come about?I’d actually been thinking of moving to New York for some time, and in the end it was an easy decision. A few years ago I was gigging in Monterrey alongside Dubfire, Nic Fanciulli and Danny Howell and the tour manager told he was going to move to NYC. After that mini tour in Mexico, I just decided to make the move and go at it 100%; it was that simple really.
How does the scene in NYC compare to Mexico?They’re obviously very different but at the same time they’ve a shared love of music. I love how the NYC crowd are so knowledgable and it’s the same thing in Mexico really – the only major difference really is the language…and maybe the weather! Obviously NYC is slightly more advanced though, especially due to the fact that there are parties here every day. Mexico used to be like that, but it’s slowed down slightly recently for some reason. NYC is a great platform for DJs working in the industry too, not least because plenty of them live here and are always coming and going.
Why do you think electronic music is becoming even more popular in Mexico these days?It’s always been very popular but the BPM festival has sort of put it on the map a bit. Before 2000, there were already lots of big guys playing there, but I think the Internet and the fact that it’s an exotic country have definitely added to its appeal for visitors too…
What sort of music influenced you from a young age? Do you remember the first time you encountered electronic music?I’ve been into electronic since I was a little kid when I was very into Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode, and I was also completely in love with Joy Division and New Order and those kind of guys. I was also a big fan of John Digweed and Sasha, and Danny Tenaglia; they were my mentors and my biggest inspiration 20 years ago.
You’ve been producing music recently with Markus Homm on Colludo records. We really love the ‘Space Cowboy’ EP, but how did it come about?I’ve been a friend of Markus’ for some time now and with Unike he was the first artist I signed by the label, so one day we decided to work on a project and finish a cool EP for Colludo. Honestly, I can’t wait to get back in the studio with him…Markus is a bit of a genius in my eyes – and an honour to work with too.
What was it like to work with him? Did you get together in the studio or was everything done over the Internet?Working with Markus is a big experience for me. As I said, I’ve always been a fan of his sound and now he’s a friend who I learn so much from. But we work together using Dropbox, and I love how technology moves like that. So yeah, we basically work over the Internet and share the sessions there.
You also run Unike Muzik yourself. What’s the thinking behind the label?Yeah I founded Unike Muzik some years ago. I was promoting a few parties using the name, and then I decided to start a label. It was a small thing in the beginning and the idea was to collaborate with friends from around the world. Now it’s become a great big project, and we’ve a great family of artists such as Gorge, Dj W!ld, Chris Carrier, Markus Homm, Tripmastaz, Martin Aquino, Figueroa & Obando, Carlos Sanchez, Alex Celler, Terence:Terry and a load more.
You seem to be quite prolific when it comes to putting out music, but what else should we look forward to from Leo Leal over the next while?Yeah, I love to make music and I’m always working in the studio, but I’m also quite selective with what I’m gonna release, but I have some cool stuff coming including some more tracks that I have with Markus Homm. I also have an EP coming with Martin Aquino that’s very special to me and that one comes with some remixes from Bunte Bummler & Gregorythme, while there’ll also be another EP soon on Unike Muzik with Figueroa and Obando and another great collaboration with a especial remix from Emerson Todd. So keep an eye out for Unike!