Kin Leonn reflects upon his gleaming ambient mirror

Kin Leonn reflects upon his gleaming ambient mirror

Sometimes endearingly dubbed as Singapore’s “ambient boy”, Kin Leonn’s delicate and dreamy soundscapes have established the prodigious artist as one of the country’s most prolific talents over the past few years. 

As a composer, producer, pianist and DJ - Leonn has crafted three gorgeous albums on KITCHEN.LABEL, designed sonic installations for the ArtScience Museum and London’s Architectural Association, collaborated with legends like Miguel Noya and Hiroshi Ebina, scored acclaimed arthouse films like Baby Queen and The Breaking Ice, remixed for Moderat and Slow Pulp, and even graced prestigious festivals such as AMBIENT KYOTO and Wonderfruit.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We caught up with the busy musician to reflect upon his many accolades and projects from the past year, and look forward to what he has in store at his forthcoming audiovisual performance at T:>Works on Saturday, 22 June.

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The past year or so has been a whirlwind for you. Looking back, how do you feel about all that you’ve accomplished?

I’m proud of the work! If it was a whirlwind, it was definitely a really enjoyable ride – I’m so grateful to be a part of some of these projects that were just plain fun all the way through.  

Let’s run through the highlights. First off, your first-ever feature-length film score for The Breaking Ice. From composition, to Cannes, to the reception it's gotten - what was the experience like?

The composition process actually started as early as 2021, when I was shooting ideas off to Anthony (Chen) while he would send me footage from his shoot in China. We ended up continuing this working style of exchanging ideas over the course of the following year, and these ideas really impacted the eventual evolution of the film. Cannes Festival was a blast! Had to get used to wearing a suit. Playing an impromptu DJ set for the official premiere afterparty was even more unreal – though I was having a fever that day, so it might have all been one manic dream. 

What was it like collaborating with a legend like Barker?

He’s the best. Apart from being a musical inspiration, he’s also such a great, down-to-earth guy to hang with. It was a confluence of blessings that allowed us to cross paths musically for the Midnight Shift event in Singapore, and I still feel something special about that night. Hopefully, we can get onto more music when both of our schedules clear up. 

You’ve also put out some music with yeule. Tell us about the work you’ve released together and your creative partnership with her…

softscars is an album that we wrote together during the pandemic. At its core, it’s out of a deep friendship during our final year in London – a quiet, lockdown London with nothing to do. Our creative partnership is pretty manic and ideas run everywhere and spring from anything… but I think this album probably ended up being some of the best songwriting I’ve ever done to date. And I can’t believe some of the artists and bands we’ve since gotten to remix! We’re living  pretty different lives now, but we still get together to jam and hang whenever we’re in the same country.

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You toured a fair bit this past year. What was the favourite overseas gig you played, and why?

So tough to pick between Wonderfruit and Japan. I’m going to say Japan, only because it was a much bigger trip than just the gigs. I was endlessly inspired with my trips to Okayama to help out at Isle of Dreams, my time on Naoshima and Teshima, and my entire Tokyo stint meeting label mates and working with the crew over there. Performing as part of AMBIENT KYOTO is also something I never imagined would happen last year, but it popped up last minute. 

Saving the best for last - your sophomore album was stunning! Could you briefly talk us through its creative genesis and recording process?

Thank you! The origins of this album actually come from the remains of my final year project for my bachelor’s degree. I wrote a thesis about Spectromorphology and it needed some accompanying music as demonstrative material. Conceptually, it’s all about perceiving and analysing sonic texture, so I composed an album that focused on presenting sonic textural elements as narrative. I became obsessed with the idea of sounds that blur the line between instruments and field recordings, whether in their tone or their behaviour. Like, at what point does a bell start to sound like a resonant rock and vice versa? During this same period, I was heavily into the aesthetics of eco-mysticism and magical realism, so I think my brain naturally drew some intersections and framed all of this academia in a way that felt connected and universal. The imprint of this can be felt in the final album. 

The music video for ‘your spectrum’ was beautiful. How was it put together?

My dear friend Kimverlyn worked on this together with me, using Stable Diffusion to explore the concept of “spectrum”. The result is a storyboard of textures, curated and edited by us. As much as possible, we tried to avoid training the model on any specific artist, influence, or style, instead  relying on motion and colour to tell the story. 

What can we expect from your upcoming audiovisual show at T:>Works?

I never play the same setlist twice, but there really is a lot of new reworked stuff in this one. Visually, we’ll premiere a couple of new experimental MVs, and Raphael Ong will be responding to me live too. There will definitely be an element of  improvisation! Anyway, you’ll just have to be there…

Kin Leonn ✻ mirror in the gleam ✻ Live Audiovisual Performance takes place at T:>Works 72-13 on Saturday 22 June. Tickets are available here.