An Interview With The Vocalist and Multi-Instrumentalist Royston Langdon Under The New Name, LEEDS!
Posted On 27 Jun 2018
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Royston Langdon (former lead singer of British rock band Spacehog) released his first vinyl LP Everything’s Dandy, under the new moniker LEEDS (a nod to his UK hometown), on May 4th.
“Everything’s Dandy” is the culmination of his 24 years in New York, both in its content and its production. “I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere on the planet,” says Langdon of NYC. “I feel like I’m part of the city in a way.”
“This work is a reflection on the re-gentrification of places and the real and meaningful memories they leave in their wake. How our own growth, over time, leaves us with a shifted perspective on ourselves. The once familiar, now gone, never to come back except through the ghosts of lovers, places, objects.”
Recorded in the fall of 2017, Langdon enlisted Bryce Goggin (Antony and the Johnsons, The Apples in Stereo) to produce and engineer Everything’s Dandy. The two have known each other since Langdon‘s early days in New York, when he interned at the recording studio where Goggin was head engineer. While Langdon played many of the instruments himself on the album, he enlisted a few longtime friends to play on select cuts, including drummer Parker Kindred (Jeff Buckley), multi-instrumentalist Timo Ellis (Yoko Ono, Joan as Police Woman) and Grammy-nominated saxophonist, flautist, clarinetist Jay Rodriguez (Prince). The song “Your Day Will Come” was co-written by Langdon and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes. Second single “What Became of the People” is a songwriting collaboration between Langdon and his brother Antony, who also shot both videos for the album.
Originally from Leeds, England, Langdon got his start playing music in the U.K. In 1994, however, he followed his brother Antony to New York and fell for the city immediately. Not long after the move, Spacehog formed. In the fall of 1995, they released the debut album Resident Alien, which spawned the hit single “In the Meantime.” Three more albums followed over the next 18 years.
More recently, Langdon has worked on the industry side of music, using his own experiences to help up-and-coming artists. Yet, he remained a musician at heart. Langdon kept his new work fairly private, telling only a few people as he built a new collection of songs
The evolution of Everything’s Dandy began in 2016, after Langdon‘s son moved to London. The changes in Langdon‘s own life, as well as the changes in the city that has been his home for so long, sparked new ideas.
“They put up these new shops,” says Langdon of the urban landscape of New York. “Still, the memory of the kind of experience of that thing remains.” He sees a connection between waves of gentrification diminishing the city’s creative spirit and his “experience of loss and also growth.” In his songs, Langdon writes of this not necessarily with nostalgia in mind, but with a sense of “awe” at how life moves forward.
Track list for Everything’s Dandy:
You Can’t Go Home Again
Your Day Will Come
What Became Of The People?
Never Gonna Let Go Of Your Hand
We Are Not Alone
No No No
Leave The Dishes
For more info, visit RoystonLangdon.com and follow on Facebok, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify
Learn more about Royston Langdon aka Leeds in the following All Access interview:
Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
I’m with my family in Yorkshire. My son and I are on holiday and about to head to out to the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay for a hike on the cliffs.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your music career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it?
2018 has been a personal crowning achievement musically. I’ve finally, after many false starts, launched my solo career. I’m truly thrilled. I honestly didn’t think it would see the light of day. It seems to have been really well received which is the icing on the cake. I’d love it to have my solo career be self-supporting. Definitely moving closer.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
I’ve been involved with music for as long as I can remember pretty much. It’s given me a wonderful life and a great appreciation for life itself. My first musical experience would have been at school as a 6 year old child in a school play. I played a king.
What has the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? Has there been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I’m constantly surprised that anyone knows anything of me or my work musically. It still feels as miraculous as it did when I was six making the connection with others. One doesn’t chose a life in music, it chooses you and like any life there are ups and downs. Finding a spiritual exit in all of that is the thing I welcome most today.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today? If you don’t think that it has affected you at all, why is that?
I am in relationship with everything all the time, how could I be aware as a writer and not be affected?
I find it interesting that sometimes musicians choose to go by something other than their own name so why did you decide to go something other than your own name?
I wanted a fresh start, both externally and for myself internally. Also, I’d started working on this music whilst I was working on behalf of other artists and so it was important for me to have a sort of secret garden that only I knew of. These days, when I meet people they’re often curious as to the origin of my accent, after my own name, ‘Leeds’ is my second explanation. Every human has a relationship in some way with where they were born. This isn’t unique, though mine is unique to me.
Let’s talk about your debut solo album “Everything’s Dandy.” What did it feel like releasing it earlier this month? Can you recall what you felt the first time you heard it all the way through?
Well I heard it all the way through long before it was released. The feeling that it was freely available to everyone is thrilling, vulnerably exposed.
What was it like putting together this collection? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? How did you go about selecting all the musicians to play on it?
It has been surprising how much work it is to release a record on ones own. I don’t have a label or a manager, it’s given me a deeper appreciation of what that takes and how important it is to really know you can trust those around you. Trust is a valuable commodity in music. I’ve found that it starts with trusting myself. That takes a great deal of work for me though it’s something I relish and wouldn’t relinquish again. The principles relate to every aspect of my work today, especially musicians. I don’t want to waste time with anyone who doesn’t raise the bar within me or whom aren’t secure within themselves to be challenged by me.
While it’s difficult, can you put out a few of your favorite songs off this album and talk about the inspiration for them and how they came to be on this collection?
‘Someone’ was the start of the process for me on many levels so that one is definitely important from the perspective as a theme for the album. ‘Never Gonna Let Go Of Your Hand’ was written for Milo, my son. That one holds a special place in my heart.
What has it been transitioning to a solo career after being with the band Spacehog? Do you find that you enjoy one over the other? How has your own sound developed and grown since your days in Spacehog?
Finding my own voice has always been my goal both with Spacehog and as a solo artist. I remember talking with walking up St. Mark’s Place with Jonny for instance when he was still playing in multiple other bands in New York and before Spacehog had even been named and saying to him that I wanted to call the project after my own name. He subtly suggested that a band would be better. I’m not sure. I still don’t feel that songwriting is wholly about democracy of ideas. Songwriting and performance are totally separate, though of course, in performance different musicians will give a song differing flavors. Bands are an obvious example though I find that as people change over time the impulse of those musicians changes and so the impulse of the band becomes something else. Look at the Rolling Stones. They started as a cover band of American Rock’n’Roll and now they are a cover band of a cover band of American Rock’n’Roll. It’s not interesting to me. I must keep moving forward to retain even the remotest interest in improving. That’s the goal, to improve, never to master.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far? Do you have any upcoming shows this summer?
My favorite performance is my next. I just played in LA. I had very little idea what I was going to do and as scary and daunting as that feels, that is where I want and need to be, in the moment with my fans. That is where performance is, between the possibility of success and failure.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
I am an artist and the way of the artist is pain. Politics and even the discussion around it and the characters thereof are all distraction and human theatre to avoid suffering for the individual. Therefore the whole thing becomes a horrific distortion of reality to avoid personal responsibility. I don’t wish to add to that in any way. Responsibility is freedom. We are afraid to be afforded that as it means more suffering which is the vicious cycle of responsibility for pain which we’d rather be kept from. We can’t think of an alternative to this so we keep on playing the charade which involves being a part of the insane political theatre. Change begins within. That is not popular. Which is why myself and other artists that speak to this fallacy aren’t popular and so are left in the obscurity of the wings.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all?
I know it’s important but to be honest I find it all a bit dull. I find it part of the fallacy of political repression, the facade. I have a very dear friend, Caro who’s been with me since the Chinese Album who is an invaluable help. However, she’s an important art curator for Corey Helford Gallery in Downtown LA and represents important Japanese contemporary painters so she helps me where she can but I may be a lost cause. I ought to have more fun with it. It’s the end of the world after all so may as well be a bonfire over funeral pyre.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I think St. Vincent is wonderful and I would love to work with her. Frank Ocean too and Drake.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you?
My trusty Guild F-20 Acoustic Guitar and lots of spare stings.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
Where can our readers connect with you?
In the sunlight of the spirit. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!