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We Talk with R&B-Pop Star on the Rise, Leonard Friend

Photo credit: Bob Jones

The visuals alone for “Serious Music” will get you grooving (check ‘em out here); the man behind the passionate and creative choreography is Alex Feder, otherwise known as R&B-pop artist Leonard Friend.

The former lead man for Brooklyn indie rockers The XYZ Affair relocated to L.A. a couple of years back and soon after crafted some serious sounds out of his frustration with the music business. With its pop appeal and R&B aesthetic, the crooner’s love for Michael Jackson, Prince, and hip-hop producers The Neptunes is all showcased on his debut EP Lynyrd Frynd. Friend recently spoke about his love of dance, why the switch from rock music to R&B and of course, the deal with the pink shoes.

Why the pink shoes?

I really have no idea. The original idea for Leonard Friend came to me in the shower shortly after the demise of The XYZ Affair.  The idea for the shoes came to me later that night. I guess they go hand in hand somehow.

Recently I just happen to visit PMT Dance Studios’ Facebook page and noticed their posting of your video “Serious Music,” saying you were alumni! Now, I’ve taken house-dance classes there, what classes did you take…so I can get THOSE moves? And where did your passion for dance come from?

PMT is amazing; I’ve met such wonderful people there. I’ve worked privately with the owner, Pavan Thimmaiah, for several years now, trying to hone in and create this style. I grew up being obsessed with Michael Jackson, learned how to Moonwalk as a kid, etc, but at a certain point my whole focus shifted towards the rock thing. This is basically the return to a childhood dream. Pavan is amazingly talented and imaginative; he’s really helped me turn this from an idea into reality. I cannot speak highly enough about that dude.

Tell us about Lynyrd Frynd. So you were once a rocker, now you’re crooning for the ladies, what caused the shift in sounds?

Now now, I’m an equal opportunity singer, I croon for everybody! [Laughter] I can’t say there’s any one particular thing that caused the shift. I still love rock music; I still listen to all sorts of stuff and play all sorts of stuff. But at a certain point, this got to be where my heart was, so I went with it.

I’m hoping that either “Mrs. Friend” or “The Last Gentleman” is the next single, but can you tell us what the second single might be?

I’m super glad you like those! I feel really proud of all the songs. I recently rerecorded most of “Everything For the Sake of Everything,” and I love it, so that is going to be the next single. But feel free to put “Mrs. Friend” or “The Last Gentleman” on your party mixes; it’ll be way hipper now that they’re going to be deep cuts instead of singles.

“The Year I Die” is a very strong track, full of emotions; tell me about the thought process in creating it?

That was actually one of the first songs I wrote for the record. Originally it had this slow D’Angelo kinda vibe to it and then I totally redid it with the more synthy-feel that it has now. It started with the lyrics and I took it from there. I liked the juxtaposition of having a super personal song on top of this very poppy soundscape.

How soon will fans get to see Leonard Friend in their city? Tour dates upcoming?

I hope to tour sometime in 2012, but nothing planned yet. For now keep an eye out for more music, more videos, and more random fun stuff!  I have a ton of stuff planned for this year; I’m hoping I get to all of it.

Last question: Got any New Year’s Resolutions beyond the stereotypical “eat-healthier-exercise-more-be-a-better-person-jazz”?

I’m actually trying not to make lists or think of specific things. I just want this year to be the best year of my life. I have a good feeling.

Lynyrd Frynd EP will be available on iTunes January 31, 2012.

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About ND McCray

ND McCray is a former Brooklynite, now St. Louis-based writer, penning pieces on arts, culture and other stuff.
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