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Critically acclaimed artist, curator, designer and musician Sebastien Leon will release his new album, Jeux d’Artices. Inspired by experimental French pop of the 70s as well as such contemporary artists as TV on the Radio and Radiohead and recorded in his native French, Leon describes the album as “a series of songs about an explosive and ruinous love affair that blurs the boundaries of fantasy and reality.” The creation of the album is part of a natural progression for Leon, whose decade long career as an industrial designer moved into the formation of “sound sculptures,” which he has created for the Edith Wharton Foundation, the MaxMara Foundation and Audemars Piguet, among others.
A New Yorker by way of Orleans, France, Leon began to compose lyrics for the album that became Jeux d’Artices after launching himself into a subterranean exploration of Manhattan nightlife. Soon after, Leon met iconic editor James Truman and, discovering their shared musical interests, they started to exchange ideas about a collaborative record. The two began work at Saltlands Studio in Brooklyn and Gee Jam in Jamaica. Building from lyrical and musical ideas brought into the studio by Leon, they recorded and arranged the songs by inviting in a diverse array of local and foreign musicians, with backgrounds in rock, jazz, African and classical music. At the suggestion of Michael Stipe, they mixed the record in Los Angeles with Jamie Candiloro, well-known for his work with REM.
Sebastien Leon began his artistic career in 2002 with the creation of his firm Formavision, which specialises in what he calls “experiential design.” Leon and Formavision created and curated interiors for clients such as Marithe+Francois Girbaud, Diesel and Reebok. Leon’s experiments with sound began after the fashion house Edun asked him to create a sound based installation in collaboration with the poet Saul Williams and Rainer Maria’s Kyle Fischer. Leon says that project helped him “understand music and sound as another physical dimension and a design element.” Since then, Leon has created original pieces he calls “sound sculptures.” His highly acclaimed work has been exhibited everywhere from the Park Avenue Armory in New York to the NEF 163 tower in Istanbul, for which he created a sonic installation woven throughout the building’s 35 stories. Leon says that his creations aim to “poetically hypnotize the viewer through visual and sonic stimuli.” Though he has been playing guitar since age 10, Leon says that it was meeting Truman that “crystallized the idea of writing music just for the sake of music, without the need of an installation to support it.”
James Truman began his career writing for Melody Maker about the post-punk scene in London. He moved to New York in 1981 where he became the U.S. editor for The Face and, subsequently, the executive editor of Spin. In 1990 he was appointed editor-in-chief of Details and in 1994 he became editorial director of Conde Nast. His lifelong love of music and close collaborative friendships with many musicians inspired him to produce his first record, Jeux d’Artices.