Interview With Christian Leave

Bedroom-pop singer Christian Akridge, better known as Christian Leave, has once again graced the world with newest EP, Superstar. The piece highlights finding your space while accepting changes, further exploring the idea of maturity. The tracks are backed by pensive songwriting and silky vocals.

Leave has made a name for himself in the industry, from touring with Beabadoobee to gaining a massive following in the indie scene. Today, we had the chance to sit down with Christian Leave, and further explored his notable history of being a viral Vine sensation, as well as his vulnerable development as an artist.

MSM: You just released your newest EP, Superstar, and are set to play at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on the 30th of this month. When you were younger, did you ever see yourself in the position you’re in now?

CL: No. Not at all. (I) Grew up in really small towns- Texas and Tennessee, Oklahoma, the Bible Belt, a few of those states. Very small, very isolated, constantly moving around. My parents are pastors, so it was just a lot of being in church and things like that. There was always a sense of greater purpose within myself because of those things, but I don’t think that I ever imagined I would be fortunate enough to actually get to a dreamlike state. I’m kind of achieving my 12 year old dreams, so, that’s awesome.

MSM: Was there ever a key moment that made you decide you wanted to start making music? Was it like a flip that went off in your head, or has it been something you’ve been gradually working towards?

CL: I think I was 15, maybe 14- I had just gotten this big influx of different music that I had never heard before. I wasn’t really allowed to listen to a lot of secular music. Then, around that age is when I got my iPod. So, I had this big intake of the best albums- The most legendary albums. And I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ this is what music is. There was one night and I was like, ‘I’m gonna write a song.’ And then, I did. I wrote a little one and I was like, ‘Okay, that wasn’t too hard.’ And then, I became obsessed with it and started doing it all the time.

MSM: What were some of those albums that you got into?

CL: I was just talking about this, the first artist that I stumbled on to (was) Stevie Wonder. His entire discography is so vast and deep. It’s just so much music to listen to. Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, The Beatles, things like that. Just the literal classics- All of those people’s discographies.

MSM: You gained a large following from Vine at a young age, how could you say that affected your personal development? Does now being a musician change anything?

CL: I think, yeah. Being an influencer, when you’re young, and still being heavily influenced- You haven’t fully formed as a person, which is a little weird. Being that young, and then having that many people available to hear what I’m saying, was pretty odd for a long time. At a certain point I just started to live my life, like that wasn’t the case. Friends and family started, as they naturally do, becoming more important as I started to grow up. So I think my visibility online, but also my personal attention to it kind of faded. Making art and making music- I was like, ‘Oh, I do have a platform.’ And ‘Finally, I have something to say that actually means something to me.’ So I think, being a musician, it’s just a different way of influencing. It feels more personal and it feels like I can communicate in a, a real way. Versus (making) fart jokes.

MSM: With TikTok now, the way that music and media is released is a little bit different. I think that if you post a quick 15 second clip on TikTok, that it could go viral and now you’re making it big. So, do you have any thoughts on how the music industry is changing, in that sense?

CL: Yeah, I definitely think it’s changed. I signed with a major label, right before, what you would call the major TikTok wave. The industry catching on, where they were like, ‘All right, for the first time, this is where the influence is. The internet is running the show. We can capitalize and make the most money here.’ So, in a way, I stumbled into the big leagues at almost the worst time. I would grow up on those kinds of artists, where you’re buying a CD or looking at high production. It’s commercials and cool long drawn out ideas, where it’s not rush ordered. That was what I had always aspired to be a part of and the dream that I was chasing. And then you get there and it’s completely different. I think that it’s just hyperbolized. Consumerism in general is on this really fast gain, where everything that you consume can be capitalized upon. And music definitely not being the exception of that, (but) maybe even being the easiest version of that. I’m guilty of this, but the way that independent artists, or artists in general, view TikTok is the same way that the grunge scene viewed MTV in the nineties, where it’s like, ‘I don’t wanna be a part of that weird system.’

MSM: Has songwriting been something you’ve always wanted to learn and grow into? Or have you always been interested in lyricism?

CL: At first, I was definitely more focused on the music and the sound. What initially spoke to me as like a younger person was the palette that was being made. Chords and melodies were fueling my emotions. If I was really sad and I put on a really sad song, the feeling of that song would coddle me in some ways. I’ve definitely developed into lyricism. I used to write more in sentiment where now, I write more in concrete ways, more observations of my own life and perception… Like my relationships and things like that.

MSM: You’ve amassed almost 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, which is quite impressive. How would you define success?

CL: Even just finishing the EP was a really big success for me. Obviously reception is important, but once you start to really value that as the sign of success, then you get lost and will be constantly disappointed. (It) ruins intention. I don’t think I need to be the biggest artist in the world to feel successful. I think a steady and stable career, and a community of people who enjoy the things that I’m doing, feels like success to me.

MSM: Walk me through the creative process with the cover art for your latest EP.

CL: I had worked with this really talented artist named Noah Gallagher. I met them through a friend of a friend and we just started chatting. They’re an animator and I had just stumbled into trying to learn how to animate… Then I contacted him and was like, ‘Hey, would you want to maybe work on this artwork with me?’ And then it developed into a conversation about presenting figures that felt like a weird imbalance… Where like one person is taller than the other and then that creates a stature imbalance. Proposing the physical idea of imbalances within a relationship. With Superstar, in particular, all I could really think of was this really big person standing with their tiny little buddy. And it’s like, how it feels to be with my girlfriend. She’s the coolest and biggest thing in my eyes. She’s a superstar… And not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s something I’m often reflecting within myself, where I sometimes feel like she’s better than I could be.

MSM: If there ever comes a time where you are no longer making music, what is the mark you want to have left on the industry and your fans?

CL: That I was a real cool guy. ‘Made me laugh a lot, and I liked his music,’ that’s what I would imagine people would say at my funeral because hopefully that is the only time that I will not be making music. That is a good question and I think that’s something that I should definitely figure out within myself. And it’s weird that I don’t have an answer to it, but I don’t know what mark I could make.

MSM: Is there a message that you wanna send out, through your music, right now to your fans?

CL: A sense in a place of comfort and relatability. If I could just tell you what my biggest dreams would be, when leaving music, it would be (that) I, in some way played pivotal points in people’s lives, as far as like ‘this song’ or ‘this album.’ All of the artists that I love do that for me- That is why I’m so interested in music… I would like to do that for somebody else because that’s so cool.

KEEP UP WITH CHRISTIAN LEAVE

INSTAGRAM / TWITTER / TIKTOK

Author