Leon’s journey into the world of DJing began seriously when, at the age of 19, he sold his newly refurbished VW Beetle and bought a pair of Technics to accompany him to university- on the train! Having relocated to Portsmouth, he quickly established himself on the local circuit, picking up bookings at a variety of club nights, and also secured monthly residencies in his native Wales and regular guests slots at London’s infamous Club Tabasco boat parties. During this time, inevitably, he came into contact with several producers, and, funded by his student loan and in partnership with another DJ, Triggs, his first forays into the studio began.
At the end of his degree course, his skills behind the decks had been noticed by local entrepreneur and club promoter Russell Wilson, who recruited Leon and Triggs as residents and co-promoters of the successful Bang! parties. The first gig was nothing short of a baptism of fire- Masters at Work on 4 decks! Following that came incredibly successful tour dates with heavyweights such as Ministry of Sound, Cream and Renaissance, spanning from Brighton to Bournemouth, and Bristol, with plenty of points in between. The elite DJs of the time all graced the Bang! turntables over an amazing three year period in the mid-nineties.
At the same time, Leon and Triggs had begun to get more serious in the studio, and had their first credible track, Notre Dame, completed. It caught the ear of Mark Bounds, label head of Sony’s S3 imprint, who promptly commissioned the boys to remix his latest signing- club smash ‘My Life is in Your Hands’ by Meltdown. He was so impressed with the result that he told them to ditch the vocal and use it as their own original composition- and ‘Crossfire’ was born. A ten minute progressive odyssey, it drew heavily on influences such as Sasha, Evolution, Guerilla Records and the Jackpot stable, and had plenty of the big players’ interest. This was the break that the pair had been waiting for, and they were to take it with aplomb.
Meanwhile, Leon had managed to pick up some dates to play in the US, via a contact at his local record shop. This unlikely (yet fortuitous) event led to a meeting being set up by Mark in Orlando, Florida, with Sam Mollison, legendary voice and recent émigré. Sam had previously worked with Sasha on his first solo single which had even hit the Top 40, so when he offered Leon the chance to remix his first tune for Sony S3, understandably, the boys were thrilled (and more than a little nervous). The nerves were unfounded though, as they turned in three mixes which all found their way onto the release package, alongside such stalwarts as Tall Paul and Mark Picchiotti. The Southern Cross mixes were the cream of the drop though, and Sam loved them, which in turn forged a lasting friendship which endures to this day, with a future partnership still mooted.
Back to the UK, and Sasha’s manager, Jackpot label head honcho Seven Webster, asked the boys to remix a vocal track from one of his roster- Tenth Chapter. With release schedules clashing and other wrangles, the track didn’t make it to Jackpot, but instead was signed to Evolution’s highly regarded Fluid label. This was a dream come true for the pair, especially when they learned that their first official single release was to be remixed by absolute stone cold legends Evolution themselves. The track, ‘Running’ did very well, and led to a slew of other remix work, including an early Timo Maas track, one for Hooj Choons and, bizarrely, a Turkish folk artist!
Due to Triggs’s relocation to London, inevitably the Southern Cross partnership cooled. Never one to lose momentum, Leon enjoyed further production success with Gary Bennetton under the Menage a Trois moniker, picking up remixes for, among others, Jo Mills and Paul Oakenfold. Leon had first met Gary in Florida during one of four DJ tours, and this led to a celebrated residency on the legendary Southampton boat parties- parties which are still going strong to this day! This in turn led (from 2000-2001) to what Leon describes as his defining period as a DJ- a proper, weekly Saturday night residency. This was Pepper at the Tangerine Suite; a tougher counter to Friday’s filter house behemoth The Kindergarten Klub. Though intended as a showcase for big name guests who were working the UK scene at the time, it instead provided a platform for Leon to truly hone his sound. “I learned to warm up properly for the first time, and the night became more and more about the residents, until the guests became redundant- this was undoubtedly where I matured as a DJ”, he says of his time there.
As quickly as it had started, Pepper came to an abrupt halt, the club owner citing ‘change of musical direction’ and dropping the night from the roster. Though this was a body blow to Leon, it actually served to broaden his musical outlook. No longer required to buy tunes for the dancefloor, this period saw him expand his tastes into breaks, deep house, techno, leftfield and Balearic beats. This unshackled approach to music selection is devastatingly evident in his blistering sets today.
Fast forward to the present day, and Leon’s career behind the decks is perhaps at its peak to date, with a hectic schedule stretching 6 months ahead, a burgeoning record label and studio commitments on four different projects. With an imminent switch to a full digital DJ set up, and a live show in the pipeline, surely even greater heights beckon?