For his work over the last two decades, singer and songwriter, Jonas Winge Leisner has encouraged the designation as one of the most important voices on the danish soul scene. Leisner himself is noticeably humbled by and reserved at adopting that title. “Well, that status is of course not something I would say myself. That’s for others to judge,” says Leisner. But the accolade seems to be well earned with years of building a following through, amongst other accomplishments, extensive touring as a solo artist and as part of revered danish soul/funk orchestra, Ridin’ Thumb as well as the popular live music collective from Copenhagen, THE 5to8’S, known for its marathon concerts of improvised soul, hip hop, funk and r&b.
Surprisingly, Leisner also garnered that distinction throughout this time without having released a full project or EP of his own. That, however, has been rectified with the release of his new EP, Sticky. Borrowing from a chest of soulful influences and vibes – classic to 70’s-inspired and funk-infused to present day hip – Sticky is a seamless, groove-filled, impressive ride through the dimensions of the sound. On the project, Leisner enlisted the fine production skills of Swedish multi-instrumentalist and producer Daniel Fridell along with the other talented musical brethren from the 5to8’s collective, accomplished artists and songwriters, Bobby Bovell from the U.K. and Dane namesake, Jonas Rendbo. The infectious sound that the four have been brewing and bumpin’ over the years proved the perfect canvas and encouragement for Leisner’s Sticky debut.
Jonas Winge Leisner answered some questions for us about the new project, Sticky including the soulful influences heard throughout and why it took this long for the release of a full project.
How did you come to be so heavily influenced by the range of soul music reflected on Sticky?
“I think it happened by chance. When I was in my early teens, I knew nothing about soul music. I was playing piano and singing Beatles tunes. One night – which I remember very vividly – I was watching the Spike Lee movie, Jungle Fever, that Stevie Wonder did the soundtrack for. I noticed his music throughout the movie, but when a ballad came over the end credits I got goosebumps to the point where I literally leapt off the couch. That started a dive into first, anything by Stevie Wonder. And since initially I found a lot of his music on these old Motown compilations that my parents, who are also musicians, took home from their record label, I got a broader introduction to a lot of those artists, including and especially Marvin Gaye. From that start it all came organically, and it was natural to later start listening to a lot of newer soul music, like Omar, Musiq Soulchild, Erykah Badu, Bilal etc
Would you consider Sticky to be a kind of homage to soul music and its luminaries?
It was never something I thought consciously about when we were making the music. But I think when you take on a genre, and you use the musical language and the sound of those luminaries as a part of your own music, then everything you do really becomes a homage. I think to be inspired by something and using it creatively is a very clear act of love.
With being on the music scene for two decades why did it take this long to do a full project or EP of your own?
“I’ve been quite good at writing 20-30% of a song, and then putting it to one side – and often lacking the courage to involve others which would require me to share something unfinished and rough. For long periods of time my main focus has been on the next gig, seeing myself (and feeling quite comfortable) as more of ‘just’ a singer than a songwriter. Most of what I’ve done in the studio has been initiated by others – and that’s been fine, really. The thing that changed this time around is the building of a musical relationship with good friends that started on the live stage and progressed into the studio. Where we all really felt like doing something creative together. And thankfully we found that chemistry in the writing and production process, which has then taken me from rarely writing or recording to being fairly productive (we have a LOT of other songs written and partially recorded, that we’ll be working on now that this EP is out there).”
What do you hope Sticky will reveal about the artist you are?
“I hope people will connect to the playfulness of the music, both in the productions and in the vocals – and feel how the songs are used as vehicles for emotions like joy, wonder, and a lot of different thoughts and questions that may occupy our minds. I also hope people will enjoy the songs on a very basic level – as something to dance to, drive to, wash dishes to, which I see is happening already. And that’s the most important thing.”
Check out the title song, lead single and full debut EP, Sticky from Jonas Winge Leisner on all major music platforms including HERE on Spotify