Cinema

From Kanchana-2 to Ko 2

Music composer Leon James

Music composer Leon James  

Young musical talent Leon James, well-known as a guitarist and keyboardist, was brought to the limelight by Raghava Lawrence in his film Kanchana 2. And now his songs for Ko 2 have been topping the charts across FM stations. Be it the lyrics, tune, or the rendition, the songs are distinctly different. Leon James, the one-film-old music director of Ko 2, says, “My father, Noell James, is a musician, and he worked for A.R. Rahman. Quite naturally, I started learning the keyboard when I was four, and ever since, music has been my passion.”

The scintillating and soulful music of this 23-year-old Chennaiite is the result of many years of hard work. “My dad is my biggest inspiration and he has set up a studio for me at home,” says Leon, who is the best buddy of composer Anirudh Ravichander. The duo won the Ooh La La award for best keyboardists in 2009. During his school days, Leon was part of a five-member band called Zinx (a carnatic fusion band), along with Anirudh, Vivek, Kishore and Ananth. “Zinx won innumerable awards at various cultural events, and after school, the five of us have pursued music as a profession.” A self-taught musician, Leon has completed six grades of classical piano and six grades in music theory. He has worked with many leading artists in their live performances, as a keyboardist for other composers, and has composed songs for his independent YouTube videos. In fact, it was his independent video ‘Vaaya En Veera’ which got him the opportunity to compose music for Kanchana-2. Leon says, “Raghava Lawrence, who happened to see this video and also ‘Sandi muni’, approached me and wanted to use the two songs in his film.” The success of Kanchana-2 gave Leon the confidence to take up Ko 2. “Even though I have been a professional musician since 2009, composing film music was totally new to me. When Elred Kumar said his next film was a political thriller, I instantly agreed, as I wanted to explore a range of compositions on diverse themes. It is a big opportunity for me as a composer.” A big fan of Salim Merchant and Vishal Dadlani, Leon wanted to introduce them to the Tamil audience. “I like to collaborate with other musicians and bring in fresh talent and new instruments. Ko 2 gave me the chance to do exactly that. While I wanted Inno Genga (a U.K.-based Tamilian and YouTube artist) to sing ‘Kannamma’, as it was uptempo, modern and funky, the ‘Kannamma Reprise’ was rendered by Salim Merchant, whose voice suited the mellifluous and soothing tune.” Leon has sung the hit number ‘Kohila kohila’ along with Neeti Mohan; this also happens to be his first song as a playback singer. Currently, Leon is busy composing music for Veera starring Bobby Simha. “When debutant director Rajaraman said that the film is based in North Madras, I thought it will be a great opportunity to try a completely different composition.”

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 6:48:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/ko2-music-director-leon-james-talks-about-his-music-journey/article7927396.ece

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