Leon O’Leary releases debut EP ‘Pretend (To Be Saviours)’

"The five tracks on the EP are a collection of works that reflect the sound and energy I've been searching for since I got my first electric guitar"
14 June 2024
Photo by Tom Taylor

Leon O’Leary has commanded attention since day one here on FM, Amazing Radio, and BBC Introducing, among others. Having cut his teeth playing across the UK at major festivals like Latitude, Wild Paths, and Lakefest, Leon O’Leary now releases his debut EP Pretend (To Be Saviours), continuing to showcase emotive songwriting and inventive indie-folk instrumentation that has earned him acclaim across press and radio alike.

Influenced by artists and bands such as, Ben Howard, Bruce Springsteen, The War On Drugs and Hozier, the EP showcases Leon’s stylistic and instantly recognisable blend of folk tendencies with alternative-indie instrumentation creates a unique, warming backdrop for his expressive vocal delivery. Led by the EP’s vibrant title track Pretend (To Be Saviours), Leon’s indie undertones are brought with a high octane indie backdrop, topped with O’Learys poetic, story-telling lyricism which captures the essence of folk within Leon’s signature style. 

Photo by Tom Taylor

Talking about the single, Leon explains: “I started writing ‘Pretend (To Be Saviours)’ after my friend, Tom Dixon, (who was part of the band) was sending me some chord progression ideas through instagram voice notes. We were both messing with this one progression sending voice messages back and forth until we got it right. I decided to put some lyrics I had stored in my notes for the first verse. 

The song is written about virtue signalling and saviour complexes in society, blindly following philosophies and ideologies with a shallow understanding in the hopes of appearing ‘righteous’ or morally superior rather than for the greater good. After finishing a demo for the song, me and Ryan Meyers (on drums) took the track to North Acre Studios – which we won the opportunity at an award ceremony – and finished recording all the instruments in a day. Cause we were late that day (because I got dates confused and Ryan had to rush over to mine then drive straight to the studio), we didn’t get time to do vocals, so all the vocals were recorded in my bedroom with my sister Issy O’Leary on harmonies too.”

Going on to talk about the EP as a whole, Leon explains: “The EP came about after I got the opportunity to get a track recorded and mixed by North Acre Studios (Jake Day) last year in February. I had finished writing and recording a demo for Pretend (To Be Saviours) around that time and decided to chose that song for the opportunity as I felt it was a real marker of the sound I have currently. I knew after recording the track that I didn’t want to just release another single, the opportunity given to me really was the gunshot that got me running to record my first EP. 

The five tracks on the EP are a collection of works that reflect the sound and energy I’ve been searching for since I got my first electric guitar. Technically, they have no relevance to one another in terms of what they’re about or how they’re written but there is a reason why they’re together on this EP. I wanted to take all aspects of the music I love ranging from the poetical nature of songwriting found in folk, to the twangy, bluesy sounds of Americana and the anthemic energy of rock music. Even elements of some of my favourite pop music have been thrown into the mix too. This is what Pretend (To Be Saviours) is. My genre casserole. Barring Pretend, the rest of the tracks were recorded between my old college’s studio and my bedroom or lounge (so its kinda homemade). After mixing all the tracks – except Pretend – I finished the EP in August 2023, adding Got This Love For You as a final addition this year.”

With a dynamic start marked by extensive touring, performances at prestigious festivals, and sharing stages with acclaimed acts like Bernard Butler (from Suede), The Feeling, RATS, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Night Flight, and The House of Love, Leon O’Leary is poised to solidify his position as a promising new artist with the release of his debut EP Pretend (To Be Saviours).