BLR is the alias of renowned producer Leon Bolier, adopted to showcase a deep, dark yet melodically-focused club sound. Signing the first ever BLR release ‘NUNGWI’ to Tiësto’s Aftr:Hrs Records (the track that launched the label) he continued to push a more experimental yet dancefloor-friendly sound. While ‘NUNGWI’ quickly became a DJ favorite, crossing genre borders and racking up over 10 million Spotify streams, Leon kept on pushing new music, becoming a rising star amongst fans and the industry.
Out this month and released on Aftr:Hrs, the label that started it all for BLR, his debut album Odyssee is a deeply involving, beautifully nuanced and emotionally rich 15 track album that crosses multiple genres, tones and atmospheres.
Hi Leon, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi there! All has been good, doing the crazy summer routine combining festival shows with all the studio work for my various projects.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Symmetry”?
The idea for Symmetry was born after Rob Styles came to visit my place in the summer of 2018, I know Rob from the times the both of us were active in the trance scene – and he showed up at an Ushuaia show I had to play in 2017, after not having seen him for about a decade. This led to him coming over to my place and he showed me a little track idea I liked and we took it from there. When we finished the instrumental I contacted my songwriter and he got Tiggi Hawke on the vocals – and they delivered within 2 days doing an incredible job.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Not really, Rob showed me his idea and together we took it into a completely different direction. That little vocal chop was in the initial idea (albeit in a different form, we remade it later using different vocal samples) and that’s the idea we kept, and went for a nasty dancefloor cracker – with a sweet undertone.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
Not as of now but you never know!
The single comes off your new album Odyssee – what’s the story behind the title?
It might sound cheesy but I just wanted the album to be a journey, an odyssey, an Odyssee. As you know, Odyssee is about Odysseus’ journey home, and the way the music is laid out in the album also suggests a coming home – at least that’s what I hope the listener will feel when listening to the full album.
How was the recording and writing process?
Fun – basically because I just love making music, and with an album I can go a bit more leftfield here and there, and also cross some genre borders as well. It’s kind of a creative outlet which helps me keep focused to do more single driven work as well.
What was the direction you were seeking with this material?
None really. I just started -the title track ‘Odyssee’ being the first track I specifically started working on for the album, so while keeping the album in mind I would from time to time focus on pure listening focused tracks that also experiment a bit on a sonical level – tracks like ‘Bark’ and ‘Orchid’ being prime examples.
Was it easy to experiment with different sounds on this album?
Yes, as I live and breathe experiment haha. As said before, doing an album gives me freedom to go a bit crazy on the sound design without people involved on label or management level worry about if it wouldn’t reduce chances of streaming success or dj support etcetera. All experimenting I do also just helps me broaden my sonic palette for future productions anyway – so it’s a win-win really!
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
Hmmm good one. I don’t think I do, but I love when an idea someone else comes up with makes my jaw drop, that’s inspiring and it might spark a direction I wouldn’t necessarily have taken when I’d be working on a track on my own.
With the enormous success from your previous work – were you any nervous or felt any pressure when putting the final touches to this album?
Not at all, I’m just very proud of the outcome!
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I don’t really find inspiration in things that are happening, or, let’s say, the weather for example. Incredible music by other people inspires me.
However I can work the other way around, and be like: I want to write / produce a song that feels summerish now, and then cater the music for that. A track like Vida Futura is an example.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, I have just joined Koolwaters Agency next to BCB handling my bookings in the Germany territory and am planning to bring the BLR sound to the crowds a bit more in the foreseeable future!
What else is happening next in BLR’s world?
I have a couple of other projects going on as well (Bolier being the most well known one) I am running as well, next to this I am already looking beyond the album and currently thinking of what should come next indeed. Most probably this will be a new BLR single. But right now nothing has been initiated yet, so keep an eye out!