Mixing celestial, other-worldly atmospherics with electric beats made to activate the senses, New Zealand based electronic producer Leaping Tiger is triumphantly bending normalcy as he pulls the strings of sound to create his own universe. With an album that sounds like it samples both the bottom of the ocean, and the borderline of the atmosphere, Leaping Tiger manages to evoke every kind of emotion on his latest album Porcelain Orca Whales. In a time of uncertainty, all forced to lockdown into our homes, Leaping Tiger took this as an opportunity to not only create, but also to pause. “I have just been watching a lot of movies… heaps. Also making a lot of music, I really surprised myself because I don’t see myself as a very productive guy… but for some reason my brain actually went into hyper-drive and I made some good stuff. Obviously it’s been a struggle, but I think having that time to focus on making music has been really good, and just being able to have a break as well. I think a lot of people didn’t realise that they needed a break, so that was almost natures break for a lot of musicians, which was pretty good”.
"A pretty early memory of falling in love with music... It’s so random, I was watching Ratatouille and it was the first film score that I had heard with a live bass, and it blew my mind. I was just like “what is that instrument?!” That was the first time I remember paying attention to a film score."
With a vast array of new music hitting streaming services during the pandemic, it is a fantastic time to not only be a fan of music, but also a creator. Having an abundance of new material to consume and pull inspiration from, Leaping Tiger’s recent motivation to create came hand in hand with this wave of new music which he made clear with his praise... “There were so many things that came out during lockdown which was amazing, but the most recent favourites would be the new Charli XCX album, she made it during the lockdown which is insane… and I would say the new Perfume Genius album I really liked. And this came out before lockdown, but the new Weeknd album, I haven’t stopped listening to that since it came out, it has been very inspirational”.
Taking it back to intermediate and high school, with musical influences like Fallout Boy and other pop-punk bands, the first song Leaping Tiger remembers making was in a band with his mates in year 8. “It was some weird song pretty much about being a ‘skux’ or something like a girl liking you, and you not liking her back… I think that was the first song I ever played. I was in my pop-punk, kind of emo phase… so it sounded very much like Fallout Boy, angsty … pretty embarrassing”. There has been a clear shift between the punk-pop music of a teenaged Leaping Tiger, to the atmospheric, other-worldly electronic production he creates now. The bridge between the old and the new was electronic giant Skrillex. “He was the bridge from the pop punk, metal-ish phase when I was like 11 or 12, and he was that bridge where his music sounded like metal, but it was electronic. And then once I found out about dubstep, I kind of just dove head first into electronic music as a whole, and just never looked back. Since then I’ve definitely found a love for a songs with a mix of genres. Recently I’ve been really into just straight up dance music. I think from doing a lot of live shows, I’ve realised I don’t really make music to dance to… so I think maybe going into music with the idea of people dancing to my songs, I think that would be pretty cool. Just some fun, dance floor tunes”. Having worked with some incredibly dynamic New Zealand musicians on Porcelain Orca Whales, with one of the breakout songs from the album called ‘Screw Face’ featuring the dynamic hip-hop duo Church & AP – who are some local talents Leaping Tiger hopes to work with one day? “There’s actually quite a few… I would love to work with Jack Berry, Wax Mustang, Benee would be incredible, I always say Melodownz… he’s just so great. And one day, Lorde – for me that would be just absolutely nuts.”
Check out Leaping Tiger's 'Porcelain Orca Whales' on Spotify below:
Words by Oli Spencer
Photography: Oli Spencer
Styling: Natasha Ovely
Leaping Tiger wears Starving Artists Fund