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Unlocked - Leaping Tiger (Digital Cover)

New Zealand-based producer Leaping Tiger has made a triumphant return with his second album ‘Soulsleep’ - an exhilarating roller coaster of a record that shows the rising artist unlocking new doors at every turn.

Following the release of his phenomenal first album ‘Porcelain Orca Whales’ Leaping Tiger has once again stepped beyond expectations as he twists ethereal and electric like never before. On ‘Soulsleep’, Leaping Tiger shows off his arsenal of sonic textures, unfolding surprises to us all throughout the record. The album is totally unpredictable, and had me eagerly waiting to see what was around each turn, never quite sure what was to come next.

While the album is full of refreshing and inventive moments, there was one element to the record that shone brightest - Leaping Tiger’s very own vocals. The surprise appearance of his vocals on the record's leading track, ‘Gooey’ enthralled us all, he tells me that the thought of his own singing was daunting at first, “It was scary, I’ve never done it before. I was thinking, is this something that I really want to do? Is it stuff I really want to talk about?” he admits. After trying and trying to get the song to sound right. To get the song to sound exactly how he intended, he had to do it himself. Once it was done, he couldn’t see it going any other way - unlocking an entire new avenue to take advantage of.

Squeezed in a jam packed week of socialising after the end of Auckland’s longest lockdown yet, we caught up with Leaping Tiger to chat about how he is feeling about his album a few months after release.

Leaping Tiger is Tenner Magazine's

December digital cover.

Photography by Oli Spencer

Words by Oli Spencer

I’d love to know who have been your biggest influences this year?

Ooh… I would say this year it’s gotta be Tyler, the Creator for sure, he’s always been inspiring to me, but his new album has been a whole new jolt in my brain. John Glacier too has been huge for me, she’s a rapper from London. She had one of my favourite albums of this year ‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ and it was all produced by Vegyn. She’s been very inspiring to me this year.

‘Soul Sleep’ has been out for a little while now, how are you feeling about it?

I feel pretty good about it, it’s definitely a weird time to put out an album, in the middle of lockdown… not really going through the classic album stuff like doing shows to support it or anything like that, and only sort of getting reactions online. It’s been really weird, but ultimately really cool, I feel good, it’s just been different. Different is good… it’s different.

How do you think you’ve grown as a musician between ‘Porcelain Orca Whales’ and ‘Soul Sleep’?

I’ve definitely grown in terms of skill. Using my voice and my singing and songwriting is a thing I’ve never done before, so thinking of music as less of typing things in on a keyboard and more of performing more and using microphones. I’ve grown in the technical sense for sure.

Did you write any songs to be performed live?

Definitely! I did that with ‘Anti’ specifically, that is made for the dancefloor or a festival. Even songs like ‘Figure It Out’ when I was making it, I was thinking when the strings come in at the end this would sound so good at the end of a festival set. I think about that quite a lot

That’s so cool, in our first interview you said you wanted to make a song for the dancefloor.

Yes! That was ‘Anti’, that’s the one!

What was your favourite part of making the album?

My favourite part was being able to get out a lot of my feelings and thoughts at the time. It was a pretty rough time in my life, and so having something to put all that into so it wouldn’t negatively affect my day to day was the coolest part about the whole thing. This album was a place where I could chuck all that stuff. It helped me move on and get to where I am now - happy Jacob having a blast!

How long did it take?

I kind of started it straight away after the first one, in January of last year. I write music pretty slowly, I’m not making it every day.

What was it like tapping into your own voice for this?

It was scary, it’s something that I have never done before, and I was thinking is this something that I really want to do? Is it stuff I really want to talk about? Ultimately it worked out really great, I loved it and I loved doing it.

Were you the perfect fit for that song specifically?

I think in the end yeah, I didn’t really realise it until I had done it. I can’t see it going any other way now. At first I was trying so hard to get literally anyone to sing on it, and it kept not working out. I was just like okay… I guess I’ll do it… and now I can only see it like that. I’m so glad it turned out that way.

Is this something you’ll revisit?

Definitely, I’ve been experimenting a lot with singing and my vocals recently, trying new things. It’s something that’s here to stay.

You also woke up to that i-D feature… how did that feel?

That was so awesome and so weird! I had no idea it was coming, a lot of articles you know it's happening a week in advance and you act surprised on social media, but this one was a legitimate surprise! I had a really heavy night the night before, celebrating being out of lockdown with my friends. I woke up pretty hungover looking at my phone like what! It was the coolest thing. 16 year old me would be over the moon if he ever knew that was going to happen, I’ve been reading it since I was 14 or so.

How are you feeling about New Zealand music right now?

Very good! I think it has just been getting stronger and stronger every year. There was an initial boom maybe three years ago? And every year it is just getting stronger and growing, new names keep popping up that are so great. New Zealand music is in a really good place, it always has been really great, but we’re still going so well. I’m very happy to be a part of it.

Right now, who would you love to work with?

I would definitely say John Glacier for sure, I really love her. I’d love to work with Arca. The Weeknd is at the top of my list for sure, ever since Afterhours came out. I think we would make some great music.

First instinct - what would the song sound like?

I’d love to do something melodic with him, in the vein of the more downtempo things that I do. I would see it sort of going how his collaborations with Oneohtrix Point Never work. Or just a really ferocious pop-dance banger. Either of those two.

Listen to Leaping Tiger's latest album 'Soulsleep' below:


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