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Leo Coltrane is a lyrically-driven visual and musical artist from Brooklyn. His work is rooted in Hip-Hop, but his approach to making music carries the hallmarks of linguistics, poetry, visual art and—as his last name suggests—jazz. Named after John Coltrane and French singer/composer Léo Ferré, Leo Coltrane imbues his recorded and live work with the global influences familiar to him since birth. His mother is a painter, poet and actress; his father, a versatile jazz pianist who played with various bands. Born and raised in Born and raised in Brooklyn, where he founded the group, Network Reps, Leo Coltrane has been performing since age 12.
After working in the film industry in Los Angeles for a decade, Leo Coltrane returned to his hometown in 2011 where he continues to formulate his sound and expand his technique as a producer and live performer. His meticulous approach to the process and presentation of his art, results in a creative mosaic that merges film scenes, conversation fragments, interview sound bites, and graphic art. In 2017, Leo Coltrane released his debut solo album, That Third Thing, a masterfully technical, narrative-based project, which serves as the launch pad for a multimedia performance piece with projections, live musicians and sound design.
Musically, he cites Hip-Hop greats like Black Thought, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Slick Rick and Souls of Mischief as inspirations. His father, Ernst Marcelin, is also a key source, as are visual artist Hank Willis Thomas and the Japanese digital collective TeamLab. These inspirations can be traced back to Leo Coltrane’s love of travel, which he credits with informing much of his artistic perspective. Beyond the cities in which he’s lived, he has performed in US cities, Berlin and London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and recently, at the final event for the ACLU’s national tour commemorating its 100th year anniversary.
“Engaging people in countries where English isn’t the native language is dope,” he says. “It always reaffirms that music is a universal language."
photography | maksim axelrod, dante bowen, faith brewer, marcos durian, marcin kapron