THE ALBUM THE PROCESS GALLERY PRESS CONTACT
Leo Coltrane is a lyrically-driven musical artist from Brooklyn. While his work is rooted in Hip-Hop, 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 Flatbush, Brooklyn, a bilingual Leo Coltrane spent his summers in Haiti and began honing his lyricism from age 12. Coming of age in a neighborhood that was home to pioneering artists such as Special Ed and Busta Rhymes, Leo became the youngest in a crew of MCs before founding the Network Reps group with high-school classmates.
After living and performing 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. He prides himself on his meticulous approach to the process and presentation of his art, challenging his audience’s conceptions of sonics. But it isn’t all avant-garde; Leo Coltrane draws inspiration from day-to-day life as well. His final product is 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 he will turn into 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 European music capitals Berlin and London, as well as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans. On the horizon, trips to Hong Kong and Tokyo promise to extend his reach even farther.
“Engaging people in countries where English isn’t the native language is dope,” he says, enthusiastically. “It always reaffirms that music is a universal language."
photography | maksim axelrod, dante bowen, faith brewer, marcos durian, marcin kapron