FMELing with Leo 123

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With the FMEL upon us, ChiRemezcla caught up with Leo 123, a headliner at this year’s closing night of the fest. Leo 123 broke it down from his early years as a triangle playing cowboy to his 80’s and 90’s inspired electro tracks that have made him a must hear producer in the Chicago music scene.

Name: Leonardo Ciccone
Roots: Mexico City and Buenos Aires

Where did you grow up? How did you start in this? I grew up in Mexico City and went to a preschool named Carl Orff. He was a 20th century German composer who developed a method of teaching children through music called Orff Shulwerk. I have early memories of nap time, playing the triangle and wearing cowboy shirts. I think that’s where this all started.

Day job: I’ve worked at various records stores for as long as I can remember. My favorite one was Amoeba Records in Hollywood Ca. where  I worked for 3 years. I quit that job 2 years ago moved to Chicago and now my job involves playing shows, making music, performing various household chores, staying up, and sleeping in.

Current obsessions/addictions: Checking my iphone. Knock off Rayban sunglasses. Fancy hotel rooms.  Falling asleep after 5am with the TV on. A cartoon called The Mr. Men Show and  my Elektron Monomachine synthesizer.

Recent musical discovery: Mux Mool from Brooklyn, NY. He has a couple of releases on Moodgadget records. John Roberts is a house producer who has released his music through Dial and Old Tacoma Records. An electro label from Miami that is truly independent named Transient Force.

Breakdown your musical estyle: My musical style is influenced by Techno, Disco, and Hip Hop. I like to keep things relatively simple. I am particularly interested in the recording process instruments and productions style of electronic music in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Why play for the FMEL? All the people involved in the festival are amazing. It is a unique opportunity to be a part of something that represents Latinos, Chicago and electronic music in a positive light. In a short time the festival has become an important part of Chicago’s musical scene.

Perspectiva como Latino haciendo musica en USA: Electronic and dance music in particular have been some of the most multi-cultural and socially progressive scenes in music. Latinos have always been at the forefront of these largely American musical movements and have played a major part in their progression.

How do you rep Chicago in your gigs? Chicago is the home of House music and some of the most amazing DJ’s I’ve ever heard. It is also rich in history and respect for electronic music. I try to represent the city by incorporating some of these elements into my music and promoting it as the amazing city it is.

What does Chicago bring to the electro scene globally? Electronic music made in Chicago has had a lasting influence worldwide. The electronic scene in places like England, Germany, France, Japan and The Netherlands owe a huge debt to the music, producers and dj’s of Chicago and Detroit from the 80’s and 90’s. Today Chicago’s musical relevance continues to be recognized and appreciated throughout the world of electronic music.

What’s the state of homegrown Latino electro music in the city? The Latino community in Chicago is one of the most creative and productive that I have seen and the electronic music scene in the city is a reflection of that. FMEL, Radio Arte and neighborhoods like Pilsen play an important part in representing the Latino artists in the city.

What should we look for in your set on Saturday? Drum machines, synthesizers, and electricity.

The third annual FMEL opens this Thursday at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts.

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