Interview by Deva Rao
Photos shot by by Samantha Sutcliffe in LA, USA

It takes something special to gain membership to pan-US label/club vanguards Fade To Mind. The odds of cracking their entrance examination are pretty slim, but we at Subbacultcha are nothing if not cripplingly optimistic. So under the convenient guise of an ‘interview’ we did all we could to squeeze some clues out of Leonce, Fade’s most recent signing and champion of his native New Orleans’ ‘bounce’ music. His swarming, propulsive club constructs balance on a thin line between menace and sensuality, his disciplined, almost spartan track design rooted as much in earthly turmoil as it is in a yearning for an escape to a better place. That place just might be De School, where he’ll be playing an ADE set alongside Fade boss Kingdom, among others. Attend or regret.

Are there certain interview topics you’re sick of discussing, in interviews or elsewhere?

People ask me how I got signed to Fade To Mind a lot, which I guess is valid. But it’s one of the questions I get asked the most, so it’s the one I get most tired of answering. Obviously a label like Fade doesn’t really sign people. Almost everybody’s been there from the start. So me being the only guy that’s a new addition, besides Hitmakerchinx, naturally people ask ‘oh, why you’?

…I can’t really give a fuck about whatever new term is being kicked around in music journalism

So before I ask, can you give me the answer?

Oh, yeah, well basically…

Kidding. What do you think is the most frequently occurring phrase or descriptor in any given Fade or [UK sister label] Night Slugs-related piece?

Maybe like ‘forward thinking’ or ‘experimental’. Everybody throws those kinds of words at us. Which is understandable, I can see why people feel that way. We definitely think a lot about the future, what’s cool to hear next.

Sounds about what I expected. You don’t sound as exasperated as others I’ve talked to about this.

I mean, I’m not into the term. But at the same time I can’t really give a fuck about whatever new term is being kicked around in music journalism. I just care about writing good records. I don’t really have any interest in what people want to market it as.

What was your household like musically while you were growing up?

It was when all these threads of American music were finally starting to be separated from their origin.

I’m from New Orleans so of course I heard a lot of bounce music growing up. It was just normal for me to hear bounce edits of popular songs – a lot of edits of R&B. The local scene, that was just what they did. You’d sample whatever new song was hot and put drum machine samples over it, cut a CD, stand in front of the seafood market and sell it. People would buy it, it was a normal thing. They’d own tons of bounce CDs they bought from the gas station or seafood market or block parties or the corner.

It’s like with ancient folk music, the way songs would develop incrementally as they spread from person to person.

For sure. That sound is personal to me, ‘cause I grew up in that culture. But maybe like five years ago, I started hearing DJs play bounce tracks and I’d be ‘like how do they know that exists’? It was just so uncommon to hear those sounds outside of New Orleans. So when I started to see it was catching on in the underground scene, outside of New Orleans, I started to figure maybe there’s a bubble waiting to happen.

So you extremely cynically capitalized on it.

In a way, yeah. I saw it happening with other types of music at the same time. It was when all these threads of American music were finally starting to be separated from their origin. A lot of people were starting to hear about Jersey music and footwork. You’d have Chicago guys completely surprised people knew about their music.

It’s insane. Footwork’s existed for literally decades.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard of footwork till 2010, personally. It’s been around forever.

I’d probably bring gumbo or jambalaya or something.

Has to be surreal to miss out on the wave despite contributing so much to setting it in motion.

Definitely. Guys like RP Boo haven’t been getting their due till now, basically. But he literally invented footwork, created the most classic footwork tracks. Guys in the scene literally stole tracks from him. The story is really deep.

I’ve talked to him about it before, and it’s crazy. He forgives them now, but a lot of guys did some blatantly fucked up shit. Very cutthroat.

What three releases would you select in introducing someone to the world of Fade and Slugs?

MikeQ’s Fade to Mind EP [Let It All Out], definitely a classic one. One of the first ballroom record releases. Super important record. Kingdom’s VIP Editions too… dope. And Helix’s Club Constructions, definitely. Really had an effect on the scene.

It’s still next level.

Really interesting to see how it inspired people right after it came out.

Hypothetically, what would it take for me to be considered for Fade membership?

I don’t know, honestly. I never thought I’d be a Fade artist. Kingdom’s got to like your music a lot. Not very many artists really impress him, you know? He’s a hard to impress guy.

Let’s say, also hypothetically, you have a monthly Fade/Slugs meeting in a secluded forest treehouse. It’s a potluck situation. Everyone has to bring a dish they’ve prepared. What’re you cooking?

I’d probably bring gumbo or jambalaya or something.

Delish. Can you name three other members and what they’d bring?

Kingdom would bring chicken or something. He’s into chicken, we have wings together a lot. So I guess he’d bring that. Prince Will is vegetarian so he’d bring vegetables, something good. Helix definitely cooks too, so he’d bring mac n cheese or something.

What would the treehouse password be?

“Mind to mind” or something.

You just revealed it to me, you realize. Is that a sign of trust?


I feel like I’m forcing you into a corner.

Nah, it’s cool. [chuckles]

Leonce plays at our Fade To Mind label night during ADE at De School, Amsterdam on 19 October with Kingdom + MikeQ, plus support from Torus . The show is free for members. Leonce’s debut EP Insurgency was released on Fade To Mind in April.