Plaistow-schooled musician on how he went from busker to recording star
PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 June 2017
A musician who honed his skills on the streets after becoming homeless has swapped busking for life as a recording artist.
J.J Leone has toured Europe and released a debut EP, but achieving his lifelong singer-songwriter dream hasn’t been easy.
The 25-year-old, who splits his time between Norwich and London, and attended Plaistow’s Selwyn Primary School, was homeless for six months, but made it through that difficult time and is now launching his latest single With You, an acoustic guitar-led track with an R&B twist.
Sharing his experiences, he said: “I had a contract with an independent label for five years, but there were loopholes I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t get paid from the second year onwards so I basically lost everything.
“I was in Northampton at the time, it was tough. I didn’t sleep at night, I was petrified, I tried to sleep in the day. It wasn’t like I couldn’t go back home, I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was 19 at the time, in my mind I was a man. But I realised I got myself into the situation and I was going to try to get out of it.”
J.J’s busking paid off and he managed to turn his life around. Describing his music as a “guitar-driven, soul-pop fusion”, he now performs professionally and plays multiple instruments. His EP The Rebuild, released in March, hit number 12 in the iTunes singer-songwriter chart.
Not only does the self-taught musician release his work independently, but he also writes, records and produces the material.
His inspirations include Prince, Cody Chesnutt and Stevie Wonder – who he has a tattoo of on his back. “I don’t even sound like these guys really, but they have just done their own thing, and didn’t really care what people thought,” he said.
J.J hopes to produce other artists’ material in future and is working on a new EP. His main priority is to simply keep putting his music out there.
“I just want to play to as many people as possible, that’s all I want to do.”
J.J releases With You on July 7. For more on his music, visit jjleone.com.
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