Tshiamo “Leo” Ledwaba’s journey to PNK was no easy task. From releasing music that mimicked the market to getting over his self doubt, Leo is coming into his own creative energy in Pretoria.
You can credit the growth to whoever tickles your fancy, but Pretoria is officially on the map when it comes to music. Leo recently released a 14-track EP, PNK, pronounced “pink”. The vibe is something like an alternative version of Rhythm and Blues marrying Rhythm and Poetry.
Making PNK and finding a sound that suits snug
PNK was no easy win for Leo, but instead hard fought in the journey to being honest lyrically. Many artists fall into the trap of creating music that they know people want to hear, without counting themselves into the equation. “The hardest part about that is keeping to the truth of what I see in my mind…what I feel,” he says.
He goes further to say that music isn’t always about what’s on his mind, but that is also about deciphering his feelings. Being candid and honest , even after the release of PNK, is something Leo must remind himself to do. This comes in more as he works with his producers to create sound, outside of his voice that is.
“The best part of the production process for me is really just playing around with the sounds,” he says. Leo approaches a beat as if it were a puzzle, a crazy idea that requires solving. “You try and try and try, until it makes you mad…and then it works, and you’re like: YEAH!”
Developing a voice while remaining authentic
Another cool part of production is allowing himself to try new things with his voice. Leo’s voice today has matured so much from the music he’s since removed from his SoundCloud. Letting go and giving himself over to music has led to being flexible and willing to develop his voice.
In life, it sometimes feels like society doesn’t like individuals that are too abstract. “The fact that I am painting a live picture” using music is important, the fledgling musician says. He believes that as an artist, when you are thinking about a new sound or just in the mood to play around with sound out loud, life asks you to compose yourself. However persevering through that unwelcome feeling is what Leo believes is part of being true to one’s art form.
“The hardest part of finding your sound is actually enjoying your sound,” Leo says. As he’s become more honest with himself, Leo understands that rushing music, which he self-admittedly did in the past, is a byproduct of not being confident in your work.
Leo’s Emerald City
The craziest part about PNK was the fact that it was released at all. Leo admits that he’s often felt different to others, weird or more abstract, and less socially acceptable. For him, releasing PNK was a type of self-acknowledgement and public acceptance of his nature. In his favorite track off the project, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” featuring Thato Saul and WolphGnarly, he says“revolution is a crazy process…I am finally free to metaphorically strut my stuff”.
As is the standard saying, “Joburg is the city of gold”, in essence, South Africa’s land of milk and honey. To Leo, if there is a yellow brick road to musical success, Emerald City and Pretoria the same.
Keep a look out for Leo’s SoundCloud, he tells me there might be a surprise for you all soon!