Exclusives Interviews 19 March 2024

LeoStayTrill talks going viral, hitting The US & more in exclusive interview

19 March 2024

At a time where music is available in abundance, with UK rap in particular hitting new peaks, it’s exciting to still see distinctive talent cutting through. Presenting a sound truly unique in the rap space is somewhat rare. For that reason, LeoStayTrill cut through in amazing fashion in 2023, quickly going on top tip lists this January.

We spoke to Leo ahead of the release of his latest single “Falling In Love” alongside Joshua Baraka and KatManDu, to talk all about it and his entry to the scene so far.

Your artist name, as simple a thing it may seem, is important, it’s what (ideally) will go down in history. How did you come about yours?

“Well, my middle name is actually Leo and StayTrill to me is being true and real. I wanted to stick with that concept, people always tell me in my life that I’m a real loyal person. So Trill to me was staying true to myself and loyal to others.”

How did you get into music? What came first, the music or the name?

“I wasn’t even calling myself LeoStayTrill originally. I’ve gone through Officially Leo, bare. In 2022 I realised I needed a complete rebrand. Thats when I started thinking I’m going to stay consistent with this and put my all into it. So from 2022 up and until now I’ve been LeoStayTrill and its been starting to pay off, even with the work I said I’d put it.”

Did you grow up around music? Where do you feel like the want to be an artist came from?

“It was a blessing to be honest. No one in my family is musical at all. I don’t know. I just ended up gravitating so hard towards to music, in my childhood I was always listening to music. Even, for example, the toys I’d play with most were musical instruments, those were the things I’d play with the most. It didn’t follow me as I was growing up and I caught onto it later and now its just engraved in me.”

Who would you say your musical influences are?

“As of right now I’d say Lil Durk, I listen to a lot of American music. The new scene, Lil Baby, Gunna, all of them lot. But I obviously tap into the afrobeat side as well. I was listening to a lot of Wizkid at some point, listening to multiple different artists… J Hus. I was just taking hints of all these different people and putting it all into one and taking and running with it to make my own sound. But my main influence right now is Lil Durk.”

So how would you describe your style?

“I’d say its afro-drill, I’d say my sound is more free. In the most humble way possible, I know I can rap. When it comes to afro-drill and songs like “Honey Bun”, it’s more for fun, I’m not really showing my lyrical ability, it’s me going off of feeling and what makes you dance. If I wanted to come out and start rapping fast, I could do that… I just think I’m going in front of this mic and do whatever feels free to me and thats how I describe my sound. No rules.”

Your flows seem to heavily go hand in hand with your style . Whats’ your writing process like?

“To be honest it just comes to me naturally, when I’m playing beats I just let it come to me. I’m really big on not forcing anything so anything that comes to my head, it might be mumbling and I’ll fill in the words afterwards. Or I might be in the mood to write. My whole process is just based off of freedom, do whatever feels right, don’t force nothing and the best stuff comes out of that process.”

Talk to us about the new single?

“To be honest it’s not really my lane. But I was like yo, in order to be taken in as an artist I can’t just stick to the jumpy motive music. I wanted to go down the love lane and work with that. We took a sample from a love song made by a Ugandan artist named Joshua Baraka and made it into an afro-drill beat, I ended up rapping on it. It’s nothing you’ve heard from me before and I don’t know if you’ll hear it again but why not?”

Your single “Honey Bun” had a big moment, how was that?

“It was crazy, but it was fun, I don’t know how to explain the feeling. It was a lot of stuff going on at the same time but it’s nothing I wasn’t prepared for. I know I’m only 17 but I’ve been doing music for a long time, I’ve been doing it since I was like four. I was doing concerts when I was like nine. The confidence needed and attention aren’t things I’m not used to, I’ve had other moments on the internet before. But this one was a serious moment. God was showing me a taste of whats to come before and this was it… But with all the meetings, I didn’t know it was going to be that much, that many studio sessions, flying out the country, but I embraced it because I’m the youngest and I’m living my dreams. The meetings haven’t stopped.”

How was the American experience?

“It’s different. It’s everyones dream to go to America, it’s the cliche thing. Being in New York City and filming On The Radar, its not what you’d expectm but everyone’s real worsky. Even New York, the engineers move fast, it’s a different pace. Everyones really serious about what they do, but they show a lot of love… I met Bobby Shmurda out there.”

Taking it back to the UK, as a South Londoner do you have any dream South London collabs?

“DBE most definitely, Dave… Globally I’d say Durk, Burna Boy, Byron Messia… I’m reaching for the stars man.”

So far you haven’t done too many collabs, but you were on Private Zero’s tape. How was that?

“That was great, Zero’s part of the team. It was inevitable, he’s so in-house, it was like why not give him a hook. It was natural, it was a pleasure… It’s deeper than just music.”

So what else can we expect from you this year?

“I can’t even say what you should expect, but what I’m hoping to happen is that you lot see my face everywhere. I want it to be that by the end of the year, you can’t escape my face. Nothing more, nothing less, either you see me or hear me… I don’t want to say anything thats not confirmed but shows, you’ll definitely hear from me, if I’m not on the stage, you’ll see me around. Theres’ a game plan, but it’s going to make sense.”

Check out Leo’s latest single “Falling In Love” out everywhere now.