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Leaping Tiger Shares Debut Album 'Porcelain Orca Whales' + Interview

Leaping Tiger Shares Debut Album 'Porcelain Orca Whales' + Interview

Chris Cudby / Friday 24th January, 2020 8:43AM

Not even one month into 2020 and Tāmaki Makaurau electronic artist Leaping Tiger has already lifted the lid on one of the most exciting local releases of the year, with today's drop of his debut album Porcelain Orca Whales. Expressing a kaleidoscope of styles and feelings over ten tracks tied together by the producer's crisp and confident sonic vision, the album features guest contributions from red hot rap duo Church & AP on student radio smash 'Screw Face' (with Disciple Pati and JY Lee), Maxwell Young on the woozily romantic 'Light Up My Life', and incorporates recordings in tribute to his recently passed grandmother Bibi Scholastica Ngoyi Kalumbu, talking and scrubbing pots in Zambia on 'The Makings Of You'.

You can join Leaping Tiger in celebrating his album's release at summer launch parties with friends Imugi 이무기, PollyHill and Dropkicks. Chris Cudby touched base with the 21 year old artist for an informative e-interview about his adventuresome new record, future plans and more – dive into a stream of Porcelain Orca Whales, cop some stylish Leaping Tiger merch in support of Australian bushfire relief here, and scroll downwards to read their chat...

Leaping Tiger - ‘Porcelain Orca Whales’ Summer 2020

Saturday 1st February - Whammy Backroom, Auckland w/ Imugi 이무기*
Saturday 22nd February - Leigh Sawmill Cafe, Leigh w/ PollyHill, Dropkicks*
Saturday 7th March - Cross St Festival, Auckland

Tickets available HERE via UTR*

Chris Cudby: The ten tracks on Porcelain Orca Whales express an impressive diversity of styles and feelings, while remaining crisp, clear and confident throughout. Was it a tricky process to sequence these tracks together into a coherent whole? Did you have a preconceived "image" or idea mapped out of Porcelain Orca Whales, that you wanted to create?

Leaping Tiger: Thank you so much! It wasn't too difficult to bring the whole album together because I definitely had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with the album from the jump. A big part of that idea was to sort of showcase my diversity as a producer and draw from a lot of different influences.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Surefire', which (to my ears) mixes timeless classical / baroque elements with contemporary / futuristic or even fantasy sonics. Do you come from a musical background? Have you had any compositional training?

That's a bang on description of 'Surefire' haha, yes! I've been playing instruments since I was 6 or so starting with piano, then moving to flute, then bass guitar which is my main instrument now. I also studied composition at the University of Auckland for two and a half years before deciding to leave to take on Leaping Tiger full time.

You've talked about your admiration for Arca, SOPHIE and Björk's work in the past. Are there any direct artistic influences you would cite for Porcelain Orca Whales?

Absolutely. I'd say the biggest influences for this album were people like SOPHIE, Flume, Flying Lotus and Kaytranada. But the biggest influence for the album was Vegyn for sure, I was listening to Endless by Frank Ocean on repeat while making this album and it inspired me infinitely.

Another personal fave of mine is closing track 'Kiss', which almost sounds like it's being played live (in contrast to some of your more intricate tracks). Is that you playing bass on that recording? What form does the live version of Leaping Tiger take?

Yup that's me playing bass live, I really wanted to inject more of my bass playing into my music more than I ever have before so I play live bass on 'Design Language', 'Screw Face' and 'Kiss'. The live show is super cool cos I play out most of what I can live to blur the lines between a DJ set and full-on live set. I've got my MIDI keyboard and a launchpad to play out chords and solos, then of course my bass to play out all my songs with live bass in them.

Who are you collaborating with on your album? How much involvement do you have with the lyrical content of those tracks with vocals eg. 'Screw Face', 'Light Up My Life'?

So in the feature department for lyrics I've got Maxwell Young, Church & AP and then my Grandma Scholastica. For 'The Makings of You' I used a clip of my Grandma scrubbing pots back in Zambia as she passed away recently and thought it would be a nice ode to her and a way to let her live on in a sense. And for the collabs with Maxwell and Church & AP, I've been friends with them for a while and I'm such a fan of their respective music that when I asked them to add to it, I just let them run wild and come up with whatever they wanted to talk about and explore. I was super confident that whatever they would write would be great and that I'd like it, and I was right. They killed it.

Porcelain Orca Whales was originally announced to release late last year, why did you decide to wait on the album launch until a bit later?

I was ready to just drop it all on Halloween last year then I got some really good advice about rolling out the album and I was like "damn, I need to do this right." So I pushed back the album and released 'Screw Face' as the second single to get a bit of hype going around the release.

What can we look forward to at your Porcelain Orca Whales launch parties?

Energy. I'm really keen to let loose a bit more and just vibe heavy with some folks also some great talent in the form of Imugi at the Auckland show and Pollyhill and Dropkicks at the Leigh show!

Has the success of 'Screw Face' led to any exciting collabs for the near future? What's on the cards for Leaping Tiger in 2020?

I'd say 'Screw Face' has definitely opened a few people's eyes and its super cool, I've got some pretty sick collabs brewing on the back burner at the moment which is exciting. In 2020 there will be a lot more shows and a lot more music towards the end of the year!


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Leaping Tiger's Auckland Album Release Party w/ Imugi
Sat 1st Feb 9:30pm
Whammy Backroom, Auckland
Leaping Tiger's Leigh Album Release Party w/ Pollyhill and Dropkicks
Sat 22nd Feb 8:00pm
Leigh Sawmill Cafe, Leigh