Leon Rosen has today premiered his new single titled ‘Follow Me Home’, a twist on modernized indie rock featuring a direct sonic delivery with delicate lyrics. Born to very artistic parents, Rosen has been developing his craft ever since his youth. Initially drawn to acting and circus arts, he eventually found his musical calling, attending the San Francisco High School of the Arts to study piano.
Performing his first singer/songwriter concert at only 15, it was just the beginning for Rosen. He’s gone on to perform at the Burning Man Festival in front of an audience of 20,000 people, recording at the Tiny Telephone studio (Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney), and overall creating a buzz for himself in the indie scene with no signs of slowing down. As of 2023, his music has garnered over 2 million streams and boasts over 9,000 monthly listeners.
“Follow Me Home” kicks off with grungy guitars and Leon’s captivating vocals before evolving into an energetic, gritty track with an upbeat feel, centered around the theme of discovering romance in a city no longer yours. For listeners who appreciate Death Cab for Cutie and The Strokes, Leon Rosen crafts a unique fusion of happy-sounding melodies with poignant lyricism, exuding a throwback charm harmonized with homegrown and polished production—a track that resonates with indie, pop-rock, and everything in between.
“Follow Me Home” is available now. Go see Leon Rosen at any of the tour dates below and check out Jammerzine’s exclusive interview with him!
Do you think your musical journey would be different had you not grown up with Project Artaud and/or not attending the San Francisco High School of the Arts?
Well, this is a definite – without Project Artaud I would not be me. There’s no Leon without how he came to be. We’d have to go back to my parents and have them be the type of people who come to San Francisco and don’t move into an artist’s space. At those times there was no non-profit status, it was a wild, wild experiment. There were not even really clearly separated rooms. It was a takeover of the American Can Company, a decades-defunct warehouse. My parents met there. My dad looked up at my mom who was standing out on the fire escape and said “do you have the time? Because I have not seen a timepiece in several days.” And thus I was made.
School of the Arts is a harder question. I was skirting the boundaries of whatever potentials I had at the time, sort of slipping a little bit, but one firm push from SOTA took me all the way there. Without SOTA I would not have joined a jazz band, and thus would not have met Will Kirkpatrick, and thus would not have done LSD on Ocean beach and all that followed. So perhaps I would have been able to package my Project Artaud experience in a more salient way instead of the chaos that followed post-school of the arts… But certainly if I had to do it again I believe I’d still opt for the chaos. Also I was only there for a half year, then I tried again a couple years later. I took the GED and eventually went to the New School Jazz program in NYC.
With “Follow Me Home” you took a melancholic subject and paired it with driving, garage rock-esq instrumentation. Was that intentional or just naturally how the song took shape?
I created a punchy piano based pop song about meeting my girlfriend in San Francisco in the face of SF just being a hollowed out joke of what it once was when I grew up there. That tends to be a recurring theme in my music. But my producer got toasted one night and made a grunge version. I always thought my music would be best represented as a marriage of Grunge and the Batman soundtrack. But he didn’t tell me he made it. It was only weeks or possibly months later we were at the studio and he mentioned it. “By the way.” And I loved it. I don’t do it justice yet live though, so we don’t perform his version so far. But the recorded version is outstanding. If somehow it becomes a hit, I will have to learn it.
You mix “old and new” musical sounds very seamlessly. Do you have a process with blending those elements accordingly?
I have a very vague sense of boundaries and time and other than a basic sense of empathy, I don’t live by a rulebook or set of codes. So as a result, all of the notes swirl in my head and when they come out, they come out as a whole being and that’s why it doesn’t feel contrived. It’s not me saying “now I shall pair X Y and Z.” Although that’s not to say I’m not conscious as we are building it in the studio or rehearsing for a show. We become aware of it in the process if there is a reference, but it’s more like working in stone sculpture. It’s already there, then you bring it out or tuck it in.
What are your plans for the rest of 2023 and early 2024?
I am going on my first tour this fall. We almost started it a couple months ago but funding ran low and we had to cut it short. So here it is! I am touring with my five piece band. It features Carter Yasutake on Keyboards (Macklemore, David Byrne) Rachel Zisette on Drums, Lee Jean Jr on Guitar (American Idol) and Jo-Anne Hyun on Bass (Toebow, Zula, Peel Dream Magazine). These are some of my favorite musicians I’ve played with over the years, and they sound amazing.
In 2024 I’m headed to Mexico City to do a tour of MX. I am working on a record, 15 songs. But I don’t plan to self release. I think, having self released for a while, you can do some things. You can run ads. But in order to build a career, it’s absolutely essential to have a label network. The music industry is a major network and to tap into it, I need to join up with a team I like and who likes me. This record is too good to self-release.