Leighton Moody is a talented young man who currently resides in our Mother City, Cape Town. Born and raised in Durban, Leighton grew up with loads of musical influences, which were deeply rooted in his family’s collection of Jazz, Soul and Gospel as a kid. As he grew older, he had a love and appreciation for Hip-Hop and R&B, taking him through his high school years. All these various influences gave Leighton an appreciation for a wide range of music, which eventually progressed, naturally, to Deep and Soulful House which he produces and plays in clubs all over South Africa now.
In 1998 Leighton moved to Cape Town, where he discovered his passion for DJ’ing, Vinyl collecting and Deep House sounds. True to the craft, Leighton has since gained a solid reputation both locally and internationally amongst artists and music lovers alike. His passion for fusing the elements of Jazz, Soul and House music carved his own niche in the South African Deep House scene and he later progressed to performing regular live DJ sets with some of Cape Towns most seasoned musicians and artists.
Leighton’s DJ sets are a musical journey through the many different shades of House Music, showcasing his wide pallet and taste for music. Using 3 decks, live samples and FX units, Leighton has developed his own unique style of Dj’ing, creating spontaneous rhythms and continuously building tension on the dance floor.
His versatility as a DJ and ability to adapt to different crowds has also led him to playing at major events such as Cape Town Electronic Music Fest, Rocking the Daisies, RedBull Live Stage, Oppikoppi, Design Indaba, Loerie Awards ,The Cape Town International Jazz Festival & Avante Garde (Soweto). Leighton has also shared the stage with international House legends such as Kerri Chandler (SA Tour), Monique Bingham, Andy Compton, Dennis Ferrer, Henrik Schwarz and Dixon to name a few.
With an innate desire to start creating his own music, Leighton started experimenting with music production under his label “SOULSIDEUP” and has since released with prominent record labels such as KinkySweet, Downsouth Music and Peng Africa. He has also done remix work for vocal sensation “Monique Bingham” on “You, Me, World” (BiggaSounds Records N.Y). This was soon followed by another international release on Peng Africa’s “Sisulu Vol 1” ,a remix of Andy Compton & Ziyon “Take it easy” (Peng records), Life Rhythms “Mama” (Peng), and Zaki Ibrahim & Richard the Third’s “Conjure” (RedBull Studios CapeTown).
Leighton continues to grow as an artist and believes that music itself is a gift, a powerful medium to bring people together, uniting beyond the barriers of colour & culture.
“Keep your Soul side up…”
Interview: LEIGHTON MOODY
MA: Hey Leighton, how are you doing? Its a pleasure to be chatting to you!!
I’m great thanks , and thank you so much for the opportunity.
MA: To kick start this interview, would you mind telling us where you come from and giving us a short background on how/where you got started in music
I am originally from Sydenham,Durban. I moved to Cape Town after my first holiday visit here. Music has always been a passion of mine from a young age but I had never even considered DJing until I moved to CT. I met two friends Gerard & Mario who were my neighbors when I moved from Durban to Athlone. They had their own mobile DJ set up. All busted up, ancient gear, belt driven turntables & booming bass bins lol! I was always fascinated with turntables, mostly from a HipHop turntabilist perspective..So once I had access to decks I was hooked and then started collecting vinyl.
It wasn’t easy getting the specific records that we wanted back then, and when record stores did get those gems they were limited stock so they sold out quickly. I enjoyed the rush and excitement of hearing there’s a new record shipment in and missioning to the store. All the DJs from all genres would gather regularly at Record stores and there was a culture to it. You would learn so much about music, labels, artists and the industry in general just by hanging out there.
MA: Has music always been an inspiration for you growing up?
Yes for sure, from our happy clapping growing up in Church , to my parents and uncles collection of music. Lots of Jazz & Soul was always there growing up. I also really took to HipHop and the elements of turntabilism and graffiti in High School.
MA: How would you describe your “sound”, or style of music that you play?
I am known for Deep & Soulful House, but there are so many sub genres of House now that its all confusing. When I say “Deep” music , I’m not referring to a term music media uses nowadays. Deep, to me is a feeling, an emotion , that certain tracks carry. I love music that no matter where you are, whether at your desk, on the bus, or on the dance floor ,its gonna move you on an emotional level. I search and hunger for music like this, and then want to share it with others through Dj’ing out and recording mix tapes.
Photo credit: Je’nine-May-Photography
MA: So being raised in Durban, then moving down to the Mother City, what would you say were/are the biggest influences from either these major cities, in the music that moves you?
In general Durbs was predominantly an RnB & Commercial scene, but you could still find proper House Music at certain spots. I remember cats like Allistair Lundall (330) & Mimi Kesaris & the Club Tilt crew always holding it down proper. But when I came to Cape Town I was blown away by the many different music cultures it had to offer. From its rich Jazz roots, to the Hiphop scene, Drum&Bass, Dub, Reggae, Rare Grooves…it was all there , with top notch DJs delivering it, and I loved it all and immersed myself into it. This is what drew me to the city most.
MA: Besides DJing, I believe that you are also very involved in producing? How/Where did that come about?
Producing started off as a hobby mostly, more of an escape. Erefaan Pearce & DJ Odwa were the first of our friends to get involved in production and I learned most of the basics from them. The more I got into it, the more I wanted to learn. From Music theory to Music Production, trying to learn and understand all these aspects of the art definitely also improved my DJ sets as I got to understand it all. From piecing interesting sounds and music elements together to make a track, to piecing together different tracks to make up a DJ set, it all ties in.
Years later, whilst touring with Kerri Chandler, we got to hang out a bit and he convinced me to pursue Producing more. He helped me understand that releasing music is not so much a product, but as an artist it is a reflection of who you are, a form of self expression., and our means of communicating those things is House Music. I saw producing completely different after that and wanted to make music from inside, to tell my own stories as apposed to just making tracks that would hopefully appeal to others, or maybe get radio play.
MA: Any tracks that you have produced that we would possibly know of? Or, any of your production being released on major labels? (Local or international)
I first released on CapeTown labels like DownSouth Music (my first vinyl release 2006) , and KinkySweet Records. Then I didn’t put anything out as I felt I still had so much to learn and my DJing also took up most of my time.
A few years later I did a remix for Monique Binghams “You,Me,World” on BiggaSounds. It was such an honor (and nerve wrecking!) to work with Monique! She has always been my favorite House vocalist since I heard her “Abstract Truth” vinyl , so it was really unreal working with her. She is on a whole other level musically and I learned a lot from her and Kerri in that process.
I also released “City of Dreams” and a remix of “Mama” on Peng Africa, and then did a remix for Andy Compton’s track “Take it Easy” ft Zion on Peng Records.
Some of my music has been featured with RedBull Studios CT DJ mix compilations. “Cosmic Bounce” was used for their Rocking the Daisies video and I did a remix of Zaki Ibrahim & Richard the Third’s track “Conjure”.
Thats was all a while back though, and I am excited to have new releases with Nomadiq Music, and a 3 track collab I did with Cassiem on Do it Now Records coming out this year.
MA: Could you also give us a short background on SOULSIDEUP?
Soulsideup is my Business/Music Label under which I DJ and release my music and mixtapes. Under this umbrella I also do Event Consultancy & Event Management, working closely with many different venues & brands in Cape Town over the years.
MA: I had the pleasure of meeting you down in Cape Town earlier this year, where you blew me away at Masters Of Craft, playing as SOUL REVOLUTION. You were playing alongside two other very talented guys, each of you rocking 2x decks each and making it look so effortless!! Tell us a bit more regarding SOUL REVOLUTION…
Soul Revolution is the combination of Cassiem Latief, Erefaan Pearce & myself. These 2 guys are my foundation, my friends and family in terms of my music journey. We all met randomly years ago and started our DJ path together. We used to host “Soul Revolution” as an event at Club Deluxe where we also featured live musicians & vocalists. We used to sometimes play 3 on 3 ,back to back sets and got a lot of great feedback as we complimented each other musically, even though we had such different sounds.
But it was always just a really fun jam session for us. We would be joking and laughing behind decks while the floor was heaving, trying out new technical tricks and bugging out on each others music, not knowing what each other would play next. We just free-styled our sets and it worked. It was only until the ‘Masters of the Craft” organisers offered us the opportunity to do something completely different at their event that the set developed into what it is now.
We basically hooked up a full Dj set up for each one of us (2 decks, a DJ mixer & FX unit each). So its like 6 decks and 3 mixers all run into one main Mixing desk. That way we didn’t have to wait 15 minutes to have a turn to play one song. We were able to all play at once, whilst one DJ laid down the main track, the other 2 would layer that track with complimenting vocals, drum/percussion loops, fx etc. Basically almost like remixing tracks live on the spot, using just Dj equipment. The set up is quite technical and takes a lot concentration to keep things smooth, but once we locked in the groove, its just magical what happens. We don’t rehearse or plan anything other than tech set up and just feel the crowd on the night and go with it.
The positive reactions to these experimental sets led us to being booked more and more as a live set, recently performing at Synergy, Masters of The Craft, Era & at Holi Festival with our brother Lazarusman.
The SA scene in general has been growing in leaps and bounds as more and more talented Djs and producers are getting out there and contributing to the international House scene as a whole.
In terms of releases nowadays you don’t have to wait for a Record label to sign your track, you can start your own label & get your music and talent out there and build your own brand. We used to play mostly international tracks but now I play a lot of South African music regularly in my sets and its on par with it all. There is a warm, satisfying feeling when I play local music and see the dance floor respond… Its proof of its progression.
On the flip, its no secret that the Dj industry worldwide is becoming very saturated and trendy, with new technology allowing peeps to forgo the time and fundamentals to become a DJ. The reality however is that nowadays most of the real talented up coming DJs won’t be able to access turntables regularly or buy them, let alone buy tons of records like we did before. Its much more costly now. So with a rise in DJs through whatever means they play, its harder to break in and get your name there. Pure, House dedicated venues are also lacking, so everyones trying to play at the same venues.
I encourage new cats to keep pursuing their goals, but also help them understand the reality of how really difficult the music industry is. It is very important to understand that, so that you dont become despondent along the way. It gives you a realistic approach to things, knowing that these things take time to develop. If music is your life passion, its a journey not a destination.
MA: Any amazing new artists hit the scene that you think needs a special mention?
From our side in Cape Town I would say Kaelem Fakier aka TerraSoul and Kyle Russouw. Both have a gift for music and are developing their own unique style which is being well received here .
MA: You will be playing at Arcade Empire on the 30th May, for NO CURFEW presents: THE DEEPNESS…. Are you excited to be coming to Pretoria for this one and what can we expect from your set?
I’v been wanting to come up and play Jozi/Pretoria for a long time now so I am VERY excited about this!
I always try taking people on a journey musically. House has so many influences and styles. I am a product of these influences and enjoy trying new things with new crowds.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/434380230067275/
MA: Are there any other projects that you are working on that we might be interested in hearing about?
“We House Sundays” is a new project/event we have been hosting over the last few months. A combination of all the things we love. Good food, Good company and Good music, hosted at the ColorBox Studios. We have an amazing crowd of people who simply love their music and we in turn love playing to them. Its great to catch up and connect personally with peeps you would otherwise only see out in a club at night, so we get to hang out and still having our much needed dose of House music hehe..
We have a lot of exciting ventures planned for this year. Do visit next time you are here! 🙂
MA: Where can we follow you on social media?
MA: Thanks for your time, see you in PTA this weekend 😀
Thank you so much, Can’t wait to get down with you all!!
Mixed Apples Radio Show – Leighton Moody (Cape Town, ZA)
26th May 23:00-00:00 – www.ibizaliveradio.com