We had the good fortune of connecting with James Leonardo Linares and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James Leonardo, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Music is my accomplice on my pursuit for freedom. Inevitably, my entrepreneurial ventures are deeply tied and fueled by my creative output.
Moreover, the desire to make my way while preserving a sense of adventure simply does not fit within the more conventional socio-economic constructs of the workforce. Instead of conforming to traditional boss-employee dynamics, I thrive in environments of collaboration where these hierarchies are elastic and even inexistent.
Music has provided me with this environment and opportunities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a singer songwriter and poet writing cosmic rock from my inner universe. I have traveled throughout the Americas with my songs, my guitar and my book, aiming to share stories and to fabricate unique moments with my audience.
I have been lucky enough to tour independently, work with award-winning producer and engineer Bruce Hensal (The Eagles, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Stevie Wonder), and have opened for Colombian stars Aterciopelados here, in Orlando, FL. I have also been very active in the Orlando music and arts scene by participating in the biggest events of the city, such as Immerse. Moreover, I have been a music curator for Fusion Fest and have even produced the No Tan Radio Fest for the Hispanic/Latin alternative and independent artist demographic.
I have also been working in my 6th record to date during the lockdown period, while simultaneously sharpening my musical chops at Berklee College Of Music.
I have experimented with many sounds to hone my own, ranging from rock and psychedelia, all the way to electro-rock and South American folk sounds. The majority of my repertoire is in sung in Spanish, with a few exceptions, including some new songs in English I am writing now.
As an immigrant I have faced many obstacles. I have even been booed off the stage for singing in Spanish. I have had to endure the multiple changes the music industry has had the last decade and pretty much build a platform for myself and others as an independent artist singing in original, alternative music sung in Spanish in the USA. I have even ventured multiple times to touring through Central and South America independently and have taken huge risks to accomplish these feats.
Despite none if this has been easy to overcome and accomplish, I have allowed music to guide me towards my pursuit of freedom. Music is has been light in my life, guiding me through the dark times, showing me what is possible as long as I jeep expanding beyond my limitations. This is why I chose the stage name Leo Aether. Aether is the vessel of light throughout the universe and the lion (Leo) is the guardian of the sun. Music is the light I want to share with the world.
Whatever I have accomplished has demanded every ounce of courage, endurance, elasticity, creativity, and kindness I have. I have been always lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people and colleagues who have grown beside me and who inspire me daily to be worthy if their respect as a person and a professional. I have learned that I share this journey with many and the success of others is also my own. I have also learned that people are more willing to help you if you are already helping yourself. Finally, I have learned to remember to be grateful and that every day is a gift.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am still getting to know Atlanta, since I have played only a few times in town, but I love roaming anywhere about the belt line and Ponce De Leon marketplace. I am also a hiker, so I highly recommend going to Stone Mountain Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a shout out to my parents, they are my heroes and inspiration.
I also would like to thank Will Walker, owner of Will’s Pub, Chris Goyzueta, talent buyer and artist manager, and human right organizations such as Amnesty International and YAYA (http://nfwm.org/). They gave me a chance and a platform to express myself in the Orlando music and arts scene, when singing original music in Spanish was not considered profitable or convenient to book.