The 5-track project features close to 30 artists and collaborators that Tom Montesi connected with during the 2020 lockdown when an idea was sparked to make a collaborative EP. The result is an amalgamation of different sounds and inspirations thanks to a guest list that stretched across the globe from his hometown to Europe and Asia.
Since starting to release music in 2016, Montesi has kept a close pool of collaborators. It began as a bedroom project but slowly more and more people entered his musical world. This A Mixtape EP opens the floodgates. In 2020, when everybody felt more isolated than ever, Montesi set out to build new connections, testing the limits of his ‘80s-inspired bedroom pop like never before.
Fans of Los Leo’s rich, neon-lit music will be welcomed in by the sonics of this project, but he’s expanded upon it, playing with new textures and vocals. A Mixtape is mixed by Simon Lam (Egoism, Alice Ivy) and on the opener ‘Friend of a Friend’, South Australian musician Bjéar’s voice tears through the warm production while on lead-single ‘Damned’, Utah’s Bad Heather brings tinges of pop/punk to the table.
The mid-way point of the EP ushers in the new focus trackGold– a pulsating, anthemic moment that builds to its brink. Written and produced with Cam Robertson (Glades), LOS LEO is joined on the track by Canada’s Eli Rose and Slovakia’s FVLCRVM but the despite the separation the trio’s union is seamless. Rose delivers a stunning, bi-lingual verse flicking between English and French while FVLCRVM brings a heartwarming optimism to the song. Montesi describes it as a breakthrough for the project.
Rose, meanwhile, calls ‘Gold’ a creative “lifesaver” during the pandemic. She poetically calls Los Leo’s music “grounded, playful, and melodic.”
“I appreciate the fact that Los Leo wanted to build bridges between artistic communities outside of what’s usually “realistic”; it’s rare that Australia and Canada collaborate this way.”
Accompanying today’s release is a live performance video for ‘Gold’ directed by ARIA nominee, Richard Coburn whose previous works include music videos by Elsy Wameyo, A.B Original and Hilltop Hoods clips ‘1955’ and ‘Exit Sign’. Using new augmented reality technology, the ‘Gold’ performance clip is a mix of video content on LED screens and virtual production using 3d environments created in Unreal Engine.
The Los Leo project began when personal health issues lead Montesi to explore his music as an escape. Music has always been an important outlet for him to navigate life as an awkward introvert with terrible social skills. His music has been an outlet both for his emotions and his social connections, learning to open up to collaborators and counting his friends as his biggest inspiration.
Throughout his career fans have watched the progress from the intimate stylings of debut single ‘Veins’ to the bold honesty and uplifting positivity of 2020’s double release ‘See You Again/Full Circle’. As the releases build, so too do the accolades. Los Leo has been featured on playlists including New Music Friday, Chill Party, Fresh Hits and Vibe Out. Several of his releases have notched up close to 2 million streams with support coming in from the likes of triple j, Pilerats and Acid Stag. Before the pandemic brought touring to a halt, he completed a sold-out run around the country as the support act for LANY.