Photo by Ray Tolentino

Lemy Leopard Brings Deep House music to Montreal

First published in The Concordian on February 7, 2012. 

Shorte Lisika Lemy, also known as Lemy Leopard, has been promoting his new album for weeks, but not in the way you would expect. The Deep House artist has been wearing a leopard-print scarf or leopard tail everywhere he goes to promote S.A.F.A.R.I., which hit digital stores on Jan. 24.

“Who are you going to see on the streets wearing that?” he asked with a big smile.

Of course, people ask what the tail and scarf are about and it gives Lemy a chance to tell them about his album.
The leopard is the 27-year-old Parisian-born musician’s inspiration. With a French accent, killer afro and hip eyeglasses, Lemy is quintessentially cool. But it’s his African roots that first inspired him to create his name.

“I was watching a documentary about Mobutu, the dictator from Zaire [present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo]. I don’t like dictators, but I heard the guy say ‘Mobutu, the leopard king!’ and I thought ‘Wow!’” He immersed himself, watching documentaries, to better understand the spotted jungle animal and realized that he and the predatory cat were very similar. “In my dad’s country, Zaire, the leopard is comme une divinité: a cool animal. A little bit wild, but always smooth. And my music is like that,” he explained.

Since the release of his debut album Visualizm in 2009, Lemy has perfected and fine-tuned his sound. The EP was inspired by his month-long trip to Japan, where he discovered an energy and creativity different from Paris’ relaxed café culture. As a result, the album had more of a hip-hop/lounge vibe than his current tracks. It also got him noticed by the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, who used Lemy’s song “Friday Morning” in commercials for its new men’s shoe line.

That exposure motivated him to take his craft a step further and he started going to clubs to find music that hadn’t been discovered yet. At The June, a club in Paris, he discovered the power of house and in the days that followed, he created 300 house tracks through trial and error. With a little convincing, he eventually played some for Chris Thomas, owner of Qalomoto Records, but Thomas told him there was just too much.

“Too many instruments, too many arrangements,” Lemy explained. “I told him, ‘okay, I’ll call you in four days.’”
Four days later, Thomas heard the new tracks and agreed to what would later become Lemy’s second album,From the Jungle. The album debuted worldwide in December, 2010 and it hit no. 4 on iTunes two weeks later.

In the meantime, Lemy moved to Quebec where he found even more inspiration in Montreal. The Deep House culture here is almost non-existent compared to Europe or Asia, but familiarizing people with Deep House, eliminating preconceived notions, and hoping they enjoy the sound is the driving force behind S.A.F.A.R.I. 

Contrary to the Deep House stereotype, Lemy isn’t a party-goer; if he isn’t making music, he’s either at home or working. “People think you can only listen to house music when you’re in a club, but that doesn’t have to be true,” he said. “It’s music you can feel, music you can really dance to. Deep House is all about hope, love, struggle. It has a lot of cheesy messages.”

The album is a continuation of Lemy’s jungle-themed concept, but it’s also a yin and yang. He was upset by the challenges he faced in the industry, and at the same time, happy about being in Montreal. As a result, the album has an aggressive yet loving feel.

“Making a living with music today is kind of hard,” said Lemy. “But I want to make a living with creative stuff. I think I need to be stimulated. I need to feel it. I need to travel. If I’m not creating something I feel sad, I get sick. I think ideas help me to live.”

Leopard said fans will discover S.A.F.A.R.I.’s message when they listen. His goal is to take them on an African excursion where the final destination is unique, harmonious and dance-floor-worthy.

S.A.F.A.R.I. is now available on iTunes and Amazon.

By: Sophia Loffreda

Photo from S.A.F.A.R.I. promo video by Ray Tolentino

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About The Cafe Phenomenon

"The Cafe Phenomenon" refers to a situation, specifically in a cafe, where you are sitting with a friend and engaging in conversation with them, but you suddenly find yourself unable to listen because the background noise of the cafe distracts you from what they are saying (the background noise could be any thing: the gossip at the next table for example). It happens that, from time to time, in certain contexts the background noise is stronger and more defined than our personal and private one on one conversations. Our blog, made up of a group of friends from Concordia's journalism program, can serve as the background noise penetrating the intimate discussions of our virtual cafe dwellers (hopefully adding insight, relevant coverage, and interesting ideas). Or it can be the friend with whom you are deep in conversation. This, our dear readers, we leave to you.

3 responses »

  1. rongreezy says:

    Great post Sophia! I’m originally from Detroit, so I know a little bit about how house and techno originated in Chicago and Detroit, respectively, but this exposed me to just how big deep house is worldwide. Thanks so much for doing this!

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