Ronan Peaker’s life revolves around living and breathing music. Studying production at music college in the day, away from education he has embarked on his own solo project, under the moniker LELO. A little later on Ronan will explain himself how he came up with this name in material, but first, let’s delve in a little deeper into his story as a recording artist so far.
The Leeds based producer and singer began creating music as a solo artist last year; his first venture into performing music was very different to his current work, drumming as part of ‘floral rock’ band Lone Guns. Made up of friends, the Leeds group achieved success in the North of the country, even supporting the likes of High Tyde and MINT. Despite their accomplishments in a short amount of time, the band called it quits in Spring 2016. Wishing to remain an active part of the music industry, LELO soon got to work writing and recording his own material.
LELO’s solo work has naturally ended up embarking on a different direction from the sound of Young Guns – picture chilled mellow rock meeting atmospheric dream-pop, and you’ll get the gist of what his first EP is about. Different Types of Love is a mellifluous, dulcet collection of four tracks. You’re taken on a dreamlike, airy blissful journey across four tracks, exploring the inner turmoil of emotions Ronan has locked in, until now. Whilst the ambient synths and honeyed guitar rhythms produce a positive, relaxing instrumental making the EP a pleasant easy listen, the lyrics are far from mellow. LELO touches upon deep, personal emotions experienced including anxiety and loss. He himself has expressed the extent he ‘got everything off his chest’ through bringing out Different Types of Love; ‘Happiness, sadness, love, loss, fear and forgiveness. The story is me. Simply. My life and my experiences’.
All four tracks are definite growers – interestingly the EP runs from the longest track to the shortest, kicking off with ‘Home’, ‘Personal Riot’, ‘Rain’, and concluding with ‘Stuck’. The highlight of LELO’s debut is ‘Home’ – he works well with the length of the track; running at over three minutes long, there are a couple of instrumental build-up sections and it creates effectively a song with intriguing multiple sections. The message of the song is hammered down in the last minute, with the reputation of the powerful line ‘where is home?’. The richness of LELO’s vocals throughout the track, especially for that final repeated line, add another layer of emotion and makes the listener intrigued and invested in wondering how important ‘home’ exactly is for the protagonist.
I had the opportunity to speak to LELO just after his EP had been released, and after another landmark in his career: playing his first live show at the Oporto in his home city of Leeds!
1) ‘How did you come up with your performing name LELO, instead of using your actual name Ronan?’
It happened after I’d recorded ‘HOME’. I wanted to create a bit of mystique, most people would assume ‘Ronan Peaker’ was gonna play some songs on an acoustic guitar, not create a full sound. I was sat with my girlfriend having decided that I was gonna take the plunge and do it all myself. We both just started saying random words- I think we were watching Lion King or something. After about half an hour we got to Lilo and Stich, but I didn’t like the way it was spelled- people would say it Lilo as in the inflatable bed thing, so I changed the I for an E. Most people pronounce it ‘LEL – OH’… so I guess it didn’t work.
2) ‘Why did you switch it up from drumming in a band to producing and ultimately creating your own music?’
I started writing for other projects as the band fizzled out. I wrote bits of songs for the band as well as my own parts, but all in all, it was really new. I think my limited/basic understanding of the instrumentation on the record correlated into the sound. Nothing’s overdone or too complex- it’s all about love and emotion and that was what needed to resonate with the listener. Within the band, I took a lot of the work up myself. I ended up feeling a bit like the one in the group project who does all the work but gets the same mark as everyone else. I thought it was time to see what the front of the stage looked like.
3) ‘Tell us a bit more about Ronan the person, your other interests and hobbies/jobs away from the music:
It sounds cliche, but about 90% of my time is devoted to music, or at least thinking about it. I study production at Leeds College of Music too which adds, even more, noise into my life. I also record other artists, run live sound and still find time to work on my own stuff! The rest of my time is spent with people I care about. I love cooking spicy food and watching people struggle to eat it whilst I tuck in. Films are another interest of mine when I can find someone to watch them with me.
4) ‘You played your first (according to your Facebook page) live show after you released your first EP; why did you decide to do things in that order?’
Once the band parted ways, I began making a strategy- a battle plan. Essentially it entailed time-lining everything I wanted to achieve, and in what order. You see a lot of great bands/artists lose all the momentum they worked so hard, sacrificed and paid so much for, simply by rushing gigs or releases and then losing interest. I combined experiences I gathered through my band days and researched into my favourite artists’ marketing strategies, to create something I feel is completely unique and fitting to my genre and sound. The timeline has barely even started and the ideas are permanently developing.
5) ‘Was the running order of longest to shortest tracks on Different Types of Love intentional or purely coincidental?’
I hadn’t even noticed that, but I love it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! There was a lot of thought that went into the track listing, but the actual music was never a factor. Each song has such a strong meaning, and without going too deep into what they all are, the EP tells a story. The songs are listed chronologically with regards to four pivotal moments in my life. I didn’t write them in that order, but if I could have written them at the time things happened, they would be.
6) ‘Favourite song from DTOL and why:’
It’s a tricky one. With them all being about such meaningful subjects and people in my life, it’s too difficult to decide. Once the recordings were finalised I think I stopped listening to them as songs and started seeing or remembering the situations they are about.
7) ‘Leeds is a big city with a thriving music scene, so do you find it difficult making waves there when there are so many other bands and musicians around?’
It’s an amazing scene and I’m glad other parts of the country or even world are able to see that. Through personal experiences within the scene both as a musician or just as a gig goer, it’s always been a refreshing one. Everyone seems to know their audience, whether it overlaps or not, which results in all the best bands standing out and establishing themselves. It’s still early days for me – my debut show was really full and well received, and I’ve more local shows booked, but I was never going to be happy as a one town artist. I started out and will continue to promote and spread my music everywhere that’ll listen.
8) ‘Have you got any shows in the pipeline outside of Leeds?’
Confirmed, not yet- but they’re definitely coming.
Listen to Different Types of Love right here (link at the bottom of the feature), and keep up to date with all the movements of LELO, on his Facebook page. He is next scheduled at the moment, to appear on stage when he will be supporting Trash during their show at Leeds’ Hyde Park Book Club, on the 18th October.
Featured photo & photo within the feature both credited to Al Eva.