Aiden Leslie’s hot new single, “Nobody Said” is another of the out singer/songwriter’s self-described “diary entries.” In a Skype session from New York, the Cincinnati-born performer discussed his song, which stemmed from a breakup.
“My intention and my goal is to express myself through my music. That’s how I do it. For me, it is like a therapy session--it’s getting it out. I have to talk about it. I always try to write from a place that people get it universally; it’s not Aiden talking about a guy. Everyone can relate to this, or identify with what I’m talking about on some level. It’s the human condition.”
“Nobody Said” is not just about Leslie’s relationship. His catchy song also addresses the trouble gay men can have being honest and communicative. “I think gay men do have trouble expressing their emotions. I know I do,” he confessed. “We need to take a look at that; we need to get real.”
He cites that there are pressures in the gay community--from body image to trying to be in that A-list crowd--that can prevent guys from being more self-aware and able to grow. His song is less about pointing a finger at an ex and calling him a jerk, and more about looking inward, to one’s self to find self-worth.
Leslie’s candor extends not just to his music but also about being part of the very insular EDM scene in its New York City epicenter.
“When I started to go out and connecting to the [Electronic Dance Music scene], I was growing up and discovering my sexuality. I remember--he pauses and laughs at his next thought--walking into a club here in New York City. I was so blown away by all the beautiful men! There was this whole culture I never experienced before. It was a new type of theater. There were performance artists, drag queens, and house music and dance music!”
He continues, “When New York had that culture going--and it’s changed a lot since then--it was something you could only experience in the NYC underground, dancing all night after hours.”
Even as he felt at home in this world, with DJs like Junior Vasquez, who helped Leslie get his career started by producing his cover version of Erasure’s “Love to Hate You,” the singer was a bit of a loner.
He recalled, “What drew me to that world, is that I could escape to a different world, one I had not experienced. I did make friends and connections, but I had one foot in that world, and one foot out. When I was really going out, I felt like the music was central. Yes, there were drugs and sex, but when I started going out, it was like a melting pot. You would go to Junior Vasquez’s after party and there would be gays and drag queens and voguers, and muscle boys and transgender people next to Jersey Boys with their girlfriends, ravers, fist pumpers, straights, etc. I think that is gone today. It’s more about the promoters--and very insular. It’s sad that’s gone… But how did I fit in? There was a lot of pressure to be and look a certain way.”
His candor about the scene shows that Leslie is honest--one might say nakedly so--about things. He also has a realistic understanding of how body image is used in the marketing of dance music in general and his music in particular.
“Sex does sell,” he readily admits, when probed about his sexy shirtless publicity photos that show of his buff chest. He demures, “I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do or feel comfortable doing. I don’t take off my clothes in everything. There is the side of me without the shirt, but there are many times I’m fully clothed and I’m expressing myself a different way. You do think about what you want to say and portray. I’m an artist and I’m portraying different characters in my photos--they are all different.”
Need proof that his attractive performer is just playing a role? Check out his videos, which range from the very slick “Worlds Away” where he is all pimped out (and always in a shirt) and his video for “Diamond Dreams,” which Leslie describes as a song about “stripping yourself down and living your diamond dreams, and putting it out there.”
He maintains a carefully constructed image, stating, “There are all these different avenues you can take, and why not? You should!”
But back to his music. What excites Leslie is performing, and he mentions getting chills waiting to go on stage at a recent performance at Atlanta Pride. “The music started, and the audience was cheering…” his words trail off as he remembers “This is what I love doing!”
Dance music fans should embrace--or discover--Leslie’s new track, “Nobody Said.” The song takes the singer in a new direction, which is part of Leslie’s appeal. He never seems to repeat himself, even when he remixes his songs.
Leslie also has a keen observation about the various tracks he produces. “I start with original track, the core interpretation, but the story is never really done. The remixes are different shades or colors of that song. You have a pop music track in ‘Worlds Away’ and we did several remixes--the house/tribal version, the trance version, the more classic sound, the anthem, the Euro mix, etc. You have different pockets and genres that speak to different crowds and provide different feels and vibes to satisfy different people’s tastes.”
Whatever flavor of Leslie’s music folks listen to, it’s certain they will enjoy his sound.