The electronic artist and industry vet talks Blondie, aliens and African tribes.
About ten minutes before this interview took place, Craig Leon cheerfully described himself as "an old guy who likes to talk and has plenty of stories to tell." He wasn't lying. Listening to Leon, it's hard not to be amazed. In the '70s, he worked for Sire Records in New York, scouring the city's downtown scene for artists to sign and record. His hit list was impressive: The Ramones, Talking Heads, Suicide and Blondie are just a few bands we might never have heard if Leon hadn't caught them at clubs like CBGB. He's had a spectacular career as a record producer since then, but all the while he's nurtured a curious side project: Nommos, an electronic album that imagines the folk music of an alien species. Leon produced Nommos more than 30 years ago, and has been playing it live ever since. Last year, RVNG Intl. reissued the album, bringing Leon's music to new ears and landing Leon on the festival circuit. One of the most recent performances of Nommos happened at CTM Festival in Berlin, where this live Exchange with Will Lynch took place.