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20 Questions with Sean Leon

April 19, 2016
I played 20 Questions with Toronto based artist, Sean Leon, and watched him dance to his own music in the mirror.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Sean Leon AKA Maui Slim AKA Daddyvelli to talk to about where he’s been, what he’s working on (his album Black Sheep Nirvana is heavy in the works), and where he’s going. We laughed, we listened to his music, and I was enlightened.

Q1: Who is Sean Leon?

A: Sean Leon is a multifaceted, creative from Canada.

Q2: Who is Maui Slim?

A: Maui Slim is my favourite guy in the world.

Q3: Who is Daddyvelli?

A: Daddi Velli is the guy you meet when you’ve taken it too far.

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Photos by Bianca Scarlato

Q4: What is the IXXi Initiative?

A: A machine that empowers creatives. I founded it to empower artists that needed it, artists that had drive and no product, or had product and no drive; pretty much to fill in the blanks and provide that person with what they needed to get to where they want to go.

Q5: Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I wanted to be a ball player. Before that, I wanted to be a racer driver. I mean, I don’t know who I’m gonna be tomorrow. I just know who I am in the moment.

Q6: What song do you have on repeat right now?

A: Deep End by Sean Leon produced by WondaGurl. I love that shit.

Q7: Who’s an artist to watch right now?

A: My honest answer? My honest answer is Sean Leon, I’m the greatest show on earth. But anybody that I fuck with. Everybody that I’ve been fucking with is super dope. Julian Thomas, Daniel Caesar, River Tiber, Charlotte Day Wilson, CMDWN, and Ty Senoj . I’ve been working with as many people as I can,  Savannah Re. Those are just musicians, the producers out here are on another level, the engineers too. I say the whole city, if I’m being modest. The city, and then just a little extra attention on me.

Q8: What’s your opinion of the Internet?

A: Oh man, it’s the devil, yo! But it’s so great. Anything in moderation can be fantastic, but too much of the internet… It’s hard to say.

Q9: Instagram or Twitter?

A: That’s tough. I guess Twitter. I like to write. I like the restriction; it’s a good exercise for me. I would say Twitter, cause I can live Tweet, like a mental breakdown, go back, read it, and laugh at myself, or be like, “oh, that’s cool, I’ll use that in a song.” Instagram is equally dope, though. But, if I had to say one, I guess I’d say Twitter.

Q10: What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever shared online?

A: The news about my daughter. The news that Tania and I were having a baby. That was a lot of emotions.

Q11: What is Black Sheep Nirvana?

A: Black Sheep Nirvana is a reflection of where I’m at, and where I’ve been during my very public hiatus.

Q12: Define the word success.

A: I think success is freedom. I’m in it for freedom. I can remember starting to make music to maybe, impress a girl, but when it was time to make that big boy decision, it came down to the fact that, I thought this thing was my ticket to freedom. Financial security, the ability to take care of my friends and family, in emergencies, an option to be able to go away. Basically, always having an option. I think success is being free. It’s kind of elusive because you can have all the money in the world and not be free. Success is what we should be after, but I think most people chase a version of success. Whether it be money, or a person they love, or a title, but I think what we should actually all be striving for is freedom.

Q13: What are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud of how smart my daughter is and I can’t take all of the credit for it. I have to give a lot of credit to her mother as well. She’s such a happy, healthy, fun baby and I was terrified – I mean I was excited, but I was terrified, because there’s this thing that I gotta be watching over, that I’m responsible for 24/7 for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that, but I’m just so proud of who she is already and where she’s gonna be going.

Q14: Do you think if you want something, you should go get it or if it’s meant to be it will happen?

A: I think it’s a bit of both. I think you have to have the faith that it’ll happen, and using it as a push to go and get it. I don’t just do this thing that I’m doing now, hoping that one day I’ll make it. I know, at least, half of the time, that this is who I’m supposed to be and I’m gonna be where I wanna be. Even when I’m doubting myself, I always end up back at that mental point where I know that this is my calling. More than ever, that helps me get to where I want to go, so I think it’s definitively a combination of both.

Q15: Define family.

A: Family is, it changes, I think, as you grow older. I had a perspective on family as a son, and then I had a perspective on family as a brother, and a cousin, an uncle and a nephew, and now I have it from the perspective as a father, as well. I guess at the root of it, family is the people I wanna see right before I die. The people that give you comfort. That safe place. I’m blessed to have a very tight family, and it’s not necessarily all blood, but a lot of the guys I met over time, these guys are my brothers.

Q16: What age do you feel right now and why?

A: It depends on the day, and time of the day, or in the moment. At certain moments, I’m six – sometimes I’m six for like, 30 seconds, and then I get hit with something or I see something and I’m 25 again. Some days I wake up and I feel like, 50. I feel like the best days are over. It really depends. I feel older than I actually am. There’s just this big kid in me and he takes over from time to time.

Q17: Suburbs or City?

A: It’s hard to pick. It depends. I’m like a walking contradiction, a walking paradox. Some days, I never, ever picture going back east, I don’t see myself out there, I’m totally done with that place. All I remember is how grey it was, how uninspiring it was, and how much it crushed me, I realize that that environment made me who I am today and I have to be very grateful for that environment, too. Again, it’s the same thing, too much of anything is bad for you.

Q18: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m working on like, six albums, two movies, a couple of books, right now, my main focus is to finish Black Sheep Nirvana because my fans are starting to get really disrespectful to me, starting to say real mean things to me online. It’s crazy, ya know? So that’s my main focus. It’s weird. It’s like dating somebody, and you have the right intentions – I think what I could do for them, to show them that I care, is to make the best album ever; No matter how much time it takes to make my best Sean Leon album ever. So I’m taking the steps to do that, but they’re like “We want it now! We want it now!” so I’m trying to take care of them, but at the same time, I realize that it’s getting to the point where they just need it.

Q19: How do you want to be remembered?

A: I just want people to know that I tried. I just don’t want anybody to think that I didn’t try and that I didn’t have good intentions. More than anything, I just wanna make a way. There are so many ways I could’ve gotten on already, and I haven’t done those things and explored those avenues because I wanted to prove to my city that there are other ways, ya know? That was more important in the long run. It’s like planting trees now. I might not even get to see these trees, but I know, years from now somebody will get shade from that tree. They’ll be able to find shelter under that tree and that’s what I’m after. I’m trying to build something that really helps our city for years to come. That’s how I’ll be remembered I think. I feel like I have done a lot to push what rappers are supposed to do in my city, what we’re responsible for; I try to make us a bit more accountable every time.

Q20: You get a one way ticket to anywhere in the world, where are you going?

A: LA. I’d love to go to Hawaii. I’d love to end in Hawaii and just paint for the rest of my life, but before I get to that point, I need to go to LA. I might just couch surf for a while and come back in a Porsche.

Listen to Sean Leon’s music: