He didn’t actually plan to become a singer. As a child he wanted to be an astronomer. But the heights reached by León Larregui in his career as lead singer of the band Zoé suggest he picked the right direction. For almost 20 years, the group’s anthemic indie rock has packed arenas and festival stages—including memorable performances at Coachella and Austin City Limits.
Along the way, they’ve also scooped up two Latin Grammys. But for Larregui, fronting a legendary band wasn’t always compatible with his need to nurture his own artistic potential, so in 2012 he went to Paris to record his first solo album, Solstis. The experience felt right, and the collection was well received by his fans, too, ascending to double-platinum status.
Four years on, Larregui returned to Paris to try to recapture some of that solo magic. The result is Voluma, another deeply personal album that finds the artist experimenting with electronic sounds and reflecting on the birth of his first child.
He also rekindled studio collaborations with French musician/producer Adán Jodorowsky and Robin Coudert, keyboardist with the band Phoenix. Larregui will be promoting his new album over the next few months on a tour that will take him around the U.S. and South America.
THE RED BULLETIN: It’s been a pretty good run, hasn’t it?
LEON LARREGUI: It’s the best job in the world. I can’t imagine anything better than focusing only on artistic expression. What more could you ask for?
Why did you decide to tackle this second solo album now?
At the beginning of this year I realized that Zoé was close to celebrating two decades as a band, and that brought with it new projects. I decided to find some time to concentrate on a new solo album before the anniversary comes around. The first time I did it I enjoyed myself, and now I wanted to do it again because I had quite a few songs I wanted to work on as a solo artist.
There are lots of examples of singers from groups who have launched solo careers and haven’t gone beyond releasing their first album.
In my opinion, most of the albums that are launched this way are bad, and so singers go off the idea of making another one [laughs]. In my case it was more of a personal thing. I felt so good after making the first album that I was open to going down that road and exploring that possibility again. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the group it’s fine. I can do whatever I want without it being an issue.
Had you ever thought about being a solo artist before?
It’s about a real need, not some narcissistic impulse. This was a massive personal challenge. I’ve always played and worked as part of a band, where each person had their own role and responsibilities.
And this is like starting from scratch …
It’s a strange feeling. It’s not so much about failing or succeeding, it’s more about the actual challenge of doing it, of setting a goal from an artistic perspective and little else.
I’m interested in the possibilities of personal expression. I like everything to do with making decisions in this way. It’s reassuring when you start working on a song and it takes you somewhere, and where you end up very much depends on you.
You’re collaborating with two of the same musicians—Adán and Robin—again.
Fortunately, they both had time to do it. We came together and it was a positive experience. The lineup has barely changed with the exception of Thomas Hedlund, a new musician who played the drums and percussion in Phoenix. He was free and was pretty keen to be a part of all this. Originally I wanted to work with the same drummer from the first album but he was busy. Sometimes when things don’t work out as you planned, it’s actually for the best, and that’s definitely what happened here. In situations like this you just have to go with the flow.