Los Angeles based indie artist Leonardo Martinez is the quintessential success story of hard work paying off. Martinez dropped his new single “Moonlight” today and it has already garnered the attention of Lance Bass, who will be playing it as Rocco’s in West Hollywood (where he is an investor). Martinez took some time to chat with me about creating the video for “Moonlight” during quarantine, finding the perfect people to work with on the project and the support he received, and how this viral TikTok star is realizing that sometimes, it is all about simply “showing up”.
Michael Cook: Tell me about the new video for Moonlight…
Leonardo Martinez: The whole song came about because one of my best friends wanted to do a getaway for his birthday in December, and each place named in the song, and then some, were on the list of options to travel to! The pandemic hit not too long after & it put me in the imaginative space with the optimism of being able to go to these places, and live my life, and dance, and just be free, & see the world! I wanted the video to emulate that imaginative mindset & convey a way of escaping reality & having the fun, & peace we all desire to have again
MC: What was it like crafting a video during this crazy time?
LM: I feel like most people know me and value me as a dancer before a singer. I’m not complaining about going viral on TikTok twice and Instagram once in 2020 for dancing (to Beyonce songs I would like to add—that’s my top bar inspiration so I think that’s God’s alignment working in my favor!). It gave me perspective to look into myself and ask “but who am I as an artist?”. The pandemic forced me into finding the answer, ie: myself. There was no defaulting to dancers and formations with dance studios and rehearsals etc. I had to recognize that I am going to have to let my creativity, my voice, and myself be enough. Before, I don’t think I knew that. So, with the intention of keeping true to the theme of “imagination”, I researched, & tried to broaden my horizons. As I kept playing the song for other creative friends of mine, each of them desired to help me put this music video together. From production skills to location to styling, everything organically fell into place.
A very select amount of people whom are part of my usual circle during quarantine got in our cars, drove 3 hours to the location, filmed in 120 degrees of heat, shot for 9 hours, and came back to LA near dawn the next day. It was the first time I felt freedom, joy, and like I could be authentically myself. It was also the first time I was taking direction from someone, which pushed me out of my comfort zone. Filming during this crazy time forced me to find myself and know the value of my creativity, my voice, and myself. It’s honestly the best gift I could’ve ever received from this entire experience.
MC: You have gotten a great deal of attention about it and it’s been added to rotation by DJ’s worldwide and at Rocco’s in West Hollywood! What has that felt like? What do you think it is about this single and video that is reverberating with everyone?
LM: I never would’ve imagined in a million years that music of mine and a music video I’ve performed would play in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world, or in other countries like this! It feels like I’m doing something right!! It feels like the way I’ve stepped into myself, and found my voice, and my worth in it all is reciprocating me with gifts and blessings because I showed up for the journey of being uncomfortable, and in not my usual circumstances. It’s a gift to be a self managed indie artist with no label, social media team, or anything that promotes people to be exposed and gain success and attention, and still find ways to gain that success and attention on my own! It teaches me about how I speak on behalf of myself. I shared with people I trusted with constructive criticism. I shared with dancers that had performed with me in the past, choreographers, film producers, and others who’ve seen my journey since my arrival in LA. I think “Moonlight” is a representation of my “meat and potatoes”; the every day human not making a statement but living my life, and I think it’s relatable. “Moonlight” is a vibe. Hotels, restaurants, clubs, rooftop lounges etc want to create a vibe and will play a playlist that honors that; “Moonlight” can fit right into that playlist
MC: How have you managed to stay creative during quarantine? What can we expect coming up in late 2020 and beyond?
LM: It’s been really tough. The first couple weeks back in March and early April I was definitely on a binge of Hulu eating DiGiorno pizza and ramen noodles every night stuck in fear and my emotions screaming “are we stuck in this forever?!” Then I snapped out of it and decided I am NOT a victim to my circumstances. So I began TikToking and learning dance trends and posting. Eventually, one took off with almost 2 million views as of today, and then it inspired me to keep dancing! I felt disconnected from the music side of myself so I got into the recording studio and began the work you can see today! I still have tons of music I am set to record. I have goals for 2020 which can all still be achieved! I just have to modify my intention in order to accomplish my goals to accommodate the new era we are in—the pandemic era. I plan to just stay open. I have some great opportunities on the table, but the world we live in has no promises. All I can do is show up and be my best.
Follow Leonardo Martinez on IG or Tiktok @_justcallmeleo