Leo Kalyan’s dreamlike sound is one of a kind. Their distinctly soft, soulful vocals & poetic lyricism are infused with training in Indian Classical music, weaved over lilting R&B beats. After a two-year hiatus, Kalyan returns with new single “Diamond Life” featuring the vocal talents of friend and long-time collaborator, MNEK.
A soaring pop anthem, “Diamond Life” is a throat-clearing moment for Kalyan. Known behind the scenes as the Ivor Novello and Brit-nominated songwriter and producer for such hits as Joel Correy’s platinum-selling single “Head & Heart,” Mabel’s “OK (Anxiety Anthem)” and “Rush” by Raveena, Kalyan is now turning the spotlight back on themself.
An ode to self-love and the power of gratitude, Kalyan pirouettes between English and Hindi demonstrating their unique, bilingual sound that gained Kalyan global recognition across TikTok, for their direct-to-camera performances of classic Bollywood songs with Western pop. Having amassed tens of millions of views worldwide, Kalyan’s bold fashion choices also gained notoriety and led them being the most googled person in India, becoming headline news and Vogue applauding Kalyan’s style as “a takedown of the central conceit of heteronormative fashion.” The song is also a nod to the debut album by Sade, one of Kalyan’s main inspirations.
Speaking about their new single, Kalyan explains, “‘Diamond Life’ is a song about connecting to your inner light & power, about finding the ability to shine from within. It’s about resisting the push & pull of the material world with all of its endless expectations and limits… No amount of success, money or acclaim can substitute for the confidence that comes from realising your own self-worth… the Diamond Life truly is inside of you.” Explaining further, “This is a life lesson I learned through my decade-long friendship with MNEK, and it’s why I chose to release this song as a duet with him.”
It’s been a storied road for Kalyan, leading to the release of “Diamond Life.” From their debut single “Fingertips” which shot to the top of Spotify’s Global Viral Chart before being added to the BBC 1Xtra playlist, to grappling with their identity for the first time, detailed in single “Fucked Up” which explores how being queer and closeted strained personal relationships. EP The Edge saw Kalyan garner praise from The Guardian noting them as one of “pop’s real rebels” and Paper magazine described Kalyan, as “on the edge of glory” who “makes the kind of emotionally resonant pop music that can incite positive change.” Telling personal & politically taboo stories with ferocity, the EP was BBC 1Xtra’s no.1 EP for the month and created famous new fans including Elton John, Diplo, Maxwell & RuPaul.
Photo Courtesy: Lily Vetch