Interview: Leaping Tiger on his album 'Soulsleep'.

Interview: Leaping Tiger on his album 'Soulsleep'.

Since 2017, Leaping Tiger - the musical project of producer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Park - has been releasing a steady slew of singles, leading up to 2020's debut album 'Porcelain Orca Whales', and last year's 'Soulsleep'. Combining elements of electronic, hip-hop, and R&B, Leaping Tiger's beats feel set both in the past and the future.

The new album includes collaborations with fellow Coup De Main faves Maxwell Young and imugi 이무기, and sees Park's own voice take centre stage on 'Gooey' - which also happens to be the album's standout track.

We spoke with Leaping Tiger about the new album, producing, creativity, and more...

COUP DE MAIN: "Every producer can sing/rap we just scared," you tweeted before the release of 'Gooey'. I definitely feel like there's been a movement where producers are feeling more comfortable with using their own voices on songs now. What was it about 'Gooey' that made you feel like this was the song you wanted to express yourself with your vocals on?
LEAPING TIGER: I had something to say this time, so it made sense for ‘Gooey’ to be the one. After going through that experience and feeling those strong emotions for the first time, I had a lot to get off my chest.

CDM: Did the instrumentals inspire the lyrics?
LEAPING TIGER: Actually, kind of, yeah! I had the title for 'Gooey' the minute I made the instrumental because I name all my beats after how they sound to me, so it's easier to find on my laptop. Then with the song already being called ‘Gooey’ I ended up making the idea of slime and goo an analogy for jealousy in the lyrics.

CDM: "I don't wanna be stressed bout you, but my mind's soaked up in goo," you sing. Do you find that when one thing is taking up your brain space, it's hard to focus on anything else?
LEAPING TIGER: 100%, I’m very much a “focus on one thing at a time and go hard on it” guy when it comes to literally everything, so that unfortunately is the case for those intrusive thoughts that we don't necessarily want.

CDM: Why is it so easy to hyper-fixate on specific things going on in our lives?
LEAPING TIGER: I think it's just a very human thing to do. We’re curious creatures by nature so we always want to know more about the things around us even if we know that we’d be better off not knowing. It’s some real Adam and Eve shit haha.

CDM: Is using your vocals something you want to do more of on future releases?
LEAPING TIGER: For sure. I’m always on the lookout for new sounds and instruments to use when making music and my own voice feels like a new instrument to me. I’ve been experimenting with it a lot lately.

CDM: You come to some hard realisations in '*Pain' when you say, "Can't give you what you want, if you don't know what you need. It pains me to wonder what you think of me." Do you find making music helps you process things that happen in your life? Is it a cathartic experience for you?
LEAPING TIGER: Definitely, I wrote that the day after breaking up with my ex because I just needed to get it out, I just felt terrible. Music to me is like a brace that can really help you manage the load of when you’re going through something.

CDM: In ‘Soliloquy’, Yery says: “In the name of catharsis the tiger never turned human, instead lies around all day nursing its wounds / gnawing the hardened peel of shed skin, that once cradled a desire to see the world unravelling.” Who wrote those lines? It’s a really beautiful moment.
LEAPING TIGER: That was actually all Yery! She has an insane way with words and the record wouldn't be the same without her.

CDM: As a producer, you’re in control of every aspect of your music, and can work at it endlessly. How do you know when a song is complete?
LEAPING TIGER: I have this thing where I know exactly what the finished song sounds like in my head before I even really start making it, so I just work on it until it sounds exactly like that song I'm playing in my head.

CDM:How does your collaborative process work with other vocalists featuring on your music?
LEAPING TIGER: I’ll make the song fully with that vocalist specifically in mind, and create everything then send it off to them and let them do whatever they want. Sometimes I'll send specific melodic ideas as well, but the rest is all up to them. It’s usually over the internet or in bedroom studios because I don't feel super comfortable in big studios.

CDM: Maxwell’s voice sounds so great on ‘Take Care’ - are both of your vocals in that song?
LEAPING TIGER: That boy is a star. That's just him in all his glory, and a fair amount of vocal manipulation on there.

CDM: How do you go about layering vocals amongst the electronic components of your songs?
LEAPING TIGER: I always leave space for vocals when I know I want them there, and I’m very intentional when making instrumentals of parts where vocals will and won't be, so they always come together very snug.

CDM: Extra Sensory Perception is described as: "We are anything and everything." Tell me about what that project is, and what you want it to become?
LEAPING TIGER: ESP is sort of my endgame project. It’s the home for all of my ideas to live, whether it's music, fashion, movies etc. I want ESP to become a name that young weird POC in NZ can see themselves in and feel recognised wherever it's used - whether it's an event, or a store, or a film festival.

CDM: What other creative endeavours do you enjoy, aside from making music?
LEAPING TIGER: Film and fashion are my two biggest passions outside of music. I’m constantly making designs on Photoshop.

CDM: Are there any other forms of creativity that inspire your own music-making?
LEAPING TIGER: Absolutely, I find watching movies infinitely inspiring as filmmakers create such visceral worlds with that medium. It can just just take my mind to a whole new place and make me want to make music in a different way than before.

CDM: What other NZ artists would you recommend people to listen to right now?
Maxwell Young
Hans Pucket
Samara Alofa

CDM: What do you hope 2022 will bring for Leaping Tiger?
LEAPING TIGER: Bigger and better opportunities.

+ GUEST QUESTION FROM IMUGI 이무기: We love your samples! Given the opportunity, if I sent you a high quality uncompressed FLAC. file of my fart would you sample it and integrate it into an emotive musical composition? Also, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve sampled?
LEAPING TIGER: Hahahaha 100% a high quality fart is invaluable in the sound design world, it could become so many things… The weirdest thing I’ve ever sampled would be the sound of myself swallowing water. I put a contact mic on my throat and had a big gulp for a remix I recently worked on.

Leaping Tiger's album 'Soulsleep' is out now - listen to it in full below...

[Made with the support of NZ On Air]