Bringin’ It Backwards: Interview with Leo Varella

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Together with American Songwriter, we had the pleasure of interviewing Leo Varella over Zoom video! 

Brazilian guitarist, singer and songwriter Leo Varella is a raw spirit in overdrive. Influenced by 80’s Prince and Nile Rodgers’ style of guitar playing, Leo offers a fresh take on retro, nostalgic pop writing, but with an alternative edge – he skillfully blends the style with the moody vocals of the Seattle grunge scene and 90’s breakbeat instrumental loops to create a melting pot of nostalgic influences dotted with modern, catchy hooks and raw, visceral lyrical content.

Leo discovered his love for music as early as he started playing guitar at the age of 5: since then, he hasn’t stopped and kept developing his craft by navigating through all realms of music, with a particular interest for jazz, hip hop, rock and Brazilian music. The exposure to such genres sparked his interest in a career of writing, producing and touring as a guitarist – something he immediately pursued by moving to the US in 2016 by earning a spot at Berklee College of Music in a full tuition scholarship. That environment allowed his involvement with many projects from different artists and directors, most notably working closely under the wings of producer and musical director Rob Lewis (Christina Aguilera, Laura Jauregui, P Diddy).

Released in early 2019, his debut single “Over It” has established a steadily growing following of loyal listeners. Gaining airplay from several Brazilian radio stations, international doors have begun opening for the artist. As a songwriter and producer, Leo has had the opportunity to write for an array of different artists through his collaborations with JIM ALXNDR (Australia) and DAMYE (Korea), such as Ravyn Lenae, IV Jay and DEAN.

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