#MCM: Meet the Stylish Soul Singer Stealing Our Hearts

Falling in love with Leon Bridges takes three minutes and 35 seconds—the approximate run time of “Coming Home,” the first single off the Fort Worth native’s debut album of the same name, which is available on iTunes June 23. In a world consumed by pop and electro music, the self-taught 25-year-old’s nod to ’60s rhythm and blues is a welcome palate cleanser, with hits like “Lisa Sawyer” and “River” boasting a soulful ease. But it’s not just his sound that resembles the past; Bridges is taking a page from the stylebooks of his predecessors when it comes to his look, too—think dapper suits and preppy collared shirts tucked into high-waisted slacks. Could the fashion world have its next muse? All signs point to yes! Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Bridges.

Describe your music in three words.

Honest. Soul. Southern.

Congratulations on the new album! Can you tell us a little about the story you’re trying to tell with Coming Home?

For me, I look at it like coming home from being all around the world and being able to come back to Fort Worth, where everything started for me. And so the record is like a compilation of songs I’ve written over that time, some of it being gospel songs, some of it being heartbreak, some of it being love, and you know, songs about family.

What is it about 1960s rhythm and blues that appeals to you?

I just love how the vocal delivery and range was very straightforward and simple. I love the idea of musicians playing it all live. There were no pro tools; there was no punching in. I just love how straightforward it was. 

What musicians (past or present) inspire your work?

If you look at the past, I love like Bobby Womack and his writing and his guitar playing. I love Sam Cooke and his phrasing. He was so ahead of his time. If you look at the present, I love artists like Lianne La Havas and Timothy Bloom and, you know, James Blake—all great artists.

What has been your favourite place to perform?

My favourite place was in Paris at the Afropunk Festival. I just love the mix of people that were there.

You’re going to be playing at Glastonbury this year. What are you looking forward to seeing/doing during the festival?

I’m looking forward to—me and my band, we’re all going to wear bolo ties. Show ’em Texas, you know. 

You talk a lot about fashion on social media. How would you describe your style?

You know, my look is a blend of 1950s and just a little bit of ’60s casual, but you know all that stuff kind of ran together. A lot of the ’50s wove into the ’60s, and a lot of the ’60s bled into the ’70s.

What are the staple pieces in your everyday wardrobe?

For me, it’s very simple. During the summer, it’s all collared shirts and high-waisted slacks and nice shiny shoes. During the winter, I do a lot of cardigans and turtlenecks. 

Where do you shop?

I like to pick up things from different thrift shops when I travel around. I have a place in Dallas called Dolly Python, and Lula B’s is pretty cool. 

You wear a suit very well. Who are some of your favourite designers?

I really like Mendoza Menswear. I recently stumbled upon them when I was in London. I just love their idea of bringing back classic menswear. I really like Marc Jacobs and Acne—that’s really cool stuff. 

And you attended the Met Ball this year! What was that experience like for you?

It was amazing. I was nervous, because I had to go by myself. It was cool. My table was Dianna Agron, Tory Burch, Dylan McDermott, and his lady. They were all welcoming. It was beautiful. And Rihanna, she killed it with an amazing performance.

I noticed all of your Instagram photos are in black and white. Is that a nod to your retro look and sound?

Yeah. You know, because black and white represents that era. I thought it was cool to keep everything consistent. And it’s cool, because you can take an ok photo and put it in black and white, and it looks better.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?

Collaborating with artists makes me nervous kind of, because I have my own writing style and like, way I work, but I would love to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Lianne La Havas, and Nick Waterhouse.

What song are you listening to over and over again right now?

Definitely “Slow Wind” by R. Kelly. I love the reggae, R&B feel, and his phrasing on that song—it’s amazing. If you haven’t heard it, you have to check it out.

What’s your TV guilty pleasure?

For me, I’ve been going back to That’s So Raven on YouTube. That’s a badass show. 

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Executive Director, Entertainment

Jessica Baker is Who What Wear’s Executive Director, Entertainment, where she ideates, books, writes, and edits celebrity and entertainment features.