Kieran Leonard

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Kieran Leonard
Leonard Wiki Photo.jpg
Leonard photographed in 2018
Background information
Born1987 (age 31–32)
GenresIndie Rock, Folk Rock, Alternative Rock
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Piano
Years active2009-present
LabelsFierce Panda Xtra Mile Recordings
Associated actsThe Libertines, Father John Misty, Adam Green, Drew McConnell, Carl Barât

Kieran Leonard, also known as Saint Leonard and Saint Leonard's Horses, is a British musician, songwriter and author. He currently performs most frequently with his backing band The Horses and has previously toured in support of Father John Misty, The Libertines, Bob Dylan, Beck, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Adam Green & Binki Shapiro, Peter Doherty, The Cribs, Fionn Regan, Jonathan Wilson, Lee Mavers, Billy Bragg, Keane, Babyshambles, Dirty Pretty Things and Wolfmother.

From 2009 to 2015 Leonard wrote and performed under his own name, releasing one album, an EP and four singles. His second album Good Luck Everybody was released in 2016 under the Saint Leonard moniker.

Early life[edit]

Leonard spent much of his childhood travelling. He has two older brothers, and has never known his father but has a good relationship with his mother. His upbringing has been described as 'unorthodox'. His restless upbringing left an indelible impression, and a sense of displacement and alienation would become one of the central themes of much of his creative work. Leonard has stated in several interviews that he was inspired to write music after watching a David Bowie retrospective at the age of 13, and subsequently wrote 100 songs in the space of six months. In both his work and interviews Leonard often cites writers and world literature as a central influence on his musical output.[1]


In 2009 Leonard recorded his first professional demos at London's Konk Studios. The 'Scapegoat' EP was produced by The LibertinesCarl Barat, and was mixed by Chris Sheldon. The four songs were released as individual tracks timed to coincide with the full moon each month. This unusual release schedule garnered some media attention and led to Leonard being invited to perform on Absolute Radio UK for two of the 'Full Moon' release nights.[2]

The following year he recorded and released his debut single "Jerusalem". The single was well received both critically and commercially, and appeared in the soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s film Life in a Day. "Jerusalem" was noted for its timely response to the social unrest occurring in London at the time, and for its relevance to the global Occupy movement in particular.[3]

Out of Work Astronaut (2012)[edit]

Kieran Leonard's debut album Out of Work Astronaut was recorded largely in a home studio in North London and released in August 2012. It featured the singles "Harold Pinter is Dead", "Wooden Man", "Vampire", and "Air Raid". The album garnered generally favourable reviews, being listed as one of BBC London's Albums of the Year, and enabled Leonard to tour UK and Europe several times.[4]

Los Angeles Recording Sessions (2013-2015)[edit]

In 2013 Leonard left the UK and moved to California. Citing the collapse of a long-term relationship, he abandoned the gothic church where he had been living on the Moors of North Yorkshire and spontaneously moved to Los Angeles for an indefinite time.

Upon his arrival he was offered a tour of California with Australian rock band Wolfmother.[5] This delayed the commencement of recording by a month, and was the first of a series of unusual and chance occurrences that led to the entire recording session taking almost 10 months. Leonard ended up using several Hollywood studios and producers, however he was ultimately dissatisfied with the extensive LA sessions, despite having been enthused and inspired by the musicians and artists he had met and worked with. He also cites the friendships and experiences he had while there as reason enough for the costly abandoned year of recordings.

Nashville - London (2014-2015)[edit]

In Winter 2014 Leonard left LA, briefly returned to London, and then for a short time his whereabouts were totally unknown. He was later found to have taken up residence in a log cabin on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where he spent several months writing a semi-autobiographical novel. He continued working on the book alongside an extensive batch of new songs in isolation until Autumn 2014. He returned to London in December, where he met and commenced working with his manager Sean McLusky.[6]

Kubrick Recording Sessions (2015)[edit]

In January 2015 Leonard was invited to continue work on his upcoming second album at Stanley Kubrick’s family estate in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.[7] The intention cited by Leonard was to record the material he had developed in LA as entirely 'live' as possible, with his band playing together in the same room and even his lead vocals being laid down 'live' with the track. This now quite unusual approach was drawn from his negative experience of digital multi-tracking in LA and also his desire to capture the heightened spontaneity of records such as Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street.

Leonard immediately released the single "Underwood Milk" on Fierce Panda Records[8] from this session and in February embarked on an extensive tour of UK and Europe with his friend Father John Misty.[9]

It was during the Kubrick sessions that Leonard and his band improvised and recorded the fifteen minute long "The Greatest Show on Earth" in a single take. After its release the song was noted in the music press for its satirical tone and its references to current social and political issues. Figures and corporations referenced in the track include Ai Wei Wei, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Amazon, Apple, and Google.[10]

Saint Leonard's Horses (2016)[edit]

At the end of a busy 2015 (extensive festival appearances and many London shows) Leonard left London once again and maintained sporadic contact with his team in the UK. He eventually surfaced in late December in the Mojave Desert residing in a motel near Joshua Tree, where he was undergoing what he describes as a transcendental mystical experience. After this, he became known as Saint Leonard. He cites the experience of the Kubrick estate and several bizarre episodes in the isolation of the desert as the grounds for this shift in artistic identity.

With the start of 2016 Leonard continued to adapt his musical stylings under his new moniker and started performing with a full band known as The Horses. It was later announced that Leonard had signed to prestigious indie Label Xtra Mile Recordings, with the contract being signed on the grave of William Blake.[11]

Good Luck Everybody (2016)[edit]

Good Luck Everybody was the first work published under the Saint Leonard's Horses banner. It was recorded at Childwickbury Manor in St Albans, the former estate of Stanley Kubrick. The album was released in October 2016 to significant critical acclaim. Mark Beaumont of NME called it “a surrealist, mystical odyssey of self-discovery, maximal hedonism and jaws-of-death revelation”. [12] Clash Magazine commented that it was “Weird, wonderful and evocative - a broad, cinematic, engrossing piece of work, rippling with ambition”.[13] The album also received praise from GigSoup who included it as one of their top 13 albums of 2016.[14] Tom Doyle from Q magazine gave the album a four star rating, describing it as "top notch stuff that draws comparisons with Neil Young and Father John Misty.[15]

On 2 June 2017 Saint Leonard released Little Girl Scientist, the first single from the album. A music video was released on 12 June, directed by Markus Schroder and starring Sophie Kennedy Clark; with Jonathan Meades providing additional narration.

Notable Appearances[edit]



  • Out Of Work Astronaut (2012)
  • Good Luck Everybody (2016)


  • Scapegoat (2009)


  • Jerusalem (July 2012)
  • Hipster Jesus (June 2013)
  • Underwood Milk (June 2015)
  • The Greatest Show on Earth (December 2015)
  • Little Girl Scientist (June 2017)


  1. ^ "Interview with Kieran Leonard by Alice Bigelow". Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  2. ^ NME.COM. "Carl Barât-produced single by Kieran Leonard to be released this month | NME.COM". NME.COM. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Life In A Day". Sanity. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Kieran Leonard: Out of Work Astronaut". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Wolfmother @ Troubadour". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Saint Leonard". Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  7. ^ sunnymenagerie. "Kieran Leonard: The Shining Conspiracy of Google". Golden Mixtape. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  8. ^ Kimberley-Marie, Sklinar Green,. "Kieran Leonard & The Horses share 'Underwood Milk'". Never Enough Notes | new music magazine. Retrieved 20 February 2016.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  9. ^ "Whelan's » Blog Archive » FATHER JOHN MISTY". Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Kieran Leonard 'The Greatest Show on Earth' - Single Review ⋆ Pure M". Pure M. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  12. ^ Beaumont, Mark. ""Inside The St Leonard's Horses Playback at Stanley Kubrick's Estate"". Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  13. ^ ""Metropolis Live x Clash Launch New Events Series"". Clash Music. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  14. ^ ""GIGSOUP TOP 13 ALBUMS OF 2016 : STAFF PICKS"". Gigsoup. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  15. ^