When the temperatures are hitting triple digits during the dog days of summer, it's always a good idea to think cool thoughts. How much cooler can you get than a band called One eskimO? The band isn't from Alaska, Siberia, Canada or Greenland--any of those places where real Eskimos live--but London. Singer Kristian Leontiou selected the moniker because it conjured up images of igloos, snowscapes and the isolation a band feels when its locked in its own world inside a recording studio.
Check out One eskimO's cool soul sound in this exclusive performance of "Kandi," a virtual duet of sorts thanks to its ingenious sample of Candi Staton's "He Called Me Baby." The track is featured on the band's self-titled U.S. debut, due September 22 on Shangri-La Music.
To my ears Leontiou at times recalls James Blunt and it's not a completely out of the realm of possibility to imagine him as a solo pop star, because before he founded One eskimO, he was. Signed to a publishing deal at 17 and a recording contract two years later, Leontiou scored a top 10 U.K. hit in 2004 with his debut single, "Story Of My Life." His follow-up, "Shining," did nearly as well, peaking at No. 13, while his debut album, Some Day Soon, was certified gold in the U.K. But life as a solo pop star wasn't all it was cracked up to be. He found himself being sold as "a male Dido" and felt "exposed, anxious and vulnerable," he told Paul Lester of the Guardian. Finally, on a flight back from from Los Angeles in late 2004, it came to him. Instead of continuing on the solo route, he could immerse himself in the world of One eskimO. Despite the singular sentiment of its name, the act would eventually consist of Leontiou and three bandmates, Gorillaz-like cartoon imagery, and the magic and mystery missing from his previous solo work. For a taste of that magic and mystery, take a look at this exclusive performance of "UFO," another fine track from the band's forthcoming self-titled U.S. debut.
One eskimO, the band, however, didn't come together immediately. Leontiou first used the moniker in 2006 working with Faithless on the song "Hope & Glory." Strangely enough, Rollo Armstrong, a member of Faithless also happens to be Dido's older brother. He took One eskimO under his wing, co-producing the band's debut effort. Soon thereafter, the One eskimO lineup was rounded out, first with the enlistment of session man/drummer Adam Falkner and then Martin Waugh on guitar and Jamie Sefton on bass and horns. True to Leontiou's vision, One eskimO arrived on the scene complete with its own iconography. The singer adopted the eskimo caricature, Falkner assumed the giraffe, Waugh the peguin, and Sefton, the monkey. Although the band hit a minor bump in the road when Waugh left the fold to work full-time with Mika, One eskimO found a more than capable replacement guitarist/penguin in Pete Rinaldi. With the band's lineup solid once again, One eskimO is primed to explore and conquer new territories. You can catch the band on the road now opening for Tori Amos and look for their debut to hit these shores in the Fall. In the meantime, check out this exclusive performance of "Amazing" as well as our exclusive interview. And don't forget, try to stay cool this summer.