Zeon Interview by Rocco Tyndale Music / Art / Label / Interview


Subtempo Guest Mix 035


From underground raves in the '90s to clubs or festivals, the past three decades have witnessed an eclectic musical journey for Léo, back to his roots under the Zeon moniker, he delves into a world of ambient beats and blissed-out textures crafting a warm sonic dialogue with a deep sense of hypnotism and spirit.

Hi Leo, first of all, thanks for doing this mix for us.

My pleasure, thanks for the invite…

I’d like to start by asking what tools did you use to create this mix.

2 x Technics 1210s mk5, Allen & Heath Xone 96 mixer, Vinyls, and Traktor Scratch.

Is there a theme behind this mix?

To begin with, simply having the opportunity to share a taster of some ambient and chill sounds I’ve been diving into lately, a few beats to begin with moving gradually into deeper meditative states. There’s usually a reflection of a current mood I feel like exploring as a kind of personal therapy, in this case I was in India whilst doing the pre-selection and finally made the mix back at home in Spain. On recording, a certain vibe starts to arise and I take it from there with various options of how to start, I like the possibility of even surprising myself with the direction it takes.

Zeon, Léo Booka, Capricorn 1... He's had many aliases, but one thread carries throughout, a soulful taste carved through years of digging, and an openness to all music.

We’ve known each other for quite some time, over 20 ys. You were one of my biggest early influences when I first started DJ’ing. I recall a CD compilation you gave me called Tea Time in Space, which became an instant classic.

Funny you should mention that mix as the original master CD was recently found under the floorboards during a renovation at the house it was mixed at! Like finding a lost relic hehe. It was mixed around 2003, psychedelic chill out grooves, it was very popular amongst close friends and actually helped me get a few large-scale festival gigs around Europe. Happy days!

That’s amazing, that belongs in a museum! [Laughs].
You lived in London at that time, and would always bring the big tunes, with that unique soulful style that is characteristic of your sound. We’d organize these raves in the mountains of Spain with our friends, it was a magical time.

Indeed, magical times they were! It was a coming together of like-minded souls, diverse, multi-cultural, and full of fresh energy. Looking back it seemed like that “Utopia” that we are all looking for!! And in comparison with today’s restrictions and way of life I guess it was. It was the perfect combination of many factors all coming together at the right time, in the right place. Can you believe that we even had an unknown Nils Frahm (amongst others) do a set in the chill out one morning, he just happened to be staying in a tent with his girlfriend next to the house and mentioned he had some clicky chill tunes with him! Mind-blowing seeing where he is today and looking back at these situations, it was the norm back then! Our location, right next to Ibiza on mainland Spain, also had a significant effect on the amount of artists and DJs that passed through and delighted us with their sounds.

Yeah man, some pure magic happened at those events...
You worked at the Psychedelic Dream Temple, a very influential space at the time, managed their music store, and kept the music going all day long. How was that time for you living in LND?

AHHHH The Dream Temple… or PsyDMT for short! Once home and mecca to the psychedelic scene in London, based in the heart of Camden Market, a record shop with organic cafe and bookshop by day and social party hub by night. I was in my element at the time, really enjoyed selling and selecting music for customers, either passers-by or regular die-hard collectors. It was a perfect place for networking and building relations within the scene, we hosted regular chill out nights with the likes of Gaudi, Ultimae records, Liquid Sound Design, and Interchill label nights or other local collectives along with residents DJ's. The weekends were reserved for all-night belters, PsyTrance, and Progressive sessions, with all the top players from London and beyond, those doors were a portal! … And before you knew it you’d be putting it all back together again and opening up for the busy weekend day market. A lot of fun, it was work, passion, and a family affair for all of us, memorable times. That beautiful space was an institution and really marked a pivotal moment in my life and I’m sure for the majority involved.

Zeon's current studio setup in Moraira, a small coastal town in the coast of Spain.

At that time London was buzzing with underground parties, the Warp Experience started then, and it feels like it was the golden days of the chillout room. Would you say those were formative years for you?

They certainly were. My first gigs playing as Zeon were mid to late 90s. I was resident DJ and running the chill out at Tribal and Welcome to the Future nights alongside the likes of Alex Patterson and DJ Lewis from The Orb, Luke Vibert, Sherman & Uncle Al, and a whole host of Dub and alternative artists from London. The chillout room itself played a vital role in the underground Club scene up to the turn of the Millenium. It kind of fizzled out of techno events but the psychedelic trance movement managed to maintain the chillout philosophy longer than most. Eventually, new types of parties emerged focusing wholeheartedly on this genre, beautiful events and spaces were created for full sensory immersion. The festival circuit also began to create areas dedicated to ambient/chill and experimental sounds, so all in all its never lost its place and has forever been an important part of the electronic party scene.

You played downtempo, chill music back then. You’ve since had multiple projects focused on dancefloor material. What inspired you to start those?

The truth is I’ve always been a serious techno freak. It’s a passion that has never left me since the early days. I’ve been playing dance floor material as Léo Booka also B2B alongside my bro Archan for years, I would say he has a lot to do with me still playing the four-to-the-floor beats! I really connect with a slower, deeper techno vibe that is perfect for the backroom/after-party moments or simply home listening. My taste in electronic music is extremely diverse and I’ve flirted with many styles over the years and still do find myself meandering from one style to another. The changing seasons definitely play their role, environment, social settings and many other factors contribute to deciding which style I feel connected with at any given time. Techno and Ambient are the main two areas that have defined me over the years, Dub has a big influence too and I’ve recently rediscovered a passion for really stripped-down Drum and Bass, and broken beat-oriented sounds… It’s an endless, investigative story, and for me, there lies the beauty.

Together with his partner Lorena, they started a boutique clothing line — Cardamom. Here we can see him wearing one of the shirts from a past collection.

What’s inspiring you musically right now?

Jazz! I grew up with Jazz being played continuously by my father and I never really understood it. I appreciated his passion for the sound but it didn't really connect with me. I guess it’s like wine or cigars!! One reaches a certain age and these things begin to make sense, or not! I’ve been left with my parent’s vinyl collection so have had the possibility to slowly go through it and begin to understand the sound. The parallel between jazz and techno really starts to make sense now and so many fusions coupled with ambient soundscapes are phenomenal, Jon Hassel comes to mind or more recently Matthew Halsall.

In the electronic scene, I have to drop a couple of names that have really hit me over the past year or two such as Forest Drive West, everything the East Londoner touches is gold…or Vril and Rodhads project Out of Place Artefacts from Berlin… incredibly deep analog electronic wizardry! All releases on Astral Industries are real treats too and must-haves for the Ambient vinyl collectors!

Oh and my godson, Ilay Runi… Archan’s son. You know what I’m talking about!! He's 15 years old and has the ability to literally blow me away, leaves me in tears with his live Techno improvs, mark my words he's one to look out for in the future. Pure natural talent, he has an understanding of Techno rare for someone of his age.

Ilay is incredible, I second that big time, he's going to go far that guy.
Now you live in Moraira, big change from the metropolis in 2006 to a sleepy little coastal town in Spain... What drove that?

Spain has always been part of my life from early childhood holidays to eventually living here with my parents and finishing school, so eventually deciding to make it home base was inevitable. Lorena my partner and I were done with the intensity of London and made the transition to Valencia. We spent a year there and eventually moved 1 hour south to her home town Moraira, a beautiful fishing village on the Mediterranean that converts to a top tourist destination in spring and summer. We are surrounded by fantastic nature, clean air, and a wonderfully rich coastline. I think you are familiar with the place???!!!! hahaha

A spot Léo visits regularly to get inspired, listen to music, recharge, or do his open water swimming… and a 2 minute walk from his home.

I do indeed! It's where I grew up! And based there, you started a clothing company with your partner Lorena, Cardamom Boutique. Tell me a bit about this project and what your role is.

Well, Lorena started the company, and it’s her baby! We have a boutique that has been open since 2010, with our own label that combines perfectly with other Spanish and European brands. In 2016 we expanded and opened a men’s section with home decor and art. The “B.side” offers an alternative approach in men’s fashion and was a natural progression within the Cardamom concept. Its a space that friends and customers warm to, people like to come and shop or simply hang out. The music selection of course plays an important role in creating the right atmosphere. We are open every year March to October. The winter months are a lot quieter here but we love it, and with the shop closed for that period we usually travel to India to work on the following spring/summer production. Moraira works perfectly as a home base, the years of feeling that need to be in the middle of “where it’s at” have long gone. A healthier lifestyle with quality surroundings is becoming more and more necessary these days, and I’m super happy we have been able to create this life we have here.

That’s great. Where can people find out more about the shop? And do you ship internationally?

Sure, you can find out more about our Shop on social media (@cardamomboutique) or visiting our website cardamomboutique.com.

Oh and if you subscribe to our site you’ll receive a link to a Cardamom Sounds Mix!

Excellent. Well, thanks again for doing this mix for us, it’s such a great way to celebrate 5 years of the Subtempo project.

Thanks to you man, full respect to you for your enthusiasm and congratulations on the Subtempo project. As I’m sure we all know, it’s not easy these days to run a record label, there’s a lot of sacrifices and for that, I salute you!! All the best with upcoming projects and releases. Let’s see if I can return here again at some point in the not too distant future!!!

Thanks for the kind words my friend. I’d love that.


  1. Djrum - Showreel Part 3 [R&S Records]
  2. Sonmi 451 - Pearl Jet [U-cover Transparente]
  3. Toki Fuko - Spring Ray (Reshape) [Silent Season]
  4. Saffronkeira with Paolo Fresu - Religion is an Illusion [Denovali Records]
  5. Ignez - Orbit [Somov Records]
  6. 1977 - Cefe [For Those Who Know/Syncrophone]
  7. N, Naturalist & Vova Kokhanovskyi - Synergy (Slono mix) [Hypnus Records]
  8. Florian T M Zeisig - Straining to Hear [Enmossed]
  9. Tortusa - Like Overfor [Jazzland Recordings]
  10. Marcel Duchamp - The Creative Act [1957 Reading sample]
  11. Ø (Mika Vainio) - Otava [Sähkö Recordings]
  12. Hubble - Bosphorus Shuffle Take 1 (feat Rg.) [DOMV Recordings]
  13. Ben Kaczor - pressure/search [KCZ / CZT]
  14. Donato Dozzy - Onde [Morphine Records]
  15. Monolake - Gobi [Imbalance Computer Music]
  16. James Ruskin - Cabin Fever [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
  17. Son of Chi & Radboud Mens - Side A [Astral Industries]
  18. Jonny Nash & Lindsay Todd - The gecko that wore its skin inside out [Island of the Gods]
  19. Shifted - Natural Elevation [Avian]
  20. Wa Wu We - What´s Left (Ambient Version) [Aniara Recordings]
  21. Jana Winderen - The Listener [Ash International]

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