Russell Leonce is a Singer, Songwriter, Recording artiste and Minister. His style and sound are distinctive. Penetrating even.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity to me is simply a Reminder... A reminder that I am indeed the image of an intelligent creator, and I have been blessed with the ability to reflect Him artistically!
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I believe that the capacity to be creative is within us all, since (again) we were created to be cerative. Skill speaks to how well you do what you do, and I think that skill develops over time, with training and experience (baby geniuses not included, they're just weird lol).
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I've always been singing, but for me that was never enough. I wanted to sing my own song. I remember begging some of my friends who I consider creative and skillful to write for me (Isaac Blackman, Josette Thomas)... I only began writing and sharing what I wrote with friends and family in about 2003. I remember singing my first song ever to a good friend and brother Christophe Pierre, just to have him tell me that I was lying about having written it, lol... My family and other friends kinda shared those same sentiments. Didn't know how to feel exactly lol. I guess their disbelief simply meant it was WICKED AWESOME!!
4. What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
For me, the biggest rewards come when I see or hear about how my artistry/ministry has positively impacted the lives of those who come into contact with it, and I guess it would be the same for the works of others. There would have to be something that moves me on some cognitive, emotional or spiritual level. There isn't a price tag or value that one can place on stuff like that. On the other hand, monetary rewards help to free my mind and time so that I can really focus my efforts and continue being creative. We all got bills!
5. Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Although I relish feedback and constructive criticism, I try to never let it change the core of who I am or what I do. Culture definitely plays a massive role in the creative process. Any artist will tell you that their inspiration at some point came through their sense of the world around them, and its the same for me. I believe though, that I am more influenced by subcultures. My musings and ideas aren't always mainstream, and I kinda like that.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Write about it:
Sitting on this block, where most my peers come to hang
Sitting on this block , weapons locked, loaded and ready in hand
Sitting on this block, we all got somethin' to say
Yet Sitting on this block our purposes are disheveled, dis-aggregated and disarrayed!
Sitting on this block, As hours swiftly go fluttering by
They never stop long enough to see us sitting on this block...
We wonder if ours would be the hand that would wield the sword of change, but sitting on this block
Could never yield a fruit as telling as change
... So sitting on this block, we pray for relief from the clock
For there's no place more desolate
Than the writer's block!
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
For me its like walking and each step is very clear; I get an idea, and as soon as it comes I make sure to record it, either written, audio or visual. The next step is the most important I think, yet so many people fail in taking it, and that is sharing. So many people get BRILLIANT ideas all the time, whether for song, poetry, business or art but they never make themselves vulnerable enough to share. Sharing almost automatically leads to the next step of producing that tangible goodness, that could potentially gain and do so much more than if it were just sitting in a dusty book somewhere.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Apart from praying and seeking guidance, I have found that my mind is most clear and imaginative right out of sleep... Its weird, other people wake up groggy, I wake up with a clever metaphor or word play in my head. So I guess sleeping on purpose (God knows I don't get it when I need it) could be that thing that I do. lol
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Indeed. Although I do not view 'Creativity' as a changing thing. As long as we live in this world and are experiencing as much of it as we can, I believe that personal evolution and growth is inevitable and while "creativity" itself may not change, it most certainly takes different forms and expands to varying levels as we grow. For me, the songs I write would and have changed not only based on genre or what's hot at the moment, but based on what I may be experiencing emotionally and even spirtiually at that moment. Also the medium has taken minor shifts from songs to Poetry (which some might want to argue are the same, I beg to differ lol) even to books. I'm at the moment thinking about getting into sculpting (that should be interesting) hahaha
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
This is a tricky one. The way I view it is based on the FACT that God rewards sacrifice, and I have seen the the rewards of my sacrifices therefore no sacrifice is ever too great. But If I absolutely had to name something, it would have to be my very private thoughts and emotions.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My faith in my God and the example of my parents. They have modeled before me a crazy faith that got them and our family this far, and I have taken notes. In my relationship with God I have seen countless times where He has come through for me and although at times I still doubt, I just constantly remind myself that if He did it before, He can do it again. All I need is a little faith!
12. Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
It's great to do what you love and love what you do, and there is a world of gratification to be had there. But we do not exist alone or as an island. Any created thing would be useless I think if it were merely self serving to the artist or not deemed acceptable by anyone. What is the point of art if not to be accepted even if for harsh criticism. That said, Validation should come from one's own confidence in one's work.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.:
I cant say that it has, I've learnt that you can't always please everyone. I have to be true to me and my craft. Not dogmatic or unreasonable but I also can't simply go changing who I am every time someone says I'm too much or too little of what they think I should be.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?:
I would not... it reveals who I am now, Reminds me of who and where I used to be and Reassures me of who and where I can be!!!
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I have, in those early days when I just began writing. Because I was not yet confident enough, "Step 2" (Sharing and receiving feedback) was my way of working through the doubt, specifically of the caliber of this new found talent.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
Although I see my work as a whole, and I am quite proud of i,. I would probably single out my debut project 'Culture of Love" if I had to. It is such a definitive piece of work in my mind, one which broke many molds and shattered many barriers - hope that does not sound cocky - it's just the truth though. A truth which bears witness not to my own talents but to the likes of Cleon Richardson, Keith Kirk, Christophe Pierre, Clint DeCoteau, Antus Keith, Jonathon "Shiselon" De Silva, Vanessa Briggs, Nisa Nora, Joel Archer and Jason Max Ferdinand.
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
Not sure if they would agree but Marc Isaacs, John Yarde, Mekaiel Gonzales, Nisa Nora (She'll deny it) Xurrender (Surrender, They'll deny it too) lol... Someone I would like to mentor would have to be my favorite new artiste Candace Coker CHECK HER OUT!!!!!!!!!
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
It's not a bed of roses as it seems... This had better be your first love, just as it should with anything you decide to do.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
Someone who ABSOLUTELY, UNABASHEDLY loved people, and a man who was desperate for the heart of GOD!
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Xillion Fornax... That's actually the name I'm saving for my dog, but I'll borrow it for now!