“Leo”, this name describes the dynamic, young lead singer Leonie Vierk of the band “Leo in the Lioncage”. The band consists of nine musicians who have been inspiring people with handmade music from the genres funk, soul, Latin, and reggae since 2016. At the beginning of 2019, the band even won the Kiel Culture Prize for musicians.

I met Leo as well as the keyboarder, singer and drummer of the band, Hannes Pries, for a short interview in downtown Kiel.

The complete interview:

Has anything changed in the booking status for your band since the awarding of the culture prize?

” Generally, not really, but we are booked today especially because of the awarding and probably taken a little more seriously than before.

Where would you prefer to perform and why?

“In general, we would like to expand the circle of our gigs, but the coolest would be to play in front of a mega audience like “Hurricane” or something like that. A stage or event where people have never heard our name before and just go wild.”

Who would you like to perform with one day?

Leo: “I would like to perform one day with Alicia Keys. She is my absolute favorite singer and a great role model. She has a great voice and charisma on stage.

Hannes: “I would like to be the opening act of The Cat Empire one day, because they are an idol for many of us in the band and the music genre is like ours.

What has been your best or biggest gig so far?

“Definitely the performances on the Junge Bühne and the Wilwarin Festival. These were the first times for us on such a big stage and with such professional people. Everything was just perfect, the stage, the audience, the band was great and of course the whole thing. That made us all want to go to these festivals.”

Leo, how would you define yourself?

“I am the absolute flat-wit queen. A very humorous person who loves singing and music.”

What are your future plans? Are there already specific ideas?

“That’s not easy to answer, because we are all still quite young and there are just so many doors opening for us. It is almost impossible at the moment to keep an overview or make decisions. Presently, we’re all very keen to keep on doing what we do with the band and our music. For now, we let everything come to us and see where the way leads us.”

Who composes the songs for you?

“We don’t have a special person who writes songs. Often Hannes, Lukas, our saxophonist, or someone else brings a concept with them, which is then usually worked out with the whole band, until at some point a finished song comes out. Sometimes you don’t even know if a song developed on the piano fits to a large ensemble at all, because the character of the song changes a lot and there are major differences between a piano and a large ensemble.”

What was your first dream-career?

Leo: ” Teacher. I always wanted to become a teacher.”

Hannes: “Rocker. I recently looked in my diary and read that I wanted to become a rocker.”

What inspires you most about music, especially this genre of Funk, Soul and Latin?

Leo: “I always listen very much to the vocals. Especially when the singers have a strong, soulful voice. The music simply grooves and puts you immediately in a good mood.

Hannes: “I think every music style has its right to exist and its fans. With us and our music it is just that we go on stage and everything is open. With handmade music no performance is like the other, because so many factors play a role in every performance”.

Eight men, one woman, are there sometimes misunderstandings or problems?

“Absolutely not, I never have the feeling that as a woman I am on the outs or treated differently than the rest of the band. We are all good buddies and get along great.”

What are you doing at the time professionally?

Leo: “I’m studying French and history and next semester I’m doing my bachelor.”

Hannes: “I’m studying music in Lübeck, I’m in my fifth semester.”

One of the most frequently asked questions to young musicians: “Could you play at our wedding, we don’t have a budget, but you are allowed to eat and drink for free”, have you ever heard that before?

“Definitely, but to perform somewhere with nine musicians is a big logistical effort and of course also involves expenses etc. So the cake has to be something very special and above all- very big!”

In your opinion, are there sufficient stages and events for young talents in Kiel?

“Well, just for the summer there are a lot of events and possibilities for young bands in Kiel, like the Boat Harbour Summer, the Young Stage and of course the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week), where young talents can perform on smaller and bigger stages. You can see that the people there are already thinking about how they can best promote these talents”.

Is there a style of music that you cannot stand at all?

Leo: “I personally don’t feel at home in the genre of Schlager (German Pop-hit music with sentimental lyrics). Nevertheless, every music style has its own charm.

Hannes: “I don’t have a music style that I don’t like. I can somehow find something positive in every style of music. For me there are no good and bad genres, only good and bad music”.

The Quickie-Question-Round for Leo

What can you least do without in your life?

Leo: “My family.”

What could you most likely do without?

Leo: “Cornflakes.”

Is there a decision in your life that you would like to undo in retrospect?

Leo: “Not really. My idea of life is that everything comes as it should come.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Leo: “To appear once with Alicia Keys, that all the people I love are doing well and all stay healthy.

What would you do if you were a man for one day?

Leo: “Everything I would like to do in my life, I would do regardless of whether I was a woman or a man.”

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Leo: “There are certainly a lot of things that are wrong, but the first thing that comes to mind is that I would make sure that every child could grow up safely.

How often do you look at your cell phone?

Leo: “Not much at the moment, but there are days when it starts early in the morning and doesn’t end until late in the evening.

Three things you would take with you to a deserted island?

Leo: “My family, my friends and of course music.”

Which character trait do you find most disturbing about people?

Leo: “Arrogance.”

Your favorite dish?

Leo: “Noodles and homemade panned veggies. I am a real disaster at the stove, so I stick to simple dishes.”

Which animal would you like to be and why?

Leo: “A dog. I have a dog myself and he has a really nice life and gets lots of cuddles.”

The first poster on your wall?

Leo: “I used to be a Tokyo hotel fan. A life-size poster of Tom Kaulitz, the guitarist, was hanging on my wall at that time.”

Watching sports or being active yourself?

Leo: “Being active myself. There is nothing more boring than sitting on the sofa and watching other people play sports.

A good book or Facebook & Instagram?

Leo: “A good book. I am not that active on social media, but rather a bookworm.

Which place would you like to travel to one day?

Leo: “To Iceland or Ireland. I am remarkably close to nature and these would be my favorites, where I would like to travel to one day.

Are you religious?

Leo: “Yes, in my very individual way. I don’t necessarily believe in God as he is described in the Bible or religions tell me to, but in something that surrounds us and guides us, protects us, e.g. karma.”

Text / layout: Helmut Joppek
Photos: Lukas Maschmann, Alex Leuschner, Lukas Pries