Three years ago, Christian Cooley moved to Miami to open his own recording studio in the heart of Wynwood. “Before Miami, I was thinking to move to L.A.,” he remembers. He booked a plane ticket, landed, and shortly after, had an epiphany. “I realized they don't need another producer.”
Born in Mexico, Cooley studied music production in the U.S. and later moved to London to work at a recording studio. Though he listened to electronic music as a teen when house music hit Mexico in the late '90s, it was in the U.S. and England that his taste for more ambient subgenres emerged. Cooley says, “I really like projects like Massive Attack, Portishead, UNKLE, Nine Inch Nails. I took that kind of sound from my stay in these two countries.”
After moving back to Mexico from London, he worked on postproduction music for radio and TV advertising, but he yearned to work on a project that could express his personal tastes in music. “So in 2012, I just decided to make a project with a name, kind of like a collaboration thing,” says Cooley.
The resulting collaboration project was Leitvox, for which he produced his first EP, Fall From You, in 2012. His latest release is Leitvox’s debut full-length album, Floating Promises, featuring collaborations with Ilan Rubin of Nine Inch Nails and Nina Miranda of Smoke City.
On Floating Promises, Cooley also got the opportunity to work with one of his musical heroes, the late Gavin Clark of UNKLE. They recorded the songs in Brighton about six months before Clark’s passing. “I always followed UNKLE since I was sixteen years old,” Cooley says, “so to work with them was an amazing thing. Actually, we recorded these tracks in UNKLE’s recording studio.”
Reflecting on working with Clark, he remembers, “Gavin was an amazing singer. The track that is the single, ‘A Whole Other Country’ — it was super hot that day and the studio didn't have AC, so literally he just went to the live room, he sang the thing just twice, and that's it. He was in the live room for twelve minutes. It was so hot, and he nailed it perfectly.”
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The video for “A Whole Other Country,” directed by Mexican design duo Flaminguettes, nods to Cooley’s heritage, featuring symbols of Mexican culture like lasso dancing and modern, high-fashion takes on traditional charro style. "They gave me the idea of doing something very traditionally Mexican, but with a mix of technology and visual effects.”
With the album and music video out now, Cooley’s next plan is to bring the songs on Floating Promises to life onstage in the next couple of months. “My idea is not to do a DJ set. I would like to have a set of four or five musicians. I think the project deserves that, because it's not that dancey. It's a bit more organic in terms of the instrumentation, so I would like to have acoustic drums, bass, and, of course, electronics.” The live vocals are his greatest challenge because he collaborated with multiple vocalists on the album. “But we're working on that,” he says.
While he plans out the live set for the songs on Floating Promises, he's also beginning work on his next EP. “I'm working with Astari Nite,” he says. “We're doing two tracks together. I'm still producing tracks, and hopefully I can get those names that I really respect, which is a bit difficult, but it's doable.”
For now, Cooley plans to grow the Leitvox name into a common part of Miami's vocabulary. He cites local investment in art as one of the reasons he’s happy to have chosen Miami over L.A. “Wynwood is one of my reasons that I stay to be honest, because I can tell that the artistic side of Miami is very dense here in Wynwood and the Design District and all these areas. I had a different idea of Miami four years ago – completely different – colder in some way, a bit plastic. And it is not at all.”