Psychedelic pop-rock outfit Leopard and the Diamond Sky has a distinct, multifaceted vision of what music can be. Formerly Community Pool, the band went through a transformation during the COVID-times of 2020, deciding on a different name to usher in a new era of music making. “It was a departure from what was before, and a name that felt more fitting,” said Matt Varner, also known by his artist moniker Leopard Lee.
The band’s current iteration consists of Varner and longtime friends and collaborators drummer John Gornati (who goes by J Renaldo when recording music) and bassist Russell Green, plus the addition of keyboardist Erel Piro. Not only does each member provide vocals, but they are also all multi-instrumentalists, often trading off playing each other’s instruments live.
Leopard and the Diamond Sky’s long-awaited debut album, Magick, dropped Oct. 1. It was recorded at and released through the Secret Cottage, the band’s home recording studio that also serves as a record label and creative collective.
“In the modern world, the music/arts industry is very large and saturated and Secret Cottage is sort of our own little universe,” Varner said. “It’s the umbrella we operate under and an avenue for promoting all of the projects born in and around the cottage.”
Magick is a nine-song album that combines elements of classic pop-rock with dreamy electronica. The lo-fi soundscape is also peppered with references to New Wave and the shoegaze-era, achieved with authenticity through the use of the vintage recording gear at the Secret Cottage studio.
“I imagine it could potentially be somewhat jarring to someone upon first listen of the album if they were not familiar with what we’re about,” said Varner. “I love music that sounds like it’s from a different time — whether it be the past or the future — or maybe both at the same time. Trying to emulate that is what I’m after.”
Fans can expect to experience Magick live toward the end of this year. Leopard and the Diamond Sky intends for the experience to be multidimensional, employing alternate personas to push the boundaries of what it means to see a band live.
“Leopard Lee to me is like Ziggy Stardust to Bowie. It’s a character I play, but very much a reflection of part of my inner self,” Varner said of his alter-ego.
He and the group are looking forward to creating an immersive experience for concert-goers.
“I’ve always been attracted to making it more than just a band.”