My internet boyfriend (major crush) Leon Else, started recording music at the age of 12 as an escape from his rocky upbringing in the U.K. He sent himself to dance school where he and could have danced professionally (*see his video for Dance), but decided to pursue music instead. Last year, the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why featured his single My Kind of Love and things took off. (You’ve no doubt heard his hits River Full of Liquor and Black Car, as well.)
Else, has since come out, had a bad break-up and is now and living in LA. His new music video for his newest single, Beautiful World skips the fancy production and digital gimmickry showcasing his vlog entries.
The clips shows Else struggling with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder. At one moment he’s sobbing into the camera, the next he’s laughing hysterically. It’s raw and real.
Else talked about his struggles with mental health, coming out, and how his life is now with Billboard,
“I made ‘Beautiful World’ before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was about me being in a really, really bad place. It was a really dark time. The song is inspired by the experiences of handling the terrible ups and downs of mental illness. I just felt so completely alone during that time, and since it was before I was diagnosed I really didn’t know what was going on with me. I was really confused, scared. But the song reminds you that, yes, there will be cloudy days but there will also be sunny days, and you have to always remember that even though you’re having a hard time right now it’s still a beautiful world… above the clouds are always blue skies, you know?
It was really, really, really tough for me. I think there’s a misconception out there that you come out and it’s all rainbows and unicorns. There’s all these new lovely videos on YouTube showing kids coming out to their parents and their parents are all happy and accepting. I think that’s great, people should not be afraid anymore to come out. But the reality is that it’s not always like that. Sometimes, coming out starts a journey of healing.
I grew up in a dysfunctional household and was abused by my stepdad. I was bullied a lot at school. So it wasn’t easy coming out for me. Coming out unlocked a lot of things for me. I went to therapy for the first time in my life and talked about everything. The sexual abuse, the mental health struggles, the closeted sexuality. All of it. But I still think about it all the time… is the record label going to judge me? Will my fans judge me? Will they still like me and buy tickets to my shows? I actually became suicidal after I came out, so… Sometimes it will get worse before it gets better.
Now I’m doing better, but it’s a mental health journey.”
The video is a collection of vlog entries i had made when i was really going through it. So you see what’s happening to me in the moment. Sometimes I’m crying, sometimes I’m laughing. There’s a clip of me freaking out and basically sobbing before getting on stage at a Pride event, having to act like I’m so happy to be there and relaxed and full of pride when actually, as you can see, I was a total mess.
I don’t know why I filmed all of the clips at the time, I guess it was because I just felt so alone. I thought vlogging was like talking to someone. And at the time of these clips I was also going through a breakup with the person who I had come out of the closet for, so it was genuinely one of the hardest times in my life. So it just felt more genuine to make a video like this that matches the tone of the song. It’s not stylized. I wanted to show people what was really happening with me. I just thought…
Fuck it. Let’s do something real.”