While Austin is rife with musicians in every genre imaginable, it is those who expose their creativity in not only the way they sound, but in the way they look, that truly stand out. ‘Dressing the Sound’ highlights the most fashionable Austin musicians, explores their personal style, and finds out how performing affects their daily look.
LEOPOLD AND HIS FICTION
Daniel James started the now Austin-based band Leopold and His Fiction nine years ago. The band’s mix of rock ’n roll, Motown, and blues has gained them significant attention over the span of their three full length albums and two EPs. Daniel’s intense performances, the power of which has been likened to a fist fight, translates into his everyday style. His resulting look is reminescent of a 1930s fighter, ready to both charm and knock out.
Tailored, clean-cut, simple, and vintage-inspired – it’s easy to see why Daniel’s on and off-stage style is one to take note of.
When did you start playing music, and what made you start?
I was about seven. I found a guitar with three strings in my grandmother’s basement, and then I found a trumpet. It really snowballed out of control from that point on.
Describe your personal style and tell our readers a little bit about how you view yourself and your style.
Clean. I like my clothing clean and very well-maintained. Tailored to the right fit. I believe in making every element an important aspect. Very little accessorizing, and everything for a purpose. Life, Fashion, Music. I haven’t much time or attention span for extra filler.
Where did you grow up, and where are some different places you have lived/traveled to that had an impact on you?
Do you think any of those places affected your style?
I was born and raised in Detroit. I moved to San Francisco when I turned 20 and have been in Austin now for three years. They’ve all had a tremendous impact on me – none of them a dull blade for the daily battle. All three with a distinct American-ness that pulls the greater nation together but heavily microcosmic in every way. Every source of influence including but not limited to: film, fashion, music, careers, land worth, and value of ideals are so very, very geographically and recognizably different, and still they thrive within the same hypocrisy.
Who or what are your fashion influences?
Michael Corleone, David Bowie, Motown-era Detroit. Warm weather anticipation. Fresh haircuts. Being limited to three outfits for the next two solid months in the van. Usually packing only two, acquiring one or two more out in the field, and being influenced by necessity.
What is your personal favorite fashion decade or time period?
Do you feel the way you dress on stage enhances or contributes to your performance?
Very much so. It provides the audience with an experience unique to our band. You can tell it’s us when our band walks in the door.
Did you dress the way you do now before you were in a band or does the music you play in any way influence your current style?
Styles change. I’ve led this band for nine years and within that time, I have evolved in every way. I know as an artist you have to evolve. You have to push yourself for change. Not for the sake of evolution, but for inspiration to continually have a genuine taste.
Where does most of your clothing come from, and what are some of your favorite places to shop?
In Austin there is a store I’ve begun getting customized suits and pants at – Dandy’s on 5th Street downtown. They make everything from head to toe. I like a few staples in my wardrobe to be custom-made, but mostly while we tour we are in every major city and a lot of small ones that have a much less picked-over selection, so there is fashion that is inspired and avails.
What kind of clothing typically stands out to you?
I know it when I see it, but it turns out everything I like ends up being from a 30-year time span – mid ’30s to early ’60s.
What is your favorite accessory?
A fly haircut and boots.
Could you give some tips to our readers on how to achieve style like yours?
Get a gym membership.
Writing and Photography by Shelley Neuman