Jonathan Aron Leandoer Håstad has dealt with loss and success in a intense period of time while transcending into adulthood. A year later his life has quickly shifted — we all need some time right?
Around this time last year Yung Lean was in a mental hospital. Lean had ended up in Miami after a stateside tour that his 27-year-old U.S. manager, Barron Machat, had helped arrange. Barron was a beloved and respected figure in the North American experimental music scene. Known for his beliefs in the crossover potential of thought-provoking acts, he and his label Hippos in Tanks were said to have “ushered avant-garde music into the 21st century.” Although he didn’t release any of Lean’s records, he helped Lean start a label of his own, Sky Team.
In Miami, Barron had an apartment where Lean could crash, and connections: his father, Steven Machat, is an entertainment lawyer who has contributed to the success of artists such ass Ozzy Osborne and Bobbi Brown. Following his trip, accompanied by his fellow Swedish clan — There was Yung Sherman, then 20, one of his longtime producers and the one behind Warlord, and Bladee, 21, a frequent collaborator who sings background vocals at Lean’s live shows. And there was Emilio Fagone, Lean’s 29-year-old primary manager, who’s been working with him since he was 16. Living the life you could say.
After the recording sessions wrapped in Miami, Sherman and Emilio flew back to Sweden. But Lean and Bladee stayed behind, with plans to perform some shows then head up to New York. By his own account, in Miami he was heavily addicted, not just to lean, but to Xanax, marijuana, and cocaine, and combining the drugs daily to multiple zone outs. Lean found himself slipping into characters that were hard to shake. He started dressing like a nurse, in hospital scrubs. He began to carry a knife. Most nights the drugs kept him up, so he’d sit out on a balcony, writing a book in his iPhone called Heaven that retold childhood nightmares about people turning into rats — the animal sign of his Chinese Zodiac. Lean showed the book to Barron, and Barron told him it was too dark, that he shouldn’t be writing it. After Barron’s death, the sad boy released Roses in tribute to the visionary and his friend.
The music Lean is working on now is unique because, more than ever, it offers him the chance to speak as an insider. He shares real experiences with his fans, known for lyrics that are simple to the point of sounding naïve, and more to the point, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Being the same teenager he’s always been.
Image source The Fader