Leon Bridges: On My Culture Radar

The Texan soul singer on Pinky and the Brain, walking the red carpet with Will Smith and that Blade Runner vibe

Current favourite book

I don't have the discipline to read many books, but the last one I read was Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison. It's the true story about the author, TJ Parsell, who held up a drugstore in the 1970s with a toy gun, and was arrested and jailed at a young age. It's about his experiences in prison, like trying to survive and deal with prison rape. It's a pretty heavy story but it's a compelling read.


My good friend put me onto Norah in Los Angeles, and it’s a good little spot where we meet up and have a couple of drinks and some food. It’s mostly American cuisine, with some Italian aspects too. My favourite dish there is a cornbread: it’s made in a cast-iron skillet and it’s the best cornbread I’ve ever had.


Dave Chappelle is definitely the funniest comedian I've seen. I love his stand-up stuff and Chappelle's Show. He does a great job of making people laugh, but he's very articulate and able to bring in social topics within his routines.

Theatre show

I studied dance in college, and there's a junior dance company called Dallas Black Dance who, like me, were inspired by Alvin Ailey's work. I watched a piece called Chaos, where everyone on stage is in all-black but there's one person that has an all-white costume. I don't know what that represents, it could be an angel or it could be something else, but it was a very intriguing performance.


Visual artist

I don't know who the cinematographer was for the new Blade Runner movie, but they're incredible. I really love the whole vibe of that futuristic world. Even with the first Blade Runner, I remember seeing the poster and wanting to see the movie because of it.


New Orleans is one of my favourites although I’m a little biased because all my family is from New Orleans. I really like the dance, food and the music culture there. I love how everyone in the city has a reverence for jazz and dancing. My favourite spot is the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street, and the Ace Hotel is really dope. The aesthetic in the hotels is impressive and they have good live music.


Will Smith is my favourite actor and a loveable person – I had the opportunity to meet him when I wrote a song for his movie Concussion. It was early on in my career when everything was new and scary to me. We walked the red carpet for it, and he made me feel less nervous by joking with me about all the photographers and press, which I appreciated.


I'm really into SiR's album November – I believe he's with Top Dawg Entertainment, Kendrick Lamar's label. He has a good approach to soul and that futuristic R&B thing going on. It's contemporary but still uses classic ideas, and his songwriting is really strong.

TV shows

I love 1990s cartoon like Batman, Pinky and the Brain, Anamaniacs – it's the stuff I grew up on as a kid. I also love Robot Chicken, a stop-motion show by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. It's a bunch of random skits that make fun of pop culture, and that's what I love about it.


When a Woman's Fed Up by R Kelly. I don't condone some of his life decisions, but his music is awesome and he's the reason why I fell in love with R&B at a young age. I remember being a kid at a sleepover my father put on in the community centre. There was a guy who was playing that song on the piano, and hearing it shook something within me. I asked him what it was, he told me, and that's how I discovered R&B.

  • Leon Bridges's new album Good Thing is out on May 4th on Columbia Records