'x fixer' Chris Leonard reveals how Niall Horan mentored him on X Factor as he releases new single
The Meath native first met Horan when he performed at a party in Mullingar for the One Direction superstar's 19th birthday
WHEN rising star Chris Leonard first appeared on The X Factor in 2014, his biggest supporter was Niall Horan.
Mullingar man Horan, who had struck it lucky after appearing on the show with One Direction four years previously, immediately contacted Chris.
"When I was in The X Factor house he came over, picked me up and brought me over to his home in London," Chris this week tells Shuffle as he releases his new love song, 'Fix'.
"Niall understood what I was going through as a young Irish guy on this massive show after being hooked up with complete strangers to form a group, which in my case was Stereo Kicks.
"We sat and had a few beers and listened to some music, had a laugh and good craic. He was just a genuine down to earth guy. I remember watching him playing guitar. Niall is a brilliant guitar player and vocalist, and a great writer. He's everything I aspire to be.
"Niall was very supportive that time when I was on The X Factor. He looked after me, took me under his wing, gave me some advice and steered me in the right direction."
Leonard, who comes from the Meath village of Ballivor, had first met Horan when he performed at a party in Mullingar for the One Direction superstar's 19th birthday in 2012.
"I was in a local band at the time and we were one of the acts playing that evening along with the likes of Gavin James and The Coronas," Chris recalls.
"The day had started off with a golf tournament and all the money raised from the events around Niall's birthday celebrations went to Keith Duffy's autism charity."
Fast forward nearly nine years and we find Leonard now on the brink of cracking the major league again with his original songs and distinctive style of trad-pop, which is an intoxicating blend of Ed Sheeran meets The Sawdoctors.
Leonard's original songs such as 'Kiss In Cali' and his current single 'Fix' show promise of exciting times ahead for him when live music returns.
He performs with a full band of trad musicians.
"The band is made up of my best mates," Chris says. "When I started putting the sound together I knew I needed top class lads to play with me, and these guys are the best. Irish music grabs people, but you have to get that sound right."
He is also co-writing with Darren Holden of The High Kings, and has Grammy-nominated producer Billy Farrell guiding him in the studio.
"Darren and Billy Farrell took me under their wing for my first single, 'Kiss in Cali', which Darren co-wrote and Billy produced," Chris says.
"I've known Darren since I was young because my dad is a trad musician and balladeer and they played together in Germany."
Chris and Darren have both been mentored by Louis Walsh.
"Darren went down the pop route early on in his career and was managed by Louis," Chris reveals. "And then Louis mentored Stereo Kicks on The X Factor.
"I was just kicking off when the pandemic struck, but hopefully we've turned a corner now and I just can't wait to get back playing live in the venues and at festivals.
"I want to see sweaty people jumping around in front of me again."
Chris Leonard's new single 'Fix' is out now.
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