Want my job? with Imperial Leisure Frontman Denis Smith

"Music is a creative field, if you want your work to be pure and true to you, advice from others is of little use. But at the same time it is worth appreciating that advice and education are not the same thing, it is vital to understand the difference."

Want my job? with Imperial Leisure Frontman Denis Smith

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

Denis aka Baron DenDen, I front what is rumoured to be the best band ever, Imperial Leisure.  

What does your job involve? What happens on a typical day?

Creating chaos through music, skulking Champagne and encouraging others to do the same. Today was a day much like any other, it began in the darkness, I drove through the night to rendezvous with a business woman in Cornwall, the meeting was brief, at first a little rough but we pulled it off and then everything flowed smoothly. This afternoon, I shall nap and maybe pluck my banjo, my stroke has been a little off lately. Then to round off the day, my evening will be spent with a promising up and coming, she makes stage props in her spare time, currently working on some horns, hopefully she’ll give me one.

What’s great about what you do?

My moustache, I really love grooming my moustache, I wish it would grow faster so I could groom it every day.

What are the toughest parts of your job?

When you love your work it’s all gravy, but I suppose you do get lumpy bits in the sauce from time to time. Travelling from show to show is somewhat of a bore-a-thon, but I would say by far the toughest thing to deal with is having to say goodbye to our lovely fans after the show, alas the party does have to end at some point.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Apart from this Voice interview? :) So many highlights to choose from, we are truly blessed with good vibes. Recently we appeared at the Mr Wolf's NYE Party, sold out show, top-shelf jump around carnage and £400 was raised for the charity Caring In Bristol. An amazing night, it had it all, I shall remember it for years to come I am sure.

What's been the biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

Poached Eggs! I just can't get them right, damn things just won't sit still. It has been many years and I am yet to overcome this problem but I did manage to charm a friend into preparing poached eggs for breakfast on a few occasions recently. Charm is perhaps not the right word, now that I think about it, they were definitely acting in sympathy.

What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?  

Chance is all it was. One glorious evening after another, with the people I love, manifested into a wonderful music project that has been with me now for over 20 years. We have branched out and experienced areas of the music industry we never thought possible, and then outside of the music industry we find collaborations in completely different fields such as Charity, Education, Sustainability and Construction. We love a good old collab!

Have you noticed any changes in the industry in recent times? If so, what?

If it doesn't change and grow constantly it must be dead! Some things change, some things don't. I have been around a few years and I am very pleased to see a significant change in diversity, on stage and off stage. So many beautiful and different people are experiencing music now, it's a goddamn revolution I tell you!

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

If you don't have roots, how are you going to grow? Impossible to say, but it's all there working away as I type. Back in the 80s, I was a child and I recall climbing a tree in Onitsha Nigeria, looking out over a field. I relive that moment on occasions and have no idea how it affects me or my work now but I know in some way it absolutely has an impact.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

I would say, "Hello, my name is DenDen, you are young and have the gift of no preconceptions, I need your advice, open your mind and imagine you are me, a 44-year-old music man, now look at me, what do you see and what advice would you give this eccentric?"

Do you have any advice for young people interested in your field?

My advice would be not to take any advice. Music is a creative field, if you want your work to be pure and true to you, advice from others is of little use. But at the same time it is worth appreciating that advice and education are not the same thing, it is vital to understand the difference.

Where can people find you and your work online?

We are everywhere, go exploring but you might find it easier to start at our website. Thank you for your time, good day to you. Warmest regards, Baron DenDen of Imperial Leisure xx

Header Image Credit: Sacha Taylor-Cox PR


Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

Saskia is the Deputy Editor of Voice and has worked on campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Anti-Bullying Week. Outside of Voice, Saskia is a published author (Hairvolution) and has guest featured in various other publications (The Women Writers’ Handbook/ Cosmopolitan/ The Highlight). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. She is a mentor for Women of the World Global, has guest lectured at the University of Roehampton and has led seminars/panel talks on Race, Equality and Diversity. She was a 2022 Guest Judge for Dave (TV Channel) in search of the 'Joke of the Fringe'. She is 27-years-old, based in London, and loves to cook and explore new places in her spare time.


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