Christian Leave: Boy-Next-Door turned Superstar

Christian Leave: Boy-Next-Door turned Superstar

Christian Leave: Boy-Next-Door turned Superstar

The 20-year-old sits down with us to discuss his new EP, social media and his upbringing in the church.

The 20-year-old sits down with us to discuss his new EP, social media and his upbringing in the church.

Photography: Connor Franta

Styling: ARYEH LAPPIN

Text: Kala Herh

If you’ve been on the Internet long enough to remember the ALS ice bucket challenge, #alexfromtarget, and belfies, you may know Christian Leave as the Vine star who went viral with his relatable videos about school, friendships, and everything in between. Born Christian Akridge in Wichita Falls, Texas, the then 14-year-old was making six-second videos, responding to (at times, outlandish) fan DMs, and starting Twitter challenges—all from his childhood bedroom. “I’ve lived a lot of my life on the Internet,” says Christian, now based in Los Angeles.

Christian wears coat Maison Margiela, top and pants his own

“I’m getting into this moment of living life in front of me and being a regular person in the real world.”  After Vine went under in 2017, Christian turned to another passion of his: music. Like many of his Gen Z cohorts, he often finds himself in a perpetual state of numbness, overwhelmed by the seemingly endless pool of content on social media, and anxious about the post-pandemic future. For the 20-year-old, his lo-fi music and therapy are interconnected; he uses songwriting to clear his mental slate. “I’ve tried to shape my music in a way to really allow someone to hear what I’m saying and then immediately agree or feel some kind of comfort,” he says.

Top his own

The product of his casual, yet intimate journaling is his just-released new EP, Heavy Hitting Hurts My Head. On the gauzy, emotion-drenched song, “Bedache,” Christian confesses that, “I can’t seem to move on,” and “I wish I could give up,” with his ultimate admission in the chorus, “All this thinking makes me want to drop dead.” The EP is an incisive portrait of his inner life, whether he’s singing about remorselessly ghosting on plans or, more poignantly, about the fear of being different. His rich, soulful sound can be traced back to his years growing up in a Pentecostal church where his dad was a pastor. As he stretches the boundaries of his sound, you’ll find yourself unraveling a coming-of-age story that’s eerily familiar. Despite making the transition to music, Christian is still the same boy-next-door with an affinity for nonsensical quips that Vine users fell in love with. After listening to the dreamy, intimate lyrics of his new album, you might be next.

Top Guess / pants and shoes his own

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