Leah McKendrick is an upcoming solo-performing artist who is currently living and working in LA and is our latest Sonicbids competition winner. After checking out some of Leah’s work we were really impressed at Essential Pop and were delighted, despite her hectic schedule that she agreed to complete an interview. Read on to find out about what Leah McKendrick has recently been working on, what music she enjoys listening to and what she does to relax when not working.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
My music is like the hot sun on a chilly winter’s day. I don’t know. I make pop music! My friends tell me it’s like Britney, but edgier, with more singing. It’s fun, sexy, girly and at times dark and moody. That’s more than 20 words, sorry.
Q: What is your musical background?
I grew up on Madonna and Michael Jackson. I’d dance around in my room with a hairbrush, singing in the mirror…the whole deal. Then I started thinking I was a diva because I discovered Celine and Mariah. Then came Britney and Christina. I always did musical theatre but I love pop music. Forever and always!
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
Exciting and frustrating… Story of my life! This year has been a big year of making my own opportunities as well as a ton of collaboration. Working with Janice Cooke-Leonard [on the music video for “SICK”] was a huge thrill because I’m a big fan of her work. I LOVED Dawson’s Creek in high school! She’s so cool and relaxed yet she’s got such a strong vision and knows what she wants. I love her.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
She’s more of a creative influence than a musical one, but Lena Dunham is a BIG inspiration for me. She is the creator/writer/star of the HBO series, “Girls” which is my fave. We are almost the same age. She makes me want to do more, achieve more; be better! She drives me to create my own opportunities instead of sitting on my ass. Not to mention that girl is ALWAYS naked and I love it.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I think it’s really cool that some of the new pop singers also rap! Karmin, Cher Lloyd… I try to rap, but I’m…not great. It’s not going to stop me from trying though!
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
The producer, MdL. His stuff is awesome and fresh. He’s already so well respected and he’s like 21! It’s ridiculous.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
I just discovered Sara Bareilles’ album, Kaleidoscope Heart that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Her voice is perfection.
Q: What is your creative process for writing a song?
It really depends. Sometimes I compile lyrics I’ve written on scraps of paper or my journals and put it together to make a song. Sometimes it’ll all just come out on it’s own and be done in twenty minutes. Has to do with my mood and the song. Usually the first thing to come is the concept or title. I have a few titles in my head that I’ll write eventually. They are filed away in my brain.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
I think every successful songwriter ever would probably say if they had to choose, melody because you can have a successful song with terrible lyrics but usually not the other way around. Still, I’m ALL about lyrics. I’ll change my melody for a co-writer or producer, but I think anybody that has worked with me knows I’m not as flexible when it comes to my lyrics.
Q: Where are you based?
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
I’m originally from San Francisco. Every San Franciscan is proud to be from SF.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I am working on creating a musical web series about two sororities at war. VERY early stages but I’m super excited. It’s going to be a ton of work that is good because I’m a nightmare when I’m not busy. I don’t even want to be around me when I’m not busy.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Roy [Hamilton 3] gave me this track when I was first signed to the label Monarch and he was like, “Kells wrote this song for you.” They gave me this rough of R.Kelly singing. He was barely even singing words; there was just a melody there and a guitar. Completely rough. I was supposed to write the song with his melody and record it. When I was a kid I used to try to sing “I Believe I Can Fly” over and over and OVER. Then here I am with this song R.Kelly and Roy have handed over for me to write and sing. It was a crazy moment because I think it was the first time I felt like a real artist! Not a pretend artist.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve over the next 12 months?
International fame and fortune, of course.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
I am pretty exclusively working on shooting material at the moment! So please subscribe to my YouTube channel because I will be doing a ton of web content! Youtube.com/leahmckendrick
Q: What do you do to relax?
I watch a TON of TV! A TON. I love TV. I love American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Revenge, Master Chef, The X Factor, Kitchen Nightmares and of course, Girls.
Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?
May favorite holiday is Halloween and I’d like to do it in New Orleans next year! I’ve never been. I wanna go see some awesome live music and eat jumbalaya!
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was from an acting teacher, Cynthia Szigeti, but I think it still applies. She said; if you want to make it in this industry, get yourself a life. Friends you like, a relationship you like, a place you like, because you’re going to be here a while. I think that’s so true. If you hate your life here, you will burn out. Have a source of happiness other than your music because the industry can be downright heartbreaking.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
Please add me on Facebook and subscribe!
Editor’s Note: Leah McKendrick has all of the attributes and keen musicianship to enjoy a fruitful career in the music industry. At Essential Pop we’re looking forward to how Leah’s career progresses over the coming months and years.
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