Broadway actress and star soprano Kristin Chenoweth once said, “We sing when we can’t speak anymore.” In the case of up-and-coming singer/songwriter LEAU, this is certainly true. People turn to music when they are afraid to say what’s on their minds and because they want someone to relate to. Though LEAU’s music has a self-proclaimed “sad girl vibe,” it is anything but an aesthetic trope. Both passionately delivered and lyrically unapologetic, LEAU’s music addresses some often skirted-around topics. I sat down with LEAU to discuss how she got started (and re-started) in the music business, her new single “Frustrated,” and her thoughts on being a woman in an industry that’s predominantly male.
How did you get started in music?
I’ve been singing since I could talk--that’s what people have always told me. Growing up, I had a rough childhood and music was really my escape and my one true love. I would audition for small plays in second grade up until high school, and I frequently landed the leads but, to be honest, I think it was just because of my voice, not because of my acting capabilities. So growing up, I always thought I was going to be a singer but as I grew older and went to college, I knew I needed to work a job that was going to give me health insurance and be lucrative. I went to college and stopped singing for a long time. I entered into finance and loathed my day-to-day life a bit, so occasionally I would sing, but it was seldom. Over those years, I ended up developing stage fright from my lack of performing. About a year ago, someone who was very important to me passed away and right before they passed, they asked me why I wasn’t singing anymore. I didn’t really have an answer for them, and being the blunt person that they were, they said, “Wow, what a waste. You’re wasting this gift that you have.” It was from then on that I decided I was going to pick back up the only way that I knew how and sort of force myself into the music industry after all those years. I really just started writing again and started working with producers from all over the world through connections and online platforms and dragged myself to open mics. I guess you could say that’s how I got started and then re-started in the music industry.
You say in your Soundcloud bio, “I’m just a sad girl who sings.” Would you describe your music as “sad girl” music?
I get this question a lot when I first work with a producer or when I reach out to someone as a writer. It’s so hard to answer this question because I feel sort of like an enigma. I really enjoy singing so many different types of music. I think the sonic vision I’m going for for the project I’m currently working on is sort of like a moody, sad, alternative, indie kind of vibe. I really don’t want to shut out any kind of genre because of course, I love pop music; my first single when I was just getting back into music called “Good Love” is very pop-y. I think I’m more meant to sing “car music” like music you listen to in the car if you’re going for a drive and just wanting to relax. But “Good Love” is really special to me because it got a lot of attention, even from Lil Xan, who shared it on Soundcloud. At first, I thought it wasn’t real, that it was a fake fan account, but then I found out it was him and I was like, “whoa!” So that was really cool.
“Good Love” is about being with someone and going through a lot of the motions relative to a good relationship, but in the end, it leaves you wanting more. Your latest single “Frustrated” is also about a failed relationship, not just with a lover, but with yourself. You say, “I’m frustrated. I don’t want you, I don’t even want myself.” What inspired this single?
I don’t really want to say too much about what inspired “Frustrated” because I want to leave it open to the listener’s interpretation. I will say that the literal inspiration for this single is about insecurity and having a sexual tendency that could affect you and a partner in a relationship. It’s been something I’ve dealt with and I know a lot of other people deal with. It’s a thing women don’t speak about: feeling like sometimes they just don’t want to have sex. The process behind “Frustrated” was so much smoother than I had originally anticipated because I never really write lyrics first. I like to find a melody that’s stuck in my head and build off of it, but for this one, it was more of a piece I had written about this insecurity and these tendencies, and how it was affecting myself and my relationship. I worked with a producer named Ollie Brown. He’s fantastic and he’s worked with Julia Stone, which is why I picked him for this song because I knew he would be able to grasp the sound I was going for. He did exactly that and it all came together to be natural and moody and somewhat yearning.
What’s your opinion on the current state of women in the music industry?
The industry is definitely a boys club. It’s interesting to hear because if you’re out there and you’re listening to female artists like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Beyoncé, these women, and many others, have consistently had hit records and have all received recognition for their work, their albums, their concerts, and are financially successful. However, many people are kind of unaware that these female artists don’t represent the whole story when it comes to the music industry. It really does take a village of tech people, producers, musicians, and vocalists to make their songs and the music that we listen to everyday on the radio. So when I look at the industry, it’s predominantly male still. I think that women have been fighting back in more ways than one and we’re more powerful than ever, but there still needs to be more opportunities given to women at an early age so they can feel encouraged to explore fields in the music industry like music composition and music engineering so there isn’t just an influx of men in the industry.
You can listen to LEAU’s newly released single “Frustrated” on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Follow LEAU on Instagram for more music updates!
Interview by: Anna Sejuelas
Anna Sejuelas is a New York-based LGBTQ+ writer whose work has been published in This Bitch Magazine, Her Campus, College Candy, Medium.com, and FLURT Magazine. The way she writes and sings is the way she wears red lipstick and leather jackets: classic and with a purpose. You can read her work here: https://annasejuelas.journoportfolio.com/ and find her on Twitter: @AnnaSejuelas10 and Instagram: @annasejuelas.
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