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INTERVIEW: Leah Capelle

1. How would you classify your music?

Genre definitions have always been tough for me…when I write, I start with the basic folk elements (guitar, piano, voice) and then my band and I develop the music into a much bigger sound. I’m really excited about the new direction my music is going. If I had to classify it, I would call it a blend of alt pop and indie rock.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 

I absolutely love Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, The Shouting Matches). The way in which they craft abstract and poetic lyrics that resonate with people is really inspiring, and they are by far two of my all-time favorite musicians. I am hugely influenced by Sara Bareilles. She has always been an idol of mine, and my performances often remind people of a rock n’ roll version of her. In the past few years, I’ve really gotten into bands that experiment with the indie/rock genre, and in particular, I’m a huge fan of the band Dawes. On a bit of a side note, I’m in love with the band Hiatus Kaiyote, and the vocal technique of their lead singer Nai Palm. I’ve listened to their most recent album Choose Your Weapon probably 100 times!

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?

I want people who listen to my music to feel like they know me. I lay everything out on the table – I don’t ever write music that doesn’t relate to either what I’m going through or what my loved ones experience – so I deeply want to develop closeness with my fans.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous self-titled album?

This new album has been such a journey. We went into the studio last spring with the intent to record an EP. Throughout the year, as we developed and grew with the songs, I also continued to write. So I’m extremely excited to announce that I’m going back into the studio to record four brand new songs this spring, and will release my first full length record by the end of the year! My self-titled EP Leah Capelle was released in the spring of 2015, and is a very beautiful and personal record for me. That first EP was a blend of folk and contemporary, while this new project is a bit more modern, more electric, and more streamlined indie/pop/rock.

5. What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

To me, the current state of the music industry is like a game of Risk. It’s very territorial, very complex, and very competitive. Each move must be strategic and well thought out, but sometimes artists get lucky and can surpass those who have been methodically building their empire. I love the music business because underneath all those politics, it’s an industry focused on beauty, art, and expression. There is nothing more exhilarating than a great performer spilling their heart and soul on the stage while screaming fans bounce and thrash and recite all the words by heart. I’m looking forward to the full rebirth that the industry is going through right now. With big labels changing, streaming taking over, and pressure for merch and live performances more than ever before, this is simultaneously an electric and terrifying time to be a musician.  I wholeheartedly love what I do, but it can be tough. I’m very lucky to have an incredibly supportive team helping me to navigate this crazy business.

6. What is the best concert you have been to? 

Oooh that’s super tough… I’ve probably seen more than 300 performances in the last ten years (maybe more?!) so it’s hard to choose! Probably a tie between Counting Crows in Chicago with my mom when I was 17, Dave Matthews Band on the Caravan Tour when I was 18 (also with my mom), or Hiatus Kaiyote at the El Rey last year.

7. What do you like most about playing live?

I am at my absolute happiest when I’m playing music for other people. I sort of go into this calm, controlled state where I know exactly what to do. It’s a rare moment for me to not over-think, and performing gives me an outlet to just exist and jump around and make sound and hopefully make other people feel something. I recently said in another interview that ‘art is the physical expression of the human spirit,’ and that’s exactly how I feel about performing. It’s tangible – you can do it, see it, feel it – it’s just the most incredible experience.

8. Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

I fall in and out of love with each of my songs as I progress with the project, but the singles that I’ve released, “Joshua” and “Out Now,” are definitely at the top of the list. I also love my upcoming single “Who I Am,” which I wrote with my producer Jeff Bova and songwriting wizard Pam Sheyne. These songs are my favorites because they’re upbeat (a newer thing for me!) and embody my new sound in a way that’s still true to my writing. They depict very personal things about my life that I hope my audience can relate to.

9. How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? 

I have both grown as an actual human (moving to California and living on my own for the first time was a huge part of that) and my music has evolved into a wonderful blend that I finally feel is the truest form of my sound. It took a while for me to land on this whole alt pop/indie rock thing, and I feel so so good about it. My first EP is much more melancholy and piano based – more along the lines of Ingrid Michaelson or Regina Spektor – whereas my music now is maybe more contemporary Fleetwood Mac mixed with Sara Barielles if she were in a rock n’ roll band. My look has changed, my style has evolved, and my music has matured. I’m very happy 🙂

10. If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be? 

Definitely Joni Mitchell (I would do any and all of the above activities with her). She’s such an icon, and a lyrical and melodic genius. She has lived through so much, and I’m sure she has the most incredible stories of the infamous Laurel Canyon folk neighborhood that sprouted so much music. I would love love love to pick her brain!

11. So tell us what’s next?

I actually have a lot going on in the next few months! I’m performing at a few acoustic singer/songwriter nights at The Hotel Cafe and Republic of Pie, I’m releasing my third single off the new album ‘Who I Am’ on March 24th (on all digital outlets!), the music video for my last single ‘Out Now’ is dropping on March 31st, and my band and I are performing on the main stage at The Hotel Cafe on April 13th at 9pm. As I mentioned, I’m going back into the studio this spring as well, so keep an eye out for behind the scenes craziness and updates. If any of you readers are LA local, check out my social media pages for show announcements – I’d love to see you there!

You can find more stuff about me at leahcapelle.com, at Leah Capelle Music on Facebook, and/or @leahcapelle on Instagram and Twitter. xoxox

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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