An Interview With the LA-Based Pop Singer-Songwriter LENAY On Her Newest Music and More!
Posted On 27 Sep 2018
Los Angeles pop singer-songwriter Lenay recently released the accompanying music video for her debut single, “La La Land”, featuring Zara Bash, produced by Disco Fries. The music video features a guest cameo from Perez Hilton, and Germán Garmendia. The video is available to view HERE.
The song, a catchy pop confection filled with soaring vocals, future bass snares, and a sprinkling electronic ambiance centered around Lenay’s move to Los Angeles, is available to stream HERE.
“La La Land! That’s the name of my new song … Hi, I’m Lenay! This is my Ode to LA. Sometimes things that seem so glamorous, aren’t what they seem when you get up close, but at the same time there’s beauty in those imperfections. That’s what this song is about :). That and breaking down in Utah on the drive to LA from Minnesota.”
Lenay is unique as a new artist, as she has over 8 million followers across all social media platforms, was the host of MTV’s “10 on Top”, and currently runs a Spanish-speaking YouTube channel that boasts over 5 million subscribers. She is currently working on her debut album.
Born in the Congo, Africa, Lenay grew up in Minnesota, lived in Santiago, Chile, and now lives in Los Angeles, CA. While living in Chile, Lenay started her Spanish-speaking YouTube channel, which now boasts over 5 million subscribers and over 8 million combined followers across all social media platforms. 2018 will be a massive year for Lenay, as it sees the release of her own personal live streaming app via Fanhero. She will also publish the first in a series of comic books with Planeta Group, join the Puma Women’s family, and release her long-anticipated new music featuring some of today’s top collaborators.
Connect with Lenay Here:
Learn more about Lenay in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? Is there music playing in the background?
Thank you! I’m at a coffee shop in LA that I’ve been going to at 5:30 am for the last month to get a head start on the day and just today I showed up and they were like, “we open at 6 now!” I was so bummed lol but they said I could still come in and hang today while they opened and they gave me a free coffee lol.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artist’s favorite songs this summer so what has been your song of the summer?
“Oceans” by Martin Garrix and Khalid, “Let Me Down Slowly” by Alec Benjamin, and “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande. Those are the 3 I have on repeat these days!
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it? Or did you already reach it?
I have SO much more that I want to do before it ends! I think just working even when you don’t feel like it is one thing I really want to nail. Certain things I will be really motivated to do, but those things can easily wear you down, and you can’t always count on motivation to finish them. I’ve been watching a lot of TED Talks on motivation lately, and reading articles on it. Basically, motivation is crap – you just have to do stuff.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience? Can you see yourself ever doing anything else?
My first concert was Go Fish at a church! (an acappella group). I used to LOVE them. I think I was in 8th grade. I think I was their only groupie. Then they started aiming to an even younger demo and put out a lullaby album I think, which is when I switched to McFly.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
How rough and cut-throat this industry can be sometimes!
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today? With all the incredible artists in LA, how do you try to stand out from them all?
I think I just tell my story a lot through my own songs, and that makes it unique, because it’s super cliche and cheesy but true that everyone is unique and everyone’s story is different. For instance, the single I just released, “La La Land”, is about driving from Minnesota to LA and breaking down in Utah. If you pay attention to the lyrics it paints a story of moving here.
I’m curious if you are interested at all in incorporating the music of Congo or Chile into your sound one day?
I have always had a soft spot for Latin music and beats even while I grew up in Minnesota, so YES. A lot of the new songs I’m working on in the studio have Latin influences. I love dark pop vibes mixed with guitar whenever I can get it haha, and a heavy beat/bass. I’m still ‘finding my sound’, actually. As far as the Congo I hope so one day too!! Maybe I’ll grab some sound bites from the old VHS tapes my parents took from the Congo of villages greeting/singing them songs and incorporate them in a song!
What was the inspiration for your single “La La Land”? How was it working with Zara Bash on it? How do you think it shows the kind of artist that you are today?
Definitely the inspiration was the entire journey of driving to LA and then how it looked a little different this time around seeing it (I’ve been here before), but kind of seeing past some of the smoke and mirrors this time. Zara was awesome. When he first sent back his bridge idea we were like, “YES this is IT!! We found the collab, let’s look no further!” LA is obviously something I have a lot of feelings behind, good and bad, and that theme is being worked a little bit into a few of my upcoming songs. “La La Land” is kind of my ‘ode to LA’ in a sense that the entire song is dedicated to it. I really feel that LA didn’t have enough songs about it or publicity so I wanted to do my part in trying to get a few more people here to help with tourism.
What was it like shooting the video for “La La Land”? How did Perez Hilton get to be in it? How creatively involved were you with the overall process of putting it together?
Perez is awesome!! I was so excited when he said that he would be in the video. He did such a great job learning the rap part, and the clip at the end when we are all moving in slow motion on the bench was his idea at the shoot, and it turned out to be absolutely hilarious and perfect. I planned and directed the entire video, actually! I was inspired by the video for “Him & I” by Halsey + G-Eazy, which was shot in NYC. I thought it would be really neat to incorporate an LA exploration vibe to it.
When do you hope to put out your debut album? Are you currently working on it in the studio?
I think I’m going to release singles instead of an album. I have about 3-4 of my next songs almost ready to be released, one by one, and I’m very excited to plan all of the branding/photoshoots/videos around them. One of the video ideas I have is kind of edgy (I’m not that edgy of a person) and I’m worried that people will miss the point and art of it and just be offended … So every other day I’m like, “yeah, we should do that … No, we shouldn’t, it’s too risky … Yeah, definitely doing that one … Well…”
I would love to know more about your Spanish-speaking YouTube channel and where the idea to start it came from? What’s been the most surprising part about it all?
After MTV in NYC I moved to LA to go on some auditions, and my boyfriend knew I spoke Spanish and already had a Spanish YouTube channel was told me that instead of auditioning, I should just make a Spanish YouTube and work on that full time for a little bit. I thought it sounded fun, so I took his suggestion. The most surprising thing is how similar it is to the TV industry when it comes to so many things, such as what content works and how many videos to risk with new ideas, how many to play it safe with, and to do what people will like.
Along with the music, you are also about to publish the first in a series of comic books with Planeta Group. Can you talk about what that has been like? What are these comics about exactly?
I’m having so much fun Pinteresting comic cartoons of girls that my comic character could look like! Hardest decision right now is what hair color I should have in the comic because I change mine so much in real life. The main characters in it will be my ‘twin’ Jax, and myself. If you look up “Lenay – Let Her Go Cover” on YouTube, you can see Jax.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period or is your music more of an escape from all that?
Great question! As of right now, an escape from all of that but who knows what I’ll be passionate about writing about in the future!
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Instagram is my all time favorite. But now I have my new app which is slowly creeping up there as a fav!! You all should check it out and see why 😀 Link: Lenay.fanhero.com
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Lights, Taylor Swift, and random songs I Shazam in random places like grocery stores in Chile. I have a ‘co-write wish list’ list on my phone of all the people I hope to have the honor of writing a song with one day!
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
My new apple AirPods things. They kind of hurt if I wear them all day, but they are seriously the best things EVER. But they obviously need to charge, so I would need a solar panel. And obviously, I would need a music source, so my phone. And WIFI, so I could update my app and Shazam island songs that nobody is playing.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
Do you have any tour dates you would like to tell our readers about? What has been a favorite performance of yours? What do you think makes an idea show for you? What’s next on your musical agenda?
I WISH!! Soon enough I hope. I’ve done four shows before with a band, and now I’m thinking for my next one that I might want two dancers and one DJ. It’s a ton of fun deciding on stuff like that!
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
Memories. That it’s a soundtrack to a part of their life, and when they listen to it, it makes them feel something and makes them feel good.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’m so curious to see what everyone’s favorite song is going to be of the ones I’m about to put out. They are all a bit different in style and I love them all equally. I keep trying to guess which one everyone will like the most. So, please let me know on my Instagram which one is your favorite.
(all photography provided by JV Agency)