Songstress LEANDRA MCNAIR Discusses Her Latest EP, “Lucky”, Favorite Musical Moments So Far and More!
Posted On 10 Jan 2017
Meet the singer-songwriter Leandra McNair! Work began on her forthcoming collection, “Lucky” about a year ago when Leandra began writing songs on the ukelele as she usually does when creating.
As the songs developed and began to form from ideas into complete bodies of work, Leandra continued with her ideas and took it even further. As well as writing all the songs on the EP Leandra also executive produced every track. Then she brought in guest producers Jordan Brown and Ken Linh Doky to help with the creative process.
Lucky is heavily inspired by her idols such as Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae, and Lauryn Hill. As well as the inspiration she took from these classic artists she also took a lot of inspiration from modern hip-hop production styles such as trap music and alternative hip hop/r&b.
Learn more about Leandra in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any resolutions for the new year?
Hey! Thank you for your time! Happy New Year! Words I would use to describe my year are, non-stop, exciting, motivating and travel/exploration. Some highlights have been traveling around the world and performing overseas. Other huge moments have been being featured on Vibe Magazine and AFROPUNK. To have people relate to my music means the world to me.
I’m really excited to keep working hard and push myself even further and make myself known in this industry around the globe. My new years resolution is really personal to me. (Laughter) It’s to be more social and get outside of my comfort zone. Make some more friends and put myself out there socially. I’m somewhat of an extrovert when I need to be like on stage, when I’m interacting with fans etc… But in normal life I always feel like an introvert. Sometimes it takes me a while to warm up to people but this year I want to be more open in that way.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Growing up, I knew that my calling in life was to be a performer in some way! I was always playing dress up and putting on “performances” for my family! (Laughter) Whether I was acting, dancing, singing or making art. I was always doing something creative. One of my earliest memories is going to church with my family and wanting to join the choir. At the time I was basically still a baby so my older brother joined the choir too so that I could join. Which was really sweet of him and I should thank him for that! (Laughter)
When I started singing in the church choir I was about 3 years old then I started private voice lessons at 11 years old. I started dance lessons from the age of 4 and started taking acting classes in NYC once I was in middle school. A lot of my teachers and family would call me a “the triple threat.” Once I was going into high school I made the decision to focus to singing and really hone my craft because music is the art form that fulfills me the most. I can’t compare the feeling I get when singing to anything else! I feel powerful, beautiful and free!
Congrats on recently releasing your EP, “Lucky ”! What does that feel like? How long had you been working on it?
Thank you!! I am so PROUD to have released my second EP. This project means the world to me because It’s been a while in the making… 3 years to be exact. So now to have it out there in the world accessible to everyone I couldn’t be happier and more excited. I feel really strongly about this record because I worked on it mostly on my own with the help of some amazing producers and sound engineers. However for the most part this album was DIY and I love that! I’m a very do –it –yourself type of person. I guess that’s the Virgo in me. (Laughter)
When writing songs on your ukulele, what typically inspires the words and the music out of you?
I draw inspiration for anything and everything around me. I find it really comforting to write about love. Whether that is loss of love or the joy and abundance of love.
I think I’m best at writing melodies, in my mind there are endless opportunities for new melodies and songs so I really enjoy that. Lyrics don’t come to me quite as easy but when I start to write the lyrics I take my time to express what I believe the melody should represent.
I’d love to know what you learned from being a backup singer for the vocalist, Debbie Sledge? What was that experience like?
Wow, singing backup for Debbie Sledge has been one of the greatest highlights of my year and my career so far! She is one of the most warm and sweet people I’ve met. She has this amazing ability to command the stage in the sweetest way possible. She is a diva in the most positive way. Singing back up for her and watching her perform has taught me so much and I’m so happy to have had that opportunity.
What’s it been like performing in Copenhagen at the Standard Jazz Club for the special tribute to Nat King Cole?
Doing the Nat King Cole tribute at The Standard was absolutely amazing and unforgettable. I studied vocal jazz A LOT in high school and even in college. Since then I’ve mostly been focusing on writing my own music so it was great to go back to my jazz roots.
What if anything has surprised you about the music industry? What do you think has been your biggest challenge? And what do you think has come really naturally to you?
Hmm.. that’s tough. Something that surprised me is how challenging it can be to get people to hear your work. As an independent artist when your working on an album you get this delusion that once the album is done everyone will hear it immediately. But unfortunately that isn’t the case. Writing/recording is not even half of the work that it takes for an album to be successful. At first this was a challenging reality for me but now that I know that it pushes me to work as hard as I can with marketing and exposure.
The thing that comes most naturally to me is performing. I feel the most comfortable on stage. I love it!
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Grizzly Bear, Swing Out Sister, Tears for Fears, My Morning Jacket and so many more. I would love to work with Solange, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, The Internet, Anderson Paak, and Kendrick Lamar.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope everyone takes away from your music?
I hope people can feel happiness, vibes and love through my music. I hope the take away is melodies and lyrics they can’t get out of their head.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you all unwind from it all?
When I’m not working on music I’m actually working on my small business Fun Paper Petals. I hand make paper flower walls for large events such as corporate events and weddings as well as retail stores.
This is one of my hobbies that I’m really passionate about. I’m not even sure I would call it a hobby. Sometimes it feels like I have two full time jobs; my music career and my side business Fun Paper Petals.
When I’m not doing all of that I like to unwind like any other 20 something year old, scrolling through instagram/facebook and watching Vice documentaries on youtube.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or the music you make?
I want people to know that I’m really approachable and I Iove to talk to others. I’m the type of person who cares a lot about other people and that is something I want to be known for.
I think if listeners really dig into my music you can feel that.