Interview with Leah McHenry from LEAH – Rock / Metal singer and Songwriter from Canada

You can read the German version of this interview on Monkey Castle Rock.

Hi  LEAH,  You are still more or less unknown among music fans in Germany. Please briefly introduce yourself.

Hi there! Well, I’m LEAH, I’m a rock/metal singer and songwriter with Celtic and world influences from British Columbia, Canada. I’m just about to release my second full-length album, Kings & Queens, which was financed through a crowdfunding campaign, in which we raised more than $27,000 USD. I’m very excited about this new album which has some older songs of mine as well as many new songs. I love to experiment with Celtic and world sounds as well as styles, such as progressive rock.

Your second album „Kings & Queens” will be released on February 3rd 2015. I had the opportunity to listen to it in advance. I’m stoked from this mixture of Celtic folklore and heavy metal. You’re living in Vancouver (British Columbia – Canada). Where do you get the inspiration from? What relation do you have to Celtic folk music and Celtic history?

Kings & Queens cover artI’m glad you enjoyed the new music! I get my inspiration often from the music itself. I often write songs by accident or stumble upon them while just playing for fun. Then as the song begins to take shape, I get a clear idea of the mood, vibe and story line or subject. I rarely start with a specific idea in mind and then sit down to write it. I like allowing things to happen naturally. If it’s any good, I keep it, if not, I save it for later, because you never know, there might be something worthwhile I can draw from a not-so-good idea later.

I have a Celtic family heritage, which I would love to dig into deeper and find out more. Celtic music has always resonated with me, I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to it, so it is pretty natural for me to use elements of it in my own personal music.

You have a very beautiful voice. How do you practice your voice? Do you take singing lessons?

Leah%20fotoThank you. Because of my busy family life I sometimes go for months without singing much, and there are  also times I sing a lot more, depending on what’s going on. Generally, no, I haven’t taken many lessons, but I have in the last few years come across a wonderful home program called Singing Success, developed by my friend Brett Manning. I’ve really seen a lot of benefits from this program so far and felt a lot more confident in my vocal abilities on this album!

Most of the songs on the album are very heavy. The entire production is preferably homogeneous and powerful. It seems harder than „Of Earth & Angels“ or „Otherworld“. How did you go in the songwriting approach? Did you have the concept to write songs that are definitely heavy metal from the beginning? Or was that caused of  the production in European Studios?

I wrote my songs the way I usually do, which is some basic keyboard/piano tracks and vocals. I usually have some idea as to how I want it to sound. I would say on my earlier recordings I was still finding my true sound and exploring how heavy I wanted to go and gauge the public reaction. I have always written and recorded what I would personally like to listen to. But this time I wanted more intensity and Timo was the one who took it up several notches!

You’ve financed your new album with the help of your fans through a Crowdfunding campaign. More than $27,000 came along (110% of the target amount). I have made a small contribution too. What led you to this step? What do you say about the great response and support?

It was really a leap of faith! I still can’t believe it happened and that we hit the target, ahead of time, and even went beyond the goal. For being such a small artist, and to have never done a tour, it just seemed very surreal. I’m excited about what that means for the future, and also for other artists out there. I’m very grateful!

Is LEAH a pure Studio project or could we fans look forward to future live performances ?

Yes, for now I consider myself mostly a recording artist/studio project. But I think this music would also make a great show as well. It’s a matter of the right doors opening for that to happen.

The album was recorded with well-known musicians (Delain, Blind Guardian, Vengeance). How did this collaboration come about?

It was through Christian Moos at Spacelab Studios (he mixed Otherworld and K&Q) that I met Timo. I was looking for the right musicians for this project. And it was through Timo that I met Barend and Sander.

A few months ago, metal fan, writer, journalist and promoter Jill Hughes Kirtland has published the book „Not Just Tits in a Corset: Women in Metal“, by the way using a Crowdfunding campaign too, She writes about the problems of women in metal and that they must fight against prejudice all the time. Have you had similar experiences? How do you work with that?

Leah%20foto%202I have never experienced that, personally. I have a bit of a different image than some, perhaps, and don’t rely on looks or revealing clothing to get attention to my music. Maybe that is partly why, I’m not sure. Or perhaps it’s also because I am not currently a touring artist and have not experienced this type of prejudice in person.

In „Save the World“, you’re talking about bad prophecies and that we must do everything that they do not occur. Did you even have such experience?

Save the World is actually about “doom and gloom” preachers who keep telling everyone the world is about to end. And not only that, the media, news, books and movies also have this depressing message. In 2012 it was the Mayan prophecy, and many people actually took that seriously and sold all their possessions and expected something bad to happen. The point of the song is that if you expect the world to end and believe that you can’t do anything to make the world a better place, then it is really a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A beautiful acoustic song is „Siúil a Rún“. The lyrics to the track are partly in Irish Gaelic. Here you sing about a great love, who lives in France now. Yearningly you ask him to come back again. Did you work out memories  of your life in this song?

Not for this one 😉 This is a traditional Irish song,  possibly set in the 1800’s where a lover chooses permanent exile instead of joining the English army.

The lyrics to „Alpha et Omega“, which are in Latin, start with: „At the beginning, at the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth“, which sounds more like the Christian story of creation rather than Celtic mythology. Would you describe yourself as a believing person?

The lyrics of this song are actually taken straight out of the Latin Vulgate. I sometimes get bored of singing in English, so I decided to challenge myself and create a song with a strong image. The words are select lines taken from both Genesis and Revelation, which speak about the beginning and the end, and also have a water theme.

Leah%20liveI wrote in my review for this album: „And now, close your eyes and enjoy. Let you self go into your dream worlds. My phantasies show me The Shire, the Riddermark or Rivendell as well.“ If you now hear the finished album tracks, which emotions come up to you ?

When I listen now, I feel a range of emotions. Many times I think of Lord of the Rings.  I think a lot of my lyrics are inspired and are fitting to the main plot of that story, and others like it.

„Don’t wait for my return, I’ll enter  the Highlands.“ Vancouver is located at the foot of the North Shore Mountains. Is the vastness and grandeur of the mountains of your home an inspiration for your lyrics?

It’s true, I am surrounded in beautiful mountains here, but honestly, my mind travels far away from here when I am writing. I think my heart lives in Ireland, Scotland and Wales…  🙂 And also other exotic places as well that I intend to see and drink in one day!

Then we wish for it and for the album much success. Thanks, LEAH !!

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  1. Pingback: New album of LEAH – Celtic Metal from Canada | Keep on Rockin'

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