Leah West Interview With Scott McGlynn
Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter Leah West exclusive interview with myself Scott McGlynn we talked
People’s Choice Awards, New Music, Motherhood and much more…
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Scott: Tell us a bit about yourself, Leah?
LW: Hmm, let’s see… where to start? I was born in New Jersey. My grandparents are all immigrants from Europe. I grew up near New York City, which is a huge melting pot of cultures from around the world. I had a great childhood and I come from a very loving family. I’ve lived all over and have traveled quite a bit. I moved to Canada in 2005 and finally obtained my Canadian citizenship in 2014. I’m a singer-songwriter, and also an actress (SAG & AFTRA and attended Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York City) and a painter (oil and acrylic on canvas). It can be a little funny and confusing when I tell people that I majored in Neuroscience with a minor in Nutrition in University. I released my first album in 2009 and was astonished to have been nominated for several awards. My second album was released in 2012 and that has the song “Guardian Angel” on it, which is extremely popular across the world. I have had literally thousands of people from many countries sing my song for various special events. For both albums I worked with producer and very talented multi-instrumentalist Marty Rifkin. I give him a lot of credit for being the key to the success of my songs.
Scott: In 2011 you won the BCIMA People’s Choice Award. That’s amazing! What was your reaction like from being nominated to winning?
LW: I was nominated for 4 awards that year. I had heard that there were around 700 artists that had applied for the various awards that I was nominated for. So, just being nominated as one of the final three artists was already a HUGE honor. On the evening of the award show, it was getting towards the end of the night and all three other awards had already been announced and I lost every time. So, at this point, I was not expecting my name to be called when the “People’s Choice Award” came up. When they said my name as the winner, I remember my husband squeezed my leg so tightly. He was so proud and I couldn’t believe it! A rush of energy went through my body. I was elated and people were applauding like crazy and some even gave me a standing ovation. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. What was so special about that award, was that the public, my peers, about 12,000 people to be exact, had voted for me. I won by the thousands of votes from the listeners and the consumers of music, not a panel of judges. My fans made me the winner than evening and for that, I am forever grateful.
Scott: When was the moment you knew you were going to be a singer / writer / performer?
LW: I’m not sure that there was a particular moment per se. It just seemed like my life, from infancy, was telling me to go in this direction. There are lots of videos that my mother took of me as a toddler singing nonstop. I started to write songs when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I took piano lessons and I had a love for poetry at a very young age. I loved the imagery you could create with words. As a teenager, I had two boyfriends who were both musicians. One was in a band who introduced me to lots of obscure bands and music I had never heard of before, and the other was a solo artist who later joined his brothers in a band. The latter was also the son of a famous songwriter. I was fascinated that you could make a living writing songs and playing music. Growing up near New York City was a major influence, as well. I had the luxury of growing up seeing Broadway shows and attending some of the biggest concerts in the world as a young girl. I had and still have lots of other interests, but when I was around 19, I really began to ask myself what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I kept coming back to the arts and music. I’ve always had a talent for them and it wasn’t just something I was good at or was interested in, it was the only thing I was ever passionate about. To live my life any other way would have been fraudulent to my soul. I would have been living a lie and I couldn’t live like that. The hardest part about this path I’ve chosen is not the music or the art itself, because I’ve always been able to keep inspired, the hard part for me has always been making a living doing what I love. The financial side of doing music can be painful and deflating, but I keep at it because I love it and I know it’s what I’m meant to do with my short time here on earth, and life goes fast!
Scott: I personally love “Beyond Words” I know it’s hard to choose, but what’s your favorite song that you’ve recorded so far?
LW: Probably a song called “Hunger”, coming out on my new album in 2017. I knew when I wrote it that it had something special. And my producer Marty Rifkin blew me away with his most stunning production to date. We also had Bob Malone play piano and Teresa James and Randy Newman sing back-up vocals. It’s a romantic and sexy song with a strong beat and swirly, dreamy instrumentation. I can’t stop listening to it and I can’t wait to release it and share it with my fans next year. I’m already working on the logistics of a music video for it.
Scott: If you could choose to duet with anyone who would it be? And why?
LW: Oh, too many to name! My love for music crosses many styles and genres. I have a long list of people I’d love to perform, sing, write, and work with. There are a lot of talented people out there whom I admire.
Scott: Will you be touring the UK anytime soon?
LW: I would LOVE to come back to the UK. I’ve never toured there, but I have visited multiple times. I hope that as my fan-base grows, the future will open up more opportunities to play around the globe. I love not only writing and recording, but performing. It’s where you really get to connect with your fans. It’s where all your hard work comes to fruition. I know that the music industry is not what it used to be, but there are still successful artists out there and I would love to work with a label or manager that could invest and steer my career in the right direction. It’s not easy to do most everything on your own, which is what I’ve been doing since the beginning. I have been approached several times over the years, but the offers never seemed to be the right ones. I’d love to work with a highly professional team, if the right one comes along.
Scott: Congratulations on your baby news! Do you know if it’s a girl or boy? And any names?
LW: In late May, I discovered that I was pregnant. I almost fell off my chair when my doctor called me to let me know. I couldn’t believe it. Becoming pregnant was something that had not come easy for me. I had been trying for years and had almost given up. So even then, I was hesitant to announce it publicly, because of the many failures and miscarriages I had had over the past few years. It has been secretly very painful for me to go through. Many tears were shed. No one I knew amongst my friends or family seemed to have the same difficulty, so I felt very alone. But this time was apparently very different. The baby kept growing and we kept hearing a strong heartbeat with every doctor’s visit. So in early August, at almost 16 weeks, well into my second trimester, I finally announced publicly that I was pregnant. Then, on August 30th, I announced that we were expecting a little boy. Actually, according to two ultrasounds, he’s apparently a very big boy! Top of the size-charts both times. The good news is that I don’t have gestational diabetes. I was so afraid I had it because of his size and because my grandmother had diabetes, but I lucked out! He’s just big and healthy. What every mother wants to hear. I posted his ultrasound video on my Facebook page. It’s a new 4-D technology and utterly amazing to see. He already has a whole life going on inside of me that without this technology, I would be completely unaware of. Well, aside from the fact that he’s kicking me all the time. He’s a very active baby. And yes, we do have a name picked out, but that is the one thing that we are going to leave as a surprise until his birth, which is expected to be around January 20th 2017. It was so emotional and cute to see him swimming around, sucking his thumb, smiling. Babies are born with all their emotions and feelings intact. I absolutely believe that. I read a great book called “Pre-Parenting” by Thomas R. Verny, M.D. He gives so much proof about how much babies retain from their lives in the womb and how it shapes who they will become. How the environment I create in the womb can turn on or off certain genes. It’s utterly fascinating. What amazes me most is how a whole person can be made from a couple of cells in just a few months. How does an eyeball know where to grow, how do all the nerves know where to go, and organs in all the right places, and billions of brain cells synapses are already happening, and why don’t we have arms coming out of our backs?! Everything has a timing, a purpose, a mission, a place, and then voila, a person is created. There is an indescribable beauty and intelligence to it all. It’s a universe within a universe. It’s almost too much to comprehend, yet it happens every day. There are trillions of beings across all species occupying the world today and this miracle of life and the birthing process is happening all over the planet. Once I became pregnant and really became a part of it, it’s hard for me not to believe in miracles. There is definitely something greater at work.
Scott: Have you ever thought of vlogging your journey in music and motherhood? Sharing your world to your fans?
LW: I have thought about it, but I’m always conflicted with that. First of all, just in doing so requires an enormous amount of time. I’m not a superstar with a crew that can follow me around with cameras and then take hours upon hours to edit videos. At this point, it would be just me doing all that. I don’t have the time or energy right now, but part of me thinks that would be a lot of fun and a great way for people to connect and to get insight into my life. However, another part of me longs for privacy, so it’s about finding the right balance between letting people in and giving myself the peace and space to be alone. Social media junkies subject themselves to constantly being inundated with opinions and noise from the outside world. I’m too sensitive of a person for that. Balance is everything for me. So is surrounding myself with good-hearted and honest people. People I know and trust. I’m lucky to have a great family and have built wonderful close friendships over the years. I need both interaction at times and other times I need my solitude. I’m most creative when it’s quiet and I’m alone. I’ve been pretty active on social media since about 2008, so I think I do a fairly good job at remaining accessible to fans, while also maintaining a private life and my own sanity in what can be a very chaotic and sometimes cruel world. I don’t even tolerate mean people anymore, I just hit the block button. Life’s too short for mean people. Another thing I have to constantly consider is my family and friends. My husband, my brother, and my sister in particular, are very private people, so I have to respect their wishes when it comes to sharing moments of my life publicly, too.
Scott: Finally, What’s next for Leah?
LW: Well, I have had to put most of my music and work endeavors on hold during this pregnancy. I wasn’t expecting that, but I was severely ill with pregnancy nausea and vomiting for the first few months and now I have pregnancy-related acid reflux. The two have taken a toll on my vocal chords, so singing and performing have been out of the question. The good news is that everyone tells me my voice will heal and should return after the baby is born. The downtime has allowed me to focus on family, friends and preparing for my little man’s arrival. I have a new album already written and mostly recorded, which I hope to release around autumn 2017. My goal is to release a French version of this album at the same time. It’s a big undertaking, but it’s something I feel ready for and very much compelled to do. I’m becoming a mother for the first time, so I don’t yet know how I’ll feel after the baby is born. Hopefully there are no complications either. There are a lot of variables in the coming months that could change plans in a heartbeat, so it’s hard to say what will be realistic, but my intention is to release my third English album and my first French album by the end of next year. We’ll see!
Leah West Official Website – www.leahwest.com
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