Leanne Weiss / by E

What got you interested in music?

Leanne Weiss: I started out, as a little girl, singing and dancing; I was always a ham. Growing up in elementary school and high school, I was in different theater productions and shows at school and I did a lot of community theater but I always wrote songs and I always performed them - I was very, very outgoing - but I also experienced a lot of emotions, a lot of different experiences, growing up that sort of helped me to write songs as I got older. I developed a lot from all types of music; I started out really loving musical theater songs and music and shows and I admired a lot of the great vocalists growing up, so I aspired to study and just pursue my dreams, and so far everything is going really well [laughs].

Do you remember the first song you wrote?

The first song that I actually wrote as a full song was called "Time To Shine" and it was a pop song. I did record it, but I never released it. I guess I recorded it when I was a teenager and it really spoke about having a dream and me wanting it to be my time to shine. I had been watching the Winter Olympics at the time and I was thinking about how everyone was trying to chase this gold medal and how everybody comes together at this one huge event and I was really inspired by that; thinking about myself and thinking about the athletes - I love figure skating so I was thinking about Michelle Kwan [laughs] - and my inspiration usually stems from a bunch of different things all together, so I was thinking about chasing the gold, chasing your dreams. I write a lot about that kind of theme. But, yeah, the first one was called "Time To Shine" and I still have the recording somewhere.

Which artists have you been influenced by?

I have been influenced a lot by Celine Dion, she was the first singer that I really thought I could be like and emulate. I mean, she is phenomenal, just as a woman and as a performer and vocalist. I really just grew up admiring her, but I also followed Barbra Streisand as a kid [laughs]. I was a little different than some kids that I went to school with, they liked different pop artists and I was following some unique kind of singers that I thought were great.

Is there anyone that you're hooked on right now?

I really love Carrie Underwood's new song and I really look up to her still; I grew up listening to her, too, her first album up until her current album. Yeah, she's awesome.

How would you describe your own sound?

My own sound is definitely a mix of the genres that I think I can sing well, which is pop, rock and, obviously most importantly, country. I like to include my own sort of sound, which I believe is more of a rock sound. It's a little bit different than what I've heard on the radio, I think I sort of stand out, so I'm hoping that that comes across to my listeners. You know, in Jersey we've got a lot of rock and roll and I think that I include a little Jersey in my country music, that's my thing.

You've performed at so many different venues with artists like Dierks Bentley, Gloriana, Kristian Bush, Michael Ray, Josh Dorr; do you have a favorite song to perform when you're out there?

I really, really love to perform "Runaround" - which is on my first EP - in addition to "Momentum". I have a lot of favorites [laughs], but those two in particular are just really fun to perform. "Runaround" I really get into 'cause it's really rocking and I get the audience involved by doing a lot of clapping and I'm just all over the place when I'm on stage. I like that one because it's high energy.

What was the inspiration behind that song?

That was one of the first country songs I wrote when I was a teenager and then, years later, I tweaked it and brought it to the studio 'cause I remembered I had all these country songs that I had written [laughs]. I rewrote the words, changed the melody a tiny bit, I think I added a bridge, and it became something totally different yet the same. The inspiration was just, I guess, being in high school, you have crushes and people that you like and people, men especially - boys I should say, in high school [laughs] - they lead you on or they make you think one thing, so I think I was just going with that frustration of 'you're giving me the runaround, you're not telling me whether you like me or not'. I think a lot of people can relate to that, even as adults, particularly with people who you don't know where you stand with them so you don't know what's going on. I was tapping into that frustration that I had [laughs].

Your last album Momentum was just released in November, how would you describe it to a new listener?

Well, in this album I feel that I really kind of owned my own original sound. My first EP was sort of a mix of what I was trying to do: I had one sort of traditional song, "Runaround" was a rock song, but on Momentum, I think you'll find that all of the songs really have a similar sound; it's more consistent and I'm proud of my vocals on there. I'm just proud of the overall production value. Lyrically, I really worked hard to make it what it was so, yeah, it's just an overall more consistent sound.

What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?

My goal in music is really to inspire people. I've had a lot of people come up to me after my live shows and say, 'you know, the song "Where I Stand", I can totally relate to that,' or with "Momentum", like, 'I'm pursuing something; I really, really appreciated that song'. Different people tell me different things about each one of my songs - a lot of men like "Straightshooter" 'cause it's got that more rock edge to it and a lot of people really like "Throwback", too - so I'm hoping that the themes that I address in each song sort of help people to maybe get past something that they're experiencing or just inspire them in general. That's my goal.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

The album's available on iTunes and Amazon and the video should be premiered soon for "Momentum", followed by "Throwback". We've got some things goings on and some upcoming tour dates that you can access through leanneweiss.com.

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