Talks with Lelia Broussard

 

Lelia Broussard

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Masquerade
by Lelia Broussard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CEV:  Where did you grow up and how much influence did your hometown or your family have in developing your desire to become a singer/songwriter?

LB:  Music was constantly playing, I remember running around the house singing along and dancing to Paul Simon records. My mom loved to play piano and sing. We were always going out to see live music. Music was a huge part of growing up and I'm sure that it did influence me to get into music myself.

CEV:  Was there a point in your life that it became crystal clear that a musical career was in the cards for your?

LB:  I really feel like I've always known this is what I was meant to do. I've been singing since I could speak, and playing guitar and writing songs since I was 12 or 13. I just couldn't imagine doing anything else.

CEV:  Where does the inspiration for your music come from and how much of you actually shows up in the lyrics of the songs you write?

LB:  It just comes from life...every song I write is deeply personal. I want my music to really move people, and I think it's better if it comes from a real place. People relate to it more. Not to say there aren't formula songs out there that are amazing, but for the most part when I'm writing for myself (not for another artist) I really want it to come from a place that is real and vulnerable.  

CEV:  Did you ever have any formal musical training and if so how important is that for anyone desiring a career in music?

LB:  I have some formal training, but I didn't go to college for music. I think it's very important to have a basic understanding of music theory if you want to be a professional musician. Because you need to be able to communicate with other musicians in a way that they understand. I've had guitar lessons, a few vocal lessons, but I've also learned a lot from other musicians I've played with. I've played with some amazingly talented people and have had the opportunity to really be mentored by them. I'm always learning and I'm certainly not the most studied musician out there. But I do think if you are going to be a professional in any field why not go out and try and learn as much as you can?

CEV:  Were there or are there any female vocalists that you would say helped shape who you are now and who are continuing to inspire you to this day?

LB:  Sarah Vaughn, Aretha, Dusty Springfield, Patsy Cline Eva Cassidy, Janis Joplin, Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt...all the great female soul singers. I think Jill Scott is amazing...there are so many.

CEV: Was there a moment in your life after you chose to become a singer/songwriter that vindicated that choice and made it clear that you have chosen the best possible path for what you want to do with your life?

LB:   It's been a pretty inspiring thing to hear from my fans saying that my music helped them get through profoundly difficult times in their life. I don't know if there is anything better than that. It's an amazing feeling. I've gotten letters from people saying that they were on the verge of suicide, people that were hurting themselves and that they heard my music and it was the inspiration they needed on that particular day to stop. It's just incredible. I never thought my music would have that kind of impact on people. I don't know how I could ever stop now.

CEV:  What are the circumstances of life that inspire you to create songs about them? In other words when is something significant enough to you that you want to write a song about it to express your feelings to others?

LB:  It's really just about if I feel strongly enough about something, or if I have something to say that I think is worthwhile. Sometimes it's something in my life that is very significant other times it's just an idea or a concept that I think is interesting.

CEV:  How do you describe your music to people without resorting to a single word niche description?

LB:  Listen for yourself.

CEV:  What is it that you like most about writing and performing music?

LB:  It makes me feel alive. There isn't one thing I like more than another. Playing music, writing music, just makes me feel like a complete person.

CEV:  Do you consider what you do a job when it comes to writing, recording, distributing and performing your music? If not how do you perceive your career in music?

LB:  Well, sometimes it does feels like a job, but it's a job that I love to do. It's not always easy or fun but I wouldn't want to do anything else.

CEV:  Your new EP came out late last year and was called Waiting on the 9. First off tell me about the title and what that means.

LB:  The "9" is a train that no longer runs in New York.  I think Waiting on the 9 can be interpreted a few different ways. A lot of people relate it to death, or a loss of some kind. When I wrote it I wasn't talking specifically about any one person or thing. To me it's a song about how we keep waiting and waiting for our lives to start, and the 9 train just sort of symbolizes that. But that's one of my favorite things about music...whatever the song means for you is exactly what it should mean.

CEV:  Are there any threads that run through the 6 songs on this EP in terms of subject matter or theme?  

LB:  Just about life, and love.

CEV:  Is there going to be a full length album to follow these 6 songs later on this year or next?  

LB:  I'm always working on new material. I'm not sure right now if the next will be a full album or another EP. It's coming soon, I just can't say exactly when quite yet!

CEV:  When you start a new album or EP do you have any time frame as to when it will be done and what it will look like once it is completed?

LB:  Sometimes...Waiting On The 9 was actually done on a pretty strict deadline. We only had a certain amount of time to get everything done. I like working intensely every day like that. It's a fine line between haste and over thinking. I like to think I fall somewhere in between the two. But, I'm a perfectionist so it has to be done right or I won't release it.

CEV:  Do you still use a studio for recording your music or do you do some of it on home digital equipment? Do you have any preferences about using a studio versus using home recording equipment now that it has become so sophisticated?

LB:  Well, I do some of both. I'm starting to get into doing stuff at home. There really is so much you can do with just your laptop and very minimal gear. But it really just depends on what you're looking for. I still love going in to the studio and making records because there's a lot I just can't do myself. What we did for WOT9 would have been impossible to do at home. So it all depends on what you need.  


CEV:  Do you have regular studio musicians or band members that appear in your music? What kind of rapport do you need with other musicians, producers, engineers etc. to make sure your music is realized the way that you imagined it when you were writing it down?

LB:  I do. I have a band here in LA called The Gimme 5's that played on my record and they gig with me as well. They are wonderful musicians and dear friends of mine. It's been a really cool collaborative experience working with them.

You really just need to be able to "speak music" which goes back to the basic understanding of music theory. It's really important, you can't communicate your ideas if you don't know how to say what you mean in a way that musicians understand.

CEV:  Do you ever do any collaborative work with other songwriters? What challenges are there to working with other songwriters in realizing a cohesive song that reflects both of your ideas?

LB:  Yes, I've done lots of co-writing. I had always written alone up until a few years ago. I started working with a producer/writer by the name of Rob Fusari and I got really lucky and he was probably the best writing partner I ever had. Since then I signed a publishing deal and I've written with countless other writers and artists. Co-writing can be a tricky thing and it just doesn't work with everyone. I'm not sure what exactly it is that makes a successful writing partnership...it's sort of an intangible thing. Sometimes you just gel with someone and your ideas flow freely and you sort of bounce well off the other person. It's important to be open to the other persons ideas...and to feel free to say what you think as well. It can be a really strange experience, it's very hard to describe. It's almost like going on a first date. Can be horribly awkward and awful, or time flies by and it feels like you've known each other for years.  

CEV:  Do you enjoy performing your music for live audiences? What is it that appeals to you about doing a live song in front of people?

LB:  It's one of my most favorite things to do. I just love the connection with the audience, and really being able to connect with the song and the emotion. It's a huge rush.

CEV:  Are you hands on when it comes to the final mixes and mastering of an album that you are about to release? Why or why not?

LB:  Absolutely, my hand is in everything. I just want to make sure everything is done exactly the way I want it.

CEV:  Are tunes always bouncing around in your head even when you are not writing specifically for a new project?

LB:  Always.

CEV:  What are your thoughts on the image you want to project to your fans and how important is that for you specifically and for female artists in general?

LB:  I want to be known as a great artist. I just am myself and people will choose to see that however they want. You can't control what people think of you so, I don't really think too much about it.

CEV:  Are you a big fan of what the internet is allowing the indie artist to accomplish without being signed to a major label? Do you feel closer to your fans as an indie as opposed to being on a major label and having PR people take care of all the details?

LB:  Absolutely! I love that I can be so connected to my fans. I write every single person back. It may take me awhile but I will get to everyone. Things like Twitter are great because I can write people back so quickly. It's a really cool thing, I love to hear from my fans.

CEV:  Do you enjoy the business end of promoting yourself and getting your music out to the public so they can buy your songs?

LB:  Yes and no...not really a big fan of self promotion but it makes me happy when new people find my music.

CEV:  Have your musical tastes changed over the years from what you listened to growing up? In what ways?

LB:  No, not at all. I'm still a huge Spice Girl fan. Haha! Spice up your life! Actually when I was growing up I mostly listened to older music that I still adore. Lots of Patsy Cline, old Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Joni Mitchell, Sly Stone, Paul Simon...stuff like that. So no, not really.

CEV:  What kind of feedback have you been getting on Waiting on the 9 since you made it available? Has it been encouraging to you as an artist to continue on making great music?

LB:  Totally, people really like it and that's always great to hear.

CEV:  Any last thoughts you'd like to share with our readers about your views of your music or the world around you?

LB:  Life is beautiful you just have to open your eyes to see it.

CEV: Thanks Lelia for taking the time out to talk to CEV and I will be looking for that next release whether it is another EP or a full length album. Either way I'm sure it will have some great music on it. Take care.