Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings for the promo pictures of the band.
From Canada comes singer/musician/songwriter Leah, who released her fourth album late in 2018, titled THE QUEST. The album follows her previous effort, KINGS & QUEENS, from 2015. I had a limited amount of time to interview her but we managed to talk about the new album and about what her plans are, as well as how she’s managed to become so successful without having performed a single live show. We also handled the pledgemusic issue that circles around the internet these days, where people don’t receive what they’ve paid for. If you like Celtic metal, you have to read this and if you want more info about Leah, see some past interviews in the archives. Again the interview is very short but I hope you like it anyway, Enjoy….
Hi Leah, ready for another round with me and Metal-Rules.com? I have to start by congratulating you on your amazing new album. When did you start to write material for it?
Thank you. I started writing for it in 2016. It’s all a bit of a blur because I worked on it for such a long time.
At the end of May, right when your pledge campaign was launched you released a 10-minute long video on your YouTube channel where you told the fans about the album. What did the money you collected go towards?
It went toward recouping costs for the album, merch, and promotion.
Many bands and artists are financing their releases through pledge campaigns, why do you think that is? You have full control over what you do when you do it this way, but the pledge-music platform has had some financial problems for a while now where artists and pledges haven’t received their money at all. What do you think about this and is this anything that you worry about, even though you used the indiegogo platform and not pledgemusic?
Yes, crowdfunding is an amazing way for an independent artist to make music WITH their fans. It’s a wonderful model that removes the need for 3rd party funding. In this scenario ,the fans almost become the record label, promoter, and many other roles. I’ve never used PledgeMusic, but I didn’t go with them because they have serious limitations in the marketing department and they also take the biggest percentage of funds.
You have been really successful with promoting yourself only through media and social media; you haven’t performed live one single time yet. What’s your secret and what’s your advice to other artists who want to follow in your footsteps?
I have a lot to say about this… so much in fact that I created an entire online academy about it. Savvy Musician Academy is the coaching company I started in late 2015. It’s grown to help thousands of musicians around the world, and I feel very blessed to share the knowledge I’ve learned to educate & equip musicians to have successful careers, no matter the path they decide to take.
The biggest thing that moved the needle for me was when I stopped studying the music industry and I started studying internet marketing. When you understand what makes a great product, a great offer, and you understand your audience inside and out and learn the best methods to get it to those fans (right now it’s paid traffic and advanced Facebook ads), then it makes it very easy.
LEAH: The Quest – Teaser
The new album THE QUEST
Is it correct that THE QUEST is a theme album? Could you tell us a little bit about the story behind it?
It certainly did not start out as a theme album. I’d say perhaps it is, but only by accident.
“The Quest” is the first song and the title of the album. I got really inspired after my fans told me to start playing Skyrim (an Elder Scrolls video game), and I just started writing music that got me into that same head space. It’s all about being on a journey and not losing your way by things that try to derail you off the path.
The bio says that you want to take listeners on a journey with the songs, could you explain that a little further?
Each song is placed the way it is on the album to take the listener on a journey. Ups and downs, fast and slow, different energies, and so forth.
Your previous album KINGS AND QUEENS is the heaviest one you’ve done so far; does THE QUEST pick up where KINGS AND QUEENS left off?
I think the two albums are very different in many ways, but it’s hard for me to compare because I’m the artist. I’m too close to it. I just write and try not to worry too much about how it compares to my past albums.
How would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
I think it depends on the album, but right now I’m calling it Celtic Fantasy Metal. My music is obviously very ethereal and soft compared to lots of metal out there. That’s why I use Celtic and Fantasy — I think it pretty well sums it up.
The two longest songs are the title track “The Quest” at 10 minutes and “Abyss” at 6 minutes, what are the songs about?
We already talked about “The Quest”, but “Abyss”…it’s hard to say. I get pictures in my mind, and I don’t really know what they are about sometimes, I just try to convey the atmosphere and the emotion I’m seeing in my minds eye.
A few well-known names, like in Timo Somers (Delain), Sander Zoer (ex-Delain), Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian), Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Chen Balbus (Orphaned Land), perform on the album. Some of those also participated on your previous album; was it easy to convince them to come back and easy to recruit new musicians?
Yes, everyone was very ready and willing as soon as I was ready to bring musicians on again. I was introduced to Troy through Martijn of Delain, and that’s how he ended up on the album.
Edge Of Your Sword [Official Lyric Video]
You initially made the decision not to let the album go viral on Spotify, etc., meaning it was only possible to purchase the album physically, however a month later it was released at Spotify. Why did you chose to do that?
I like to try all kinds of things in my music career. My students know I call myself the guinea pig. My theory was to try something called “windowing”, where you release your album to one main platform at a time. Sometimes people take several months to do this, but I decided to do an accelerated windowing, and it was based on my fans feedback.
Do you agree with the following comments from the the bio? “With a strong Celtic and fantasy connection, some prog rock element, ethereal ambiance combined with traditional symphonic metal elements, this is an album Leah is proud to present…”
Yes, I wrote it. 🙂
Lion Arises [Official Lyric Video]
You haven’t shot any video to any of the songs yet, why?
I have a lot on my plate with running two businesses, five kids, and always writing more music. I really want to do videos, however, they are expensive and don’t necessarily guarantee an ROI. I hope 2019 and 2020 will bring some new videos 🙂
Do you agree with the bio that states that the album is perfect for fans of metal, fantasy and RPG gaming?
The Quest Album Teaser
Past present and future
You’re active on a lot of different forums on internet, do you think you could have gained the same success without the ‘net?
Absolutely not. That’s where I put all my effort, since touring wasn’t realistic for me with several young kids. It’s opened up a whole new world for musicians everywhere.
You let fans ask you questions on Facebook from time to time, is that something you like doing?
Of course. I try to talk personally with my fans every chance I get on multiple platforms.
You’ve also got a mailing list; is that appreciated by the fans?
Yes – I always keep them in the loop about everything going on. I am constantly building my email list. That’s one tip I have for artists — be very aggressive about building your list. You can’t control what happens on any social media platform and anything could happen where you lose contact with all those followers. Always keep control of your communication with your fans.
Last time we spoke you got 45,000 likes on your Facebook page, today that amount has increased to 451,000 which is amazing, congrats! Are you happy?
Sure, but numbers are not the most important thing to me. What matters is connection with real people and the music having an impact.
Are you co-operating anything with your street team on Facebook?
Not at the moment, but when the next album comes out we will do lots of fun things like competitions and giveaways for them.
I read that you have thoughts on performing live, is that correct and are there any solid plans on when that can take place?
I always have thoughts on performing live, but it’s a matter of the right timing. 2019 is the year for me to focus on my health and writing more music.
Well that was all for me this time, thanks for taking the time making the interview yet again 🙂 Always a pleasure talking to you, do you have any message to the fans and readers out there?
I appreciate everyone for taking the time to read this interview…. if you’re still reading… you ROCK!
Cheers and I hope you enjoy all the Celtic Fantasy music!
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