GoGirls Interview with Leah Jee

Each month GoGirlsMusic.com spotlights an artist or band from its community, asking a series of questions. This month we feature the awesomely talented Leah Jee. Quite the energetic performer, Leah is based out of sunny Los Angeles. Enjoy!

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

I wholeheartedly believe that music can change the world. I want to bring about change and use my music as a vehicle for improving our world. It’s my goal to write music that people can relate to and want to hear because the music reflects how people feel in any situation. With an infinite amount of situations and emotions, I’ll never run out of song material!

It was about 10 years ago that I followed through on a promise I made myself that I would give being a musician a real shot. When I thought about not playing music, it physically hurt. I knew that it was music or bust. I began playing my original songs and formed a band. I haven’t stopped since. I’ve definitely come a long way since then.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

I like to call my music original Pop Rock with a Punk twist. I have always listened to all types of music. It’s definitely influenced my style and writing, which has hints of heavy metal, folk/acoustic, jazz, and reggae/ska. My music gets compared to Paramore, No Doubt, Alkaline Trio, and Anberlin. It’s hard to narrow it down to just 3! I have to go with 4, and those bands are Alkaline Trio, Third Eye Blind, Brand New and Bon Iver. I love Alkaline Trio for their use of octaves, love of punk and power chords. Third Eye Blind & Brand New reinvent themselves with each album. Both bands With Third Eye Blind, the instrumentation is amazing. You can tell that they put so much thought into each track. I love Brand New’s songs; the lyrics are insightful and no matter how many times I’ve heard the songs I find something new with each listen. Bon Iver is just amazing – the style is so different from mine. The vocal arrangements are incredible, and I love how the songs are so simple yet convey so much with just a handful of instruments.

What’s your ideal venue atmosphere?

I love any opportunity to perform, whether it’s small clubs to huge festivals, live internet broadcasts or acoustic shows. Anytime someone gives me a few seconds of their time and listens to my music, I’m appreciative! I love when it’s not too late and the place is packed with friends and new fans. Hearing people sing along and watching people you haven’t met yet is one of the coolest things ever! And of course, our ideal venue would have monitors for each of us with a great mix, helping us put on a killer show.

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

As a little kid, I loved music. There are photos of me strumming a tennis racquet and singing into my grandma’s cane! I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve played huge world-renown festivals, performed all over the country, recorded some great music, and had unforgettable experiences. I’m involved right now with the Blink Campaign, a national campaign bringing about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I can see how far I’ve come as a musician, especially since I was asked to use my music to help bring about change, which is my ultimate goal.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

The SoCal music scene is hopping! There are great bands, and I love that people go out to see live music throughout the week. There are lots of opportunities for bands to play out here. I’m not a fan of pay-for-play so we definitely watch out for huge presale requirements. One of the huge reasons I wanted to move back to CA was because of how great the demographics are and how many huge towns there are to play without worrying about over-saturating the market and getting a good draw at shows.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

My latest release is my single called “The Golden Ticket.” All of the words from the song are taken from dialogue in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I love that movie, there are some classic lines, and I found that many people shared my love for the movie as well. I chose specific lines, put them all together, and I ended up creating a fantastic, catchy pop punk tune. I have to give thanks to Phil Malko, my WI guitarist, because he was instrumental in writing the song. It’s a free download for all fans when you sign up on my mailing list so check it out!

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

I always like to go into the studio with what I want to accomplish with my recording planned out. I’ll have everything for all the instruments, vocals, background vocals all laid out so I can go in there and not waste anytime. Knowing each song backwards and forwards and knowing what parts you want to include helps to not waste time or money. But sometimes inspiration hits in the studio and songs just take a different direction or sometimes a new song will just come to life while you’re recording. And that’s always awesome.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

You have to want this so bad. Everyone says, “I want to be a rockstar.” If it were easy, everyone would do it. Being in a serious band takes dedication, more time than you can imagine, money, and sacrifices of all sorts. Just starting out musicians- I remember a time when I was so nervous to perform. Those days are gone now, but at first, it was nerve-racking! Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t be afraid to play your music. I respect anyone who has the guts to get on stage and perform. It’s not easy, but if you have the passion for it, get out there, do it, and always keep trying!

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

Musically, there have been a few things that have been really difficult. One was finding a committed band to play with once I became a solo artist. I was very fortunate to have great musicians play with me while I was in the Midwest. I called my backing band “The Boys” because there would be different musicians hopping on stage with me for almost every show. I moved back home to California and put together a great group who has the same vision and goal as I do with music. It can be very difficult to find people who believe in your music, share the same goals as you do and are extremely committed to playing your music. I kept auditioning and auditioning, knowing the right people were out there. My group now has amazing energy and our chemistry is just what I have been looking for.

Another bump in the road has been the transition of moving back to California from living in Wisconsin. I had all of Wisconsin’s support, a great fan base and performed at huge WI festivals like Summerfest and Milwaukee Pridefest. It’s been difficult starting over in California and creating a new fan base, but we keep working hard at it. With each show, we keep getting more and more new fans. We’re trying to use our social networking sites better as well.

On a personal level, no one tells you how hard it can be on your loved ones and how much you might have to sacrifice if you really want to make it. I’m very lucky to have amazing people in my life supporting me. Thank you so much!

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don’t give up?

Sometimes, I still get discouraged! And I definitely think of myself as an up & comer, despite the accomplishments I’ve made so far. I think that at times it’s easy to get down because you love music so much, it’s in your soul, and you’re not as far as you want to be. Definitely, don’t give up. Every so often, a fan will reach out to me and say how much one of my songs meant to them or how the lyrics really spoke to them. It reminds me of my purpose, why I write songs, and how much one person can affect others. A few of my fans recently got tattoos of my lyrics, and that was an amazing compliment. I couldn’t believe that something I wrote inspired people that much! It just goes to show you that you should never give up because you have a message that people are in tune with and your voice needs to be heard.

Also, when you get discouraged, take a look at other artists, especially those that you look up to and are at the level you want to be. See what they are doing and learn from them.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

Hello Music World, I’m Leah Jee. I play Pop Rock Punk music, and I’m coming to a town near you soon. Until then, check me out online. You won’t regret it. Let’s rock out together =)

I’m so very appreciative of my fans, my loved ones and all those people I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. You’re the reason I’m where I’m at today, and I promise I’ll continue to make you proud. On a behind the scenes note… I love to cook, and it’s my goal to combine my loves of music and cooking into one. Just wait Music World, this will be coming at you soon!

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

Being a part of GoGirls has connected me with amazing musicians and people all over the country. Performing at the Invasion the GoGirls at SXSW was a dream come true. I’ve wanted to perform at SXSW and in GoGirls’ showcase in Austin in particular and being selected this year was really something special. GoGirls is a great support system and network. We’re really lucky an organization like GoGirls exists, and I’m so glad to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to becoming more involved in all aspects of GoGirls in the future!

Connect with Leah Jee at:

www.reverbnation.com/leahjee
www.leahjeemusic.com
www.myspace.com/leahjee
www.facebook.com/leahjee
www.twitter.com/leahjee
http://leahjeemusic.blogspot.com
www.youtube.com/leahjeemusic
www.sonicbids.com/leahjee

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  • Leah Jee

    If you would like to check out Leah Jee live, send a message to leah@leahjeemusic.com or @leahjee with your name and email address and you’ll get into our June 25th show at The Good Hurt in Los Angeles, CA for FREE! Hope to see you soon!

  • Anonymous

    Loved the article about Leah. She’s such a talented musician. She’s also pretty good with a Shake Weight. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thank you both for your comments. I love this interview. Leah, you rock! It came out great.