Few carry the zest of L E A. It feels natural, an instinctual persona that is her being. New Jersey-based, L E A is comfortable with holding onto her roots, using them as a base for her dazzling punky artistry. She takes on her blended sound with vivacious color, delivering guitar-coated, head banging candy (vaguely reminiscent of Ashlee Simpson’s debut). Never does she lean vulgar – instead tastefully sassy. L E A’s songs are all hella catchy in a way that will make listeners want to memorize the lyrics in one go. She isn’t a part of the machine – her gritty rebellion is just simply a part of her. True vulnerability packaged into a rock structure? Lemme have it.
I’m curious where your edge comes from – it’s not too common in this climate to see an edgy, modern, punky solo artist. Have you always been L E A, metaphorically?
You know, I’ve been hoping to come off punky lately, so I’m glad it’s working! As an artist, (I think this is my Gemini moon speaking) I either have a flower child or punky rockstar persona. I like to interchange them depending on the mood or tune, but have definitely worked closer to mesh those two identities together, which I think is pretty unique!
I’ve always gone by L E A since I started releasing music in 2016. It’s common for artists to create their own character with their music, but I wanted to keep my real name attached to my artist project to show that what you’re always going to get is the real, authentic me.
I also come from New Jersey, and living in the state for my first 21 years of life really helped define a lot of my moving parts as a creative. Did you find yourself inspired or turned off by the state? It’s usually one or the other.
So funny you say ‘it’s usually one or the other’ cause that’s too real!! Whenever I’m in or around Jersey, I hear people sh!t on it all the time, but when I’m out in LA (where I’m based), we all get excited and loud when we talk about Jersey! My whole freshmen EP that I released this past summer (August 2021) had a lot of “hometown” themes.
I really think my hometown (Point Pleasant, NJ) and the surrounding beach towns have shaped myself as an artist. Since I grew up in a small touristy beach town, there’s such a cool musical dynamic here, especially in places like Asbury Park. I know most kids have their groups and extracurriculars in school growing up, but I still write and play music with those old friends. We all just love the same things and grew up with the same influences, so it’s really cool to come back and visit as an adult and see the community flourish. Jersey raised me on rock, pop punk, jazz, and more, and it definitely shows in my music.
As you released music throughout 2020 and 2021, you continued to pick up some impressive press placements, including being featured on both Soundcloud and Pandora, as well as write ups on both Clout and The New Nine. How important has it been for you to have the opportunity to chat about your music in depth?
Thank you for the recognition! I love any opportunity to share and talk about my music with fans and potential new listeners, so it’s been fun to chat about the “behind the scenes” and get to talk about the how’s and why’s of the music I’m making.
Oooh, cool question and observation! Honestly, I tend to jump face first into releases which usually leaves me pretty excited. I could say there’s always some risk or nerves involved when putting vulnerable music out into the world, but that’s part of the thrill!
“Candy Coated” really shows your full range of colors, with your signature punchy rock elements, but you also give a sweet taste of some poppy experimentation. Is the song intentionally experimental?
This is exactly it! I’ve been releasing a lot of pop music up until this past year (2021) and will be diving more into pop punk in the new year, so I needed a way to bridge that transition and I think “Candy Coated” is the perfect example. I’ve always been influenced by pop, but grew up listening and writing ballads and “emo” tunes that were inspired by pop punk. So to keep the energy of pop but venture back into the edgy, gritty side of what I love and used to write… well, I’ll be doing just that!
You released a new single a few weeks back called “Lollipop,” and it’s filled to the brim with both sass and electricity. What made you decide to release a single so soon after your EP release?
“Lollipop” was an impulsive, out there end of the year release. Since it is a cover of a cover (originally by Lil Wayne, covered by Framing Hanley) and I just love singing it, I figured why not make it my own and release it. Turns out it landed me my first Apple Music editorial and opened some fun new doors for me in that genre, so it was a great way to end the year and a great way to lead into the next chapter!
Do you view “Lollipop” as an expansion of “Jersey Boy,” or a fresh page?
“Candy Coated” unintentionally led into “Lollipop” with both their sweet, candy shop themes. Otherwise, “Lollipop” may be hinting at a bit of a genre shift in this new year.
Being a womxn in a male-oriented genre, do you ever feel a sense of alienation or responsibility to perform a certain way?
I know and recognize the struggle womxn face every day in the music industry. I definitely have faced some doubt and discrimination whether in a studio or on stage. I also recognize myself as a powerful and forward person and tend to lead life that way. Though I may not have experienced what other womxn have in the music industry, we need to do better as well as have more representation.
Your music as a whole feels pretty effortless. What makes L E A so seamless?
I think it comes across that way because it’s literally just *me*. It’s my creativity, writing, personality, style, emotion, and then some all packaged into a title which so happens to also be my name. I don’t ever try to be something I’m not. I never felt the need to.