LINKS TO INTERVIEWS (CLICK ON NAME):


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AUGUST INFINITY (aka SHE SAID FIRE)
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS
GUYS WITH WIVES
KALLING
MILITANTS
THERAPHOSA

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY
ERIC BLACKWOOD & ANTHONY J. FOTI ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1
SETH MAJKA Interview 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
NICK DOUKAS ..... (Full Circle, Half Angel, student of John Petrucci & Al Pitrelli)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog, Somewhat Seven)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

VOCALISTS
A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA Interview 1
LESLIE DINICOLA Interview 2
DORO ..... (Warlock)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas, Place Called Rage)
ANTHONY J. FOTI & ERIC BLACKWOOD ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2

KEYBOARDISTS
SHAYFER JAMES
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
DOUG RAUSCH
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

BASSISTS
DAVE CRIGGER ..... (Foghat, World XXI, Michael Fath)
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

DRUMMER
RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)

SONGWRITER
TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE ..... (Under The Gun Project)

MUSIC AUTHORS
RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MUSIC MARKETING
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

MUSIC INTERVIEWER
MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA ..... (Heavy Metal Mayhem Podcast, Stillborn)

June 13, 2018

"I'm Where All The Cool Kids Are" An Interview With LESLIE DINICOLA

Click here to visit official page of Leslie DiNicola.

April 2011 (live phone interview, broadcast on Roman Midnight Music Podcast Eps #16)

Since 2010 NY based singer/songwriter Leslie DiNicola has released 5 solo EPs that seamlessly fuse rock, blues, country & pop music with her own personal lyrics & unforgettable melodies. The later 4 albums are collaborative efforts with producer & multi-instrumentalist Julian Coryell. His expansive career has included working with Loretta Lynn, Leonard Cohen, Jewel, Carole King, Alanis Morissette, Dave Brubeck, amongst many others, making it a triviality that he's the son of famed jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, the "godfather of fusion". His diverse musical background has found a common soul with Leslie, creating lush bedrocks for her intimate ballads of hearts broken & healed. Her second album, Draw Back Your Bow, featured unique low-key versions of Journey's "Separate Ways" & U2's "With Or Without You", featuring Coryell's guitar, which both peaked on CMJ charts. Leslie's performance resume includes clubs, festivals, sporting events, as described in this interview, & even singing backing for frontman John Waite of supergroup Bad English.

I discovered Leslie when she sent me her debut EP, It Resembles Fiction, for my album reviews blog. I was instantly hooked & considered it one of the best albums of 2010 for both indie & major label artists. I had the opportunity to see her in some intimate club performances in Manhattan while she promoting the album. We did this hour long interview live on my podcast during these days. The last time we saw each other was a double date with our respective others at a Lower East Side Indian restaurant listening to live sitar & tabla playing. I moved from Manhattan not long after & we lost contact soon after, though not before I had the pleasure of hearing Leslie's second EP. It was a covers album that paired her with Julian Coryell & opened unexpected new musical doors. Posting this blog I looked up her current music efforts & found that her career has continued to grow with more albums & higher profile gigs outside the Tri-State area. That makes me proud to see. Note that the musical direction of her later albums is different than what she foretold in this interview. For how that change came about can be discovered in a short interview we did over e-mail in March 2012 also on this blog.

* * *
AJ: Leslie, welcome to my humble little show.

LESLIE: Thank you. It's not humble at all. I'm humbled to be on it.

AJ: I wanted to open up by talking a little bit about the past. But, before I do, could you share with my audience where they can find your music online?

LESLIE: Sure. The best place, always, is my official website. I'm pretty much everywhere on the social networking sites. I'm where all the cool kids are.

AJ: The problem is it takes up a lot of your time to keep on top of all the sites.

LESLIE: Absolutely.

AJ: You probably spend as much time on social media as you do on the music sometimes. I know from my own experience.

LESLIE: Bad days are the ones where you find that you're spending more time on the computer doing it than actually sitting with your guitar or singing. It wears you down after a while. In the evenings I just refuse even look at the computer.

AJ: These days, Leslie, you're pretty much focusing your whole day on music in some way. In past personal conversations you told me you are focusing on moving you career forward & not worrying about a day job or stuff like that, right?

LESLIE: That was something that I decided at the beginning of this year. I was working bartending, working in restaurants, doing the thing that every musician does, ever since I moved to Manhattan. As much as we lose time draining our energy into social media, which helps our music, we also lose a lot of time working at the restaurants & bars. I realized that I just needed to put as much energy as I could into my music, especially at this time, because things seem to be working out. Opportunities are opening up for me. I wanted to give it a 100% from the beginning of 2011 to the end & see if I can finally get to that point where I'm making my full income based on music. That's the challenge I've given myself this year. I took that opportunity because the restaurant I was working at in Jan. was closed by the Manhattan Transit Authority, as the Mayor is building the 2nd Ave subway & wanted to build an entry to the subway right where my restaurant was. So, I kinda took that bad news as an opportunity to devote myself completely to music & see how far I can get with it.

AJ: A person might even say that maybe it was meant to be.

LESLIE: So, you are one of those! That's the way I like to see it.

AJ: With the direction you're going & with the path you're trying to brave, what's the biggest challenge?

LESLIE: The biggest challenge is kind of what we talked about a minute ago, that is juggling all the balls. Musicians these days have to wear all the hats. I have to be my own manager. I have to be my own publicist. I have to be my own booking agent. Sometimes you just want to sit back & just enjoy being a musician &put a 100% of your energy into that, because that in itself is a career & when you're juggling all these other balls it takes away from where you really want to be putting all your energy into. For me, that's been the challenge so far. That & knowing, you know, which people are there to help you. Which people can give you advice or make some connections for you & what people are just trying to, you know ... claim they are your manager & climb up on stage & grab the microphone & blur some drunken words into it for your show. It's hard to tell sometimes.

AJ: Do you find not being burdened by having to show up for work at a certain time has affected your music?

LESLIE: I think definitely, absolutely. I schedule my own work week now. I say from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. I'm at work, which means maybe I'm in my apt., maybe I'm at the studio, maybe I'm working with people, but it's all devoted to the music, whether it's social networking or actually writing or working on old tunes that I want to finish or just working on the old tunes that I want to bring some new life to. I try to be very diligent about that. It's working out great so far, because I can say in the past couple months I've been writing a lot more than I had been. I definitely went through a dry spell once. It was when <u>It Resembles Fiction<u> came out. It was all about pushing that album. I started getting kind of drained by the fact that I wasn't creating & when you're not creating new things you feel like you're kind of cheating. So, it's been nice to really have a lot of extra time to work on that & not be rushed with it. To be able to actually put a lot of time into each song & see what it can become.

AJ: We're going to talk about that album in a bit, but you have a very interesting background. You have a theater degree & spent many years working in the nautical world, until deciding to stay on land & pursue music. Folks can read your website & find out more about your background, but what I'm curious about is what was your defining moment that made you decide to go to Manhattan & take up the musician's struggle? I don't know if defining moment is the right word.

LESLIE: You're right. I can't say if there was a specific moment, but I do remember where exactly I was when I kinda woke up, stumbled up on deck of the boat I was working on at the time & realized it was time to do my thing in Manhattan & make a go of it. It was when I realized that as much as I loved sailing & as exciting as it was to discover the North & South Pacific the way I've had the opportunity to do, I couldn't ignore the fact that there was something I wanted out of life which couldn't be obtained sailing.  I knew that if I just dedicated myself to sailing & moved to the Pacific Northwest & did that full-time & never went back to the music, I'd always be regretting it. I'd always be thinking about it. I'd always be writing songs & wanting to play them for someone or trying to find people to play with to fill that void that I would be feeling. Whereas, I pictured my life living in Manhattan & pursuing music & the void that I feel not being out on the ocean is sad to me, but it's something I can live with. I have no regret over leaving it, because I have wonderful memories. I do feel like I did that & there was a time for it & that now is the time to do what I believe is my actual calling in life.

AJ: There is definitely something to the idea of pursuing a course which might be risky, but doing it so you will avoid the regret down the road. That can be a major motivational factor. I speak from my own experience of the lots of stuff I do, which has been driven by that exact same feeling. If I don't do it now, will I regret it in 10 years I wonder? So, let me do it & if it fails or if it doesn't, maybe it will go in a direction I have no clue of now & I can't predict, but at least I tried.

LESLIE: You need to be able to look back & know that you tried & that you gave it everything you had.

AJ: Your album is It Resembles Fiction. Will you please explain the title to me?

LESLIE: The songs that I write are personal stories. They all began from something that I either experienced or witnessed. I was on one side of the relationship or the other. With everything that I write there's an essence of fiction to it on a certain level. My writing process, I don't know if it's different or similar to other musicians, but I write from a place where I've experienced something. I want to put music to it & it almost helps me a little bit to get over that 1st hurdle by finding a story that is similar to it that is someone else's that I can relate to. Writing about that breaks through that barrier & I can start really throwing myself into it & then bring it back to my own situation. So, It Resembles Fiction is just the fact that these songs are stories that are true with a little a little exaggeration. A little bit of fiction thrown in there to make it a little more interesting. It also is meant to describe the fact that some of the songs are about stories that are so ridiculous that one would think they would be fiction.

AJ: Is there a particular song on the album that is so obviously crazy that it does seem like fiction?

LESLIE: Well, there's one ... no, all of them! I don't know, but probably the song "Back To Me" is kinda absurd in the fact that it is about a relationship that I was part of where, you know, you're completely devoted to a person. It's that person, who everyone has had, that just comes & tells you that you are the one & they love you so much that they can't live without you. Then, the 2nd you fall for it & let them in they just disappear & run off. It's pretty absurd that I was stuck in that for about 5 yrs & didn't snap out of it until I wrote this song. It's something I think everyone can relate to. That person who keeps coming back & keeps coming back & its about the strength you find in that one moment where you realize 'fine, go do your thing, go sleep with everybody in town, but we both know you are coming back.' It's about empowering yourself with that knowledge.

AJ: Its so absurd it feels like fiction.

LESLIE: Yes.

AJ: Leslie, let me confess, that the 1st time I heard you perform live in concert I had my typical audacity to actually suggest a song for your repertoire.

LESLIE: Yes, you did.

AJ: What I heard was a 30-45 minute little show. You ended with "Jolene" & I suggested afterwards that you do an additional country song in your set, which one is trivial, because I heard something in your voice that could be expressed via country music in a very good way.

LESLIE: Are you speaking of "Fancy" by Reba McIntyre?

AJ: The name of the song your mother couldn't remember & neither could I the last time I saw you.

LESLIE: You're right, she couldn't.

AJ: But, I think your song "Back To Me" actually somewhat shows what I heard & was hearing. You have this part of your voice that has a little bit of a country feel or it lends itself to the country genre, even though this isn't country music that you do. It's a little rock, a little bluesy. Is the sound on It Resembles Fiction something you had in your head or was it organically created?

LESLIE: My background is pretty diverse, to be honest. But, when I started really pouring myself into creating music & singing songs that I was passionate about I was living in Texas at the time & I was listening to a lot of alt-country, UNCLE TUPELO, WILCO. OLD 97'S. Those were the bands that were breaking me out of my classical training & into writing & creating & performing music that was inspiring me. So, I think I definitely got a little bit influenced vocally by those styles of music, but I've never wanted to fully invest myself into country music, even though there's a lot of country music I do love. It never felt like the right fit, because I was so ingrained in the rock & the blues that I had absorbed throughout the early stages of my life. So, I'm really trying to create a nice fusion between the 2. I don't want anyone to say to me 'Wow, you're a great country singer.' To me that that doesn't feel like what I want to be doing & I don't want anyone to say 'You're a great rock singer,' either, because that doesn't feel right. I feel very passionate about fusing the 2 together with a little bit of blues & that's where I feel comfortable singing. Those are the things I've been singing along with my whole life & that's what I was hoping to accomplish with It Resembles Fiction. My greatest joy was that in the end I really did feel as though I captured every element of every genre that I wanted to without making it feel scattered & unrelatable.

AJ:  In creating the album you had a particular person you were working with who's really put a stamp on this album as a producer, co-songwriter & guitarist. Will you share with me a little bit about Mr. Ellis Traver, who has also worked with Mick Ronson & Sean Lennon.

LESLIE: He's a wonderful gentleman. I'm glad you asked.

AJ: I've met him, too. He is.

LESLIE: He's a wonderful person who I am so grateful to have met. I met him years ago, actually. It was when I had 1st moved to NYC. I had gone on a couple of sailing excursions that were distracting me from the music, but I knew it was something I needed to start planting some roots in. When I 1st got to the city I really didn't have any confidence in starting a rock band or starting with my own music that I had created. I had never done that before. I was always a part of someone else's rock band & was just the front man or woman. So, that's what I wanted to do when I moved to the city. I thought the best way to do that was to create demo of me just singing covers of the type of music that I wanted to perform. I went online. I was looking for a studio. It was around the holiday time & a bunch of them were offering some specials. There are a number of producers that I started emailing with, but Ellis, in particular, had really well punctuated grammatically correct emails that really spoke to me. There was something about his emails that stuck out & I was very excited to go see his studio. When I got there & met him I listened to some of the stuff he'd been doing & just got a really good feeling about it. I liked what was going on there. What I didn't know was that it was an apt/studio that all of my future band members were living in at the time. I think there was just something in the air & I just felt very creative in that space. Working on that demo with him we were just doing 4 covers & I just wanted it to be an acoustic guitar & my voice. I just wanted something simple. I was on a very limited budget. He, being the musical phenomenal genius that he is, just kept saying 'You know, how this would sound really good if it had some drums. I've got a drummer upstairs. You know what you need? You need some bass. Let me get someone to put some bass down. Let's throw some violins on here.' The next thing I knew I was sitting in a room with the people who would eventually be helping me create It Resembles Fiction & performing with me on stage. The demo just came out so well that I'd already out grown it by the time we were done. As I picked up my master copy of the disc Ellis mentioned 'Why aren't you creating your own music? Why did we spend all this time doing covers?' I told him I didn't know how to write songs. I'd never done it before. He just suggested we sit down on Mon nights. We'd split a 6 pack of beer & he would look at the stuff that I was writing secretly, under the covers. It was absolutely terrifying to hand like a journal over to somebody for the 1st time. I mean, like here's what I think could be songs. Please don't judge me. He was great about showing me what worked, what didn't, what basic structure formulas are &, you know, how to pay attention to this or that. Basic songwriting 101 that I never got because I was a theater major. It was those little things that you start thinking about that completely change your writing & all of the sudden stories can come together & really become something more powerful, because you're thinking of joining them with music, which makes them that much more impactful. That's where we began & we just stayed in touch with each other. He went out on tour with Sean Lennon. He was out doing a lot of stuff & I was still sailing & pretending that was what I really wanted to do with my life. Once I got back to the city after that final trip I heard from him. Not not much longer after I got back. He just kinda said 'Hey, I've got a free weekend. Do you want to come in & lay some stuff down? Have you been working on anything?' I didn't want to lose that opportunity, even though I really only had like 4 or 5 songs that were actually done. So, I just went in & said, 'Alright, let's pick a couple & let's let's work on them & record it. I would love to get some things down.' The next thing I know it's locked into his studio for 3 days with the band & we just plugged away. We did those 1st 4 songs that I actually had in the 1st day. He'd ask 'What do you got?' I'd sing a melody line that was in my head & then we'd start jamming on it together, formulating a whole song & just laid it down. Next thing I knew I had 15 songs to choose from for my EP.

AJ: There's only 5 on the EP.

LESLIE: 5 of my favorites.

AJ: There's 10 more out there in the mist.

LESLIE: You've heard at least one of those.

AJ: You got together with this group of people. You recorded an album together. How long after recording the album did it take before you turned to them & asked if they wanted to join you on stage? Was that even a consideration when you were doing the album? Did you think this would also become your live band?

LESLIE: That's a great question, because it wasn't. It was a little bit of an odd situation, so I thought, because these people are just phenomenal musicians who play in a million other bands & are constantly touring & working. I always knew them as like my dream band that would never actually be mine. People I could get into the studio & record with when they were available, but I had many other musicians who I was performing with. I was in a band I was singing back-up for. While I was writing these songs & fleshing them out & until the time we were done recording I was asking them to be my backing band whenever I booked shows on my own. They were busy as well, so I started to put together my own group. They were also fantastic musicians, but there's something about the chemistry that happens between me & the band that I play with now that I was always missing & wishing I had on stage with me. I finally just turned to Ellis one day after one of my shows & I said 'Can you guys be my band?'  I was a little drunk. He was like 'We'll talk about it, we'll talk about it.' The next thing I knew these people were actually interested in playing with me, as long as I booked shows that work for all of us. The 1st thing I do when I get offered a show is text everybody & see if they're available. If 70% of them are, then we do it & it's fantastic. I've never been happier than this past year & a half playing with them.

AJ: What's the future hold for those 10 missing songs? After all this work, will you be sharing them with us?

LESLIE: A lot of them make appearances at shows. Most are finished. I think there were like 2 or 3 that we just tossed away, that just weren't really working for us. Just seemed like they were a part of a different project in the overall essence of how they sounded. We put those away & focused on what was remaining. Finished most of them, but they just need to be mastered or a little more mixing. One of them needs a little more instrumentation. They are things that we play live almost all the time & they're definitely songs that I'll be considering for my next EP.

AJ: You sent one of those songs to me in an e-mail, "Can't Change It Now", with a little note that said it was one of your favorites, if not the favorite.

LESLIE: I did say that.

AJ: What is in that message to me?

LESLIE: I wanted you to hear more. I remember in your review of It Resembles Fiction that you wanted to hear more & that 5 songs was too short. It is one of my favorites because I think it truly blends a little bit more of the country side that I was think I was a little bit too afraid to show when we 1st started writing the EP. I mean, I'm in the Manhattan music scene now, but if I had stayed in Texas that song would have gone over great. I was a little hesitant to let people hear that, because I felt a little bit of pressure in the beginning when I was younger to fit into this indie rock scene that is so prominent here. Not a lot of people want to go to the country side with me. As I kept performing people were very responsive to the song. People kept saying that they loved it, not because they love country music, but because they loved what was coming out of me when I was performing it. It's because I think what is coming out of me is a little bit of my home in music. It's the music that truly inspired me & got me creating & I think that comes out in it.

AJ: I should clarify, when I did the review last year I did put that it was too short. There's a lot of albums that I listen to that you get beyond the 1st few songs & then you're just watching the clock waiting for it to end. The musicians think what they are doing is great, but shorter can sometimes be better, in terms of you're not surprised by what you're hearing & everything on the album sounds alike. Then other times, as in your case, you hear an album that is incredibly strong & you want more. You feel like you've been left hungry & so much more could be said or served. You don't want the journey to end. I felt like with your album that we were on a date & I didn't want it to end. But, why did you release an EP & not a full-length album? You obviously have enough songs.

LESLIE: There was a lot of factors that played into the decision to release an EP. It was  a big decision. We went back & forth about a million times. It just got to the point where we'd been working on it long enough. It  needed to come out. It was time. We just kinda said, 'Hey, let's throw something out there. Let's look at the big picture. If we throw out a full-length album right now we can continue writing obviously & keep creating & push this album as far as we can go. But, if our intention is to hopefully get some recognition from some investors or a label or what have you, it's probably better to release 5 songs, get some interest, & say, 'Hey, if you want to invest in me, I've got 10 more in the can that we can get out right away & I'm writing more.'' It just seemed business-wise to be the right course of action. I definitely made the final decision, but, you know, I kind of let the people who had done this before & knew what they were doing advise me & I rolled along with that. I'm not upset about it, because I think I didn't pigeonhole myself anywhere that I can't escape from. I feel very free to bring out another EP or full-length. We haven't decided which it will be yet & I can really not feel limited in where I can take it musically, because I didn't release an album that specifically defined as a genre what I'm doing. I still feel very free to keep investigating where we're going musically.

AJ: With your background with a classical training & being a back-up singer & you've done different things in different parts of the country, when you got It Resembles Fiction done was there any hesitancy to share it with your friends or your family & go, 'Okay, you've been listening to me all these years, but this is the result ...' Did you ever have that fear?

LESLIE: I definitely never felt hesitancy in it. I definitely was just like overwhelmed with the urge to get it out there, because I feel like I did have so many people supporting me along the way, who were so invested in me whether they be friends or family or even the bands that I was singing with & providing backup vocals for. All of them were kept asking when they were going to hear my stuff. When were they going to get to hear what I'd been creating? It was probably the most exciting thing to finally have that CD release party & show everyone what it was that I've been working on & what it was that I had in me all this time. I just needed time to get it out & I wanted it to be perfect. I didn't want to start playing lots of little shows where I'm like figuring it out along the way. Even though I did, I didn't really publicize them too much, because I just wanted to get that experience under my belt & have a really polished finish fantastic product for all these people who'd been waiting perfect.

AJ: Now you have gotten recognition, both personally & the album itself. Would you mind sharing some of the interesting gigs you've had? I'm thinking in fields with audiences around you in bleachers. You know what I mean?

LESLIE: Surrounded by sweaty athletes.

AJ: Something like that.

LESLIE: It was a fantastic year. It was very exciting. I let the album release on March 4th in NYC. We did a release party at Arlene's Grocery. There was a woman there who was affiliated with the Atlanta Braves. She approached me after the show & said, 'I love what you're doing. This is so fantastic. You've got to come down to Atlanta & sing the "National Anthem" for the Braves.' After I fell down & got back up I, of course, agreed. She wanted to fly the whole band down & get some shows for us. That's really where it started. Before we even got down to Atlanta to perform at the Braves game she called me again after setting it up & said, 'You know, I've been working on some things & about a week or so after you come down to Atlanta we're going to be in NY playing the Mets, so you should just sing it again at Citi Field. That's when I actually went unconscious for about 5 minutes. Finally woke up & accepted that offer. So, it was a great summer. That's where it started. We went down to Atlanta & I sung the "National Anthem" for the 1st time since I was in high school. It's a difficult song. It's got a little over an octave in there. But, there's no greater honor for a singer than to be asked to sing that at a sporting event & there's nothing cooler than standing in the middle of an empty baseball field doing a soundcheck with those acoustics. I did try to steal the Atlanta Braves microphone, but I was caught. It was very fun & then we came up to NY & did it again. We had a big wrap-up party. Things got quiet for a couple weeks. I was just sorta resting from my 1st tour, quote/unquote, & I got a call from the NY Rangers asking me to perform the "Anthem" at Madison Square Garden. I guess they had seen the youtube videos from the baseball games. That was just hugely amazing. Before I even got to Madison Square Garden to perform I got an e-mail from the NY Red Bulls asking me to come sing for them. I had to actually look at my boyfriend asking who the NY Red Bulls were, because I don't know anything about soccer. I didn't know we had a soccer team. So, it just kind of all happened in waves & it was fantastic. It kind of, you know, brought me a little bit to the next level. It was a great stepping stone for me. To get my name out there. Get a lot of experience singing at arenas like this, which there's no way to prepare for it other than to just go out there & do it. It was just a great great time.

AJ: Now I have to ask, because I'm probably not going to have this opportunity again with someone. You're singing in Madison Square Garden the "National Anthem." Now, you know as well as I do, we all like to watch people sing this & mess up. But, tell me, what is it really like in that moment, in that venue, singing this song that's really difficult? We sit at home teasing folks, but give us the insider's view.

LESLIE: I enjoy watching people mess it up too. because it gives you that validation of like 'I didn't mess up, but Christina Aguilera did. I'm just as good as her.' But, the reality is, it's a very very stressful situation. It's a very very stressful thing to do. The acoustics, the electronics, the rushing, the crowd ... What I learned from performing in one baseball stadium was 120 degrees to another baseball stadium in the north to Madison Square Garden with ice on the ground to a soccer arena that's completely enclosed. Every stadium is different. No matter how many times or if you're a famous star & have done it, it's always going to be different. You can't prepare for it. Sometimes it gets the best of you & you're going to mess up. The thing that separates the people that can be successful from the people who can't, is your ability to run with anything that pops up at you. Christina Aguilera messed up some lines, but most people didn't notice because she just kept going & didn't acknowledge it & didn't let it get her down. That's really what you've got to do. When I sang at Madison Square Garden I actually ... I have a little digital recorder I keep in my pocket that has my starting note, because you get so nervous backstage you can't keep that note in your head for too long, so I always have it there just in case. At this point I had done this 3 times. I was feeling pretty good. I was having a good time, joking with the guy that was escorting me cause it was his 1st day on the job. I was about ready to go out & I just figured I had it. I had the note in my head & didn't worry about it. I went out & started in the wrong key. But, you just got to roll with it & realize you can sing it in that key, too, ain't no problem. Most people didn't notice, even my boyfriend who had been there for every single other performance had no idea. You just have to be able to jump over the challenges that get thrown at you.

AJ: Let's talk about your home life, for a minute, because you mentioned your boyfriend. You live with a fellow musician, John-Paul Baker, who is a drummer in a heavy metal band here in NYC, a complete contrast to what you do. Does living with him & being in a relationship with a musician of a different style effect your music any?

LESLIE: I think because of the particular situation that we are in it actually benefits my music hugely. I'll say that for a couple of reasons. Number one, I've had my fair share of relationships with musicians. My album is about 5 of them. It doesn't usually work out. It's a tricky situation. In fact, I guess it was probably a year before I met John-Paul I had totally sworn them off altogether. The 2nd, I would meet a guy & I was interested in him & he would say, 'Yeah, I play guitar,'  it would be like, 'Nope, sorry, I'm out here. I gotta go.' It just doesn't usually work, but I'd never tried a drummer before & I think the difference is that I'm a singer & he's a drummer & there are no 2 elements of a band that are more different. The drummer is the rhythm section, the anchor of the band. He's driving the boat & keeping it on course & it's a very reliable & steady individual that has to fill that role. You know I'm not dealing with the frontman & all the drama & the narcissism that I was before. I think the other key element to it is that we are in completely different genres. Our bands are not even remotely similar. We're not competing for the same gigs. We're not competing for the same fans. It's almost as if we have 2 totally different professions, but we can totally support each other because we are both musicians. We both know what we're going through & we can advise each other & help each other & just be there & understand what the other person is going through. I think we have found that unique combination of 2 musicians that actually can work together.

AJ:  We're getting near the end of our time together, Leslie, but I wanted to mention the fact you have licensed a track to an indie film.

LESLIE: I licensed to Pocket Full Of Gold, an indie film out in L.A., a Scatter Brothers & Wolf In The Grave Production. It was 'Can't Change It Now' which we talked about. I had met the director & co-writer Jeff Prugh when I was out there a couple years ago visiting my brother. We just crossed paths & he mentioned he was a filmmaker & I mentioned I was a musician. I heard from him about a year later asking if I had anything that he could listen to for his new movie. This was right before It Resembles Fiction was finished. I sent him all the songs on the album, which were done & just needed to be mastered. I also made the mistake of sending 3 of the songs that weren't finished that aren't on the album. The whole time I was thinking that no way would he be interested in any of the unfinished songs. He's going to love the ones that are done because they sound so good. He wrote back & said it had to be "Can't Change It Now." He said he loved it & it was perfect, to which I replied, 'Did you notice that there's no chorus? Did you notice I'm not finished writing it & I have no idea what the song is about?' I was very upset that he had chosen that song, because I was at a point with it that I knew what it was about, I knew where it was going, but I just could not write a chorus to save my life. I just couldn't really get there. I was getting really frustrated with it, so I'd thrown it out & didn't want it to be a part of anything. But, him choosing it was great, because all of a sudden I had a deadline. I had to finish it. I had no choice if I didn't want to lose this opportunity. I just finally found an afternoon where inspiration struck & I was finally able to write that chorus that I'd been trying to figure out for like 6 months. It was great. The movie did pretty well on the indie film circuits. It won some awards.

AJ: Leslie, as we approach our last few minutes is there anything you want to share that we haven't?

LESLIE: If anyone should come to my next shows we're doing something different. On my album a lot of the songs were created right there in the studio with tape rolling. For this next album I'm taking a different approach. I've written the songs, though I'm still writing more, & I want to know what it is like to play them for a year & find out what they become when they are heard by an audience for awhile. That's what we're doing now.


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