Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with unsigned London singer Leonie Sherif to find out more...
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I'm from London/Essex.
I've always loved music from a young age.
My dad was in a band in the 80s and very musical so his influence definitely rubbed off onto me too but it's definitely something I had in my spirit out the womb.
I was into performing growing up, I danced as a child and teenager and got into modelling later on but music was always my number one passion, and in a subconscious way I would focus on all the other performance avenues more as a means to build up my confidence for the one thing I really wanted to do the most which was music.
I was always writing songs and singing at home but I was so shy about it and scared to put myself out there, so I kept music as my kind of comfort/therapy and private thing (I'm still like that today...)
I began drafting and writing more songs in my teens and ended up recording a few rough demos for artists and, performing in a few bands (for short stints) before taking things more seriously and making a decision to focus on myself as an artist.
In 2012 I started to put together my own body of work derived from a catalogue of songs I'd written over time, I focused on 5 of my favourites and put together my first EP 'These Walls' which I released on Soundcloud with a remixes version later released and that was the real start of things for me.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Growing up I was obsessed with Madonna and Michael Jackson was my number 1.
From the age of about 4yrs I had the Madonna 'Virgin Tour' on daily replay every day, I'm surprised the VHS didn't break! 😂
I also loved Janet Jackson, Mariah, Whitney and Toni Braxton they were my favourite vocalists, I adored them.
Babyface, Bobby Brown, Prince, Richard Marx were mostly the male artists I would listen to.
I loved Aaliyah and Brandy and lot of rnb music too. Dru Hill, Musiq Soulchild and Floetry were firm favourites.
Now I would say all my early influences are still rooted in me. I listen to a wide array of music old and new from all genres.
I am influenced by a lot of producers as production is all woven into my songwriting process right from the pen to paper stage.
I don't solidly play any instruments so as I write I work with creating beats and soundscapes which result in me producing and co-producing all of my music.
Quincy Jones, Teddy Riley, Timberland, Rodney Jerkins and Rich Harrison are my favourites, I admire Calvin Harris and all of his work too.
James Blake and Frank Ocean's creative approach with music is something I draw a lot of influence from too.
How would you describe your sound?
I'm not sure how to describe my sound so I often let other people do that for me haha.
I am influenced by a lot of different sounds, Rnb/hipppp and soul, electronic music, pop as well as island flavours (Afro/Latin) rhythms and percussion, as well as jazz fusion, rock pop and experimental and ambience sounds so... I think that perhaps they all work their way into my sound somehow.
The main thing is my music tends to be percussive, melodic and bvs rich and is quite cross genre (rnb experimental electro pop tends to be how it's described).
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
Ice cold is my latest release. Just came out July 19th.
The song talks about a person who is cold, dishonest and entitled in character, it's the realisation of having been deceived by someone you trusted.
This release is the second version of the song (as there is an alternative 'original version' on my EP Nocturnal Wave) but sonically the song is atmospheric and dreamy yet upbeat and dancey with angst.
I wanted the track to take the listener on a journey embodying the emotions of bold and bitter yet sombre just as typically as a person may feel after having been wronged by their partner yet left feeling saddened and hurt.
What’s your local music scene like?
It is really good, East London and the rest of London has an amazing music scene with a lot of amazing emerging talent and venues providing opportunities for upcoming artists and I look forward to getting my music into the live arena going forward.
Up until now I have spent a lot of time creating and in the studio so the live scene is definitely the next step forward for me and where it's all at.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I am working on a bunch of new material, recording and translating a lot of written and drafted material into the bigger studio.
I'm planning on another single release later this year and a new EP is in the works for the end of 2019 beginning 2020.
Also collaboration with some amazing producers is in the works and getting some live performances out too.
My Music video to ICE COLD is dropping very soon also.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I love the production duo Fisticuffs and also the artist duo DVSN, I would love to work with them because their sound is so authentic to me and I love the natural flair of their music but there are honestly endless artists I would love to collab with.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I have done a handful of solo performances so not really but there was one time I was doing backing vocals for a band (about 10 yrs ago now at the Jazz Cafe 'Camden').
The late great Amy Winehouse was in the building, and I had no idea!
She came rocketing onto the stage half way through a song and grabbed the lead male vocalist's mic and just started singing, rum and coke in hand! 😂
We were all in shock!
It was quite surreal, she then grabbed the drummer's sticks and began drumming.
She had a lovely chat with us afterwards saying how great we all were... It was funny yet left us speechless and in awe, such an amazing experience to have met her.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
At heart the one thing I really am is a creative, I thrive in creativity and being creative is when I'm at my ultimate happy place.
On a side note: There's no one way to put my musical style into a firm box or genre, you're always going to get a little bit of a hybrid or cross sound so when I'm asked to describe my sound it would delight and intrigue me so much more to hear how listeners describe my sound rather than how I do haha 😉