NHC July POTM: Leanne Smith

It’s no great secret that Scotland’s music scene is a thing to be proud of. So we here at TSA have teamed up with Glasgow’s very own New Hellfire Club to bring you a monthly pick of who we think are doing epically well right now. Keep your eyes out for these up and coming bands. This is TSA and New Hellfire Club’s ‘Pick of the Month’.

13230155_1125521597504759_7607703625082656034_nHi there Leanne, long time no speak! I have to say, we’re glad to finally get you in for the POTM interview, as you are certainly up there as one of our favourite staff choices for best singer songwriter we have in the shop. So open us up by telling us a bit about yourself then, what’s been happening in Leanne Smith world?

Hi Jamie, I’m delighted to be doing this interview. Thank you for the kind words and for the endless support from NHC – it really means a lot. It’s so nice to see the great things you guys do for the unsigned music scene.

A few months ago, I finished my first year of studying music therapy so I’ve been pretty absorbed in uni work and placement for most of the year.It’s been extremely fulfilling to see how powerful music is and how much it can help people.

I’ve enjoyed living in Edinburgh and sharing this experience with lovely new people. It’s been a really great learning experience on all levels. I’m enjoying the summer break now before I start the final year of my course. I’m loving my new job as a community music workshop tutor.

I’m also really appreciating having more time to spend on creative passions; getting back in touch with the music-related activities that I love like singing, playing, gigging, songwriting and seeing live music.

I went to XpoNorth a few weeks ago which was really fun. I love being around other creative people and celebrating the creative industries. I was delighted to get to sing with one of my favourite bands, Foreignfox. We did a recording of one of their beautiful songs in the Buzz Project bus which was a really cool experience.

You hail from Aberdeen, stayed for a while in Edinburgh, and pretty much gig up and down the country when you can, so tell us then, what’s your favourite city crowd to play to, and why?

Yeah, I’ve noticed that I seem to hang onto places where I’ve lived before. I love having reasons to go back. I’m struggling to choose a favourite city crowd, however one of my favourite audiences in general is John Lewis customers when I’m playing in their store.

It’s one of those gigs where I’m hidden and blending in with the shop. Customers browse the store; they can hear me but don’t see me unless they walk past. They are always super friendly and appreciative. It is genuinely one of my favourite gigs.

Tell us a bit about why you got into music in the first place, was it a family member that you followed in their footsteps? Do you have music in your blood, so to speak?

I’ve always loved singing and tapping rhythms since I was little. The earliest memory I have of being inspired to play the guitar was when I was standing outside
of (what used to be) a music shop in my hometown. A guy in the shop said, “Tell your mum to buy a guitar.”

Ever since then, I kept asking my parents for a guitar. (His sales skills were clearly effective, or I obviously didn’t need much persuading.) I got my first guitar on my 7th birthday but I didn’t play it much until I started secondary school. It was during my first year when I was inspired and motived to learn guitar properly after seeing bands playing in the assembly hall at lunchtimes.

A few members of my family have played instruments in the past and my Dad is a music enthusiast. I grew up with Green Day, Foo Fighters, No Doubt and lots of other great bands thanks to him.

We recently had you at one of our fundraiser gigs early on in the year (or was it the end of last year? My memory is most certainly getting worse) and you belted out a cracker of a Fleetwood Mac cover, which you most certainly made your own. Do you generally try and slot in a cover or two to a set, and do you think it’s expected at gigs these days?

Yeah I really enjoyed that gig. It was earlier this year, don’t worry – mine can be fuzzy sometimes as well!

Thank you. I love playing that song – especially with friends as a full band. Yeah, I try to put a cover in the middle of a set most of the time. It’s fun to play and it can also be fun for the audience to hear a song that they recognise. The contrast between original songs and a cover can be good because it gives the audience a change from listening to songs that they haven’t heard before.

I think it’s a good way of connecting with them. I think it can be expected for some venues and it depends on what type of gig or event you’re playing at. It also depends on how well the audience knows your original songs. I think it’s exciting to play  a cover because you can make it into your own style. We have a lot of musicians working alongside us who juggle their music with full-time life stuff, such as uni, jobs, parenting! How hard do you think it is to juggle a career in anything but music, but still manage to keep music to the forefront? Is it just a case of making time for the music like you do with a hobby you love, or does it take a bit more obsession than most other things do?

Since starting my uni course last year, I’ve realised how conflicting it is to get the balance right between my uni course, which is in the health field, and music, which is what I studied in my popular music degree. I’ve found that it can be quite challenging trying to keep a hold of everything I’ve been doing for the past four years whilst trying my best with my new course.

I get really enthusiastic and ambitious which can be great but it’s something I have to monitor. I think the key is time management – it’s just a case of reminding myself to use this key! I sometimes think that I should be focusing mostly on uni work but then my music-related stuff gets put to the side a bit.

I’ve found that it’s so important to keep music stuff going because it’s very much a huge part of my life that makes me happy. We should always keep doing what makes us happy!

So what are you working on now then, anything exciting in the pipeline coming up that the readers should know about? What gigs are on the horizon?

I’m playing at The Jam House on Friday 8th July and I’m looking forward to busking over summer as well. I’m planning and rehearsing for my set at Belladrum which I’m very excited about.

I’ve been organizing recording sessions and music video projects for two songs and will be getting together with friends to collab on new music. I’m also looking forward to getting involved with groups that aim to provide more creative opportunities for unsigned bands and artists. I also want to say that the photo above was done by my good friend David Anderson, check him out online too when you get the chance!


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