Interview: Five Minutes with Leanne Tennant

UK born singer-songwriter Leanne Tennant has just released her latest single, ‘Bring It All Back’ via LT Records on the 22nd of August. The track heralds the coming of a new album from Tennant while following in the footsteps of melancholic ‘Cherry Cola’. ‘Bring It All Back’ was premiered via, Atwood Magazine, “The tune sounds like clarity itself, like light refracting through a prism, casting rainbows and epiphanies across its containing room.” You can read the premiere here:

Atwood Magazine

After being born in Ellesmere Port, England the alternative-pop sensation had the rare chance to live in sunny Papua New Guinea as a young child before her family relocated to the golden shores of Australia. Here, Tennant found herself ‘surrounded by the wilds of the rainforest and the azure beauty of the reef’ which created the inspiration for her dynamic work. 

Learn more about the poetic singer below

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I think the arts chose me.  I can not remember a time when I was not drawn to the arts in some way, shape or form.  Growing up I loved to sketch, and got into theatre performance. As a moody teenager, I often ventured out and skulked around art galleries and watched music documentaries until the wee hours of the night.  Music was something that just made complete and total sense to me. I was a bit of a loner and still very much like my own company so music has always been a bit of a friend to me. I struggle a bit when I don’t have music in my world so if I’m not playing it, I’m listening to it, and if I’m not doing either of those things I generally end up seeking something else creative to do.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

The sound is always first with me. I generally pick up the guitar and start humming out different melodies and rhythms, then if something sticks I’ll sift through ideas for lyrics that suit the rhythms of what I’m creating. 

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Yes – Cherry Cola was a collaboration between myself and Joel Quartermaine from Australian act Eskimo Joe.

What’s on your current playlist?

Artists such as Jack River, Middle Kids, The Black Keys 

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I like to have a bit of a laugh with the audience.  Sometimes things can feel a little serious, especially with some of my darker moodier tracks, however in reality I’m a bit of a muppet so awkwardly ramble at times.  I often tell a story or two during my sets.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I draw a lot of inspiration from movie soundtracks.  I love rhythm and have always wanted to play the drums so I am quite attracted to hearing quirky things that pop up in movies.  Sometimes I just hear really interesting sounds that inspire me to experiment and replicate it in the studio. Once I was carrying a sheet of corrugated roofing iron and it stopped me in my tracks as the rumbling, thunderous sound it was making as it wobbled whilst I walked was so beautiful and powerful.  It had me mesmerised. I put stuff like that in the memory bank to draw upon if needed when in the studio.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

This can be quite different depending on which producer I am working with, however it often starts quite early with me getting my head into the space it needs to be prior to getting to the studio.  I’ll also spend a bit of time listening to artists that I’m loving the sound of and deciphering what it is I’m drawn to. This can help piece together what sound it is I’m trying to achieve. Once in the studio I’m generally pretty open to changes, new ideas, and sometimes arrive with only the very bare bones of a song and work closely with the producer to build it up.  Again, it depends on who I’m working with and what way the songs are being approached. Other tracks I’ve recorded completely live and have to be much more prepared with a clearer vision of how I want things to sound. I absolutely love being in the studio. It’s my happy place and my favourite part of writing and releasing music.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

When I was 16 I realised that music was what I wanted to do.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that it was all I ever wanted.  I used to skip school and go busk in the subway stations where I would meet other buskers and generally surrounded myself with arty types.  I struggled in school and felt like quite an outsider, so when I found music I also gained a place where I felt I fit in and was understood.  Music has always been both my therapist and life-line. It’s got me through some pretty interesting times and provided me with something to focus on when everything else is falling apart.  It’s always there.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

A bottle of water and a glass of wine.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I’m loving Floodhounds from Sheffield.  They’re kicking some big goals and absolutely slay that indie, garage-rocks, blues sound. 

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Discovering other emerging artists and listening to online radio stations from across the globe inspires me to write  I love hearing what other people are doing and how they’re approaching their sound. We are pretty limited here on Australian Radio in regards to diversity of genres so you can easily get stuck listening to the same thing if you only tune into 1 or 2 radio stations.  There’s so much incredible music out there to be explored. That and watching quirky movies.   

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I don’t have a lot of gear.  It’s an expensive profession being a musician so I sadly don’t often have spare chunks of cash lying around to by loads of gear.  I’m quite primitive and rely a lot on the Voice Memo feature on my phone to get down ideas, and if I feel there’s any potential I’ll record them onto my computer and use the built-in plug-ins to experiment with different guitar sounds.  

I’ve recently got a couple of new guitar pedals which was a splurge for me, however I still need to spend some time with them and learn what they can do.

Any side projects you’re working on?

I’m always looking for people who are interested to Co-write.  This is something new I’ve been delving into and hope to be exploring more of.  It’s out of my comfort zone and can feel a bit bizarre, however it is always in that place of slight discomfort that you learn quickly and come up with new ideas and adapt without overthinking things.  I’ve always wanted to be in a Surf-Rock band too, so you never know, one day you might find me playing drums in a Surf-Rock / Psych outfit.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I guess I’ve just put myself in a lot of situations where I’m forced to learn quickly and think on my feet.  There is always so much to learn and plenty of opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone. Due to where I live being so far away from the Metropolitan cities of Australia, I have had to play with a lot of different musicians in a lot of different locations.  Touring is extremely expensive due to the large distances between cities, so I have learnt to adapt and perform sometimes with limited rehearsals and to not be a control freak. Working with a broad range of artists and discovering how they work has probably taught me the most.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

You can expect hearing a lot more over the coming months with a few more singles coming out and the full album in early 2020.  This will be followed by a bunch of shows, in a bunch of locations.

Famous last words?

I’m never drinking again.

Follow Leanne Tennant:

Website  – Facebook  –  Twitter  –  Soundcloud –  Youtube  –  Instagram  – Spotify