Indie Profile: 2019 Forest City London Music Award Winner Leanne Mayer

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Leanne MayerTell us about your music, including your history, where you are from and how you started?
I originally started singing in Northern Ontario when I was a teenager. I won a couple of contests and got to record some original music that a friend had written. After that, I sang cover songs with a band and played bars around Northern Ontario until moving to London in the early 2000s.

It took me several years to make connections and re-establish myself within the London music scene. After working my way up through open mics and playing every opportunity I could, I formed a band with my good friend Nick Ross, who is a graduate from Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College, and we performed for several years in a band called Hollow Romance.

We decided to discontinue the project and in 2017 I began performing original and cover tunes under my name Leanne Mayer. I was solo when I started, and I accompanied myself on ukulele.

Following the release of my debut EP Bittersweet Remedy, produced by Michael Marucci and Anne Moniz, I began playing with a full band with some well know local talents, Michael Trudgen (strings), Tracey Frank (saxophone), Adam McNeil (bass) and Frank Reynoso (percussion).

Why did you decide to be a solo artist rather than form a band?
Honestly when I started the solo project, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I started writing a few songs and performing at local bars under my own name with the goal of funding additional recording.

As I kept writing songs and recording, I gained access to different opportunities. After winning the Forest City London Music Awards 2019 award for Contemporary Singer/Songwriter more opportunities presented themselves. I was playing with the full band at Home County Music & Art Festival, as well as various other festivals and events around Southern Ontario.

Do you have any recorded music available for fans?
Absolutely. I have my initial debut EP Bittersweet Remedy available online on all platforms including Spotify and Apple Music. I also have hard copies of that EP available and can be arranged through connecting on social media.  I also have my two 2020 single releases available online.

How would you describe your music?
That is the part I struggle with. My music catalogue is varied and based on musical influences or moods I was feeling at that time. I’ve heard it described as soulful lounge pop with old school country, folk, blues, and jazz influences.

What makes your music stand out from the others?
Powerful vocals infused with infectious melodies and thought-provoking meaningful lyrics is what I have been recognized for.  Additionally, I am extremely lucky to get to play with such phenomenally talented musicians that are masters of their craft, which really help make an impression.

What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your music?
I love to listen to music, either live or at home to find new inspirations. I also love getting out and just experiencing life and observing things around me. Some of my inspiration comes from events that happened in my own life or those of my friends and family.

Leanne MayerName your two biggest musical influences and why?
I’ve had so many influences over my lifetime it is very hard to narrow it down to just two.  I love experiencing live music and feel I gain so much inspiration seeing new bands or old favourites. There is nothing like the energy you get from feeling like you are part of a moment in time that will never be recreated. However, if I am forced to pick, I would have to say that Cat Clyde has been a huge inspiration throughout the pandemic and has inspired me to try to create more raw, meaningful lyrics. I have also loved and been inspired by Janis Joplin, for her tenacity, unique style (especially of her time), thoughtful lyrics, and powerful vocals.

Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
I write independently and then bring new songs to my band to get help with filling them out with the other instruments. The main themes of my songs can be dark and are about struggling with the human experience.  The main topics of my songs are heartache, loss, and self-reflection.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
The biggest challenge as an artist has been the pandemic. It immediately halted everything we had planned for playing shows and festivals around Ontario. It reduced my music income drastically making it difficult for me to self-fund recording projects, videos, marketing, and growing my brand in general. It has made me adapt and grow to learn more home recording techniques, live streaming through an audio interfaces, collaborating online, as well as creating videos and marketing material. I was also lucky to continue performing live with support through the City of London, London Arts Live program, and various live venues around London.

What current projects are you working on at the moment?
With the local status change for the pandemic, I am beginning to perform live again at various establishments in Southern Ontario, under the conditions that we remain within the appropriate colour zone. I am also working on writing my first full-length album, with hopes of releasing in 2022, which may be delayed because of the pandemic. You can also find me live streaming on Facebook and Sessions.com.

YouTube: Leanne Mayer
Facebook: leannemayermusic
Instagram: @leannemayermusic
Spotify: Leanne Mayer

Photo: Tony Bondi
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