I began writing the first song to my upcoming, debut EP in August of 2013. Yep, you read that right. Three whole years ago. Some people tell me that it's completely ludicrous to be working on a single project for that long, but I really wanted to create something that was a perfect representation of who I am as an artist with great quality production and songs to back it up. Shortly after writing this first song, I made my dream move to the pop music capitol of the world, Los Angeles, CA.
Finding the right creative team with whom to collaborate on this was tough, to be honest with you, as the process is for any independent artist out there. Finding the right co-writers and producers is like dating... but not like, the fun, flingy kind. I'm talking about dating for marriage. I know this seems extreme, but these are the people with whom I (or any artist, for that matter) am bringing my musical brain child into the world. And like real babies, these songs will be imprinted in our musical lives for literal eternity (thanks, internet). I needed to find people who understood my vision, were bold enough to break some boundaries, were more kick-ass than me so I could push myself to new heights, people who were okay with my midwest potty mouth and people who truly believed in me as an artist. I got so lucky, so so lucky to have found many of my perfect team members at ASCAP's 2014 Lester Sill Workshop (s/o to Evan, Gali and Jason for bringing us together), and a couple of additional team members through basically fate-y meet-cutes in 2015. I'm going to dedicate a future post to all collaborators on the project, but a big hay girl hayyyy to Lisa, Josh, Allison, Charity, Ben, Catherine, Rachael and most importantly, Matt. Luh y'all.
The final song for the EP was completed in October 2015 (read: over two years later), and I literally could not wait to record everything. I got set up in a studio over in Orange County to begin recording my first two songs, but had to stop due to an incoming sinus infection with later complications due to the 32-days of antibiotics I was on that lasted nearly three months. My recording plan was thrown off, and therefore so was the release date. After working with a vocal specialist for what seemed like endless weeks, I decided to take a leap of faith and book a flight to Chicago just before Christmas. I was not anywhere near well yet, but felt that if I put the idea of being well enough to record into the universe, that it just might come true.
After a quick detour to NYC to visit my childhood best friend and see fellow Lester Sill alum Katie Boeck as Wendla in the Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, I plopped my suitcases down at a boujie-ass hotel in The Loop of Chicago that I didn't belong in. I wrapped myself up like a fucking marshmallow with immovable pretzel-stick arms as I made the first of my daily trips on the train to my producer Matt's house. I ended up re-recording the first two songs that I had begun in Orange County, and recorded the entire project with a very severe case of esophagitis and oral thrush. (#funfact or #grossfact is for you to decide, but I thought it may be an interesting tidbit to include for later trivia.) The time I spent in Chicago was amazing. Matt and I worked our asses off and ate a bunnnnnch of food #portillos. When we finished recording everything, I ordered myself some room service complete with champagne, got ready, and snuck in some time for a rager with some of my high school besties who live in the city. Another #funfact, audio from said rager can be heard in the bridge of "PTE". If you listen hard enough, you can even hear my friend Caroline and I drunk girl talking. "YOU'RE the best, nooooo YOU'RE the best!" Thanks iPhone voice memo, YOU'RE the best.
Matt and I have spent the past four months emailing edits back and forth to each other on the mixes of each song. We've experimented with instrumentation, effects, vibes, you name it, we did it, all with over 2,000 miles between us. to give you an example, one song has over 20 versions saved on my computer since first recording it. Needless to say, this process has been a much longer ride than expected, but I appreciate Matt's patience and dedication to helping me make this project exactly what I've dreamed. The five songs have officially received their stamp of approval from the both of us, and as I am typing this post, the songs are uploading to a private soundcloud link to send out to trusted industry professionals for feedback.
I'm terrified. Terrified to the point of tears. I've spent years on this project, poured my little pop heart on the floor and let my personality loose on each and every track. I took risks on this one. None of what you're going to hear on this EP is what is currently getting radio airplay. It's bringing a little bit of the punk rock I don't give a fuck back into pop music that hasn't been there in years. I've never been so nervous in my life. But honestly, how exciting? To feel like this project is so much of a reflection of myself that I'm actually afraid of how people are going to receive it, as if it's more of a question of how they are going to receive me? I couldn't ask for a better outcome.
Positive vibes are welcomed at this time as we await these critiques. I don't have a release date for you guys yet, but after this set of feedback, edits and more feedback, the project will go out for mastering, and I will record my first music video in preparation for the debut single drop. (LIKE, WHAT?!) I'm so excited to share this project with you guys, and hope to inspire you to find the joy in being your true self, whomever that may be. Additionally, I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight as to how much time and effort goes in to creating music and that this sparks a little fire in your booty to go out there and support your favorite artists with some legal, paid downloads of their material and some shares on social media. It will make their fucking day, if not their whole year. If you have problems justifying a music buy, just remember that coffee only lasts 15 minutes, but music lasts a lifetime ;)
Spunky up-and-coming danger pop artist, Leena Regan, will be hitting the road this summer to perform at Springboard South Music Festival 2016. Leena's spitfire persona will get the chance to light its flame in front of large audiences for industry showcases, on-camera interviews, The Bose Naked Stage (acoustic showcases), and one on one mentoring sessions.
"I'm so stoked to be a part of a festival that celebrates and cultivates fresh, raw, unsigned talent. I cannot wait to showcase my brand new music through the live performance I've created for my fans-- a unique moment in time to celebrate what makes all of us who we are and to settle into the joys of what make us truly happy through music."
The Festival takes place June 24th-27th in Houston, Texas, and you can learn more about the festival, lodging and music conference here: http://www.springboardsouth.com/performers/.
"I'm also just really excited to go to the birthplace of Beyoncé. I think there's magic in the water there."
Who was your favorite celebrity as a child?
Oh God, what a difficult question. I was utterly enthralled with Britney Spears when she first came out, but when Avril Lavigne hit the stage, I was completely obsessed. I got the camo pants, the ties, the boots, the everything. I even wore a skirt made of ties, a button down shirt... with a tie... and chunky black combat boots to my first school dance (big s/o to my older sis for fueling that fire and apologies to my conservative catholic school for being such a heathen). Full disclaimer: I did the same during my Britney phase.
What type of pets do you have?
Well, anyone that's met me for even five seconds knows that I have a dog named Panda and that she's the cutest effing thing you'll ever see. What most people don't know though, is that I also have a dappled grey American Quarter Horse named Academy.
What is your favorite color?
See, this question is kind of hard for me. I love the color green. It's my favorite to decorate with. BUT.... I am obsessed with neon greenish yellow and the color pink in any other aspect of life.
What is most memorable about your high school years?
high school was when i created and released my first ep, had my first live tv interview/performance and first had labels interested in signing me. i think we can all call that pretty memorable.
What word describes you best?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I think my greatest accomplishment is finding my true self again after losing my way a bit in high school and sticking to it.
What drives you every day?
What is your favorite food?
LOL. Um, my favorite food is chocolate. But also chicken. And maybe bacon. But not together. But also pizza.
What are 10 things that I would see when I walk into your door?
1) Vintage posters from various musical legends. 2) Agnes's plush unicorn from Despicable Me. 3) Succulents. Everywhere. 4) Neon highlighters that look like lipsticks displayed on my shelf for everyone to see because they're so effing COOL. 5) A shit-ton of clothes. 6) 5 pairs of boots that look exactly the same because I have a problem. 7) Way too many candles. 8) Music/recording gear. 9) The cutest dog you'll ever see. 10) Enough coffee mugs to serve the entire cast of harry potter.
Who do you admire?
Hilary Duff. Girl made it through the Disney machine without going totally bezerk, and I have mad respect for that. I would've probably ended up pulling a Miley (*insert sticking my tongue out here*).
What is your mission?
My mission is to create a space and a culture where people can celebrate the uniqueness of themselves and others- a space where people aren't judging others for what they're wearing, how they do their makeup, who they're with, etc. Everyone has different tastes, different passions, different backstories... but whatever makes someone happy should be celebrated, not made fun of. Joy is a beautiful thing.
If you were invisible, where would you go?
A yoga class. I'm way to embarrassed to do that shit when people can actually see me. But I'd also need to be mute as well, so people couldn't hear me hysterically laughing at myself through the entire class.
What traits in others are you attracted to?
1) Passion. It is seriously beautiful. 2) Drive. People working towards achieving their dreams. 3) Respect. People that are respectful of others' time, beliefs, cultures, wishes, work and moral standards. 4) An interest in Self-Care. People that are respectful of their bodies, minds and health. 5) Loyalty. Being faithful to relationships and commitments, supportive of loved ones and being someone that can always be counted on.
What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
The unconditional love and continuous forgiveness from my parents throughout my life is what I would consider to be the ultimate act of kindness.
If you could share a meal with any 4 people, living or dead, who would they be?
i'd probably have to say martin luther king jr., nelson mandela, oprah and bernie sanders. oprah would facilitate the conversation and i would take copious notes.
If you could join any current music group, which would you want to join?
Can we pretend the spice girls are still active? i choose the spice girls. i could be called goofy spice, grungy spice or maybe even sassy spice. i like the alliteration of sassy spice, let's go with that.
If you could say one thing to the person reading this, what would it be?
stop judging people, celebrate people! the key to this, is to start at a personal level. celebrate the person you are and stop judging yourself for your flaws. it will naturally spill over into how you treat other people and the world will be a more beautiful place.