'Flying The Flag of Faith'
Following in the groove intensive, dance-pop footsteps of her fellow countrymen/women and chief musical inspirations ABBA, Swedish born, Stockholm raised and L.A. based vocalist Leana found an exciting way to declare that she has 'Faith In Myself' — the name of her upcoming debut release on Swedish Diva Records, due in May.
Last year, she got on the floor to “Dance With A Stranger,” and suddenly her ethereal, inspirational dance-pop vibe (think Enya and Dido meet Madonna) has become a worldwide sensation.
While building her music career, Leana has also been the owner of a successful court reporter company with a mock trial facility for lawyers to screen prospective jurors. She originally started the company with her earnings as a model back in Europe. She began her singing career at L.A. clubs like Luna Park.
Her first show ever was a Bette Midler-like musical comedy revue she called the Swedish Diva show, which featured four male dancers and singers performing behind her.
Chatting recently with Leana, and noting that she had launched her career as a fashion model, at what point did becoming a singer outweigh the fashion world? "I quit modeling to start my own court reporting company with the money I had made because I wanted to stay in LA and I wanted to have my own business. During this time I sang and made music just for the love of it. Now I am lucky enough to be able to just focus on the music, which I am realizing is another form of entrepreneurship.”
Your new album title 'Faith In Myself' is very self-explanatory, but I'm wondering just what it means to you in this debut CD instance? "It took me a long time to find the faith in myself to make the album so it seemed an appropriate title and a good reminder!”
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Leana at her musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "Faith In Myself.”
And talking about encapsulating someone, your new album photography is extremely patriotic to your home country! Just what went into that photo shoot (the one with the huge flag!) and are there any behind-the-scenes secrets about the artwork that you can now reveal?! "Matthew Rolston had this great idea about featuring the midnight sun in the photo shoot. The midnight sun is so closely linked to people’s idea about Sweden and I am also very inspired by nature. In the photo, Rolston had me wrapped in blue fabric against the midnight sun. At some point a brilliant graphic designer made the fabric into a flag. Naturally, we had an amazing response to the image in Sweden, and Export Music Sweden used it as their cover for the CD compilation and catalogue at Popkomm in Berlin 2005.”
Having had your debut single 'Dance With A Stranger' co-produced and written by top producer Peter Rafelson (Madonna, Stevie Nicks, etc.) and then to watch as it became a Top 10 hit on the Billboard dance chart must have been amazing! Did you truly expect so much so early? "No I didn’t and I am truly grateful for the success of the song—it’s been a lot of fun.”
Being that you were born and raised in Stromstad, Sweden and citing your chief musical inspirations as fellow Swedes ABBA, I was wondering just what it was about the foursome that left you musically inspired ....? "That goes without saying — the platform shoes of course! Seriously, I love how they layered their voices and the instruments and Bjorn and Benny are incredibly gifted songwriters. Besides that, growing up at the time I did, we were all sort of brainwashed with ABBA, the music was everywhere and we all mimicked ABBA in school performances and at home in front of the mirror.”
... and what was life like for you growing up in that small fishing city of Stromstad anyway?! "I spent most of my childhood in Stockholm but still spent summers in Stromstad. Of course now I only remember the romantic parts, like waiting for the fishing boat to come in with fresh shrimp and picking berries in the forest. Life sure moves a lot slower there than in Los Angeles where I live now.“
For fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'Faith' - OK, so just what do you have faith in, each and every day? "I have faith in that if you treat people nicely they will treat you nicely back and also that if you keep moving, you’ll eventually move forward.”
'And Let The Singer Be Heard' - Has there ever been an occasion where you messed up on stage singing and wished that the singer could actually disappear?! "Plenty of times! In smaller venues there is lots of room for disaster. The worst is when you can’t hear yourself on stage… There actually was a time when I disappeared, I was performing my show at Luna Park, an LA venue, when the electricity went out and all went dark and quiet!"
'Dreams Of You' - Do you have a recurring dream (or nightmare) that you can relate to us, perhaps? "I forget them, so they can’t be that good or bad, or maybe I am just that tired when I finally get to sleep.”
Please tell us more about your court reporter company and what it enables lawyers to learn, etc.? "A court reporter stenographs the testimony from a witness by the opposing counsel. He or she takes the evidence into the custody of the court and sometimes have to keep two fighting attorneys apart. We also had a mock trial facility. Through a rented jury, attorneys were able to find out potential outcomes of their case and gain information that could help them present a better case in front of the “real” jury.”
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "I would love to cover 'It’s Raining Men,' if I had that kind of voice. And I would cast the video myself. But boy, you must have a sixth sense or really good sources, I actually have been asked to cover a big 80s song! But I can’t say which one I chose, it’s still a secret ... but stay tuned!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Ah, a question I never had anticipated! I saw 'March of the Penguins,' did you? How could you not love them, they are so cute!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Leana's brand new CD, just answer this easy question: 'Faith In Myself' features tracks helmed by Michael Lloyd (“Faith”), who has over 100 platinum albums to his credit. Lloyd was the first big producer to approach Leana about recording after he saw her perform one of her regular gigs at one of L.A.’s most elegant clubs. What is the name of that L.A. club?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before May 15th with your answer and the subject title 'LEANA SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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