Leah Weller had a busy few months. Despite the difficulties with lockdown (Steve Craddock of Ocean Color Scene produced her single from afar), she managed to write and release her debut single “Change” in April. Today she shares the new song “Strangers” as part of an EP or “possibly an album” ”, says Leah.
“I’ve got enough for an album now,” says Leah, daughter of Modfather Paul Weller and soul legend DC Lee. She wrote music non-stop during the lockdown. “There was nothing else to do!” She says NME by phone from her home in London. “It was a good, thoughtful time to write, and I’m very grateful that I had that.”
We caught up with Leah to learn all about her early DJ career, overcome trust issues, write her own material, and how her love for Marilyn Manson inspired her songwriting (but upset her father) …
Hello Leah. What can you tell us about your new single?
Leah: “I sent the song to Steve Cradock first and we just met whenever we could. I would often just send him my seedy GarageBand recording files back and forth while he was working on it remotely. Eventually it turned out to be just great and we said, ‘Let’s get it out!’ “
How was it working with Steve Craddock?
“We worked a lot together. It was really amazing – he’s like family to me and I’ve obviously known him since I was a kid. He produced my EP, which was supposed to come out this year, but instead we decided to only work with singles for now because of this climate and the fact that it was a crazy time for the entire music industry. “
Is there a theme or style that connects all the songs at this stage?
“A lot of the songs are social commentary on things like mental health, things that I or other people I know have been through. It is a commentary on life and on topics that are not covered and are not talked about so much. It’s exactly what came out when I started writing: it wasn’t intended. Each song is also linked in some way to a soul theme, but there is also a lot of musical diversity. For example, ‘Strangers’ has a more ska-pop feel to it, but I can do other things that are a little heavier. It’s got a 90s grunge vibe, I have a country pop song there too. It’s a bit eclectic, but I think it’s cool that it’s not just one thing. There are no more rules. “
Leah Weller – Credit: Press
Who are your musical influences?
“As a kid, I was very interested in Marilyn Manson and I think he’s probably one of my main lyrical influences. His lyrics were so different from anything else that was written about when I was this old. I think he was on the road for a long time as a kid, but that didn’t matter – I’d never heard lyrics like that. My dad wasn’t particularly keen on the whole Marilyn Manson era I’ve been through! Growing up, I loved a real, eclectic mix of music – from Deftones to Missy Elliott. As I got older, I got into much older things. Right now I really like country music and some of the new tracks have a country feel to them. I love Kacey Musgraves. “
Will heavier songs make it onto your EP or your album?
“There’s a track I did with Paul Barry called Something Sacred. It has a real 90s grunge guitar in it. I would say it has Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and I think one day it will be a great live track! “
Leah and Paul Weller – Photo Credit: Getty
Are you worried about comparisons with your parents?
“Yes, there is always this thought, but most of all they are just my parents. I think that anyone who brings something out is always afraid that it will be judged because it is something that is very personal to you. I usually run things past my father to see what his opinion is from the musician’s point of view. I would rather show my dad and he gives me his feedback than post something that is really not good and hear it from someone else.
“My parents were always very supportive, no matter what I wanted to do, but I had a musical background and knew early on that I was interested in music. I always sang; I always tried to learn the guitar. My father gave me my first guitar for my 12th birthday. I remember writing my first song. I think it said something like “Same Shit, Different Day” – I was a bit of an emo kid! “
Before that you were a DJ – why did you take the plunge into writing your own music?
“I’ve only been writing my own stuff in the past two to three years. I was just never confident enough and I didn’t think I was good enough. I got in quite young and then wasn’t sure if it was for me; I was very shy. It was a real learning curve and I think that as you got older, so did your confidence. Now I’ve found my feet in what I want to do. I found my voice, so to speak. With DJing it was just a great, fun job that unfortunately I can’t really do at the moment. I just think that anything music orientated was always something I wanted to be a part of. “
How did you overcome your trust problems?
“Just finding the confidence to make music was the biggest challenge for me that held me back. I had written these songs and felt that they were very personal to me. Obviously, getting them out somewhere means that they could be criticized, but I’ve just learned to let go of that. That was the greatest thing to be overcome. I think it was about learning to listen to yourself and not doubt yourself before you even started. “
“Yes, it’s an incredible charity that helps so many people. Music can help anyone with a wide variety of problems, so I think it’s great to be associated with. It’s the first time I’ve been able to play music since being locked out. I’m very excited about that too. “
Are you planning to hit the streets again next year?
“I will definitely plan a tour as soon as it is safe. I have another gig at the Clapham Grand on October 8th. They did some socially distant gigs; Right now it’s kind of a trial thing, but it’s going to be fun. I’m also thinking about trying more outside gigs and then eventually touring the UK and just getting out of there. “
You wanted to go on tour with your father this year too …
“Yes, I was supposed to do his tour this year, but unfortunately it was canceled and postponed. Maybe next year. I had to tour with him as a kid and see him play. That inspired me of course, as well as seeing how amazing his fans are. You feel like you want to do the same. It is definitely good to have someone like him for advice. “
Leah Weller’s Strangers is available now.