L E A
Growing up in the small, yet touristy beach town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, L E A was homegrown from every and all kinds of rock n roll. The Los Angeles-based artist has intertwined the boldness of punk with the beachiness of pop turning her into the alternative pop act she is today. Inspired by artists such as Mayday Parade, Charlotte Sands, Secondhand Serenade, Magnolia Park, and many more from the iconic Warped Tour era, L E A considers her sound colorful, extroverted, aggressive, and blunt. Having a heavy musical background, lower-timbre rock vocals, and an obsession with the colorful world around her, L E A is sure to stand out in a crowd and make her presence known. After all, she is a Leo.
We caught up with L E A outside of her favorite coffee shop in LA to talk about her first shows, the featured artists on her new EP, and performing on stage with Foreigner! Her new EP “Happy Never Ending” dropped February 24th. The collection of tracks is jam-packed with brilliantly memorable pop hits overlaid with an in-your-face pop-punk attitude, which perfectly marries two of the most beloved genres of 2023.
Photo courtesy of L E A
1. Tell us about the first show you ever played.
I’m trying to think if that was me and a band in high school. There was this thing called Griffstock, because we were the Griffins, so we just would cover Tame Impala, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Zeppelin. It was in the cafeteria of my high school. I sang a couple songs. My high school friends and I actually had a little band reunion two years ago. That was cute. That was probably my first band show, but I have performed on stage with Foreigner. That might’ve been the first time. That was also in high school. That was a long time ago, like 2012 or 2013.
2. What’s the story behind the performance with Foreigner?
It was actually a high school choir thing, so it’s not as cool as it sounded. But it was still on stage with Foreigner! We won a radio show contest where we submitted a very terrible recording. We got to perform on the radio, and part of that was to be on stage with Foreigner during a stadium show, which was pretty sick. I snuck my little crappy iPhone out and took a photo of the stage lights, and the band in front of us, and the audience. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but I wanted to remember it forever. I still have it.
3. When you first started playing out, what were the bands that were inspiring you? Any local artists?
May Day Parade, Secondhand Serenade. When I was first writing music and whatnot, I actually was very inspired by Secondhand Serenade, like to the point where I got a meet and greet pass at one of his shows, and I actually met his sound engineer. We connected and we kind of just talked. I think I was like 18 or something, and I was so new to the industry. I was like, “do you have any internships at your studio?” And he was like, “actually, yeah I do.” So, I wound up interning at Secondhand Serenade’s recording studio. I performed at Emo Night Brooklyn at House of Independents in Asbury last summer, and John was there again. It’s like full circle. I went from an intern at his recording studio. He was tour managing for the band Anberlin who came on stage during the performance, so that was a really cool inspirational moment. But other than that, as for local artists, my friends in The Ones You Forgot are from out of Asbury in New Jersey. They’re coming out with an EP soon, but they’ve just been super inspiring because they’ve been doing it longer than I have, and they’re my age, so it’s cool see them from the start to where they are now. It inspired me to pick up m game once I got a little bit older and knew what I was doing.
4. Let’s talk about your EP, Happy Never Ending. You have features from Kellin Quinn and Bemo Rouge. What was it about these two artists that made you want to work with them?
For Bemo Rouge, the funny story about that is I had been talking to a couple artist who I really admire and wanted to work with. That song FTS that’s on the EP Happy Never Ending went through so many different artists until I was like, “I have to get this out.” Nothing stuck, and nothing was confirmed, so eventually I posted on Instagram: “does anybody want to feature on this?” At the time, my mutuals were sending to their friends and artists and stuff like that, so finally Bemo reached out to me and was like, “I want to feature on this. I’ll get you something tomorrow.” He was just so persistent, and the turnaround time was amazing. Then he sent me this verse, and I was like, “ you made this song better. This is sick. Let’s just put this out.” There are no questions. I don’t need anyone else. This is the best thing for thing. We’re friends now, and he actually performed it recently at Emo Nite New Orleans in front of a couple hundred people, and some of his fanbase knew the song, so that was really awesome. I’m very grateful for that.
And yeah, Kellin Quinn! That’s a no brainer. He’s so talented and added so much to that one song, Happy Never Ending. I’m so grateful that he took a shot on a smaller artist like myself. So I’m excited to have everyone hear that one.
5. What do you think is the biggest challenge for artists in bands in 2023, and how are you dealing with it?
Probably, consistency on social media. And people still think they have to make Tik Toks just to be successful. I’m always vouching for, “you don’t have to do that.”
6. Of all the places that music has taken you, what is one of your favorites?
I unfortunately haven’t been out of the country for music performances. Hopefully a festival in the near future. That would probably be my answer if I had that in my back pocket. But definitely Marathon Music Works in Nashville. It’s like a 2000 cap venue, and it was filled and almost sold out. So just to be able to be in that atmosphere and perform in front of that many people is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. That was in November. That was really, really fun. And there were so many famous people back stage, but we were artists too, so we were just taking shots with people. I don’t know, it was crazy. It was like Cassadee Pope, Aaron Gillespie. I was in the room with Aaron and Charlotte Sands, cause I’m friends with some of Charlotte’s band. It was so fun. Getting to stand next to your idols and take shots with them, and just pretend you’re a normal person because you get backstage access because you’re also on stage is so cool.
7. What advice do you have for newbies just starting out today?
Consistency, and making sure you don’t take yourself too seriously. But serious enough to keep going and pushing. You’re gonna hit walls so many times, and fail a bunch of times, and not do as good as the person next to you, but that can’t be what tears you down because you’ve just gotta keep going. It takes years to build. It’s not just gonna be one viral Tik Tok. Just keep pushing at it. If you really want it, go for it.