Exclusive Premiere! Leerone – “Howlin’ For You”
photos / Shanna Fisher
story / Koko Ntuen
Have you heard of LA-based singer/songwriter/artist, Leerone? If you haven’t, you need to and now. Think Nancy Sinatra meets the Rolling Stones meets PJ Harvey, dates Nina Simone then meets the singer that you always wanted to be. Its complicated but her voice is an original one with depth and soul you can’t help but revisit your favorite artists to try to figure out what box to put her in. With her smoldering vixen looks and velvet voice you will fall in love her. Then if you get past her beauty and actually listen to her music you will be a fan for life. Today she is releasing her album, Heart Shaped Bullets – co-written and produced by Chris Seefried (Fitz & the Tantrums) via iTunes. In addition to the new album, Leerone’s also giving away a collection of cover tunes — The Lost Records: Vol 1. You can download it here:www.Leerone.com
We are exclusively premiering Leerone’s cover of The Black Keys, “Howlin For You” today on LADYGUNN where we see Leerone dancing around her Silverlake apartment doing the things we all do when we are alone and obsessed with a song but with better production and more experience!
I got a chance to talk to her about her new album, working with Chris Seefried and making her amazing cover of The Black Keys, “Howling For You”.
Why title this album “Heart Shaped Bullets”?
The title ‘Heart Shaped Bullets” signals my intent to dispatch you with my Love Gun. What does that mean…? To put it simply, I’m gonna kill you with love! The title came to me one day and I instantly fell in love with that paradoxical juxtaposition of opposites. For me, the title is a reminder that we’re not limited to one way of being, but rather that we embody a multiplicity of dimensions and personalities simultaneously. I have a sweet, gentle, tender side but then I have this fiery, punk-inspired badass in me too. It’s like both sides, and many others, compete for expression.
What was it like making the video for “Howlin’ For You”?
I had a blast! It was important that the video not be a “performance” or an “act.” I just wanted an honest, spontaneous representation—or chronicle, if you will—of a moment in the life of Leerone. It was me being myself and playfully letting loose in the presence of others and a camera, which felt incredibly fun and liberating. I consider the video an homage to what we all do, hopefully, when we think that no one is watching—that sense of permission and freedom that we give ourselves. The whole crew was wonderfully supportive, and I’m grateful for that. And the director, Lindsey Byrnes, was exceptional. She did it as a labor of love. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met and worked with her.
Any word from the Black Keys on your interpretation of the song?
I would love to hear from them. I’m clearly a fan.
Why did you choose to cover “Howlin’ For You”?
I recorded a bunch of cover songs that I called “The Lost Records Vol.1.” I wanted to pay tribute to some of the songs that inspired or influenced my sound, so my intention was to record these covers and just give the whole collection away for free download. When I first heard “Howlin’ for You” by the Black Keys, I loved the way it felt in my body. I wanted to move, shake a tail feather and get down. And so I did, and it made me feel alive! I just felt that it was appropriate to legitimately honor one of the sources of my initial inspiration. In fact, that desire to just shake off all the inhibitions and connect with where I feel most alive really helped inspire the songs that make up “Heart Shaped Bullets.” So thank you, Black Keys.
What was it like working with Chris Seefried?
Amazing! He was sort of the midwife and the sonic architect for the whole project. Chris facilitated the birth of this new part of myself that I had yet to fully discover and give voice to, and he was more than willing to aid and abet me in my new musical adventures. What happened was, as I was writing songs for the new album, I realized there was a part of myself that desperately wanted to be expressed and explored. It literally felt like this tiger was clawing its way out of my chest and roaring, ‘hey! I want to speak!’ That impulsive inner tiger was uncaged during my first session with Chris. And within minutes of our first collaboration, we came up with “Suzanne.” All the songs materialized that way, really organic. It’s like the songs just leapt unbidden from our mouths and fingers, and inspired this whole new musical direction. As for the tiger in my chest, I’m still getting to know her. Though she’s made little cameo appearances in the past, she’s never had an entire album fully devoted to her. She’s enjoying the attention, which figures. She’s an extravert.
A lot of your work seems to be really personal and autobiographical, does that make you feel vulnerable when you play live? Any songs hard to get through on stage?
My music is definitely personal and autobiographical. I absolutely feel vulnerable when I play live, and when I write and record my music. That feeling of vulnerability tells me that I’m on the right track, venturing beyond my comfort zone and exposing the raw, real depths of me. It’s not always comfortable, but speaking as a growth junkie, there’s no other way. It’s the process of self-discovery. And much like the Howlin’ video, it feels very satisfying to share myself in such an authentic way.