An Interview with Leanne Tennant

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Cairns singer-songwriter, Leanne Tennant has been singing professionally on and off for around fifteen years. The 2015 Queensland Music Award Winner for best ‘Blues & Roots’ artist, and 2016 Billy Thorpe Scholarship finalist, is currently on tour with her new album, Red Wine, Late Nights.

Where does the name Red Wine, Late Nights stem from?

I think the type of work I created on this last album is suitable for late nights and red wine.  A few of the songs were brainstormed over a bottle of Shiraz. Red, over White, yes [is my drink of choice].

I work with a great photographer called Matt Loncar.  We did a shoot in the Princess Theatre in Brisbane and felt the vibe suits the sound of the album [so used it for the cover].

I read that the songs were inspired by a movie about a Nymphomaniac, named after a 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson number. Is that correct?

This description was actually conjured up by Rhythms magazine in relation to my debut, album, Pull Up Your Britches.  It’s talking about one of the tracks off the album Black Snake Calls, which was inspired by an old B-Grade movie, Black Snake Moan.  When I was writing the song, images of that movie came to mind.

Does Nymphomaniac relate back to Red Wine, Late Nights? If you catch my drift …

There might be a common theme here [laughs]

What was the writing process like behind the album?

I wrote all the songs from the album except the last track, No More My Lawd – which is my version of an old prison song. [The album] was more about many separate things that were happening in my life at the time,  many of which are unrelated.  My songs generally begin with a melody.

The album was recorded in one take. What was the reasoning behind that?

I recorded in analog, which means onto tape, not digital.  When you record onto tape you don’t have the option to do it in stages.  We also wanted to capture a feeling and a performance.  It’s how all songs used to be recorded, and I wanted to get back to that sound. It can be more time consuming, but is definitely a different journey.  I’ve always wanted to record analog, and then was lucky enough to be introduced to my producer, Jamie Trevaskis, to make this happen.  It was very organic.

How does this album differ to your first album?

I feel it’s a lot more mature and coherent.  It’s a truer version of myself.

Your first album was crowd funded. Does that mean you had more creative control with your debut than the new album?

No, I had total control over my debut – but there was also a lot of pressure.  People had pre-ordered an album they hadn’t heard, so you really wanted them to like it and not let them down.

Considering the second album was recorded in such a different way to the first – is that something that you’d like to continue for album three or would you like to shake things up and try something new again?

I’d love to continue on this route.  I feel it suits what I do.

Listening back to the current album, is there anything you hear now that you wish you could go back and change? Especially now you’re singing these songs live.

Not really,  I feel they are all where they are supposed to be.  Some of the songs developed into a different beast once I was in the studio, so they perfectly capture a moment I could never re-create.  I wouldn’t want to change that.

Do you feel more comfortable in studio or live on stage?

I love the studio.  I could spend days, weeks, months just writing and recording.

Who are your musical influences?

Many ranging from Tom Waits, to Nick Cave, to Joni Mitchell, to Jack White – the list goes on.

How did you first get started in music?

It [was] just something I’ve always wanted to do.  We had the opportunity in Primary School to learn an instrument so I began on [the] flute, then progressed from there.

Are you surprised at how fast it’s all happening or do you feel like you’re still at the very beginning?

I still feel I’m only at the beginning and still have so much to learn.  You have to keep learning in order to grow and I would like to keep growing as an artist.

What are your live shows like?

I feel they’re rather personal.  I do like to connect with an audience and show a piece of myself.

Why did you decide to enter the Billy Thorpe Scholarship?

It’s such a great opportunity and would have loved the mentoring and support they offer.  It’s a great thing. Scholarships vary.  Most often they offer financial support and mentoring to pursue your music career.  They can be a life-changing opportunity.

What advice would you give to young artists who may be considering sending in an application for next year?

Do it!

You’re currently touring with the new album. How’s it all going?

It’s going really well.  I’m having a great time and meeting a lot of new faces.

The tour ends at the start of October. What’s planned for the rest of the year?

There’s a couple of things being thrown about for next year but are still in the planning stages.  Will have to wait and see [laughs].


For more information and tour dates, go to: www.leannetennant.com

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