March 27, 2019 Interview – Leah Capelle
We are all looking to find a place we belong in the crazy, unpredictable world. Finding somewhere she could call home, Leah Capelle found comfort in music at a young age, one which would lead her to pursue her dream of becoming a singer and songwriter. A student of music, following her studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston she would hone her skills, releasing a list a songs for the world to hear.
Now, recently releasing her new EP Giants, Capelle takes her craft to a new level as a songwriter, but also, as a person. Recently we caught up with her to talk her love of music, her growth over the past few years, the story behind her music video for “Settle Down,” plus more.
Cryptic Rock – As someone who has studied music since a young age, what inevitably led you to the decision to pursuing it professionally?
Leah Capelle – There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to pursue music professionally. There is this cute photo of me from when I was in first grade – the teachers had asked each student what we wanted to be when we grew up. Under my photo, the caption simply says, ‘Rockstar.’
When I was applying to colleges, I split my applications into three categories: Conservatories/Music Schools, Larger Business Schools, and Small Liberal Arts Colleges – I was deciding between studying music, business, or philosophy. When I got into Berklee College of Music in Boston, which had been my dream school since I was a young girl, the decision was made immediately, and I’ve been pursuing music professionally ever since.
Cryptic Rock – It is fantastic that you were able to follow through with your dream. You had put out your debut EP back in 2015. A collection of songs that are deeply personal and inviting, you are back with your latest EP, Giants. What was the writing and recording process like for Giants?
Leah Capelle – The writing process for Giants was different from my previous projects in that the songs are culled from a four year period of my life. The first version of “Out of Love” was actually written at the same time as the self-titled EP in 2013, back when I was at Berklee, whereas “Walking with Giants” was written in 2016, and “Docs” was written in 2017. I worked on that EP for nearly two years, from 2016 – 2018, and the songs went through a few iterations during the recording process. I was very particular about the production of each track, and as I continued to grow as an artist, the songs had to grow alongside me. It fascinates me to listen to earlier versions of those songs in comparison to how they exist in the world today. I’ve changed so much!
Cryptic Rock – Right, and change is part of life. It is always interesting to look at something we may have created in the past and see how we have grown. Speaking of which, there appears to be a level of growth in your music as a songwriter from your debut to Giants. Do you feel Giants is a good representation of your artistic vision moving forward?
Leah Capelle – Absolutely, I do. The Giants EP feels like a stepping stone from my earlier material to the full-length LP I have in the pipeline. Honestly, it took me a while to figure out who I was as an artist. I’m a pretty diverse writer, and didn’t want to be pigeonholed into one sound. Now that I’ve gone through some important creative development, written hundreds of songs, and gotten back to the core of my sound, I have a much clearer vision for my artistry and the music I want to share.
Cryptic Rock – That is good to hear. Listening to your music, it is clear you are very honest and open in your lyrics. Do you find the music as a therapeutic release for whatever thoughts lie in your mind?
Leah Capelle – Songwriting is the way I process my life, much like a journal. I’m definitely an empath – I feel things very deeply. I think my ability to translate those scary emotions into palatable language for other people is what makes my music relatable, as well as therapeutic for me. Every time I get lost in my instrument or free write a set of lyrics, music actually allows my mind a moment of rest. I am my happiest when working on a song and distilling a feeling into words.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you are truly passionate about the creative process. Everyone is going to take something different away from music. That in mind, if you had one wish, what would you hope universally that people will take away from your music?
Leah Capelle – That I am telling my most honest story in the hopes that it will be able to help someone, somewhere. I tell both stories of happiness and peace, but also stories of sadness and confusion. I hope each person who listens to my music can find something to hold on to.
Cryptic Rock – That is what makes music so powerful, and there are surely listeners out there who can relate to what you are conveying. You recently released a very compelling music video for the track “Settle Down.” A beautiful song in itself, what was the vision of the video’s visual aspects?
Leah Capelle – Thank you! My team at Chisel Pixel (video production crew) and I knew we wanted the video to be highly artistic. My previous music videos have been more up-beat and band-centric, but “Settle Down” is such a delicate, deep song, we felt it called for something more interpretive.
When Robyn August (my director) pitched the idea of the video happening in reverse, opening on a defeated me covered in paint, and then working backwards through a full blown meltdown and ending in the same position but completely clean, I immediately knew that was the right vision. I then took it a step further and infused the paint can labels with controlling statements that I had struggled through, but overcome, and boom! We had a thoughtful, risky video.
Cryptic Rock – It is quite powerful and very effective. We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy, wondering who we are, or lack of inspiration at some point or another. What do you think is the key for you to overcome your internal struggles?
Leah Capelle – To be perfectly honest, I am not always very strong. I have an addictive personality, and I can be impulsive, I can lean into things that aren’t good for me when I don’t feel good about myself. I’m actively working on it! I try to go outside more, to see more live music, to see more of my friends. I cook more, I journal more. I try to not get so down on myself when I have writer’s block, or when I have trouble motivating. The key for me is acknowledging the negative feelings, accepting them for what they are, and trying to make a game plan of actionable steps I can take to move through those feelings.
Cryptic Rock – That is a good outlook. We can never completely block out negative feelings, they are in fact nature, you need one to have the other, right? We just need to be able to harness them into something positive. With Giants out now, can we expect some touring from you?
Leah Capelle – I will be doing some light touring this Summer! I’m headlining at The Moroccan Lounge in June before I head to the Midwest. I’m performing at Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee, WI in addition to some shows in Chicago, Madison, and Eau Claire. I’ll be rolling out tour dates as soon as they’re all confirmed!
In the meantime, I’m performing at The Moroccan on April 17th for Play Like A Girl. This show is going to be really special – there are five female headliners, instead of a series of openers before one headliner. The show will be completely seamless with all of our sets intercut together – one show, one set-time. I’ll also be playing rhythm guitar for a few of the artists on the lineup! Tickets are on sale now if you’re based in LA and want to join us. (Smiles)
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. Hopefully people can come and check that out. Listening to your music, it is very diverse, so what are some of your musical influences?
Leah Capelle – My influences are pretty broad! I grew up listening to Alternative Rock artists from the 90s such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Matchbox Twenty, Alanis Morrisette, etc. These days, I’m deeply influenced by anything Justin Vernon does (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, Big Red Machine,) Noah Gundersen, David Ramirez, Phoebe Bridgers, Alabama Shakes, The Japanese House, and many more… I’m an avid consumer of music.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly seems like it! Last question. Beyond music, Cryptic Rock also covers movies, particularly in the Horror and Sci-Fi genre. If you are a fan, do you have any favorites in these genres and why?
Leah Capelle – I love Sci-Fi! My all time favorite book is Sirens of Titan (1959) by Kurt Vonnegut. I read that book at least once a year – it completely changed my life.
As for Sci-Fi movies, I’m a big fan of the classics like Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). I’m also an absolute sucker for the Star Wars series. I’m not big into Horror… I’m embarrassingly frightened by jump scares and gore, though I do love American Psycho (2000) and Seven (1995) – which I think are both technically Psychological Thrillers!