3 quick questions . . .
With Leah Speckhard
Leah Speckhard is a ballad-driven songstress and the daughter of a United States diplomat who reportedly spent her tender teen years in the countries of Belarus, Belgium and Greece. In fact, it was in Greece that she was signed to the major label Legend Records.
She released her disc Pour Out Your Heart Like Water on the Legend label garnering great press from both Athens’ biggest newspaper Proto Thema and even People Magazine. In her songs Speckhard mainly focuses on trying to communicate, “decipher and emote the complicated nature of romantic relationships.” Her material is oft’times “inspired by a diverse array of artists and genres, from Marina and the Diamonds and La Roux to 60s Motown music.”
Here are the 3 quick questions asked of Speckhard:
1. What was it like the first time you played for money and realized this was what you wanted to do for a job?
Speckhard: To be honest, it was a little bit scary to realize how much I wanted to play music. It’s easier to tell yourself that it’s just a hobby – the moment when you see that it may be more than that is the moment that you know it’s going to eat up a lot of your life, energy, and take real dedication and sacrifice. Not to mention that you have to really bare your soul in public and be vulnerable to make good music. But you can’t change it or deny it if that hunger is in you. Luckily, writing and playing music is really therapeutic and fun, so joy took over once the surprise settled in.
2. Is being a woman in the industry a plus or a minus and why?
Speckhard: I love this question, because I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about what it means to be a woman in the tech and venture capital industries in The New York Times. Some of the stories are really disturbing about how frequently women get propositioned when trying to do legitimate business. Questions of how far we’ve come with feminism in the US are really on my mind often. One of my songs, “Gaslighting”, directly addresses the topic of women being told they’re too emotional and that their feelings aren’t valid (though in the context of a romantic relationship).
I think that, unfortunately, women are at a disadvantage in the music industry, as in other industries, for many reasons. There are simply more men heading businesses and controlling advertising, and as a society there’s still a lot of emphasis on women’s’ value being tied to youth and beauty and sexuality. So even if you have an awesome, feminist guy leading a label, he still has to be aware of what sells – and for women, a big piece of that is being attractive, fit, stylish, etc.
On the other hand, I don’t think that that should scare anyone away from trying. In fact, I think it creates a moral impetus for women to push themselves in the door and make their voices heard. There are women who have been massive successes who discuss serious topic in their music – Alanis, Fiona Apple, Lauryn Hill – and they’re certainly an inspiration to me that women are strong and can push through.
There are also so many alternative ways of getting in the industry today – you can get your music out yourself to a certain extent, so you don’t necessarily have to interact with or be beholden to male-run industries. Still, I think women are subject to a more stringent set of expectations as upcoming artists than men are. We don’t just want our women to be talented, we want them to always look good and be nice, etc.
It’s the Hillary Clinton with her haircut and outfits conundrum – don’t just be smart, be polished in this specific way. It’s absurd to comment on her scrunchies, but we do it – we read about it, and we consume this news about women that we shouldn’t necessarily. We all need to change what we consume as a society if we expect any industry to change with us. Artists have frequently helped lead social change in the past, so I hope we can all work to expand the narrow way in which women are sometimes viewed.
3. What’s next for you?
Speckhard: I’m planning to release a new music video for my single “If You Died In The Morning”, and am really excited to show that to the world. The song is a hyperbolic take on how you feel when someone does you wrong – it’s about a woman finding out her boyfriend cheated on her. The first line is “if you died in the morning, I would be alright” – clearly, it’s a bit of a joke, but it’s also taking back that power and deciding, yeah, I’ll be just fine without you.
So there you have it, boys and girls, 3 quick answers from Leah Speckhard. Hopefully, you found these 3 quick questions entertaining and interesting.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.