Leandra McNair is an Indie alternative / R&B singer/songwriter from Metro New York, and to say she should be playing on bigger stages across the country would be an understatement. What’s so great about the New Yorker is that her music is set apart from other artists in the same genre. She’s a powerhouse vocalist with much potential to be compared to Alicia Keys or Janelle Monae. The music McNair delivers is timeless and classic, proving that she belongs in the music industry.
We talked with McNair about her new EP Lucky, authenticity, managing a digitized career and what’s next for her in 2017. Read our Q&A below and don’t forget to listen to her newly released EP Lucky.
BTS: How did you get started in music?
LM: As a child, I always had a strong passion for the arts! I’ve always loved music, dance, acting and fine arts. My mother is an artist and my father is a writer. I think having such creative parents put me on the right track to becoming some type of creative person.
When I was 3 years old I wanted to join the church choir. I was obviously a bit too young to join so my older brother volunteered to join with me to look after me. This is one of my earliest memories of music. At 3 years old I remember how important it was to me to be in the choir and lift up my voice with everyone else in the group.
BTS: How would you describe your sound?
LM: I would describe my sound as some Soul, R&B, Jazz, Alternative Fusion. Lol My whole effort when making my music is to create a good atmosphere and vibe with it.
BTS: What are some of your musical influences? What about them do you admire?
LM: My biggest influences are Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae and Marvin Gaye to name a few. These are my top influences because they are all so unique and powerful. Each of these artists has such a diverse catalog of music and they go from genre to genre seamlessly without losing their own sound. This is something that I strive to execute with my own music.
BTS: Congratulations on your EP Lucky. How did you feel when the EP was first released? How have people responded to it?
LM: Thank you so much! Honestly, I just felt such a huge release! I’ve been working on this record for a little over 3 years so it’s really one of my most prized possessions lol. People have responded really well to Lucky! Which motivates me to keep going, write more music and keep pushing forward.
BTS: What is your writing process like? How long does it usually take you to write a song?
LM: I have a lot of fun with the writing process. I usually write the melody first because this is my favorite part. Then I try to interpret the melody I wrote and come up with lyrics that fit just right. I generally come up melodies pretty quickly but it can take me anywhere from 40minutes to several writing sessions to complete a song. I try not to rush it and trust the process.
BTS: What is your definition of authenticity and how do you implement that into your music?
LM: My definition of authenticity is being unapologetically you. Not letting anything stand in your way when it comes to creating your art. Sometimes you just have to let it flow out of you. Maybe it won’t be the best thing that you’ve created but it doesn’t matter as long as it has intention and meaning.
BTS: What about your music sets you apart?
LM: What sets my music apart is that I am an authentic artist. My music may not sound like the other soul/r&b that is on the radio right now. But I’m confident in it because it comes from my heart and soul. A lot of artists say people like Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill are their greatest influencers but you can’t hear that in their original music. That’s because people are afraid to break out of the cookie cutter and do what comes from their heart.
To me, that’s another thing I admire most about my biggest influences. They do them. Point blank period no apologies.
My music is unique because it makes people actually feel something unlike a lot of other music out there.
BTS: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an indie artist and how do you face them head on? How has social media helped you with your music?
LM: Being an indie artist definitely has a lot of challenges. One of my biggest challenges is feeling like I don’t have the reach to engage with potential fans. It’s really tough when you don’t have the financial backing of a label or some dope benefactor. But this challenge has taught me to be crafty, resilient and keep pushing like I said before lol Social media has been such a great way for me to engage with my fans and keep them up to date on my life and my creative process. It helps me show the world what I’m working on and the goal I’m working toward.
BTS: It’s a new year and several artists are excited about their plans this year. What are some of your plans as you take on 2017?
LM: Yes, I love the New Year! I always feel so motivated and fresh this time of year! Immediate plans are to shoot some music videos to go with the Lucky EP. Then doing an east coast tour either late summer or early fall. And of course, release more music!
BTS: What’s the main message that you want your fans to get from your music?
LM: The main message I want fans to feel are good vibes and strong emotions. I want people to feel the words and the melodies so deeply that they feel like they know me personally.
BTS: What is on your playlist right now?
LM: Lately I’ve been listening to Badbadnotgood, Daniel Caesar, Eryn Allen Kane and NxWorries.
You can stream Leandra McNair’s new EP Lucky now on Apple Music