This interview took place on October 28th.

Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Nashville’s Leah Jean. Together we discussed their songwriting process, their homemade earrings, their EP Comme Je Trouve, and their newest single “Stalker.”

1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them. How are you doing today?

I am elated today! This single release truly feels different from songs I’ve released in the past. There’s more energy and involvement both from fans and myself around this one. It feels great to be heard!

2. What song or album had an impact on you? Do you still listen to this song or album?

For this particular release, I’m thinking Stalker has a foundation similar to songs like Weary Blues by Madeleine Peroux or Between the Bars by Elliott Smith with some modern elements reminiscent of The 1975, Billie Eilish, and Phoebe Bridgers production. And yes, these are still some of my favorite songs/artists!

3. Who (or what) influences you?

My influences are always changing but recently they’ve been Phoebe Bridgers and surprisingly Taylor Swift with her recent records.

4. What is your songwriting process?

Kitchen table, acoustic guitar, big emotions, repeating phrases and melodies over and over again with my eyes closed until I have lost all sense of reality! Sometimes, it requires more critical thinking to work out how I want to say something but once I’ve hit a flow the song usually comes out pretty quick!

5. In addition to being a musician you also create earrings. Could you share more about your homemade earrings? Where can readers purchase these?

When the world ended in 2020, I got really uninspired and wanted to make something other than music. I’ve always had a deep love for creating things with my hands. I also adore big, funky, weird earrings. When I found out I could make them with budget-friendly supplies from Michael’s, I was completely elated. When I then found out people were actually interested in wearing them on their own ears, I decided to open an Etsy Shop: Leah Jeans Earrings! 

6. You’re tasked to create a song about your favorite style of earring. What is the style? What is the song about? What does the earring represent?

The song would for sure be a satirical bop. How could it not be? What an absurdly specific thing to write about, ha

7. 2017 saw the release of your EP “Comme Je Trouve” which translates to As I Find. What did you find when creating this EP? Could you share more about this EP?

Ah, yes. My sweet Comme Je Trouve baby. Looking back, I personally felt like a baby then. At the time, I had no idea how to put a record together so I had my producer Noam Wallenberg teach me how. He literally taught me how to rehearse with a band, lol. I also lucked out when Woody Goss of Vulfpeck happened to be in the studio at the time I was recording with Noam and he laid down some sweet keys on some of the songs. 

8. Comme Je Trouve encourages grit and striving through adversity. How does this come through your lyrics?

This EP is so classic girl who just turned 20 breaking up with her first real boyfriend. I’ve always been a really intense feeler and I was absolutely in love and attached to my first boyfriend. He broke up with me and I shattered into a million pieces. So dramatic, but so real at the time. It hit me so hard and triggered some pretty intense anxiety. He didn’t do anything wrong, I just had a really unhealthy attachment style at the time. Not all of the tunes are about him though! Malibu was inspired by my college friend’s nostalgic teen years growing up in Malibu, CA (a place I’ve never even been to) and I’d Like To is about a crush I had on a sound guy at a venue in Chicago I would frequently play at (lol!). 

9. Malibu was your home but not your dream come true. What was your dream at the time of this release?

*My friend’s home haha. My home is Dayton, Ohio… not as conventionally interesting (or beautiful) as Malibu, CA but it has its own Midwest charm! My dream at the time was to simply have a completed and professionally recorded project. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I released it. Oddly enough, I was in Germany when I released the whole EP. I just kind of crossed my fingers and threw it out into the ether – something I would avoid (and have avoided, I like to think) now!

10. Why do you believe boys on the internet have no filter? Is it something that you believe society encourages?

I definitely think men have historically been encouraged to speak their mind more than women. Boys on the Internet was inspired by the absolutely unhinged commentary and discussions I saw on Reddit. I started thinking about how odd the online-sphere is. Everything from dating apps to live streams to zooming to gaming feels a little too desensitized to me, thus the sexy, satirical alt R&B bop Boys on the Internet was born. 

11. Do you have a favorite poem from the book of poetry you received from Charis? Who are some of your favorite poets?

Charis had sent me some clippings of  selected Mary Oliver poems. One of my favorites is Watering the Stones

12. You just recently released “Stalker” which Mustard has had on repeat. What was the inspiration behind this single?

Woo! I’m so glad you dig it! I’ve always loved a melancholic bossa nova chord progression like How Insensitive by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I think that and tunes like it inspired the chord progression for Stalker. I had this eerie, Am bossa nova chord thing going and then I started singing about how sad and anxious I am in this long-drawn out metaphor of being “stalked” by melancholy. I recorded a demo with some glitchy elements and spooky pads, showed it to my producer Sam Roller and he was immediately pumped to flesh it out into the indie hip-hoppy bop that it is now. 

13. The music video for “Stalker” is very spooky. Could you share more about the concept? Did any specific films or shows inspire it?

I’ve always been a horror media fan! In particular, I love the slow-paced, minimal, eerie filming styles of the indie film production company, A24. I figured there weren’t a lot of horror music videos out there so I wanted to create something that literally portrays me being “stalked” by a creepy, slender-man-esque character! Avid horror fans Sara Grace Miller (videographer) and Keenan-Keaton Payne (The “Stalker”) were the perfect collaborators for this project! Keenan already had the character in his pocket from past Halloween costumes!

14. Your stalker is a metaphor for anxiety and depression. For those who may also share that stalker, what advice would you give to those dealing with either or both?

Whatever you’re feeling in the moment is temporary. As you grow, you will learn how to take care of yourself. Life will get better but you have to do the inner and outer work. Help is all around but you have to seek it out and accept it. Exercise and eat well (something I’m still working on!). Figure out what’s going on with your body chemistry. Does it need to be altered or supported in any way? Don’t overdo it with drugs and/or alcohol but also don’t feel guilty if you do. And for God’s sake, try your very best not to compare yourself to others. Envy will destroy you and you’re doing better than you think you are. Go to therapy.

15. What is next for Leah Jean?

My debut album comes out December 2nd! Subsequently, I’ll be throwing a release party for it on that day at 8pm! It will be held at “Sometimes.” in Madison, TN. It’s a free event and all are welcome! Just RSVP here

16. A human gets invited to a Leah Jean show. What does it look like?

Bunch of weirdos and sad girls.

17. Where can readers listen to your music?

“Leah Jean” on Spotify/Apple Music/Wherever you stream. @leahjeanmusic on IG and Tik Tok!


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