Monday, December 8, 2008

IRELAND'S LESLEY ROY "Have Guitar - Will Travel"

Ireland’s Lesley Roy “Have Guitar—Will Travel!”
by staff writer Lorraine Chambers

This interview with Lesley was by phone yet her genuine passion for her craft as a musician rang true through the phone lines. On Thursday Sept. 4th , 2008, Lesley called in and we chatted like we had always known each other. Rock and roll fans are like sports fans, where there is the common bond, there is the instant communication. Demanding as the writing process for Unbeautiful may have been, it’s the next step in Lesley’s journey – the process of touring with her band, connecting with fans, and getting to relive these songs nightly onstage – that has Lesley most excited about the future. The music industry is the machinery of all the pieces working- labels promoting artists, music buyers ordering products for stores, sales reps informing stores of new product, warehouse workers shipping product. Yet it is the essence of the creation of the sound which is the music -from the singer singing, the guitarist strumming, the bands touring, radio stations playing songs, fans buying albums. The sum of the pieces together is the music business and the business of doing music. Lesley Roy is a young Irish singer songwriter who is driven and determined as a part of the music world. She knows the rigors of this business as she was raised by her mother who performed in cover bands and wedding bands and she has been a big influence on this young rocker.

Lesley first learned how to play the trumpet, followed by the saxophone, then fell in love with the guitar. With her mother's heavy musical influence at such a young age, it's no wonder that she has been playing the guitar since she was 10 and writing rock songs at the age of 14. Lesley’s mother introduced her daughter to a lifelong love of music (especially classic Motown) and the stage. “I’m still very close to my mother, even though we live so far away from each other now,” she says. “She gave me a great foundation—first of all, just with how to approach the music side of things, and second, just with the morals and responsibilities and hard work that come from doing things right. I come from a working-class family, and that drive, that persistence, will always be part of my nature.” Lesley Roy was born in 1987 in Dublin, Ireland where she has lived for most of her life. While writing the album she lived in Stockholm while working with producer Max Martin. Since then she has lived in New York and she is loving it.

On her Religion Music/Jive debut, Unbeautiful, Lesley Roy proves herself part of that rarified club. The founder of Religion Music discovered Lesley when she was 16 years old. Nearly two years in the making, the album runs the gamut from hook-saturated Power Pop (the breakout lead single, “I’m Gone I’m Going”) to stratosphere-climbing ballads (“Slow Goodbye,” “Thinking Out Loud”), all the while reflecting Lesley’s ability to express a lifetime’s worth of emotion with a voice that’s equally powerful at both ends of the scale. And while she doesn’t discount the chance Unbeautiful afforded her to work with a host of name producers and songwriters – primarily executive-producer Max Martin (Kelly Clarkson, P!nk), whom she credits with “pushing my writing ahead at least 10 years” – Lesley’s heart, soul and skill ring clear through each of the album’s 13 hits-in-waiting. This exciting new singer possesses formidable song writing ability with gritty, deeply personal lyrics that defy her young age.

Lesley’s songs speak with gut-level honesty and Jive took notice of Lesley’s extraordinary potential resulting with a worldwide licensing contract and the kickoff of the process to prime Unbeautiful for its international debut. Before the album was complete, Lesley already saw her profile rising via a U.S. radio tour and exposure (for “Thinking Out Loud”) on MTV’s hit reality series The Hills: “By far the most surreal experience I’ve ever had,” she says, laughing. “I watch that show all the time, and the next thing I know, I’m hearing my song on it!”

LC: I read that you played the Open Mic circuit in Dublin. What were your favourite ones? Lesley: I played at the Voodoo Lounge and Eamon Doran’s in Dublin. Sometimes I played alone and sometimes I played with a band. LC: Do you have a band now? Lesley: Yeah, I put together a band here in the states with Tyler Zarzeka (from Hollywood) on drums, Sergio Ortega (from Hoboken, NJ) on guitar, Keith on rhythm guitar and a bass player, though there may be a change or two due to schedule conflicts. I hope to keep them for a long time if they don’t mind putting up with me.
LC: What type of support have you received from others: Lesley: I have had great support from my friends and family as I actually been driving them crazy with what I do as a musician as I knew this is what I wanted to do. I love writing and performing and can't wait to start playing for all the people that have showed their support through messages on myspace. Everybody at Jive have showed a lot of love and respect for what I'm trying to say and accomplish and they have given me the time and space to write the album that I'm proud of. I can't wait to work alongside all the people whom I have not worked with yet at the label. Everybody at home has given me a lot of support also and I'm so grateful for the patience my friends have had with me over the past year.
LC: Where was the album recorded? Lesley: Some of the songs were recorded in Stockholm and in Los Angeles. LC: Would you like to share any stories behind the songs? Lesley: Yes, Let me tell you about the song ‘Thinking Outloud.’ It is one of my favourite songs. I wrote it in 20 minutes. I’m an anxious perfectionist. It is a song where I’m asking myself - What are you going to do next during the day? It is a self counseling song, really a venting song. I wrote it in Stockholm which is very overcast like home in Dublin. I lived in Stockholm over the course the recording.
LC: What has been your songwriting journey: Lesley: I mostly like to write my lyrics from a personal point of view, but have found it was also useful to write from a storytelling side as well. I have observed situations and made them into my own little stories like short films. I love writing and performing and can't wait to start playing for all the people that have showed their support.I’ve always been inspired by great singers who are also amazing storytellers – people like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Melissa Etheridge – and listening to them has taught me that you can’t be a true storyteller without that connection. There are a couple of themes that run through the album, evolving around the many different aspects in relationships, whether it is loss of love, not wanting to be in love, trying to help a friend through their own issues, struggling through death of a friend, unrequited love and the happiness and excitement of being in love. There is also a sense of not wanting to be hurt and trying to stand up for yourself after a difficult relationship. I mostly like to write my lyrics from a personal point of view but have found it was also useful to write from a storytelling side as well, where I have observed situations and made them into my own little stories like short films.
LC: What is your goal as a musician with touring, albums and songwriting? Lesley: Writing is great, but I live for performing. When you’re holed up in the studio for months at a time, there’s always that sense of self-doubt – that worry that no one will hear this stuff, and you’ll fade away – but when you get back onstage, it all comes together, and you finally get the chance to see the impact you’re making.
LC: Who are your musical heroes and inspirations? Lesley: Dixie Chicks, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, Motown stuff – Barry White, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt , Janis Joplin, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Suzi Quatro, Audioslave, Blondie (Debbie Harry) U2 of course!
LC: What is next for you? Lesley: I’m opening up for Kate Voegele’s tour through September and promoting the album everywhere I can.

Text by Lorraine Chambers –,

1 comment:

Gerritnow said...

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