Interview: Leah McFall
Published by Glasgowist.
The Voice 2013 runner-up Leah McFall is back with a new independently released EP and UK tour called INK. The singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland who confesses that she ‘sings weird and dresses like a grandpa’ is coming to Glasgow on Monday, April 10 to play in Stereo Café in Renfield Lane.
With INK due to be released next month, Glasgowist caught up with Leah to talk about the new tour and EP, how she’s feeling about going on the road and playing Glasgow.
So, what have you been doing so far in 2017?
This year’s been really exciting and good so far. We’ve basically just been making the record. At the end of last year, we released a track called ‘Wolf Den’ which was the first release from the kind of mini album, the EP, called INK. So, this year we’ve really just been getting visuals together and booking the tour and getting ready for the release of the EP which is out on March 27.
Your new single ‘Happy Human’ is out now. Can you tell me a bit more about the song and the upcoming music video?
The video for ‘Happy Human’ is hopefully being released this week. It got shot over in LA with a director I worked with through Will. I saw the last edit of it a few days ago, and it looks great. I’m really looking forward to it coming out!
The INK tour starts in April. Are you looking forward to going on the road?
I’m really looking forward to it, actually! After the show [The Voice], I wasn’t really able to put on anything like this, just because of contracts and stuff. So, once I got free of them, we decided I was just going to do it independently. I’m really excited because I’ve never actually been able to meet the people supporting me, so that’s like the selfish reasons. But I’m really excited to start meeting people because the support has been so steady and faithful from the show and even a few fans from before the show which is really lovely.
I’m really looking forward to getting the EP out there and being able to translate it into a live show because, obviously, that’s part of my biggest passion is to sing live. And we’re doing it completely independently, so we’ve booked it ourselves and sorted out venues. And, now, we’re actually looking for support acts in each city. We’re looking for local bands who make a similar kind of style of music who are kind of R&B or singer-songwriters. So, if you know any good acts, let us know!
Have you played in Glasgow before? Are you looking forward to coming here?
No actually, I’ve not played in Glasgow, but I’ve been loads of times. My boyfriend and I were there about a month before Christmas and had the best weekend ever actually, it was absolutely hilarious. So, we were like: ‘We definitely have to come here!’ We’re playing in Stereo Café on April 10, which I’m quite excited about because I have a few friends in Glasgow and they were saying it’s a really cool venue. I heard it’s like a vegan café upstairs and a gig venue downstairs, so it should be great.
It’s one of my favourite cities, so I’m really looking forward to it. I mean I’m Northern Irish and I think Celtic people just gravitate towards each other and one of my best mates is Glaswegian and she actually is the funniest person I know. I think it’ll be great and it’s one of the shows I’m definitely looking forward to the most.
Your new EP INK is coming out soon. Can you tell me a bit more about it?
With the EP, there’s not like a singular story. Basically, the record I made with Will over in LA didn’t get released. You have to get a lot of yeses and we just didn’t get them all. So, I basically waited out the contract, so I was free from any kind of restriction, and I just thought, ‘Right, I’ll do this independently’.
I actually started working with the producer I started working with before The Voice, a guy called BeatFox in London. And he’s just this mental South African genius and his beats are just insane. So, we just started to work together and I went to a song writing camp actually in a church and was told when you sit down to write a song just write what your heart needs to hear because you’ll very often find that that real truth will resonate with other people.
So, in that place, I was just coming out of the record deal and realising I didn’t fit a particular mould, but I’m pretty happy with who I am. The whole record is basically about just being yourself and not trying to change into something you’re not. Even ‘Wolf Den’ was just about like going out on your own and ignoring people who say you can’t do it on your own. People said that to me and I just thought, ‘Well, I’m gonna try.’
The record is like a painted journey on what the past few years have been like and a few songs about meeting a couple of douchebags along the way and a couple of songs are about the nice guy that I met. It’s a real, honest record and something I really wanted to do.
Do you think making the EP independently allowed you more creative freedom?
100%, yeah. Most of the songs were actually written and recorded in one day. Part of that was because BeatFox is so quick and one of the quickest studio engineers as well as a producer. So, he would build the track and I would be writing the lyrics and the melody, and we’d just get in and record it while we were still in that fresh kind of vibe. So, there was so much freedom for me to just write about exactly where I was at and do exactly what we both wanted to do, so that was amazing.
It’s been a lot of hard work though, like I’ve had to sneak into a lot of meetings. I had to sneak into one meeting where security were actually like, ‘You need to leave. You’re not a record label. You’re an artist. We know you’re an artist. We recognise you.’ And I was like, ‘Great, well, thing is, I’m not gonna leave. So, I’m just gonna go straight into this meeting.’ And I ran in. So, there was a lot of crazy stuff where I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.’ But we’re having fun with it and we’re just going to push it as far as it goes.
What can fans expect from the live shows? Will you be doing a mix of originals and covers?
The majority of it will be originals because we’re excited to get that new music out and the music that is ready to go after the EP. So, we’ll definitely be focussing on originals. I’ll probably do two or three covers. I’ll probably do ‘Loving You’ and ‘I Will Survive’ from the show and one other, but I will not be performing ‘Home’.
Actually, when I first got told they wanted me to do ‘I Will Survive’ on the show, I was like, ‘Noooo. What am I gonna do with this song?’ But we just spent time working on melodies and I was really excited to perform that one in the end, it was good fun.
After the tour, what’s do you have planned next?
I’d quite like to get on a support set for a bigger artist, that’d be cool. It’d be cool to learn from someone on that level. You know, if I could pick anyone it’d probably be Michael Jackson. If he could just come back that would be great.
Obviously, it’d be pretty cool to support another female artist, you know, like Rihanna. If she’s up for it, I am. I also really like Emeli Sandé and acts who are doing kind of pop and R&B stuff like we’re doing. And I’d also like to try out different audiences that maybe haven’t heard me before. Apart from that, it’s just going to be continuing to get music out there and hopefully festivals and stuff, if that’s an option. I’m sure I’ll just keep sneaking into meetings.
Leah McFall is playing in Stereo Café in Glasgow on Monday, April 10. Buy tickets here.
If you are an original musician or you’re in a band local to Glasgow with a similar sound to Leah’s music, get in touch for the chance to support her at Stereo Café: firstname.lastname@example.org