When confidence meets ability, you get an artist like Michal Leah: In her debut EP ‘part one,’ the Nashville by-way-of Chicago artist-to-watch shares the candid feelings of change she experiences as she tries to find comfort in this unforgiving world.
Stream: ‘part one’ – Michal Leah
Michal Leah is the kind of artist that a producer can hand a mic to and say, “Just go for it.”
Her natural voice is backed by sheer confidence, and her songwriting ability is eloquent and transparent to the point of pure relatability. Her songs are akin to a friend’s outreached hand when the world is feeling gloomy.
The first time I met Leah, we were both young kids. Our parents had become friends, and the two of us would hang out with all the other kids in our parents’ friend group. A classic example of one of those “small world” kind of stories. It’s been years since we’ve last spoken, and since then she has amassed hundreds of thousands of fans and followers on social media, millions of streams on her songs, and booked a gig opening for Eloise on a national tour.
Clearly, we had a lot to catch up on.
The following conversation had to be edited a bit to account for all the embarrassing stories of childhood that were brought up.
I first asked Leah about the music she has been listening to recently, and whether that’s been to find inspiration or just to enjoy in her limited free time.
“I listen to probably every single type of music,” she says. “Right now I’ve been obsessed with country, but like Tyler Childers type of country. Jessie Murph, she’s insane, I’m obsessed with her. James Arthur; I’m just so all over the board with this. Inspiration-wise, definitely Adelle, Billie Eilish, Brandi Carlile, so many people. Every artist somehow is infiltrated in my inspiration of what I do; I just love exploring different kinds of music. I love it all.”
I’m guessing her recent move to Nashville has been the reason for her listening to a lot of country music. Growing up in Chicago had been great, but Leah was happiest when she was visiting Nashville for songwriting sessions. On her move down to Tennessee, Leah talks about the beauty of the city and the people who live there.
“Something about Nashville just drew me in. It feels super homey while still being able to do what I want to do, and there are so many creative people here.”
Leah has spent time working with talented songwriters in Nashville, but she has a natural ability for it herself.
She started writing songs when she was in high school, and only began posting them online more recently. While she loves writing herself, she has learned to appreciate the intricacies of the co-writing process. When two people open up to each other with mutual understanding, a lot of magic can happen.
“I really do love co-writing, sharing your life with someone and making music out of it. It blows my mind that we are able to do that, it’s a universal thing that we can all relate to.”
I never changed my mind, watching you walk away
All that you left behind, that was my everything
How many drinks? How many hellos? Yeah
How many stays? How many should goes?
How many tears? How many new lows
can someone feel before they’re getting over it?
Time should’ve stopped when you left me wish
I learned to forget like you did
And I fill the days while my heart stays empty
I never got over you, I just got used to it
We also spent a lot of time talking about Leah’s debut EP, Part One. Released on February 3, 2023 via Nettwerk Music Group, it’s a unique work of art, and you don’t even have to be a fan of this genre to appreciate its authenticity and expression of uncomfortable situations. We all feel these things, but very few amongst us can verbalize and explain them out loud like Leah can.
“I think this EP is really special. Some of these songs are the first songs I ever wrote and felt really good about. They were written in a time when I was going through so much change and I think I have progressed so much with my music, grown so much with my music, and learned so much with my music.”
I asked Leah to explain the soulful humming at the beginning of “The Way I Love You.”
“It’s so funny that you say that. The very first time we ran through the song, mic in my hand, getting ready to sing, I just did it. The producer was like “That’s Dope!” And then we kept it. [laughs] It’s literally all that it was, we just kept the original take and it ended up working out. It’s the little things that happen in the studio that make a big difference in the end result.”
In that song, the line, “Doesn’t take a diamond ring to say that I do” really stood out to me, so I asked Leah to elaborate on what that means to her.
“I thought it fit perfectly and I’ve noticed in our generation that there are a lot of superficial relationships. I meant it in the sense that like you don’t need to buy me the most expensive jewelry, and spend all of your money on this one thing, at least for me to love you the way I do, if that makes sense,” she laughs.
Although only five tracks long, this EP packs so much introspection in its fifteen minute run. It is unique in its ability to crossover seamlessly from first person narration into the realm of existential thinking.
“If I were to categorize this EP into a playlist, I would say probably soul pop,” Leah muses, “but more on the pop side; a little bit of both, but it’s also singer/songwriter. So a mix of soul, singer/songwriter, and pop.”
Just coming off a nationwide tour, opening for Eloise, Leah talks about that life-changing experience.
“They really don’t tell you about how much preparation goes into it before it happens,” she chuckles. “It was so fun though! Very nerve-racking, I truly don’t think I’ve experienced the feelings I felt on that stage before. But at the same time, being able to do this, and sharing things about my life to people on stage is so intense and amazing! Everyone was so kind and it was pulled together pretty quickly. I really don’t have words for it, it was just a magical experience.”
Leah couldn’t give out any future plans for touring, but she has her sights set pretty high on who she would love to open for in the future. Leah draws her inspiration from a diverse range of artists, but it’s pretty clear how much Billie Eilish in particular means to her.
“If I could open for anyone, I mean that’s my problem! I would name so many people: Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Brandi Carlyle, Justin Bieber… I have so many people. I think my dream would be Billie. I literally grew up on her music, and I think she’s a big reason I make music.”
After finally catching up about life, I wanted to hear what was next for Leah. She has ambitious plans on making more music and collaborating with more artists. Something that really made me excited was her goal of experimenting with a pretty different genre.
“I would love to try EDM. But not like super insane EDM. I’ve always loved it, like Sebastian Paul is one of my favorite artists. He does this cool singer-songwriter EDM thing. I think that’s the one genre that’s been pulling at me recently that I would like to try.”
It was great catching up with an old friend – one that I’m sure will be a household name in the next few years, and one who recently made it into Atwood Magazine‘s 2023 Artists to Watch feature. Leah has a lot of lofty goals on her mind, and I’m confident in both her abilities and her determination to succeed.
Michal Leah, a superstar on the rise. Her brand-new debut EP part one is out now!
:: stream/purchase Part One here ::
Stream: “Almost Loved You” – Michal Leah
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