“In all seriousness, I’ve been writing non-metal music all my life and it’s the way all my songs are written. This felt like the right timing and theme to go that direction.”

Last week, Leah released Ancient Winter, her latest album that took a step back from heavier sounds and a more earthy approach. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham has a chat with her about Ancient Winter, her personal influences for song writing and working with international musicians on her record.

Tell the readers a bit about yourself and the music you create.

I create Celtic & fantasy-inspired music, often times infused with heavy metal.

For this new album, you decided to strip back and give us an acoustic experience. What was the reason for this?

I was in the mood! In all seriousness, I’ve been writing non-metal music all my life and it’s the way all my songs are written. This felt like the right timing and theme to go that direction.

What is your favourite song/s on the album?

It’s hard for me to choose, but Redemption has a special place in my heart. 

You have some high-profile musicians who contributed to your album, did you already have in mind which artists you wanted to contribute to the album?

As soon as we decided to include live instruments, we did a brainstorm of some players that might be aligned with this style of music. So yes, we had specific people come to mind right away, including Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling, ex-Eluveitie). 

Did you have an idea on what songs you wanted these artists to contribute to?

Yes, since I wrote all the songs or arranged them initially, it was very clear which instruments and parts needed real musicians. It was an easy decision that the song really calls for. 

How did you manage working around their busy recording and touring schedules?

It can be tricky, but it turned out well. Since we work in a virtual setting it makes it convenient for all the different time zones, we’re all in. It’s a lot of sending files back and forth and communicating via text. 

There is a beautiful cover of Gaudete on the album, how did you go about picking that song to cover?

Thank you. I did a lot of research on traditional songs and had to see what my voice would suit and if I could give it my own flavour to the degree I thought would be satisfying. I landed on Gaudete pretty quickly. I’ve enjoyed many other renditions of it, so it was a natural choice.

Your music takes the listener out of reality, what are your main influences behind your music?

I have many influences. Musically, I’m inspired by singer/songwriters like Sarah McLauchlan (her early work) and Tori Amos. In metal. I’m inspired these days by a lot of European folk metal bands. I first started with bands like Nightwish, Dream Theatre, Symphony X and many others. I’m also inspired by completely different things too. Photos of landscapes, movies and TV shows like Outlander, Vikings, and more.

Do you think the description of Metal Enya is accurate?

I can see why fans use that as a description and I do think to a complete stranger it can help to quickly give someone an idea of what I do. It can be helpful, but of course, I think there’s more to what I do than a cute title like that.

What is in store for the rest of 2019 or early 2020?

Trying to recover from this album launch (it’s a lot of work as an independent artist) and most likely I’ll start writing again, but no plans to release anything in 2020. 

Thank you Leah for talking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the album.

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