There's nothing that Shayne Leighton can't do. The accomplished actress and bestselling author just released her debut EP, Invincible, and it seems that Leighton is just that - Invincible. With a strong message of perseverance on the EP, it's no surprise that Leighton has also jumped on board the Rock It Like A Redhead Tour, a nationwide, confidence-inspiring beauty tour for young girls. And after all of this, Leighton still seems to be moving forward, with gears already turning for an upcoming LP.
Check out Leighton's music video for "Invincible" below and pick up the EP now!
Interview by Dom Vigil
First off, congratulations on the release of Invincible! How does it feel finally having the album out there for the world to hear?
Thank you! It was such a long road from first figuring out that music is what I wanted to pursue, then to actually pursuing it, then releasing an actual album! It feels amazing. I'm very grateful, and am very aware of how lucky I am to have so many supportive people around me. Since the release, Invincible has been doing more than I'd ever dreamed it would do, and I know this is just the beginning. At times, it's a little overwhelming. I'm always pushing to reach that next set of ears. I think Invincible has some really great messages, and I look forward to meeting others who are as impassioned by what myself and my team are trying to accomplish. There's still a long and winding road to travel and much to learn, but I'm looking forward to the journey!
I know you’ve been singing since a very young age, but was there ever a specific moment where you realized that you wanted to pursue music seriously?
That moment was pretty recent, to be honest. I had been singing for a while, but my outlets of creativity and inspiration are very spastic. One minute, all I want to do is write books. The next minute, I'm working on a new screenplay. For a while, I thought I wanted to sing in musicals on Broadway. It wasn't until about two years ago when Spectra Music Group responded to my desire to sing. My conversation with CEO Bobby Collins was pretty inspiring. We talked about pursuing a project, and the genre, and a specific artistic direction I'd dabbled in, but never concentrated on for very long. But from that moment, my journey felt like going back to school (in a good way). It became all about reinventing myself, and a new self-discovery. My teachers became Bobby, Jimmy Star (Spectra A&R), my husband Franky, and my producer Rob Roy (among others). I'm still going through that process, and each time I perform live, the new me becomes more and more tangible. I've learned so much in rooting myself deep in rock music. It's kind of like shoveling away all the fluff and glitter I thought I needed, and finally finding who I'm supposed to be. It took me this long to figure it out, but better late than never! I'm starting to feel really comfortable in my skin - especially on stage.
Was there anything you really wanted to be able to accomplish with Invincible? Any messages or themes you really wanted to get across?
I think the main message is obviously one of perseverance and never bowing down and giving up. I'm not apologizing anymore for things I've been through in the past. Friends have fallen away. I've made mistakes, but who hasn't? The message of Invincible is supposed to be one of empowerment. Embracing yourself, your goals, your style, your sexuality. Everything. Be okay with being you. Those who matter will love every ounce of it. Those who don't...won't. It's not an expression of anger or bitterness at all. It's an expression of thunder. I want listeners to feel like "Okay, here I am. This is me. This is what I'm doing. Don't like it? Move aside!"
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from Invincible?
I'd feel like I would have successfully done my job if listeners left with a sense of self-acceptance. If people walk away feeling comfortable and happy with themselves, and if they feel more empowered to enter their next day with their chin held high, then I'd be satisfied. That's really what this project is about, because that's the learning curve I'm on as well. Focus on your own stuff. Don't worry about the next guy. Cheer others on, because their success is not your failure. And put one foot in front of the other. Life is simple, but don't be stupid and let the Wolf At The Door take away your thunder.
I feel like you’ve been incredibly busy lately - from writing, to acting, to singing, to even working on a Nationwide beauty tour - do you ever have to take a step back or take a breather? Does it ever become overwhelming?
At times, it does all become very overwhelming. I will be completely honest and say that I have days of incredible laziness, because I get burnt out and the only thing I want to do is watch Family Fued and eat sweet potato cookies. (I have a Paleo recipe!) But then I have my days where it feels like someone zapped me with super powers. I'm at my computer. I'm on the phone. I'm grinding for that next big feat. Art is what moves me, and most recently, this music is what moves me. I've actually let the books fall by the wayside (sorry guys), but I'll get back to writing soon. People have motivated days, and days where they just want to watch the clouds pass over, and I'm no different. If I need a break and some balance, I go for a walk with Franky, or I stop to sink my teeth in the latest Judge Judy rant (I'm secretly an 80-year-old-woman). But then I always get that next electric zap, and I'm back at it.
Do you feel that your different creative outlets are intertwined? For instance, do you feel like you’re in the same mindset when you’re working on new music and when you’re writing?
Most of the time, I really don't. For me, the book series lives in a totally different realm in my head than the rock music. But people make comparisons between my books and music all the time, and I see where they are coming from. Some of the lyrics really relate to the characters in Of Light and Darkness. So now, I've accepted the fact that maybe subconsciously they are intertwined, but it is not a conscious effort.
Do you find writing music to be more similar or different to writing in general? I’m sure can be a bit more personal, at the very least.
I'm actually not good a writing music at all. That is a faction of my craft that I am still learning. I need a lot of help, and thankfully there are talented guys like Mark Vogel and Mike and Dan George to help me out. So, writing music is much more difficult for me. My novel writing is easy, because I'm simply describing a world I live in half the time.
Let’s talk about the Rock It Like A Redhead tour! I know you just finished up a date in Nashville and your next one is coming up in Seattle in August. What is the Rock It Like A Redhead Tour all about?
The Rock It Like A Redhead tour is a lifestyle, beauty, fashion, and music event tour that is traveling to core cities across the U.S. in 2015. It is facilitated by the marvelously ambitious Adrienne and Stephanie Vendetti, who are sisters and co-founders of How To Be A Redhead. Attendees come to receive swag bags, get hair, makeup, and nail treatments. I'm traveling with them, singing live at each event, promoting Invincible. It was kismet that we found each other, and the situation could not have been more tailor-made. Nashville was a blast! The audience was so receptive and excited! It was an experience I'll never forget, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the rest of the dates!
How have the first two stops of this tour been so far? What can girls expect from the upcoming dates?
Austin was like lighting a fuse to a powder keg! The event was so filled with excitement, and a lot of curiosity. Girls were eager to learn what this whole Rock It Like A Redhead thing was all about. I'd never been to Austin, so it was an adventure and the event was definitely the guinea pig for those that will follow. Nashville was glamorous! The audience already got a taste on social media of what to expect from the first event. The red carpet welcomed guest through the entrance of the famed Johnny Cash Museum, which was such a fabulous venue. It was all glitter, heart, and red hair! I think girls looking forward to the Northern stint of the tour should be very excited. I know my performance gets better each time, but so does everything else!
I feel like you’ve already got so much going on, but now that Invincible is out, do you have any other big plans in the works? Could fans maybe expect some more tour dates aside from the RILAR ones?
Absolutely! I never stop looking for the next project and the next level. It's what drives me. I'll be headlining the Ms. International World / Ms. Latina World pageant in Orlando as well as performing for the Orlando International Fashion Week kick-off party in November! We are in the process of getting together an actual band to travel and perform, so there are many music videos, and tour dates in the near future! And I'm already working on a concept for the LP!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much! It has been a pleasure interviewing with you!
Catch Shayne on the Rock It Like A Redhead Tour:
Seattle, August 13th.
Chicago, September 10th.
New York City, November 5th. Tickets on sale August 1st.