Leah Capelle Opens up About "Settle Down," Finding Herself and Being a Woman in Music: "Through the Chaos Is How We Find Balance"
Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Leah Capelle’s unique brand of alt pop/rock is enough stop you in your tracks. With plenty of experience in he music scene (Capelle started playing piano and singing at a young age), she has had plenty of time to truly find herself and the type of music that speaks to her the most, which can be heard clearly on her latest single, “Settle Down.” The vulnerable track, which can be heard now below, finds Capelle opening up more than ever before and finds her discovering not only herself, but what it means to be a woman in music.
With “Settle Down,” the follow-up to her 2018 Giants EP out now, Capelle is currently hard at work on new music, with more singles expected this summer and even a full-length coming later this year. Get to know a little bit more about Leah Capelle and listen to “Settle Down” now below!
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for anyone who might be hearing you for the first time?
Nice to meet you! I'm an alternative/pop song-writer based in Los Angeles. I'm originally from Chicago, where I was trained on classical piano and voice until I rebelled to play rock and roll. I grew up playing cover gigs all over the Chicagoland area and up in Northern Wisconsin where I spent my summers during high school, and then I attended my dream school, Berklee College of Music, for a short period of time before moving out west to pursue music full time. I've been so fortunate to work with an amazing team since I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 and have released three EPs in four years! On a personal note, I have two adorable cats, love cappuccinos and game nights, and have seen the entirety of The Office at least ten times.
You had an exciting year last year with the release of your latest EP, Giants. Now that it has been out for a bit, what are some of your favorite things about the EP?
This EP really feels like a sonic stepping stone to me. My eponymous EP (2015) was piano-based singer-songwriter rock, the Joshua EP (2017) is electric guitar based pop/rock - and the giants EP is a very sweet blend of those two sounds. I really vibe with the incorporation of electronic sounds into the music, specifically on "Out of Love" and "Walking with Giants." I also love the contrast between the tenderness of "Better Off" and "Settle Down" and the almost raucous abrasiveness the rock songs like "Docs." As a whole, the giants EP feels like a very honest musical representation of who I am as an artist. I am multi-faceted – sometimes I'd rather headbang to distorted guitar, but sometimes I'd prefer to sit quietly with a cup of tea and strum my acoustic guitar – and I think this collection of songs showcases that well.
Did you have any major goals in mind when you first started working on the EP?
Every time I set out to work on new music, the main goal is to creatively out-do myself. How can I write better songs – songs that will continue to be authentic to me and touch people across all walks of life? How can I incorporate sonic elements that I love as a listener into my music? How do I re-invent the wheel a little? How can I be deeply vulnerable without being overly intimate? These are the sorts of questions that inadvertently flutter around my mind when I'm in the studio, although most of the time I'm too deep in the process to actually answer any of them :).
How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist with the writing, recording and release of the EP?
I honestly feel like a whole new person with the release of this project. The giants EP was an encapsulation of a distinct chapter of my life, and its release marked the end of that era. The songs were each written at a different period since 2014, with "Out of Love" being the oldest and "Docs" being the newest. I worked on this album for nearly two years with my producer Jeff Bova, who has been an absolutely incredible mentor, collaborator, and friend to me since I came out west. This EP and its corresponding artwork showcases some of my sincerest vulnerability, which is scary at times (I'm nude on the cover!), but the positive reception to that level of intimacy has given me the confidence to continue on that path and be very real with my listeners.
With Giants out now, you kicked off the new year with the music video for “Settle Down.” Can you tell us a little bit about this track in particular?
"Settle Down" is the letter I wish I had written myself when I was younger. It starts very delicate and soft, but escalates into an epic rock breakdown in the bridge that carries through the end of the track as I beg the question, "how can I ask for help when no one is listening?" It was written at a time when I felt very disenfranchised with my art, with my life – I felt creatively stagnant and I couldn't get over my own feelings of inadequacy; I was depressed and I didn't know why. In a trance of sorts, this song poured out of me like a journal entry. I was actually never going to release it, but after playing it live a few times and watching the audience sway with me, I knew it was too important to remain the somewhat private journal entry it was. I was also struggling with my identity and who I wanted to be as an artist, so this song became a bit of a fight song for me as I pushed against societal expectations of what it means to be a woman in music.
What would you like fans to take away from the song?
That it's okay to not be okay. It's perfectly normal to be confused about who you are. There are so many standards put on each and every one of us that are unrealistic, the system has set us up to fail. Even when you feel off kilter, do your best to find your center and stay true to your values – through the chaos is how we find balance.
What inspired the video for “Settle Down”?
My visual team (Chisel Pixel) and I knew we wanted this video to be very interpretive. My videos in the past have been more band-centric, showcasing my energy and spirit - but this song is more sensitive. When my director, Robyn August, pitched the idea of shooting the video in reverse and being covered in paint, I was on board right away. It was my idea to have each paint can wear a label with a controlling statement said to me at some point in my life, which gave the paint even deeper meaning. This video is probably the most terrifying thing I've ever done... but I'm so proud of the way it turned out, and of the risks we were all willing to take for the sake of art!
With Giants and the video for “Settle Down” out now, do you have any other big plans for 2019? Could we expect to hear even more new music soon?
Yes you can!! I can't say too much right now, but I'm currently working on my first full length album that is set to be released this fall. There will be a few leading singles over the summer, so stay tuned...
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It's been a pleasure! I have a few shows coming up, if anyone is interested in seeing myself and my band perform live:
Wednesday 4/17 - The Moroccan Lounge / Presented by Play Like A Girl - Los Angeles, CA
Saturday 6/29 - Summerfest Music Festival - Milwaukee, WI
And make sure to follow me on the internet wherever you follow people on the internet @leahcapelle :)