VQDM: Let us start out this interview with a very personal question, what is it like to be a female musician in the busy city of lights and pizazz of Las Vegas?
Leona-In general, being a woman in the music industry has it's pros and cons. Particularly, in the rock genre it's very difficult because it is , as you know, male dominated. It's very frustrating at times, but so much fun too.
I'll try to find a way to explain without sounding like I'm on a rant. I feel like, as a woman, I have to work so much harder at everything to prove myself. It's like there are much higher standards to live up to than our male counterparts.
The first thing that happens, is you can't even get any interest from guys to play in your band because they automatically assume that just because you're a chick that you can't be as aggressive and rock hard enough. The other thing is every time I win an award or acheive something cool, like magazine covers and what not, there are always the guys who get on the hate wagon and start making remarks like "Why? Just because she's hot?".
Oh, and then there's the guys that yell out things when you're on stage like, "Show us your tits!" Geez, really? lol What I love is when I can hear people saying things, when they think I can't hear, like " Oh just some chick who thinks she can play" or " Can you really play that thing, or is it your boyfriends?" , and then I start ripping thier ears off with a guitar solo, and I look right at them, like "How do you like me now mother fucker?" and I'm laughing my ass off. THAT is fun!
And there's the whole image and age thing. It's not enough to be a great musician and performer. Us women have to be totally hot and young too, or no lables are interested. If you're a guy you can be ugly and old, and it doesn't matter. There are so many ugly male rock stars, but give me one example of a woman that has made it that isn't totally hot or has gray hair. This one really gets me angry. I could go on and on.
However, the big advantage to being a woman is that very same thing, and that is, yes, we do stand out, and sex sells. I don't deliberately try to use it, but I admit, I don't have a problem with expressing my sexuality either, so lucky for me, if it's the one thing that's going to make it a little easier to get noticed, then I don't have a problem with it. I feel like I have so many battles to fight being a chick, trying to make it in the rock genre, that it's only fair. There are countless women in the rock industry that have made huge efforts and success but don't get nearly enough credit.
In Las vegas, particularly, there are many examples of discrimination and I often get very upset about it, but it keeps me fighting and I will never back down. That's all I'll say about that.
VQDM:When did you start to get involved with music and was playing guitar or singing your first love?
Well, where do I start? Ever since I can remember, way back when I was a little girl, I have dreamed about being a star! When I was 5 years old I sang "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas" in my elementary schools holiday play, and I was hooked! I wanted more, and I didn't care how, whether I sang, danced, or played an instrument. I LOVE to entertain. It's the most intoxicating feeling I have ever experienced.
Leona-Guitar is my main love. I started playing when I was 16, and never really sang after that, until 2013, so it's very new for me. I have to practice a lot and try really hard to be good. I pretty much sucked at first, lol, but now I'm getting a lot better.
VQDM- Was the path you chose for music supported by your family? You have an aura of a Spitfire Woman in this industry which is of course a woman after our own hearts!
Leona-I think that spitfire thing is because of a lot of the stuff I talked about in the first paragraph. I admit I have a little bit of an attitude because of having to fight so hard for it.
My parents were ok with it. Honestly, there wasn't much talk about doing anything else, and they knew early on, because I made it very clear, that it was the ONLY thing I wanted to do.
VQDM: Do you write your lyrics with messages in mind for your fan base or are they suppose to be straight up Rock N Roll type songs?
Leona- I believe that writing songs is one of my strengths, even when I only knew a couple of chords. People have always told me I have a knack for writing catchy radio friendly stuff.
I write about anything that comes to mind, and yes, a lot of songs out of spite. lol
I always say I want my music to make people feel good, songs that make you happy and wanna get dressed up, go out and party, drink, have a good time, have hot sex, drive fast, or anything that makes you feel alive. There's enough depressing shit in this world.
VQDM: Is there anything about your own personality that you would change if you were asked to by anyone in the industry?
Leona: I worry too much about everything. I've been told this many times. lol How do you feel about musicians changing for the industry in order for their music to be more radio playable or for it to be more marketable? Oh man, that's a hard one, because I feel like I haven't had enough success to really have a valid formula. However, I did learn some things from working wth producers, like not making your songs longer than 3 1/2 minutes, short catchy intros, melodies, and not over doing guitar solos. You have to write for the song. That old saying " Less is more" is so true.
VQDM: Where did your music taste derive from? Is there a specific artist that you have looked up to over the years both on a motivational and inspirational view?
Leona- Like I said, I started playing guitar when I was 16. I heard AC/DC for the first time and I was never the same again. I fell in love with Angus Youngs massive guitar sound and stage persona and wanted to be just like him. I started out learning their songs and emulating him. Then it was Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains. He's the one that made me want to play the wah wah pedal. Eventually I started developing my own style, and surprisingly enough, a lot of people compare it to punk rock, which is odd, because I've never been into it.
VQDM: Do you have set musicians in your band or do you prefer to work with multiple artists on the stage?
Leona-I have had multiple musicians in and out of this band. I prefer to have set members, but it's hard sometimes, since many of them have day jobs and family obligations that keep them from being available and able to tour. I can be a little intense and a lot crazy in regards to taking risks and just throwing everything in a suitcase and taking off. I love to tour but not everyone is able to do that. I'm lucky that I can just be a full time musician.
VQDM: Where is the one place you would like to play if you had a choice any where in the world, what is your drive for this?
Leona-I've been on some extensive tours and to a lot of countries, but I have to say , my favorite is Australia, so that is where I would love to go again. Maybe because they are a lot like the states? I love the USA, what can I say?
My drive is performing and the reaction I get from fans, so touring is what I love the most.
VQDM: How do you handle publicity on social media verses in person and at shows?
Leona- On social media it's a little tricky. It's a neccesary and amazing marketing tool, and so crucial to building a fan base. I try to keep it professional and only use it for that, but it's hard because all of your family wants to get personal. Sometimes I wish my Mom couldn't see everything I post. lol
At shows is fun, because I love interacting with fans!
VQDM: Is there a new album or info coming for 2016 that you would like to share with us?
Leona-Absolutely! I am currently in the process of recording a follow up CD to the new single I just released called "How Do You Like Me now?".
We're recording at Vegas View Recording Studio, here in Las Vegas, with Bobby Ferrari and Bob Kulick producing. I'm soooo excited!
VQDM: Has there been any one company or manager that has been a solid staple in your life helping you along the way through the musical journey and if so what is the one thing you feel stands out about them?
Leona-Yes, and perfect timing for this question because it's the one I mention above in question # 10, Bobby Ferrari. He’s a super badass! I really feel like he’s bringing out my personality in the songs and of me. In the past people have gotten really trapped in and around my AC/DC influences, but Bobby has been able to move past that, and is helping me to create my own sound. I’ve been playing guitar for a long time now, and that’s natural for me, but singing is new. He’s been able to take my vocal range, which is not huge, and bring out the best qualities in it, which is a little quirky and over the top, and really embrace the crunchy guitar sounds, since that is where my strengths are. We still have that dirty rock n roll sound with a newer more modern edge to it.
VQDM: Do you have any shout outs you would like to give to anyone?
Leona-Gosh, right now I am so lucky to have a lot of support. There are a lot of people I can think of, band members, family, fans, etc., but most importantly, my husband. He is the reason I can do what I do without limitations. He is my biggest supporter and my hero.
VQDM: If you had a choice to be in a movie (musically related or not) what would it be, drama, mystery, sci fi, horror or comedy?
Leona- Probably drama, I'm a little intense, lol maybe horror.
VQDM: Have you considered any other path in the arts such as acting or modeling since you do live in Vegas?
Leona- I've always been curious about acting but haven't had the time to try it. Maybe some day!
VQDM: What are your goals as a woman with music and life as you progress?
Leona-I am very grateful to the women who have pioneered before me, and definitly admire them, but I hope I can be a trailblazer too, that I can inspire other women to take a stand and get out there if this is what they truly want to do.
Also, one of the things that's very important to me is sending out a positive message to girls and women about having a positive and strong self esteem. You can be who you are, express yourself, rock out and be daring, but still hold true to your morals of being a good person, being kind to others, living healthy and staying away from drugs and alcohol. That probably doesn't sound cool, but later in life you will be so thankful you did. A strong body equals a strong mind, health, and happiness.
Yvonne Loveland- VQDM- Dec 2015