Meet the Composer - Leanne Kelly

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Leanne Kelly

How did you get started?

I come from a musical family—my brother is a contemporary percussionist, my parents and sister play, and all my grandparents were involved in music—so my love of sound began early. I started singing and playing piano at age 5, wrote my first song a few years later, and joined the band on tenor saxophone through middle and high school. As an undergrad at USC’s Thornton School of Music, I studied vocal jazz and started teaching music, something that I’ve continued to do to some degree ever since. After moving to the Bay Area in 2009 and starting my indie-pop group, New Spell, I had the opportunity to score a few DIY indie films and started getting hired to compose, produce, play and perform music for commercials, local bands and other projects. I started working with ALIBI a few years ago and I’ve been continuing to develop my craft ever since.

Please list your top credits.

Through ALIBI, I had a song included in the 2021 Golden Globes for the Carol Burnett Award, given to Norman Lear. I’ve also written custom music for two Emmy-nominated Stanford NCAA

Commercials. And finally, while this is not a credit per se, a personal highlight was when New

Spell played San Francisco’s venerable indie-dance party, POPSCENE.

What types of genres do you work in most?

Anything pop, singer-songwriter-y, synth, or piano-based.

What is your favorite track for ALIBI?

Usually, whichever song I just finished writing! In this case, that would be Come Home from Stomps and Claps 3. I’m also proud of the tracks I did for Uplifting Rock 8 (Lift Each Other and

Inspirational Tale, in particular) and Dainty Dancing on Positive Indie, which is such a fun, quirky track that allowed me to whip out the ukulele - who doesn’t love a ukulele!?

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

My all-time favorite is Radiohead, and aside from that, it’s a heavy rotation of artists such as

Sufjan Stevens, Tame Impala, Empress Of, Lizzo, Tune Yards, LCD Soundsystem, Deerhoof,

Metric, Bob Moses, Billie Eilish, Apparat and many others (in no particular order). Basically, I’m inspired by anything with either a frenetic energy or a shimmering sadness. Growing up, I was heavily inspired by Björk, Tori Amos, grunge, jazz and folk artists of the ‘70s like Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens, among others.

What makes your work unique?

I think my background as a singer-songwriter has given me a strong ear for emotive melodies. I also love finding unique tones and have written entire songs based on synth patches that have caught my ear.

Tell us one surprising thing people wouldn’t know about you.

I’ve hiked to the top of Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the contiguous United

States. It was a beast of a trek, but didn’t require any special equipment. Highly recommended for hiking fans!

Your funniest/strangest music experience

I once pulled an all-nighter filming a music video. It was exhausting and my car got broken into, but we made it happen with a skeleton crew. I was able to get one hour of sleep before I had to wake up for a job interview the next day. I remember blinking a lot during the interview because the light was playing tricks on my eyes, but I somehow landed the job. The sacrifices we make for our art!

Why do you like working with ALIBI?

I really appreciate how supportive ALIBI is, and continues to be, to my development as a composer and creator. The work is interesting and challenging, and I’m given the space to continue expanding my skills. Additionally, ALIBI artists are incredibly talented, and the company always seems to be looking at the big picture; finding areas to improve upon and remaining flexible in an industry that demands thinking outside-the-box.

Any words of advice to share with composer hopefuls?

Keep learning. Keep being curious. Keep creating. And just never stop.

How can people follow your work (website/Spotify/social channels)?

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