21-year-old singer-songwriter Leannie is putting herself out there. From an early love of music to a capella groups to TikTok, she has been expanding the ways that she uses music to express herself and share her feelings with her growing audience. Leannie’s latest project is her third single, “Sorry,” an upbeat, cathartic song about trust and apologies.
Showstopper Magazine Online: What led you to music?
Leannie: I’ve been drawn to music ever since I was born. I was born 10 weeks prematurely and thus had to remain in an incubator for two months. My grandpa placed a Walkman in my incubator, so I was listening to a ton of classical music for the first several weeks of my life.
SMO: Does your a cappella background influence your solo music?
Leannie: My a cappella background absolutely influences my solo music. I tend to make my vocals (lead vocals and harmonies) the main focus of all of my songs, and then I go on to create instrumentals that complement them. I think that definitely comes from my a cappella background and having been vocal-focused for so long. I consider my vocals to be the main event, and I also have the most fun recording them.
SMO: How would you describe your sound? What inspires your music?
Leannie: I would describe my sound as dreamy alt-pop mixed with art-pop and avant-pop. I like to tell a story and take the listener on a journey, and a lot of my songs are reminiscent of the Hero’s Journey literary structure commonly found in books, plays, and movies. My music is primarily influenced by art and life experiences. I’ve started writing songs during movies, at museums, during classes, and on dates. When I come to any sort of realization about absolutely anything, I think “Oh my God, other people have to know about this. They need to come to this realization like I just did. Maybe this can help them too.”
SMO: What inspired “Sorry”?
Leannie: “Sorry” was inspired by multiple events and relationships in my life. I noticed a pattern of people repeatedly doing or saying hurtful things only to attempt to make it right or better by saying “sorry.” And because I am a relentless people pleaser who avoids confrontation at any cost, it always works out for them, no matter how hurt I am. I seemingly forgive them, so then they don’t face any sort of repercussions. In other words, they escape the burning building completely unscathed, and I barely make it out alive, even though they’re the ones who started the fire.
SMO: It took seven months to write and produce “Sorry.” What was that process like? How do you feel about the many transformations of this song? What made it finally feel finished?
Leannie: The process of writing and producing “Sorry” started on the acoustic guitar. At the time, I could hardly go from one chord to another without taking a five-second pause. I knew I needed to practice a lot more, and I was also in desperate need of motivation to practice. I was feeling really discouraged because I felt like I was really bad at it. Then I thought, “What better way to motivate myself than to start writing a song on guitar that I’ll be addicted to and that I won’t be able to stop playing?” I was having a hard time getting into and connecting with the famous songs on all of the “easy songs on guitar” lists, so I felt that an original song might do the trick to spark passion and intrigue. And it worked! I played the guitar NONSTOP for weeks until I got all of the lyrics down.
The song started out as a slow acoustic ballad then ultimately transitioned into an upbeat primarily electronic pop song. And that’s my favorite kind of sound—sensitive lyrics with a strong and bold sound. Still, I knew I wanted to eventually bring the acoustic guitar back in so that I could be reminded of the kind of sound that originally made me so enthralled by and addicted to it. Throughout the entire process of producing the song, the chorus always felt a bit empty to me. And I could never put my finger on the problem until one day, I magically added a simple call-and-response of the chorus lines “it’s rocky” and “between me and sorry.” Suddenly, the song felt complete. It finally felt like the perfect mixture between pop and alternative — and it matched my other songs more nicely.
SMO: Do you have a favorite line in the song?
Leannie: My favorite line in the song has got to be “Broken but receiving your apologies, as if sorry could fix the fact that it was third-wheeling this mess.” It was one of the first lines I wrote and one of the few lines that stayed entirely unchanged from the beginning to the end. I just think it rolls off the tongue perfectly and paints a vivid picture.
SMO: This is your third single. How do you think it fits in with what you’ve already shared? What’s next?
Leannie: Out of all of the songs I’ve released so far, I feel like this song is the most similar to the way people perceive me. I am a very outwardly upbeat person, and I think the style of this song encapsulates that. Meanwhile, my other songs fill in the gaps. For instance, my first song “Sidewalk Fantasies” represents my almost-constant state of anxiety mixed with nostalgia, and my second song “Smaller” represents my innermost thoughts and frequent feelings of emptiness.
I actually joke around that since “Sorry” is my third song, it completes the musical version of my astrological big three. My first song “Sidewalk Fantasies” feels like my sun sign, my second song “Smaller” feels like my moon sign, and this song feels like my rising sign. So, while each song has its own unique sounds and sentiments, all together they represent the various parts of me, including the ones I show the world and the ones I don’t.
I really enjoyed creating “Sorry,” and I’ve especially enjoyed being able to dance to it in my room which was harder to do with the previous two. Hence, I would really enjoy continuing to produce more upbeat songs. However, most of my songs start out as slow and sad ballads on guitar or piano. So, I think I’ll just have to go with the flow and see where each individual creative process takes me. Some songs might come out sounding a bit darker like my first two, but some might come out a bit brighter like “Sorry.” Either way, I know they’ll represent me well, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.
SMO: What has been your favorite part of sharing “Sorry” with the world?
Leannie: My favorite part of sharing “Sorry” with the world has been meeting my newfound confidence in putting myself out there. With both “Smaller” and “Sidewalk Fantasies,” I felt a lot of shame and fear posting promotional content on social media and even telling people in person to check my music out. With “Sorry,” I have felt a surprising amount of confidence and pride. Third time’s a charm, maybe? Even if I felt any shame or fear creeping up on me, I knew how to snap myself out of it effectively. It’s been very liberating, and I’ve felt much more comfortable to be myself and speak proudly about my work. I’m incredibly excited for the confidence to grow as I gain more and more experience.