Interview: Leah Capelle

Los Angeles Musician, Leah Capelle, has been utilizing her time for good and spending time at home giving her fans live-stream shows. I caught up with Leah in the midst of quarantine life to discuss the deep and personal meaning within her debut release, ‘triptych’, her passion for film and graphic design, coming back around from a period of isolation, cooking and more. 

Congrats on the recent release of your new LP, ‘triptych’. Tell us the message that you intended to portray throughout this release.

Thank you so much! ‘triptych’ both is and isn’t a concept album, if that makes sense. The thread throughout the record is my story of growth that was both painful and beautiful. I had been very comfortable, and very happy for a long time – until I gradually wasn’t. Yet, my unhappiness was inexplicable to me. And unfortunately, that unhappiness led to a series of poor decisions that completely upended my life. Now, looking back on it I truly believe I needed that push. My greatest art comes from times of uncertainty, and I believe this to be my most pure, most relatable piece of art to date. The core message of the album is this: it’s okay to be sad, to have flaws, to make mistakes, to miss people. It’s what you do with those mistakes and that emptiness that ultimately shapes who you will become, and the process itself – though terribly difficult to understand in the moment – is what makes all the difference.

I know that the Coronavirus has been really impactful on all, yet tell us the lowdown on how you have been utilizing all of your time in quarantine.

I have been surprisingly busy in the time of Corona. I thought I would be losing my mind with boredom but being in an album cycle takes up a lot of bandwidth. I’ve also been fortunate enough to continue having part-time work on the side, so promoting ‘triptych’ and working has taken up the bulk of my time. But in down moments, I’ve been reading again! Right at the beginning of the shelter in place order, I power-read “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut, and am now almost done with his post-apocalyptic novel “Galapagos.” I binge watched Tiger King along with the rest of America, and finally watched all of Rick and Morty. I’ve been trying to meditate (which I’m terrible at) and have moments of peacefulness throughout the day, as well as cooking more diverse meals for myself (something I’m also terrible at.) And of course, video-calling with friends and family on a more frequent basis than usual which definitely helps keep me sane.

Showcasing the human in you, what is a challenging thought that you recently had and were able to overcome over time?

It’s an irrational yet common fear amongst artists but I’ve been having the challenging thought that I’ll never write as good of songs as are on ‘triptych.’ I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to start writing the next album, which is crazy since ‘triptych’ came out only two weeks ago! I was sharing these concerns with my friend and fellow artist David Ramirez, and we were working through the feelings I had of restlessness for the “next thing.” It was helpful to talk it all out, and I realized that literally no one is putting pressure on me to write any new music besides myself. So, right now, I’m working on giving myself space to just be in this moment, without forcing myself to be creative.

What is your perception of the digital world that we live in and social media culture?

I feel that social media and the “digital world” are a double edged sword. They have become absolutely crucial for promoting art, sharing music and obviously provide the opportunity to connect with others in ways that were never possible before. But the digital world can also be extremely toxic. I struggle with knowing that I need to post certain types of content consistently and tailor each piece to each individual platform, while also simultaneously wanting to turn off all my technology and sit in a garden. Social media also makes it more difficult to not compare yourself to other artists or really other human beings. I’m fortunate to have a very supportive creative network in which most of us are musicians but of course, pangs of jealousy can pop up when your friends and peers are “more successful” than you at any given point in time. I think navigating social media is the crux of our generation – allowing it to be a platform from which to promote and connect while not letting it be something that consumes your whole life. 

No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.

I like to think of myself as a passionate learner and creative person in many senses outside of music. My day-job is in film and I love graphic design, interior design, video editing, etc. I spend my time doing lots of creative things that have nothing to do with music, which in turn makes the time I spend doing music even more special. I also have a business degree, and hope to start my own company someday nurturing young, up-and-coming artists. Another dream of mine involves designing my own house or compound out in nature somewhere like possibly Wyoming. I picture it to have little guest houses for my family and friends along with an on-site studio. I also have this little dream of opening a coffee shop / wine and beer bar that has a stage for singer/songwriters that I would book myself to perform. Lastly, I love hiking, scuba diving, and traveling to new countries and cities I’ve never been to! 

There is a very deep and personal meaning throughout ‘triptych’. Has your perception and approach toward your interpersonal relationships changed throughout your journey toward healing?

Oh absolutely. Many of the songs on ‘triptych’ were written during a time in which I essentially isolated myself from being close to other people. It was terrible, but I wasn’t being a good friend in those moments and had to take the time to focus on my healing. During that time I was acting in self-serving ways and no longer listening to the concerns or advice from the people closest to me. I’ve learned so much throughout the whole process of creating this record as it forced me to take long and hard looks at myself, my behavior, and my bad habits and process them in real time. I feel like a completely new and improved version of myself now, two years after the start of this journey. I’m insanely grateful to everyone for sticking by my side through all of it. 

Are there any fun or new recipes that you’ve tried cooking up during quarantine?!

As I mentioned before, I’m not a very creative or inventive cook. I pretty much cook just for the sake of sustenance. But I’ve been refining my favorite pasta recipe: sautéed red onion, baby bella mushrooms, sometimes sweet potato, red bell pepper, and whatever other yummy veggies I have in the fridge with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red cayenne pepper. I also add vegan sausage, sliced and crisped in a cast iron skillet. I’ll use whichever pasta fits my mood that day – either tortellini, gnocchi, or good old farfalle and top it with pesto and parmesan. The trick is to mix the veggies, sausage, and pasta all in a skillet once it’s been cooked to get the pasta crispy! Super easy to make in a large batch and have leftovers for when I don’t want to cook again later, which is most of the time.

Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?

I know these are really scary times for everyone. The level of stress is skyrocketing, and there is so much uncertainty. If you can, try to take time for yourself every day.  It’s okay if you don’t feel motivated – it’s okay if you’re sad. 

As for me, I’m doing my best to stay connected and do lots of live streams on social media. I hope you’re enjoying “triptych,” and I’d love to hear from you! You can reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! We will hopefully all be able to be together soon, and I’ll finally be able to play these songs live for you all.

Stay safe! Sending you all my love.

Leah Capelle Social Links:

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