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Singer-songwriter Leona Naess: “Just being an artist isn’t good enough; It’s important to understand how the whole machine works”

Be there for the mix and the master (I got lazy and let the producer do my job). I wish someone had told me that just being an artist isn’t good enough and that it’s important to understand how the whole machine works. Read as many biographies on all your favorite artists and you will […]


Be there for the mix and the master (I got lazy and let the producer do my job). I wish someone had told me that just being an artist isn’t good enough and that it’s important to understand how the whole machine works. Read as many biographies on all your favorite artists and you will see how in control they were on so many levels.


As a part of series on the rising start of popular culture, I had the pleasure to interview British singer-songwriter Leona Naess.


Thank you so much for joining us Leona! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It really was the only path I could ever follow. I was no good at school and I just had this blind oblivion about my talent and my musical abilities … I wish I still had that blind oblivion. Plus I am no good at math.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

There are too many and some are too personal to repeat. I have traveled across this country in a van with lots of smelly boys and have showed up at the wrong venues and have met the coolest people and also some not so nice people.

Playing the Fillmore and Radio City was pretty sweet and sitting back stage with Thom Yorke after he played radio city (he did not know who I was) was pretty cool.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Making my 5th record and having the freedom and the experience to not mess it up. But you can get in your own head and sometimes you have to press release.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

  • I have been to Michael Jackson’s house when I was 11 ( he was very sweet and like a child)
  • I have talked to Bono for an hour about how to write love songs when you are happily married ( I was 24 and not married but he was happily married)
  • I have had a drunken night with Joe Strummer and I have sat across from Bob Dylan ( he has a very weak handshake) but I still adore him and his music changed my life.
  • But the coolest person I have ever met is my great uncle Arne Naess. Look him up. He was and is a big philosopher in Norway and had an incredible mind. Hands down the smartest.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Arne Naess Sr, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I used to sing for kids in hospitals around the city.

My success is still not at a point where I can draw attention to things I would like, but I try.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Have fun but not too much fun.

Also try to surround yourself with people who love you and are real friends. Don’t just pick the “yes “ people.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. No rush ( I was always in a rush). There is no rush. Do as many shows as you can before anyone “important” gets to see you.
  2. Be there for the mix and the master (I got lazy and let the producer do my job). I wish someone had told me that just being an artist isn’t good enough and that it’s important to understand how the whole machine works. Read as many biographies on all your favorite artists and you will see how in control they were on so many levels.
  3. Wear what you want but make it good (I wore what I wanted but sometimes I looked like I had just gotten out of bed). Its ok to think about your image…. I didn’t. I thought it meant that I was a sell out. Not true at all.
  4. Play an instrument ( I just want to remind you how important that is)
  5. Hold on to the people that help you run ( I didn’t ). There are so many incredibly talented people out there that never get it together. So get it together and don’t ever give up. and be really brilliant in your own way.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

There are so many but I guess it would have to be someone that I think would be nice and not a dick.

I love Regine Chassagne from Arcade Fire. I would love to just be in a room with her while she creates

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@leonanaesss in instagram is the best way to follow

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