By now you've got to be familiar with Rolling Stone's Garnier Fructis-sponsored "Do You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star?" contest, right?
Sixteen unsigned music artists were just whittled down to two — Louisiana crooner Leila Broussard and Canadian rock outfit The Sheepdogs — who performed in a final competition at Bonnarroo to win the chance to be on the cover of the August 18 issue of Rolling Stone. Oh, and they also get a record deal with Atlantic Records and an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
I recently chatted with Broussard to find out what makes her tick before the final votes are cast on July 1 at 11:59 PM EST (Click here to put yours into the hat).
Here's what happened:
UsMagazine.com: How did you get started in the music industry?
Leila Broussard: It's hard to say because singing has always been something I've loved to do since I was a toddler. I picked up a guitar at 12 or 13, and I was writing songs right after that. I've been doing this as long as I can remember, and it eventually evolved into a career.
Us: You grew up in Louisiana, which is known for their jazz music. Did that have any influence on your music?
LB: I think it did. In my household we were always listening to jazz and going to festivals. There are so many amazing festivals in Louisiana, and the musical culture there is pretty incredible. I am from Lafayette, Louisiana and some amazing musicians come there. Being that young and listening to so much music, it was definitely a big influence.
Us: Are there any specific artists who have influenced your music?
LB: I really love Paul Simon and he was someone who listened to a lot growing up and is still a great love of mine. My mom loved Paul Simon and Elton John, and I am still into that stuff. There are so many artists that are super inspiring to me, though, and the list just goes on: Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Arcade Fire, Feist…
Us: All of your albums are self-released. Can you talk about how and why you did that on your own?
LB: It was a matter of not wanting to settle for a crappy deal or something that wasn’t the right fit. I am really conscious of not wanting to do something that isn't in the best interest of my fans. I want to make music that I am proud of and that I like and I wasn't willing to give up that control and sign my life away.
Us: Do you write most of your music?
LB: I write all of my music and I've also done a lot of co-writing. I have done it all, and it has been a cool experience. Writing with other people is really fun because you can get a new perspective on things. My album, Masquerade I wrote pretty much every song just alone and I spent a lot of time writing with other people and it was a really good self-reflecting thing for me to go back and write everything myself
Us: Where do you get ideas from when writing songs?
LB: I really try and make everything as authentic as possible and write about things that I know about. The things I love about songs is that they can be about anything but if you can take it and kind of relate it to your life and just articulate something that you haven't been able to say is when the songwriter has done a really good job. That is what I aspire to do myself, and each song is a personal thing to me.
Us: Why did you choose the name Masquerade for your latest album?
LB: It is a song on the record, and I felt like that word summed up the album for me. The album was mostly about a terrible relationship I had just gotten out of. The album is about someone who is crappy and not what you thought they were. That was it in a nutshell for me.
Us: Musically, how would you describe your style?
LB: It's indie pop rock. I write pop songs and I'm not afraid to call myself that. Hopefully I write music with a lot of integrity and that people can really relate to.
Us: In most photos you have your face painted. Why is that?
LB: I started painting my face when the album first started coming out because I wanted to have a visual expression of the album, and so that is really what it is all about. I am a big fan of David Bowie, and he is somebody who is super inspiring to me. I love that glam rock thing and so it is speaking to that as well.
Us: How did you get involved with the Rolling Stone competition?
LB: I found out about it from an A&R person from Atlantic who is a partner in the contest and it was super last minute. I found out in the end of January, and it started in the beginning of February. They were just like, 'hey do you want to do this?' and so I said yes and it has been kind of a crazy whirlwind.
Us: Did you know right away that this was something you wanted to do or did you have to think twice about it?
LB: You have to really consider every side of the coin when you are making a big decision like that about your career. We definitely thought about everything that we could and obviously ended up deciding that it was a fantastic opportunity, and I was excited about.
Us: Did you ever imagine you would get this far when you signed on for the competition? What were your expectations?
LB: It was hard to know what anything was going to be like because I didn't have a ton of information then. I certainly wanted to win or go this far. I don't like to do things if I think I am going to lose because I am a competitive person. I have really amazing and incredible fans, and they are super pumped and really excited about everything and have really gone above and beyond so it's been great.
Us: How have things changed since you’ve entered this competition?
LB: Things have been relatively the same. It is exciting and fun but now everything is turning on its head and life is pretty crazy right now. It's very fun and I am a busy woman.
Us: Have you shot a potential cover yet? Do you have any idea what it will look like?
LB: We are both shooting the cover in July so we have done a couple of photo shoots with them but not the cover shoot. I am excited though. I have ideas but I can't give them away.
Us: Besides the competition what are you currently working on?
LB: I am working on some new songs and it's been really fun to work on some new music with my collaborator and friend Dan Romer, and we're excited. It has all been really fun practice and we have a blast working together. We are going to have some new songs coming probably in August.
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