INTERVIEW: JORDAN LEIA
WRITTEN BY ALLIE ANTONEVICH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIETA RAKOVER
JULY 25, 2020
Jordan Leia is a student at Berklee who cherishes music, meditation, and emotion. It’s no secret that the songwriting process looks different for every artist, yet hers remains very special. I was able to catch up briefly to talk about her new EP, Metamorphosis, which comes out this year.
Your first EP is coming out this year! These are exciting times. What has influenced your music?
I grew up in South Florida, in a town called Weston. Music has always been in my life. I was inspired by musical theater as a kid, and growing up, I listened to a lot of soul and R&B. I’m super inspired by Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, The Bee Gees…. I tend to gravitate towards music from the 70s and the 80s, all the way to the early 90s.
What brought you to Berklee?
I’ve always done music, so I always knew that I wanted to study it. Berklee seemed like the most perfect fit for me. I’ve been able to make my intentions manifest because I have all the resources here. This EP is my first EP ever. I came across this studio called Plaid Dog Recording Studios in Allston.
How did the studio help with your first project?
They [Plaid Dog Recording Studios] will help certain musicians, so if you send them music that you’ve done and they feel like you’re a good match for what they do, they’ll help you create a campaign. I crowdfunded the money with a campaign I created, and I wrote my first single with them, called Petals. I took some time after the campaign ended for some introspection and self care, I was going through a lot during that time, spiritually, mentally, emotionally… a lot of changes happening in my life. I took that time to step away from the project instead of diving full force into it. I took some time away from it and started writing a bunch of songs.
Tell me a little bit about your craft, specifically your previously released music and then this EP.
Petals is a very happy and poetic song. It’s about nature, self exploration, and love, and comparing the blooming of a relationship to a rose. Then I went through a lot of difficult times & a lot of changes, so I took some time and I wrote all new material, about opening your heart and how to do that with self love. I basically wrote an EP about what I was doing during that time. The EP is called Metamorphosis, because I wanted to incorporate a name that encapsulates a transition and growth.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
I’m really inspired by Raveena. I drew a lot of inspiration from her music, as well as Sabrina Claudio… mostly neo-soul. In this EP there are a lot of instruments live. Some electronic production, of course, with nature noises and stuff like that, but the musicians who played on my tracks are so talented.The two main musicians that played are Daniel Yoong, Jenn Huang Wong, and my producer’s name is Bryan Fennelly.
What does the creative process look like for you when you’re coming up with new music? It sounds like there’s a lot of introspection. Do you write everything at once, or do you come back to take breaks?
The songwriting process is always different for me. A lot of the time it’s just me, alone, in my room, either I’ll top line over the instrumental track that my friends and I will make together, or I’ll just write poems. I love writing, and always have. Sometimes inspiration hits and I can write an entire song at once, but other times it’s pieced together, bit by bit. As the recording process comes along, lyrics are always changing, melodies are always changing.
What attracted you to work in the music industry? How did you know you wanted to pursue a career in it?
I just knew I couldn’t be doing anything else — nothing else could feed my soul the way music does. I could never be happy if I wasn’t doing what I loved, and what I know my purpose is. Life likes to throw curves and lessons at you to make you doubt yourself, and each time I’ve doubted myself or thought I should choose a more conventional route, I always am able to snap right back into it. It’s too strong a bond.
Do you feel like you create music for yourself, for others, or both?
Definitely both. I use songwriting as a way of therapy for myself, and a way to express my emotions. I listen to music and other artists as a way of therapy as well, so I hope that through my music I’m able to do that for others.
I feel like we always talk about the challenges we face, but maybe we can talk about resilience instead. What, or who, keeps you going when you feel a creative wall?
I just remind myself that the moment is fleeting, and nothing is permanent. To wait, and give it a moment, not to be hard on yourself when you feel like you’re not exactly where you want to be. Because you’re never going to be exactly where you want to be — it’s in human nature to want more, just to be patient and gentle with yourself. Music inspires me too, whenever I feel like I’m in a drought. I’ll listen to music that I love and music that I wish I wrote! That reminds me why I do what I do, and why I love it, and not to take it so seriously or be so hard on myself.
Moving away from musical role models to maybe real life ones... do you have any at Berklee? People who you feel have been really formative for your journey?
You know, I don’t really have a mentor really yet. That would be awesome to have one. I feel like I look up to the women in my life. My mom, my grandmothers, my girlfriends, my sister… I am really inspired by situations in my life and people and love. I don’t have a musical mentor, but I’m figuring it out on my own.
What’s something you wish you were told when you started?
Just don’t be afraid… don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. To be criticized or be judged. Don’t allow fear-based mentality to block your dreams or passions or path. Because, nothing is ever accomplished from fear.