10 Questions with ... Leslie Becker
February 29, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Facebook: facebook.com/LeslieBeckerMusic
- Twitter: twitter.com/TheLeslieBecker
- Instagram: Instagram.com/TheLeslieBecker
- Soundcloud: SoundCloud.com/LeslieBeckerMusic
- YouTube: YouTube.com/LeslieBeckerMusic
Leslie Becker is an award-winning Broadway actor, singer and songwriter. Her rich, sultry voice weaves a spell of mystery and allure, and her chameleon-like versatility and impeccable storytelling make her a highly sought-after artist on the stage and in the studio.
The powerhouse triple threat is a classically trained pianist, a past member of the Westside Ballet company and has appeared on Broadway and in major national and regional productions of "Wicked," "Amazing Grace," "Anything Goes," "Bonnie & Clyde," "Cinderella" "Beauty and the Beast". She has also co-starred on TV's "Smash" and "Law and Order".
As a writer, she has two musicals in development and recently released a country music EP featuring top Nashville artists singing her music. With award-winning producer Joe Vulpis at the helm (Lady Gaga and more) and a team of Grammy Award-winning programmers, musicians and mastering engineers, Leslie's new song "Slow Burn" is currently impacting Mainstream AC. With several theatrical projects also on the horizon, this is an artist who is breaking down barriers and letting her voice soar.
1) What was it that got you interested in music?
There was always music playing in our house. My dad loved to sing and my mom loved to blast all kinds of records on the stereo. My sister and I would choreograph dances in our living room. I started studying classical piano and ballet when I was five and loved how music made me feel. My favorite thing to do was close my bedroom door and listen to albums over and over and over.
2) What was the inspiration for your new single "Slow Burn?"
The title came out of a conversation with my mom and whatever we were talking about she said something like "it's going to be a slow burn." And I thought that was a cool title for a song. It took about two days for the song to manifest and then it downloaded from my brain in about 20 minutes. I liked the idea of a song that said "slow down a bit" instead of one that just said "I want you now!" I think it has a powerful message for women to say, "Hey, I am worth the wait, so if you want me, you're going to have to play by my rules."
3) As an Broadway performer on "Wicked," "Amazing Grace," "Anything Goes," "Bonnie & Clyde," "Cinderella" "Beauty and the Beast" and Television actress on "Law And Order," and "Smash" how has this experience helped you with your live concerts? How does acting on Broadway differ from performing your music live?
Being an actor and performing eight shows a week for much of my life has definitely built up my stamina and given me that natural comfort on stage to connect to an audience. But in theater you are bringing someone else's words to life. You're being a character. When I'm singing my own music, it's very personal. And even though I'm still taking on a persona for each song, it's still just me, my voice and my words that are making an impact. That's empowering and terrifying all at the same time.
4) Please tell us about the recording process on your new single and what it was like working with producer Joe Vulpis (Lady Gaga)?
All I can say about Joe is that he is a musical genius. He hears things other people don't, and has this amazing way of inspiring an artist to bring out the best version of themselves. As for the process, honestly, at first we recorded a scratch demo of the song to pitch to another artist. But, as all things happen as they are supposed to, the artist didn't take the song for her album, and it hit both Joe and I at the same time that "Slow Burn" should be MY song. From the moment we decided that, it has truly been magical every step of the way. It's like every single door opened to make this possible and the Grammy award winning team he built around me is extraordinary. As for our working relationship, we just click. I think that comes from the underlying mutual trust and respect we have for each other. We both bring something unique to the table and we force each other to be at our best. Making a hit song takes time, commitment and passion and I think Joe and I play at life with the same level of intensity and that makes for a great team!
5) What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
My songwriting comes in waves of inspiration. I'll write a bunch of songs in a short period of time, and then my psyche has to rest a bit to store up for the next wave. Almost all of my songs start with the hook or chorus. If it sticks with me I know I want to finish it. I wrote the first draft of "Slow Burn" in 20 minutes. Sometimes you just know something works and it happens very quickly. I often find that the songs I have to stew over don't ever become a complete song.
6) Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Coming from the theatre world, I admire the great lyricists of theater (i.e. Stephen Sondheim, Fred Ebb, Lynn Ahrens). I also love the great storytellers in country music like Brad Paisley and Brandy Clark. And it's tough not be inspired by The Beatles still! But I think I'm enjoying merging my love for good storytelling with my love for writing a song that everyone wants to crank up and sing along to. It's great fun to create my own style and I can't wait to see where that takes me.
7) How are you using social networks to market your music and keep your fans involved?
I've grown to love social media and what it can provide in terms of connecting with fans. I just hired an awesome social media team to help me grow as my music career grows. I've especially come to like Twitter. A year ago, I barely understood what a tweet was, let alone a hashtag! #LOL
8) So far, what experience has really stood out to you as a performer?
I've been so blessed to have some amazing experiences on stage. Theatre has embraced my versatility so I've been able to play a huge array of interesting characters. I think that's what I like about music too, is that I can use my versatility in each song. Getting to stretch myself as an artist and reach all the colors of my personality is very exciting to me! I also think that the first time you sing a new song with a live band is the most amazing and exhilarating feeling.
9) What other songs on your new album are you excited to share with your fans?
Right now we're working on our next single and I'm already in love with it! I think it is a perfect follow up to "Slow Burn". I'm also working on a third song that Joe doesn't even know about yet. If that leads to an album, so be it!
10) What's in store for the future? Do you have any upcoming recording sessions, collaborations, or special events planned?
Joe and I will be back in the studio shortly after "Slow Burn" hits radio with our new single. And I've got two concerts coming up and our "Slow Burn" Radio Release Party ... so March is going to be busy for sure!!
What do you do in your spare time? When you aren't performing or recording new material, what do you all like to do for fun?
Truly, breaking your first single is a full-time job. Much of my day is spent in full engagement in getting this song heard, talked about, and downloaded along with building my social media presence, writing new songs and scheming for what's next. I love every aspect of this venture and I feel blessed to be doing this. So spare time? There isn't much right now, but I love Crossfit, I'm an avid sushi lover, a tepid liker of yoga and I'm absolutely mad about the TV show Suits so don't call me from 10-11 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Who are some of the artists we might find on some of your playlists now?
Demi Lovato, The Band Perry, Brad Paisley, Rachel Platten, Brandy Clark, Darius Rucker, The Beatles, Chopin, and I"m not gonna lie, the soundtrack to Bonnie & Clyde which I was in on Broadway.
Is there anything else about yourself or your music that would like our readers to know about you?
Yes. As much as I loved singing in my bedroom as a kid, I was terrified to sing in front of other people. Because of my grounded, practical nature, I tried every other "serious" career I could and was too afraid to admit I wanted this more than anything. When I finally declared out loud that a career as a performer was what I wanted, that is when everything started happening. So I'd say to anyone reading this: follow your heart. Follow your dreams. And never listen to the naysayers (even the ones in your own head). You can do and be ANYTHING you put your mind to. If this scared little girl ever knew that one day she would actually be singing in front of thousands of people, she never would have believed it, but it was what her heart always wanted. So, go boldly in the direction of your dreams.