Behind the Music: Keeping Up With Leanne & Naara’s Refreshing Sound, Soon-To-Be-Released Album

Oct 30, 2020

There are songs that could accompany you to bouts of musing; tracks that are light but linger with honeyed warmth. And when the mood for listening to perfectly splendid music strikes, it’s hard not to think about the music of Leanne & Naara. 

Breaking out from the indie circuit in 2016 with their track “Again,” the singing-songwriting duo continues to bless us with offerings that are beautifully accented with R&B, soul, and jazz. Their potent storytelling and infectious vocals have given birth to a selection of serene yet hard-hitting pieces that are devoted to matters of love and life.

READ: New OPM Music To Explore and Enjoy During the COVID-19 Quarantine

This month, Leanne & Naara are back with “Keeping Me Up” and “Who’s Gonna Love You” — by-products of the duo’s creative exploration of sounds, styles, and songwriting processes. 

In this “Behind The Music” feature, we dive into the tracks that influenced their sound and explore this fresh and exciting chapter in Leanne & Naara’s music. 

What are the top 5 songs that shaped your sound throughout the years? 

Be Honest by Jason Mraz

I remember listening to this song nonstop when I was in second year in college so much so that it became the inspiration for New York and Back. I fell in love with the softness and the honesty of the song, and I wanted to capture that same emotion with an original composition. I think there hasn’t been a single creative moment that has topped the joy I felt after writing that song. 

Dang! by Mac Miller (featuring Anderson .Paak)

[From] around 2017 to 2018, we listened to a lot of contemporary soul and R&B. We started with looped tracks, more hard-hitting lyrics, or lyrics that speak of everyday things. I think this was also the time I started falling in love with the sound of electric piano and I’d start to use it when writing. It was around this time when our more R&B tracks like Overboard, and Make Me Sing (yes, the demo of Make Me Sing was more hip-hop than the one we released) were conceived. 

The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice

This song’s vulnerability stings. I was inspired by the rawness of it, and how it takes its time and stays true to what it is. This song was one of our inspirations when we were writing Evergreen

Turn Me On by Norah Jones

We wanted to create a classic timeless love song that is akin to this one. I think our love for jazz is evident in our music and so it was a grand feeling to be able to create one that hopefully gives off the same feeling. (Watch out for the album and try to see which one was inspired by this!)

Love Like This by Faith Evans

The inspiration [that] this song gave definitely arrived at the perfect time. We were in the middle of writing the album and needed a couple more songs for it, preferably one that’s more upbeat. We were hanging out at our friend’s place and this song randomly played, and we were taken back to the ‘90s when female R&B was at its peak. That nostalgia gave us a boost and we were able to write a song (it will be included in the album!) because of it.

You’ve recently released your new single, “Keeping Me Up.” This full-fledged pop track is distinct from your previous laid-back sweep of songs. What prompted you to pursue this refreshing shift in music?

We had this song written and recorded when we had our music camp in Sweden last year. It’s a three-day camp where we met producers and wrote one song from scratch per day. When we met Elias and Patrik, we honestly didn’t have anything in mind as to what type of song we’ll be able to make.

We started jamming first to different types of chord progressions until we came up with this really catchy hook. And then Elias, our producer, added some beats to it, and to our surprise, it became a full pop song. We all loved the output and decided to release it as our “comeback” track. We’d like to call it Leanne & Naara version 2.0.

Speaking of teaming up with producer Elias Naslin and songwriter Patrik Jean, you’ve also recently worked with OPM icon Noel Cabangon for “Habangbuhay.” How are musical collaborations beneficial to you as an artist?

It’s always fun to work with other artists because we learn something new from them. Working with sir Noel was a treat because we were able to see his process firsthand, and it became clear why his music has inspired generations. 

Working with Elias and Patrik gave us a glimpse of how they create music in Sweden, which in some ways can be very different from how we do it here. It was our first time to work with a topline writer, and it’s always something that we share because it introduced us to a new way of writing.

What is that genre that you have in mind that you find interesting but never had the chance to explore? How important is it for you to listen to other musical styles?

I think it’s not specifically a genre but we’ve been trying to write a Tagalog song. Although we think it’s really hard for us to make one since there are a lot of artists who are so good at writing it. We’re just waiting for the perfect time! Also, listening to different genres helps us be more exposed and gives us ideas and inspirations, too, in creating music. 

You are set to release your “Daybreak” album on November 27. Can you give us a preview of what this upcoming offering is about? Which song/s would you consider as the closest to your heart?

Most of the time an album is conceptual, and songs are written with it in mind. For the one we’re releasing, some of the songs were already written years before we even conceptualized the album, and there are new songs as well. I guess the closest to our hearts would be the pre-written ones, because they were the ones that made the cut, and we feel that we’ve given them a home in the form of this body of work.

As an advocate of music, what important learning — be it in songwriting or music production — do you wish to impart to up-and-coming acts when it comes to treading their own creative pursuits in this time of the coronavirus?

We think this is the best time to explore music more since we’ve been on lockdown for almost eight months. There’s a lot of time for us to work on our craft more. Despite the pandemic, we still have a lot to be thankful for. 

And since most of us are always online, we can always put out creative content for people to see. Don’t be scared of what people might think about it because what’s important is that you’ve worked hard for it, and for sure, there are a lot of people out there who will appreciate your art. 

Before the release of Leanne & Naara’s new album titled “Daybreak,” relive their Wishclusive performances below:

Watch the official music video of their latest single “Who’s Gonna Love You” here:

Check out the musical duo’s 6th Wish Music Awards nominations for “Evergreen” and “Habangbuhay” (with Noel Cabangon) here.

ALSO READ: Behind the Music: Keiko Necesario on the Songs that Shaped Her Sound, New Album ‘Ready, Let Go’

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