Interview with Shayna Leigh

By: Victoria Moorwood//


Shayna Leigh released her debut album Drive in 2015, which she collaborated on with Multi Platinum and Multi Grammy Award winning Record Producer Michael Mangini and Emmy Award winning Multi Platinum Songwriter and Producer Peter Zizzo. Last year, Shayna premiered her single and music video “Goodbye July,” and now she is back at it again, releasing her single “Candle” off her upcoming EP Disaster Artist. She got to work with Mangini and Zizzo again to create this project, which she says is about her trials and errors looking for love in New York City. Here, she talks about how Disaster Artist shows her fans a new, personal side to her; a narrative about love and dating that she hasn’t previously shared with her music. She also reminisces on her first musical experiences in musical theatre, which were love-at-first-sight and propelled her into her singing career.

What can fans expect from your upcoming EP “Disaster Artist”?

“Disaster Artist” is the most personal EP I’ve released to date. All of the songs are based on actual experiences from my life. Specifically, they are all about my experiences dating in NYC. I think “Disaster Artist” will give fans a taste of what my life is like as I’m looking for love; it features the ups and the downs and everything in between.

What was it like working with Michael Mangini and Peter Zizzo for “Drive”?

Going into a session with Michael Mangini and Peter Zizzo for the first time was quite nerve wracking! They are both such pros with so many accomplishments to their names. Ultimately, however, working with Michael and Peter has been one of the highlights of my career. Talent aside, they are two of the smartest, kindest guys around and have been beyond instrumental in building my career. I feel very fortunate to have them in my life.

What was your first experience in musical theatre like?

My first real experience in musical theatre was when I was in the third grade and I got to play Lucy in a musical version of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” I was the youngest in a cast full of teenagers and adults, and we ran for like a month (I think?). It was definitely the experience that got me hooked. I loved being in front of the audience. I loved creating those special and scared bonds with my cast mates. I loved every moment of it.

What was the inspiration behind “Candle”?

“Candle” is the first song I’ve ever written about a specific romantic relationship. I never intended to put my love life into my music. Growing up, I always felt like there were so many songs about romantic love and so few songs about everything else (and as a teenager I didn’t do so well in the romance department!) so I wanted my music to be about all the other parts of a very full and beautiful life. That being said, after “Drive,” I realized there was so much of me that I was leaving out of my music; there were so many experiences I was having in love (and falling out of love and looking for love) that I needed to tell, not just for myself but for everyone out there who’s going through it alongside me. “Candle” was the first song to come from that.

Shayna Leigh
Photo by Bobby Quillard

How has your musical style evolved since “Drive”?

I think “Disaster Artist” is a natural evolution from “Drive” but is definitely different in key ways. I’ve taken more risks with “Disaster Artist,” both as a vocalist and as a lyricist. These songs have a much stronger point of view and are incredibly personal and relevant to my life, so I think the overall stakes are higher. I am really excited to see how fans respond!

Are there any ongoing themes throughout your EP “Disaster Artist”—musical, lyrical, or conceptual?

The major theme is conceptual. The songs are all very different both stylistically and lyrically, but they are all about love and dating and experiences around that. We’ve actually made a music video for each song that we are releasing as a series. Each video is stylistically very different, reflecting the very different vibes of each song, but they are connected in the overall concept. I think everything is coming together really well.

What was the process of creating “Disaster Artist” like?

The process of creating “Disaster Artist” was very different from anything I’d done previously. I was working with Peter and Michael again, so we already had a well-established working relationship, and I had come to really know and trust them both. It all started with “Candle,” which literally came out of a casual conversation we had about my recent breakup. When we loved the song we realized we had a really good system on our hands, so from there on out we would start our writing sessions with me telling stories about my dating life and write from that. It was a very cool, very personal way of doing things.

Who are some of your artistic inspirations and who’s an artist you’d love to collaborate with?

I am pretty much always inspired by other artists. Growing up, the Beatles and Carole King were huge inspirations for me. As I got older, I discovered Laura Nyro and Queen who became easy favorites! These days, I am incredibly impressed by so many artists. I’ll always have a soft spot for strong female singer-songwriter-performers- like Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson and Adele (to name a few). I am very open to collaboration. I would love to work with someone whose style is completely different from mine and see what happens! That’s where the magic is!


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