Leighton gave an interview for luckymag.com. You can read it here or on the website
Leighton Meester lives a pretty idyllic life these days—and if you’re thinking you haven’t heard much about it, well, that’s kind of the point. In the past two years, the star has moved to Los Angeles, gotten married (to fellow actor and Lucky fave Adam Brody) and set about crafting a career on her own terms—one that’s distinct from her Gossip Girlroots and relatively tucked away from the limelight. The latest move is the release of her first full-length album, Heartstrings, a collection of heartfelt, low-key and eminently listenable jams that have earned her comparisons to soulful greats like Joni Mitchell and swiftly quieted any skeptics of the actress-turned-musician genre. The 28-year-old proved her singing chops in 2010’s Country Strong, as well as in a series of danceable pop songs like “Somebody to Love” (which featured Robin Thicke) and Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad”, but her latest foray into music is far more personal, she’s said—a fact that’s backed up by her decision to release the album through her own label, Hotly Wanting. Heartstrings taps into Meester’s singer-songwriter side, with guitar-heavy instrumentals and emotionally vulnerable lyrics more suited to nursing heartache than turning up in the club (per my favorite track, “Entitled”: “I’ve played, in love, and it’s got, to end. I was, in love, but I won’t, pretend it.”) I hopped on the phone with the Meester recently to discover how she came to find her sound and why she’s not yearning for the dressed-to-the-nines days of Blair Waldorf style:
Lucky: Did you grow up writing your own music?
Leighton Meester: I couldn’t really put my finger on the exact time of conception of this outlet, but I really started out with an affinity for poetry, both studying it and writing it, and I loved that time in English class when they would say, ‘We’re going to study Emily Dickinson,’ or someone. So I think that’s kind of where it stared, but even before that I probably would sing and write and didn’t necessarily play my own music. But then when I was in my 20s I started playing guitar and being able to put words with music, and that’s really where the starting point of this music was. I guess it’s sort of lifelong and recent, in different ways.
Has performing live been an adjustment for you?
I’ve performed a lot prior to this record, and I took a lot of these songs that ended up on the record on a little tour on the West Coast a couple of years ago before I ever put it in a record, and I think it was just to try it out and see how the songs lived, and also because I had no time to record and promote, but I wanted to perform, so I’ve had the chance to do a lot of performing. But every time is like the first time, really. [Laughs]
Do you have any rituals or tricks to getting over pre-show jitters?
I usually do a lot of vocal warm-ups and try to get in a bit of exercise to get rid of any nervous energy. I guess just keep breathing.
When do you do your best writing?
It’s funny—it’s never like I can put aside a time to write and say ‘I will write now.’ Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that for me. I’m sure if I locked myself in a room for hours on end, eventually something would come out of it, but it’s usually more spontaneous and less planned, and mostly when I’m alone and just utterly alone and able to write and play and sing and make a lot of noise at the top of my lungs and not worry that anyone is hearing it or anyone is judging it. It’s sort of a multi-phase process, and it either starts with the guitar part or the melody part and then the other one joins in and then after that words join, and then I sort of puzzle piece it together until it all makes sense. And that’s usually easy to do when no one is there judging me or judging it and I’m not judging me. It’s definitely cathartic and fun and gives me a feeling of real accomplishment, even if it’s a song that I end up throwing in the trash.
You’ve said that you wrote the title track “Heartstrings” after a breakup…
It’s really changed meaning so much—of course, the problem with talking about something as it relates to my music, is that my songs and the record itself are very personal, of course, and are drawing from a lot of different, separate experiences, put together as this sort of tapestry of a lesson or an idea, from which I really have learned, and an expression of my learning from those experiences, if any of that makes sense. Unfortunately, I’ve said, you know, this is about something that people can relate to and then of course, people say, who can we link this to? So from now on I will not be saying anything personal in interviews about the music—I just want it to speak for itself. But, I will say that now that I’ve allowed it to live out in the world and not have it only be in my computer, it’s so nice and it’s taken on an entirely different meaning and continues to, because I’ve changed and the music has changed me. It’s in a whole new phase for me, which is really interesting.
Yeah, I imagine it’s challenging when you’re writing from such a personal place and yet you want to keep your personal life out of the discussion. You look at Taylor Swift, and every one of her songs gets picked apart to find out who it might be about.
I think when it pertains to that, for me—I don’t know how it is for anyone else—it’s, to say the least, annoying. As I’ve said before, it’s typical but absolutely idiotic and discouraging to hear people try to link it to something that they know and that they think they have the right to be privy to.
Outside of that, have you been happy with the response?
Yeah, yeah! I don’t pay too much attention to anything, because I think one way or another it could sway you, and the truth is it’s up for interpretation. If somebody says, ‘I like this song! It sounds so happy.’ And I’m thinking, that’s so funny because it’s not at all, I like that, you know? Every few days, a friend of mine sends me music by some artist and says, ‘Hey, your song sounds like this!’ And two days later says, ‘Oh and it also kind of sounds like this!’ It’s funny, it’s people I’ve never heard, or if I have, I could have never imagined that [I would be compared to]. It’s awesome! People are so cool, and the response has been better than I could have imagined. It’s been great.
You do get a lot of comparisons to different artists—Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, my coworker said Stevie Nicks, which I can definitely see. Is that the kind of music you listen to as well?
I just have such a crazy playlist and music library. Yes, absolutely I listen to Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos and Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell and Nico Case—I guess I’m drawn to that kind of poetic, vulnerable singer-songwriter woman, but I listen to a lot of different types of music.
Has your style changed now that you’re doing music? Do you have similar influences?
I don’t know if it goes along with the sound or not, but I think at this point at my life, music or not, I’m just going to be comfortable. Especially when it comes to playing, I don’t want to feel encumbered or stage-y or costumey–I’d rather just be as close to myself as possible and what I like to wear. I think it depends on the venue, but I really just like to be comfortable, is really what I’ve come to realize.
You moved from New York City to LA a couple of years ago now. Has it been a change in pace for you, and has that influenced the album?
Yeah, I think so. It definitely influenced the song “LA” and a couple of others. I think it’s easy to be productive there. I’ve done a lot of traveling, which was the inspiring time, but the productive time was spent in LA where there is a lot of open space and the ocean and familiar people and friends and my home and so, yeah, I think it’s a good place for me.
Where did you travel?
I’ve traveled so much in the last few years. I’ve gone to Asia a handful of times, Africa, Europe. A lot of it is for work, some of it was for personal vacation. I went to South Africa, which was really cool, Thailand, Japan, Liberia. I’ve gotten to see a lot, and it’s just amazing how huge our world is and how much there is to see.
Do you have more flexibility to do that now that you’re not bound to a recurring television role?
I wish that I could say that I’m in full command of my schedule, but the truth is, work is usually what determines where and when I go. But I’ve definitely had a lot more freedom in the last couple of years, especially in my travel. So that’s been pretty great.
When you are on stage, do you feel like you are playing a character? Or is it something totally different?
It’s definitely not acting, but I would say that there is an element of heightened reality. I don’t think that it’s something that I can put on, I think it’s something that’s inherent in the situation and going out to sing and play and convey a feeling and at the same time, remembering the feeling of each song, and connecting with an audience—it’s all so surreal. But no, I would say it’s the opposite of acting in that it’s the most personally vulnerable and truthful that I feel. Because they’re seeing me—it’s as vulnerable as it gets. When you’re acting, they’re seeing you, but you have the shield or the protection of the character. You can rely on someone else. In real life there’s not as much risk, because it’s just you and there’s no audience, but when you’re playing and there’s an audience and you’re looking at them and knowing that there’s no shield and there’s no fourth wall there, it’s as open as you can be.
The biggest news so fair is Leighton debut music album. Here’s a bunch of photos, interviews and of course the video for “Heartstrings”.
According to out.com
Leighton Meester came to fame playing Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl, but in the two years since that hit CW series went off the air, she’s become so much more than even industry watchers expected. This year alone spent months as a lead in Broadway’s Of Mice and Men (alongside James Franco and Chris O’Dowd), starred in three films (including her wonderful lesbian lead role in the upcoming Life Partners), and married The OC’s Adam Brody (a.k.a. geeky boy Seth). With the release of her solo debut album, the cynics will be on the attack, but the wonderful Heartstrings (available Oct. 28)—which will surely draw comparisons to Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell—means Meester should also be lauded gorgeous lyricism and throaty, haunting vocals you can’t easily tune out. We caught up with her to find out why the actress decided she needed to add singer-songwriter to her long list of accomplishments.
I think a lot of critics will be surprised when they hear Heartstrings. It’s a really intriguing and atmospheric album. Tell me a little bit about “Blue Afternoon.” It’s one of my favorite tracks.
Oh, thanks! I actually wrote it before I even had the melody or the music. I wrote it as a kind of a long poem. And I wrote it when I was visiting — this sounds so silly — I was visiting Barcelona for a friend’s wedding and I missed my flight and so I basically just went back to the hotel and had to spend the night. Luckily, I had my guitar with me, and I had the words to this poem and basically just rearranged it and put it to music. I think it was sort of just an amalgamation of experiences in love. It’s definitely the most romantic or at least wholeheartedly romantic song on the record. I think that even the songs that sort — they’re not necessarily sad, but they have a touch of irony, even the ones that are about being in love. It’s mostly me questioning love, even at its best. So that’s kind of what it’s about, and it’s just about the corny idea of being lost in someone and not being able to get yourself out and being OK with that.
A lot of the songs are about questioning love, which is funny and ironic since you and Adam got married this year. Are the songs autobiographical?
Absolutely. Totally. Yeah, I think it’s good — this is not necessarily an answer to that topic, but it’s just drawing from years of experience. I’m finally putting it out now but you know, I’ve been working on it quite a while.
Tell me a little bit about “Runaway.”
That I wrote when I was visiting Budapest, doing a movie there. I think it was…it sort of just has a pace and a feeling of traveling, just being on the road and away from home and away from the person that you are at home and away from the person that you’re with at home. Also at the time I think I just wanted to convey an idea or capture an idea of when it’s all wrong and it’s over with someone how desperate you feel to keep it going, even if it’s not right. Maybe if you can start fresh again, or if you can get away together, or you can just say: “Let’s hit the reset button and go back to where we started. ” That’s not possible, but the idea is nice.
This was an amazing year for you: You made your Broadway debut, you dropped a new album, plus you have several films coming out, and you got married. With so much happening, how are you balancing all of this?
It’s weird, I think it sounds like a lot, but everything doesn’t come at once. You can sort of space it out. If you’re lucky, there are waves of good times when you’re working a lot and then a month here or there where you have nothing. Then you don’t have to do anything and you can spend time at home or go on vacation or whatever. That’s sort of the nature of this business. I’m just happy to be working, and it doesn’t seem like it’s a lot. Now, I don’t necessarily want to do more than one thing at a time. I used to say I could; I was trying to sort of keep it going. So I would be doing a show and then I’d be doing a movie on the weekend, and then I’d be making music at night. Now, when I was doing the play [Of Mice and Men] in New York, that’s all I did. I wanted to focus on that. I think it’s really helpful because then you really do have your free time when you have it so you can decompress instead of just running somewhere else and doing other work. I don’t know that I’ll always have that luxury. My writing is very therapeutic—which is pretty chill, pretty nice. I spend a lot of time at home and luckily in the last couple of years, the projects that I’ve been doing and the things that I’ve been working on, I’m super happy with and proud of. So it doesn’t necessarily feel like work. And then doing something like this, like an interview, I don’t know if you could tell, but I could talk for hours about these things because I’m so proud of them and really excited about it.
What attracted you to Life Partners?
First, the script: It had me like just laughing and in tears. It really captured kind of a real friendship between two girls. I also really like the message about friendship and I love seeing too the dynamic between women in the film, especially when it’s not all centered around a guy and every conversation isn’t about a man. Just to see the genuine friendship and bond that two women can have.
Also, I was just really thrilled and excited that I would be able to play a character like this. It’s something that I’d ever done. But truthfully, the people that I know or the people that know me, my friends, who’ve seen it, they are like, “It’s so funny, this is the most like you of any character I’ve ever seen.” So it’s good to be able to play something that’s a little bit closer to myself as far as the character’s personality. And then I couldn’t be more blessed with the crew and other cast because just being onset was the best time I’ve ever had doing a movie or anything. I’m so proud of the film and the love that it’s getting and the support. It was just the best time ever with these women — exciting and fun and basically we just got to play and make our own words and just geek out and it was awesome.
Heartstrings, is available Oct. 28. Life Partners will be in theaters Dec. 5.
Photoshoot for Leighton’s album:
An article on elle.com
In 2008, at the height of her Gossip Girl fame, Leighton Meester signed a major-label recording contract with Universal Republic Records, and began work on club-friendly pop tracks, collaborating with the likes of Lil Wayne, Robin Thicke, and Clinton Sparks. “At every turn, I wasn’t one hundred percent convinced that I was happy doing that,” she now says looking back. Those recording sessions? They resulted in a handful of singles, no album and, eventually, an amicable split with her label. “That music is fun for certain times,” Meester says, “but it didn’t feel right to me.” Despite the lack of return, the experience, for Meester, makes the fact that she’s now about to release the album she always envisioned that much sweeter. “It feels so personal and so real for me,” the 28-year-old says proudly of Heartstrings, her debut album, that with its blend of folk, Americana, and singer-songwriter vibes closely resembles her singing work on the 2010 film Country Strong.
Recording for the album, which you can exclusively stream in full below and is set to be released next week via her own Hotly Wanting Records, got underway early last year when Meester linked up with its producer, Jeff Trot. All of the tracks were recorded with a live band, and the whole vibe of the album, Meester says, felt positive from the outset.
“It really represents me,” she explains of Heartstrings. “It’s sensitive, it’s sort of guarded but also open and vulnerable and triumphant.” Working on the album amid several high-profile acting gigs—most notably a Broadway stage adaptation of Of Mice and Men opposite James Franco this year—proved challenging albeit rewarding for Meester: “You have a life outside of work—barely, but it’s there for me—so there’s plenty of material and inspiration [for my music]. Family, friends, loved ones, relationships, and everything that is happening in real life is a good source of inspiration for anybody who is writing music.”
Having just left rehearsal when she rang up ELLE, Meester is primarily occupied at the moment with getting her live chops down before her album-release gig next Tuesday at L.A.’s famed Troubadour, a venue where she previously performed in 2011. To that end, there’s been no time, she says, to predict how people might react to the idea of someone best known for her acting making a serious go at the world of music. Frankly, she just wants to invite everyone along for the ride.
“Anybody who has any clue who I am or my name or what I’ve done, I’m so happy to bring them over to this and get them to listen to this record,” she says, her voice rising with excitement. “And for people who don’t have any clue about me, that’s great too. Welcome!”
And that’s probably the best thing so far: Leighton’s music video for “Heartstrings!”
Leighton beamed with happiness during the “Life Partners” premiere at the ArcLight in Hollywood yesterday (November 18th)! Leighton was joined by Gillian Jacobs on the red carpets. There’s no doubt that Leighton enjoyed making that movie and she’s really proud of the effect. Find out more about “Life Partners” here.
In the gallery there’s more than 200 photos.
Leighton was wearing a Cushnie et Ochs dress, Oscar Tiye shoes, and an Amanda Pearl clutch.
Leighton often takes part in social projects and campaigns (like “my body of water” or the fight against blood cancer) and this time she needs her fans to support her actions.
Leighton wrote on her instagram account: Help me reach my goal! Please spread the word. When you donate, I receive an email with your details, and I will personally thank each and every one of you on my page. I can’t wait to see who donates!
Team Meester has raised more than $3k in the first day and now, after six day from the beginning, there’s more than $10k! Leighton aim is to raise $26,313, so go and donate, because every penny is important and can make a difference.
“I am raising funds to provide excellent education for 9 classes of 30 girls and boys in the Many Hopes school in Kenya. I hope that you will help me hit my personal goal.
The process is fast, easy, and secure. I truly appreciate any support you can provide. 100% of what you can give goes directly to providing education in Kenya and Many Hopes will report back to you with video proof of your impact in 6 months. (Unless of course you don’t want them to!)”
Trailer of Leighton’s upcomng movie “By the Gun” has finally be realised. The movie has its premiere on December 12th! Find out more about the film here.
Leighton appeared on the cover of November issue of InStyle magazine. She really rocks there! In the gallery there are photos from the photoshoot and the scans from magazines.
Here’s what Leighton shared with the mag:
On playing Curly’s wife in the Broadway Of Mice & Men revival: “Man, I really lucked out, the fact that I could spend six months on this compact, beautiful story that never grows old.”
On making a record with Robin Thicke in 2009: “It was fun, but it wasn’t at all me. I guess I can look back and say everything happens because you learn from it and you’re better for it.”
On valuing life more than work: “My values have shifted greatly in terms of what I find important. It’s my family, my friends and having a personal life. Those are the things that need nurturing.”
On music and acting: “My favourite thing – at least as far as the music goes, and now, actually, with acting, too – is performing live. It’s so fun.”
Leighton travelled to Tokyo, Japan to attend the St. Rillian Launch Event at Shibuya Hikarie on September 25th. Leighton took center stage to showcase the jewelery brands various fragrances. She was wearing an Emilio Pucci dress.
The Judge, a movie that Leighton starred in, has its premiere on October 1st at the AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Leighton was wearing a Balmain dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, and a Salvatore Ferragamo clutch.
Another Leighton’s movie had its premiere in October! These time it was Like Sunday, Like Rain. The premiere was held at the Rafael Film Center on October 6th in Mill Valley, California. Leighton was joined by her co-star Billie Joe Armstrong and writer and director of the flick Frank Whaley.
Leighton looked fresh and classy wearing Narciso Rodriguez top and trousers with Brian Atwood pumps.
On October 14th Leighton gave people the chance to “Meet the Musician”. She took part in Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet The Musician. Leighton grabbed her guitar and performed three of her original songs for the crowd. Then Leighton gave an interview about her music.
Leighton appeared on the cover of November issue of Nylon magazine. She really rocks there! Be sure to read the interview, see scans from the magazine & the photos from photoshoot and watch a behind-the-scenes video! Captures coming soon.
Here’s what Leighton shared with the mag:
On ending Gossip Girl: “I started the show when I was so young, and once it was over, I wanted to do things that were exciting and challenging and more me—more my adult taste. Of course, that’s said with nothing but gratitude and love for that experience in that time of my life.”
On doing Life Partners with husband Adam Brody: “There wasn’t time to ask if we wanted to do this together. I was reading the script. I loved the part and loved the movie. I was going to the meeting that day and he called me and said, ‘They offered me this role.’”
On roles for women in Hollywood:“As far as scripts go, the roles of women standing alone on their own as whole, real, full people are few and far between. So with both of those roles [Life Partners and Like Sunday, Like Rain], what I loved is that neither of them are centered around romantic relationships. They’re flawed, real human beings that I could bread down and really enjoy playing. They’re like me, in a way.”
On growing up: “Most people I know are starting to get married. It’ll be kids next. I like the grown-up stuff. I like having a house. I’ve got dogs.”
Hi there! I’ve had some crazy time on uni and that’s why there weren’t any news coming. It’s too bad, cause it was really an outstanding time for Leighton and her career! I’ll try to catch up with the news here as soon as possible. The gallery has been updated, so enjoy all the amazing photos of Leighton!
Right now, to show the biggest support for Leighton’s debut album Heartrings, I’ve made a new layout containing photos from the photoshoot made for it. I hope you’ll like it. Be sure to check the new pages: upcoming movies and music album that you can find higher, on the header. I hope to add a few more pages about Leighton and her previous projects, so stay tuned!
The news will appear below this post.
It’s happening! Leighton’s debut album is almost there! People from the USA can even pre-order it on itunes!
The first song that came out is “Heartstrings”. Some of you may remember it from the concert she gave with Check in the Dark, at Tiffany & Co in 2011. It sounds even better now!
“‘Heartstrings’ speaks to vibe and encompasses a lot of the themes of the rest of the album,” Leighton told Billboard. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m very excited to finally release it.”
I’m sure Leighton’s fans are even more excited!