From the outside, Leanne Ryan‘s success with debut album ‘Neon Love’, released last month, came slightly out of the blue.

The number one Irish iTunes album shortly after its release, the record combines pop and folk influences and shoot brutally straight from the heart.

I caught up with Leanne to talk it over…

Congratulations on the debut album. I understand it comes off the back of many years in music. Was it just time to get it all out into the world?

Thank you. I’ve been involved in music in many capacities for the past fifteen years, I started busking on Henry St. when I was fourteen and have sung at countless weddings. It just felt like the right time to release my own music and have it heard.

Can you tell me the story behind a couple of the tracks on the record?

I wrote ‘Trade It All’ to try and help me get over a very broken heart. It’s my favourite song on the album because it’s the most honest I’ve ever been in my songwriting. The song is almost like a letter to the person who broke me. I can listen to that song and be brought right back to how I felt in the moment and the lyrics are so raw and honest that everyone can relate to them in some way or other.

I wrote ‘Mayday Call’ after breaking up with an ex and doing a lot of self-reflection. It’s another honest depiction of heartbreak, but from a different perspective than usual. I realised that it was my fault and there weren’t many songs where the protagonist accepts the blame for the downfall of a relationship, so I wrote one.

How does your writing collaboration with Arkouda work?

I went to school with Aaron O’Reilly from Arkouda and we have played music together for years. We have a long history of writing together and so it felt natural for us to work together for this collaboration. I usually start writing a song with my guitar so I send that demo to Arkouda and they come back to me with their ideas and we go forward from there.

Obviously we won’t be seeing a live show in the short term, but can you tell me what your live shows are like?

As a band, we had a short-lived foray into the live music world at the beginning of the year. We played a headline show in Dublin’s Sin É that got a tremendous reception. We describe our music as Live Pop, so the sound you hear on the album is what you hear at the live show.

It must have been a strange time to release the album, with the shutdown in full effect. Did it impact you much to be faced with a global crisis at the same time?

It was strange to release the album amid so much uncertainty in the world. We had to postpone the album release gig which was disappointing but I wanted to go ahead with the release in the hopes that people could find some enjoyment in it in such an uncertain time. Music has always been a comfort for me so it was nice to be able to try and give that back to my audience.

How did you feel getting the Irish number one album?

To be honest it’s something I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to wrap my head around. It was so unexpected. The album was a labour of love and to know that it was appreciated in the way it was is beyond my wildest dreams.

Is there any track on the album that stands out for you?

I think the track that stands out most musically is ‘Bulletproof.’ I first wrote it over seven years ago and it was actually never intended to be on the album. When I sat down with Arkouda to discuss tracks for the album ‘Bulletproof’ came up in conversation and we decided to try it and see what came of it. The Arkouda influence really brought the song to life.

Are there any Dublin influences on the record?

I wouldn’t necessarily say there were Dublin influences on the album. I’m mostly influenced by country and folk-rock music and the guys from Arkouda bring a nice mix of soul and funk to the tracks.

What’s been your favourite moment as an artist so far?

My favourite moment so far was the day my first single Heady was released. Releasing my music had always seemed like a faraway dream so to get the opportunity to do it was amazing. The reception the single got was unbelievable and it was such a thrill watching it climb up the download charts too.

What are your hopes for the future?

The main goal now would be to get back out gigging as soon as it’s safe for us to do. I love playing live so I’d love the chance to play live for as many people as possible. As far as releases are concerned I have so many songs written that I can’t wait for my fans to hear so there’s plenty to look forward to.


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