Pop-Culturalist Chats with Leslie DiNicola
Meet Leslie DiNicola. She’s a gifted New York-based singer-songwriter and an artist to watch in 2018. Fresh off the One Tree Holiday tour where she performed alongside Tyler Hilton and Kate Voegele, Leslie captivated audiences night after night with her commanding stage presence. It’s there where Leslie feels most at home and where she first discovered she wanted to pursue music. Since 2010, she’s released four EPs, each a profound statement. Pop-Culturalist spoke with Leslie about her biggest musical influences, what life on the road is like, and when we can expect new music.
P-C: What drew you to music growing up?
Leslie: I moved around a lot when I was growing up. There was always a new city to get used to and friends I was leaving behind. The only thing that stayed with me throughout it all was the music I would listen to. Records became my closest friends.
P-C: Who’s had the biggest influence on your career?
Leslie: I don’t know if I would be the singer-songwriter I am today if Sarah McLachlan hadn’t made her record, Surfacing. That collection of songs taught me how to write and how to be vocally vulnerable.
P-C: What is your creative process like?
Leslie: I wish I had a system or any sense of control over my creative process. The reality is that lyrics and melodies pop into my head whenever they feel like it, and, of course, that usually happens in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep, or when I’m stuck in traffic on the highway, or in a subway car underground unable to jot anything down. It’s a chaotic roller coaster that often feels like trying to ride a wild stallion.
P-C: Who is someone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
Leslie: If I could get in the studio one day with Sia, my life would be complete.
P-C: You’ve released four EPs to date. Can you share one fun fact about each?
- Draw Back Your Bow is a covers album, and my producer had to spend an entire day in the studio convincing me NOT to do a Meatloaf cover. Thankfully, he was successful.
- I arrived in L.A. to record Some Greener Yard only to discover on the first day that my producer and engineer had both simultaneously quit smoking and drinking coffee. I was like, “Oh crap, we are never going to finish this record!” It took twice as long as any other record I’ve recorded with them.
- Wake Up has a song on it that I titled “Crazy Sweet” and I immediately regretted the decision the second the EP went out for mastering. In an ironic twist of fate, the EP had to be reprinted three separate times because the mastering office and then the manufacturing office both accidentally titled the entire EP, Crazy Sweet.
- Love + Destruction is my only EP that has an image of me on the cover, but, I was adamant with the graphic designer that I wanted my image to be obscured and barely recognizable. He was a super sweet guy who was so uncomfortable distorting my face that he just would just barely do it. We went through six full rounds of edits going back and forth with me saying, “No, put more stuff on my face”, and him saying, “Are you sure? I feel really weird doing that”, and me saying, “No! More stuff! Seriously, I don’t want to see my face.”
P-C: Can we expect some new music in 2018?
Leslie: Oh, you definitely can! I am currently neck deep in a new record that I am psyched about.
P-C: You’re just wrapped your tour with Tyler Hilton and Kate Voegele. What is a typical day on the road?
Leslie: Yesterday, we woke up in Toronto and the hotel we stayed at was lending out ice skates that you could take to the public outdoor rink down the street. So, we hit the ice for a while before driving six hours to Pittsburgh. We like to rock podcasts during the long drives and this week we haven’t been able to get enough of The Rewatchables Podcast. They talk about all the greatest scenes and unknown stories behind those guilty pleasure movies you find yourself always sitting down to watch any time it’s randomly on TV no matter how many times you’ve already seen it. Then, we load in and sound checked at the venue, wander out into the neighborhood to find some kind of local gem.
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Leslie: I just binge-watched both seasons of Stranger Things in two days. I’m not feeling that guilty about it, though.
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Leslie: I tell everyone my favorite movie is To Kill A Mockingbird, but, really my favorite movie is 10 Things I Hate About You.
P-C: Favorite book?
Leslie: I don’t go anywhere without Complete Short Stories by Somerset Maugham.
P-C: Favorite play or musical?
Leslie: Is it even humanly possible to not say Hamilton? [laughs]
P-C: First concert you attended?
Leslie: I saw Billy Joel when I was eleven and thought to myself, “That’s what I wanna be!”
P-C: First album you purchased?
Leslie: TLC’s CrazySexyCool
P-C: Favorite social media platform?
P-C: Hidden talent?
Leslie: Little known fact: I’m actually a real life pirate and have circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean on a sailboat, twice
Want to check out Leslie on tour? She’s hitting the road again in February! Dates below:
Feb 22 – Austin City Limits
Feb 23 – Texan Theatre
Feb 24 – Sanctuary Music and Events
Feb 25 – Dosey Doe in Houston
Photo Credit: Catie Laffoon