Leah McFall - Capturing The Voice

Leah McFall - Capturing The Voice

Leah McFall’s incredible voice has led her on an extraordinary journey, from her local Church choir in Newtownabbey to touring with Jesse J and will i am (by way of Ronnie Scott’s and The Voice). She debuted at Wireless festival in 2013 and followed up with numerous hit singles and record releases. We caught up with Leah preparing to go on tour to promote her latest EP:

MPS
You’ve had an amazing rise to musical success, can you pinpoint any moments that were key turning points for you?  

LMcF
Thank you! I would say the biggest turning point was when I was scouted for The Voice. I wasn't sure whether it was the best platform for me considering I had been an independent artist for 5 years prior. However once I performed 'Loving you' in the knockout rounds and the nation began supporting me an incredible amount, across all my socials and Youtube videos, I was encouraged to continue. That support and encouragement has been a lifeline for me throughout the past few years as a independent artist once more. The show was like a giant open mic night. Each stage further on The Voice was just another night on a stage in front of 9 million people showcasing how I translate songs so that there was insight on how I write songs. The response was not something I could have even hoped for, and am extremely thankful for.  

MPS
You have just released your new EP, INK, is this a departure from your previous work?

LMcF
This is the music I always wanted to release. It has throwback R&B vibes with the futuristic percussion and beats that my producer Pete Boxsta creates. Allowing me freedom to play with my vocal. INK stands for 'I Now Know'. I penned this record whilst on a journey within the industry, breaking free from label contracts and now going out on my own. The things I learnt, although painful at times, of breaking a mould and then falling in and out and then back in love became the ink of the record. The sound and the story is my outlet of freedom. I needed to write this and Pete and I are in love and so very proud of it. I'm so thankful to everyone for waiting patiently for it, and for the support of many for helping me get it out there. 

MPS
Before INK you made quite a few records; what kind of work do you get the most satisfaction out of?  

LMcF
Yea, I made a lot of records in LA with will.i.am and his team. I loved them and working with him and his people taught me a lot. Agh I don't know haha! It’s so hard to choose because they feel so different. Live is an incredible experience and where it all started for me. You get to connect with your audience and meet them, where as studio and releasing records feels far away. So live is how you connect the two. However studio, writing, recording, is better than any therapy haha! And it is so amazing having a small idea that you share or have shared with you and then crafting it into a final piece of art. Sometimes you fight with the song to get it where you want it to be and sometimes it’s just oozes out like something that was already written and you are just remembering it or something. I love all of it.

MPS
Having toured with the likes of will i am and Jesse J, you’ve played some pretty amazing shows; can you pick out a favourite gig?

LMcF
Touring with Will and Jessie were incredible experiences and very different. Will is hilarious to perform with, you are always having fun both backstage on on stage. Jessie is one of thee most encouraging persons i've ever met. And probably thee most incredible singer. Performing on stage with both of them was an honour.

However I loved the time I performed at the Grammy MusiciCare event in honour of Carol King with Will. One because it was an honour to meet Carol. The first big competition I ever was apart of and won was at age 14 singing 'Natural Woman'. I've been a fan of her music since I was a little girl. And two because after I performed, which in truth I thought was one of my worst performances because I was so nervous walking on stage straight after Lady Gaga was walking off, so I standing there feeling a bit like an idiot and I had a tap on my shoulder. 'Excuse me, just want to congratulate you on your performance you were incredible.' That person speaking to me was Tom Hanks. I literally spoken yawn back to him, no words. I love him. For about 6 months after you couldn't get me to watch a movie unless it featured 'my Tom'. haha!

MPS
As a finalist on The Voice, you covered classic tracks by some legendary artists: Who do you count among your musical influences?

LMcF
So many. I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of genres and was like a sponge that just soaked it all up. Probably why my voice has so many personalities. From Michael Jackson, to Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, to Rickie lee Jones and Rosie Thomas to Destiny's Child, TLC, Aaliyah, Usher and Brandy to Gospel artists like Clark Sisters and Fred Hammond. Gospel singers intrigue me so much though. Cause they are worshiping they are so free, their vocals do mad things and make weird noises with riffs like no other. Fascinating.

MPS
If you could go back to any musical era what would it be?

LMcF
Probably R&B in the 90's.

MPS
You have an incredible vocal range, do you have a register where you feel most comfortable, or do you prefer songs that stretch your pitch range?

LMcF
Strangely enough it is in my higher notes I'm more comfortable. In my falsetto. It doesn't strain my vocal at all so it's more relaxing for me. But I love songs that have the freedom to play about with range. I like the vocal chest voice to high pitch falsetto. And you can convey so much emotion within the flip of the two.

MPS
As a vocalist you clearly care about the effects and processing you subject your vocals to; tell us about your BlueSky? What made you chose it?  

LMcF
I am obsessed with it. Literally. It has completely transformed my live show. The production in my mini album INK has a lot of play with vocal reverb. We swell it on the chorus of 'Happy Human' as well as 'Colours at a Funeral'. The BlueSky allows me to do that. I use the Decay dial along with the pre-delay for amount, and then the mix helps me control and swell. The mix button is vital in my track 'INK'. The verse of this track is wet but front in the mix, the chorus is a distant vocal. By cranking the decay and the mix all the way up, my vocal sits in the distance and is easy brought back up the front for the verse. It also has the shimmer function, it splits my vocal into pieces that sits under my main vocal. It follows me like a little sparkly instrument. That is not a music term but the only way I can describe it. I love to think of my vocal as an instrument. This literally turns it into one that follows my actual vocal we well.

MPS
Do you use anything else to process your vocals?

LMcF
I'm currently researching some sub- octave pedals to be able to get the low notes to sit under my melody for live.

MPS
Is there any advice you can offer to people starting out on their musical journeys?

LMcF
Enjoy the journey. Sometimes we get obsessed with the goal and then can't enjoy where we are at. But making music and being able to meet the audience supporting it, no matter the amount, is so important. Keep your friends and family close, the people who still care about what you had for lunch over who you met that night. Love what you do. Whatever that is, live shows or writing or both. And don't ever get confused on whether you are the product or not. As an artist you are the owner OF the product.



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