Creating From The Heart – A Q+A With Electric Blueswoman Leila Rhodes

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Leila Rhodes is a Pittsburgh singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer who injects the classic blues sound with hefty doses of reverb, six-string fuzz, and self-searching lyrics. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for Bored In Pittsburgh. Check it out below:

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Who is Leila Rhodes? A tagline or mission statement, if you will?

I am a music producer, singer-songwriter, and guitar player. I really don’t have a mission statement but if I had to make one I’d just say to create from my heart in everything I do.

Cliche question first; who/what are some of your influences, musical or otherwise?

Some of my musical influences are everywhere in music I’d say or at least in a lot of places. I love blues, rock, R&B, soul, funk, and hip hop the most. Some of my favorites are Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Pointer Sisters, Gary Clark Jr., Khruangbin, Tame Impala, Marlena Shaw, Amy Winehouse, & Sade amongst many other great artists before me and around me. 

When did you first start to play guitar, and what led you to pick that specific instrument?

I first started learning to play guitar as a freshman in high school so about 10 years ago, but I didn’t take it seriously for a long time. I started playing it as my main instrument about two years ago. I played violin from fifth grade up until the end of high school so that was my main instrument before and guitar was something I picked up and occasionally messed around with because the music I was listening to was rock mostly at the time and I wanted to create the sound I heard and enjoyed. 

If your guitar playing were to take the form of an animal, what animal would it be and why?

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I would say a butterfly just because of how it’s going through transformation as I learn so much more about playing on my journey.

You write, record, and produce all of your own music. What is your process as you move through all of these stages of creation?

I don’t really have a regimented process to starting songs, sometimes they come from poems, guitar chords, or making beats with samples that I either find on the internet or chop myself. I get inspired at many angles in music so every song has a different recipe. 

Are there any significant obstacles that you’ve faced on your musical journey? If so, what are/were they?

One that still comes up every now and then is self doubt, but I’ve learned to manage it in a way where I recognize it as a feeling I experience that is there for me to observe and overcome rather than letting it be the weight like that it used to feel like. I dropped out of college to make music and as you can imagine many people were questioning my decisions and I used to take on their doubts as my own feelings and now I know they are not the same.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists that you’d recommend to people who like your music?

I have so many talented artists around me in this city. Some of the greatest music I’ve heard recently comes from INEZ, she’s another woman who just dropped an insane self produced album, Clara Kent, Stacia Vonne (who is also my amazingly talented sister), Buscrates (who is also my amazingly talented uncle that DJs and produces), Sierra Sellers, Ty Danzuso, Cameron Warren, Brittney Chantele, Pat Harah, Bilal Abbey, Mars Jackson, & Treble NLS among a long list of talent here in Pittsburgh. 

Is there anything that I forgot to ask or anything that you’d like people to know about you, your music, or anything in general?

Just want to say my album is dropping in these next few weeks, it’s called Attunement so be on the look out for it! Also I think it’s awesome what you’re doing blogging about the Pittsburgh music scene and posting your cd picks on IG. Thanks for having me!

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Many thanks to Leila Rhodes for contributing to this piece. Make sure to check out more of her music and to follow her on social media.

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