Angela Leo
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Angela Leo

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Angela Leo at the Cat Club--Hollywood"

April 2, 2009

Angela Leo at The Cat Club- Hollywood
By Jackson Jones
In the quaint setting of The Cat Club, singer/songwriter Angela Leo touched the audience with songs about love, loss, and meandering the world. The set began with a song that felt like a dreamlike odyssey with her use of wispy vocals and scattered guitar chords, and progressed with songs about relationships that never were and fear that things will never be in control.
At about the halfway point through the set, Angela turned it over to Blue, on the bongos, who showcased his talent and the show took a more positive and inspiring turn. A dedication to her mother and a song about being alive energized the stage. Her next song was “inspired by a fortune cookie” and continued to talk about hope for the future.
The highlight of the show was that last song, “This Morning” which involved the audience and took them on a journey through the world. It captivated everyone present and brought the show full-circle. Angela Leo is a talented artist whose inspiring songs will touch listeners many years to come. -

"Interview with MadeLoud Underground Music"

1. How long have you been writing songs? Is this a new endeavor for you, or something you’ve always done?

I took guitar lessons for one summer when I was ten, and then I didn't play again until college. I stared making up songs one April when I was doing an internship in the rainforest of Costa Rica, and a professor loaned me her guitar. It then proceeded to rain in a downpour for several days, and I made up three songs during those four days--the ideas just flowed. Then, I came to Los Angeles for work (I teach 9th, 10th, and 11th grade high school English in East LA) and since I am here, I thought I'd see about finishing up the half-formed songs in my head--because when someone makes a painting or a sculpture, it exists outside of you as a work of art; whereas songs only exist when actually being played, and I wanted to get them outside of myself, as a separate, free-standing "sculpture" so to speak.

2. Aside from being a musician, what other paths have you embarked upon in your life, both career-wise or personally?
I have a MA in English, have taught all over the world, have studied martial arts in the snow in South Korea, have walked on fire, and gone skydiving. My interests mostly surround reading and learning, although I love the outdoors and being with family and friends. Travelling has always been something I love--not being a tourist for a day or a week, but to live somewhere for a year. There is an ancient Viking saying that to truly grow up, one must travel to distant lands. It teaches me about life, and about myself, as well as giving perspective and opening new worlds.

3. I understand you got to meet the band Heart at a music conference in April. Did they depart any words of wisdom to you?

Ann and Nancy Wilson are two of the trailblazers whose courage and talent has evened the playing field for women. Women do rock, and hard. Many of the benefits the girls of today take for granted were hard-won by women in every field and industry. Heart carved out a place within the realm of music. More than any one thing that they could say, their very act of being imparts wisdom and equality. I think what affected me the most was seeing the real human beings behind the talent, and hearing about their lives.

4. Your first EP, Cognitive Dissonance, comes out this August. What was the process like creating it?
My friends and family kept on me about recording my songs, and when I met Jacqueline Van Bierk, that’s when I started actually recording guitar and vocals. I then worked with Brian Yalksulka of Seventh Level Productions (an amazing producer) and we brought in various musicians to bring out the soul of each song. I think when I laid down the kazoo on “Beach Song” was one of the most fun days we had. The kazoo…how often do you get to solo on the kazoo?! That was great. It’s been a process that took almost three years, but it feels so good to be finishing. I think it took so long because I had to start and stop because of the demanding nature of my work. My teaching comes first, and during the first two months of school and during Midterms and Finals, there isn’t really much time for anything else. Teaching high school English is not the easiest thing to do, especially in an urban school with nine gangs. I think the process of creating the CD was a lot like how I teach and how I live: to do my best. To always do my best. I think that I’m blessed to be able to have a life where I make a difference.

5. You’re playing the Michigan Women’s Music Festival that same month. Could you tell us more about this festival?
Is it relatable at all to the Lilith Fair, for example?
The Michigan Women's Music Festival is one of the most amazing events that someone could attend. It is a week of music, and of women, and camping. My wonderful and talented ex-wife, Leisah Swenson, is the one who told me about it, and she's been flying out from New York to attend for several years now. The Lilith Fair has more of the world-renowned mainstream artists; whereas, and the Michigan’s Women’s Music Festival is an amazing place to discover underground unsigned artists. Both events are truly amazing experiences, and I would recommend attending both. I also highly recommend Coachella here in California.

6. What song are you most proud of on your new record? What’s the story behind it?
I’m the most proud of “You’d Be Here” I think, because the cello and the violin really brought out the feelings that I had inside while I writing it. Also, when I went to a music conference and paid for professional feedback, I was told to change the song all around because the format didn’t fit the way that songs were “supposed to be written,” and I tried out the proposed changes, and none of those suggestions worked for the feeling of the song, so I didn’t use them. It didn’t fit into the mold of the accepted structure of a “song,” and I didn’t force it, and I feel good about that. I’m also very grateful this song exists because when I first started writing it, the phone rang, and if I had answered the phone at that moment, this song wouldn’t exist. I didn’t break the momentum of the creativeness.

7. How would you describe your live shows? What might separate you from other singer songwriters, for example?
There are so many talented and wonderful singer songwriters, especially here in Hollywood where I live. I think what is special about my live performance is the songs, and the intensity and passion. They come from a very real place--I didn't sit down to write some songs, the songs appeared on their own and wrote themselves. Also, I play with a fantastic New York percussionist A.K. Blue, and that creates such a festive, fun atmosphere. I think the show is good because the songs are good, and when I'm singing, I'm just saying some truth, like a poem.

8. Speaking of live shows, you’ve played some neat venues, including the Knitting Factory. What was that gig like?
The Knitting Factory was an amazing gig--they have the best sound, everybody who works there is so nice and down to earth, and we had a great time. I had fans who drove from Long Beach and Oakland for that one. Yeah, the Knitting Factory is a great venue.

9. What’s next after Cognitive Dissonance? Any plans for a tour or early ideas for a follow-up?
I have just been invited by the bands PinkStar and Otto’s Daughter to tour with them, and they're booking a World Tour, with two weeks in India and ten days in Japan already confirmed. I'm very excited about a World Tour, and the best part is that they're booking the tour around my teaching, and I really appreciate that, because my students deserve my best. So, I'll be touring during my vacation times (December/January, March/April, and Summer). I've also been writing a couple new songs, and Jacqueline Van Bierk is finishing a wonderful dance remix of "You'd Be Here".

"Angela Leo at Linnea's in San Luis Obispo"

"She writes to explore truth. Check out her lilting voice and penchant for ethereal tunes."

-Glen Starkey, New Times - Glen Starkey, New Times

"Review of CD by Dan Kimpel"

"Within the tightly crafted lyrics and emotional agility that defines her debut CD, Cognitive Dissonance, the Hollywood-based Leo neatly grafts the evolved sensibility of a poet to the economy of a songwriter."

-Dan Kimpel, Author of Music Business reference books, Professor at Musician's Institute - Dan Kimpel, Author of Music Business reference books, Professor at Musician's Institute

"Review of CD by Bill Tindell, West LA Music"

"A female Jim Morrison."

--Bill Tindell, West LA Music - Bill Tindell, West LA Music


Cognitive Dissonance, 2009
You'd Be Here JVB Remix (single)
You'd Be Here JVB House Remix (single)



“Angela Leo is a talented artist whose inspiring songs will touch listeners many years to come.”
-All Access Magazine
She’s walked across fire, parachuted from airplanes and made camp in the heart of the Costa Rican rain forest, but Angela Leo’s most courageous act to date is writing songs. Within the tightly crafted lyrics and emotional agility that defines her debut CD, Cognitive Dissonance, the Hollywood-based Leo neatly grafts the evolved sensibility of a poet to her songs.
“I didn’t write these songs, the songs wrote me. They came out of my experience, and I have to be true to their souls.”
Originally from the Bay Area, Angela performs in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood clubs like Knitting Factory, Viper Room and The Cat Club.