Interview: Leighton Meester
Wed, 14 Oct 2009 09:07:40
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Leighton Meester (filmography/tv page) doesn't want to be your average pop star.
The sexy and sultry Gossip Girl has her sights set on something much more timeless than just a top spot on the iTunes charts.
"I was recently watching a lot of Bette Davis movies, like All About Eve," says Leighton with a sly smile. "She's so fabulous, over-the-top and amazing. I relate to her a lot."
That says it all.
Leighton definitely has got that classy sex appeal, but the girl has some seriously potent pipes too! On her new single with Robin Thicke, "Somebody to Love," she belts out an unforgettable pop chorus over hypnotic Euro-inspired synths. It's bound to make asses shake across the globe. Think Bette Davis meets Madonna in the hottest chic club, and you're halfway there…
Leighton sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview to discuss "Somebody to Love," her love for silent film and the difference between love and sex. Check out "Somebody to Love" now!
Were you trying to find a middle ground between sexy and poppy on "Somebody to Love?"
Yeah! I was freaking out because somebody told me that it reminded them of "Vogue" a little bit. It's a very sexy record. To me, it honestly sounds like Kylie Minogue meets Gwen Stefani and some other totally different thing [Laughs]. It's very poppy but Euro-sounding.
That's apparent on the production and the synths. Was incorporating the European influences a conscious decision from the beginning?
I'm very influenced by that sound. I love music that's moody. It's not a super hard-hitting song. It's more of a laidback, vibed-out track. That's very sexy to me.
Do songs typically happen immediately or do you spend a lot of time thinking of melodies and ideas?
I come up with melodies all day—every minute. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas and have to record them [Laughs]. I come up with different stuff all of the time. I just have a lot of fun in the studio. There's always a good vibe. I tweak my ideas a lot, but I love the process. I usually just write after a melody, and everything else comes naturally. I love making lyrically driven songs, but my songs are generally very simple. There's usually a certain vibe while I'm recording. I have a drink, run in and out of the booth and freestyle a bunch of stuff. "Somebody to Love" came about while I was in a Brooklyn studio. I heard this track and, afterwards, I was sitting in the garden thinking. It's so funny because I always get love confused with sex, so the song is really about my struggle to get some [Laughs]. My mom always told me, "It's not about who loves you; it's about who you love." Of course she probably says that because she's my mom and she thinks everyone is going to love me [Laughs]. It's a crazy life. It's hard to find somebody who understands you and gets you.
So there are a few levels to "Somebody to Love?"
Yeah! I think it's somewhat about my sexuality. I draw from a lot of experiences. I love traveling, and I'm working all the time. That's definitely what a good part of the song is about. I don't really have a lot of time for love. I meet a lot of people and none of them do it for me.
How did the collaboration with Robin Thicke come about?
That is amazing [Laughs]! That's like the best part of the song. He ended up hearing the song, and he wanted to vibe out on it. He got into the studio and sang a little bit. Then I was like, "It's so good. I want you to sing an entire verse." So he ended up singing a whole verse, and it ended up amazing. He's so soulful. I've been a fan of his for a very long time so I'm very lucky.
If this record were a movie what would it be?
I feel like it would be a French film from the 1960s starring Brigitte Bardot. It's very sensual, and it captures a feeling of restlessness and my boredom with men. I think that could certainly be conveyed that way.
Do acting and singing come from the same creative place for you?
They're very, very different. It's so funny because I never paid attention to the business side of film or television at all. I've gotten lucky with my label. They allow me to be 100 percent creative with the music, but it's a completely different business from movies. The people operate on totally different hours, which is really funny. However, it's very enjoyable because you get to start and go later in music. I've been writing music since I was 16, and I really started recording and getting more serious about it four years ago. I luckily met a friend through acting that helped. I was doing a movie with my DJ, Shahine Ezell. He's a producer, and he had a studio in his apartment at the time. We wrote this really funny song one night. The next day we listened to it, and we were like, "This is actually really good." Singing is so different from writing. It's a lot like acting because of the performance aspect. I feel like they're two completely different things but they complement each other.
"Somebody to Love" feels like it's ready to be played live too.
Totally! It's going to be so exciting to hear remixes too. It's the music that I like to listen to. It's music for women, but I think it transcends. I like to listen to it in the car or when I'm getting ready. If you go out and you're in a club, I think it'd be really hot to hear this song because it's so moody and it still moves. On stage, it'll be fabulous.
Where else do you draw inspiration from?
I really love silent film. It has such an old-world feel and for some reason I envision a silent film when I hear this song and this is the music that's narrating it. Movies really do inspire me.
Is this record the most personal thing you've ever done?
Oh absolutely! It's completely different. People don't get to see that side of you so much, and I can never convey it properly in interviews. When you make music for the sake of making music, it's easy to have fun doing it. I think it'll translate really well to people because I really believe in it and I love it. I believe in it very much, and it's the kind of music that I like to listen to.
Check out "Somebody to Love" here!