Leah Mason, better known by her stage name Minke, has been creating infectious music since her debut single “Gold Angel” in 2017. The merging of classic rock, captivating vocals and a pop influence has created a magic combination for the London-born singer. Minke recently dropped a new single titled “elsewhere,” and here’s what she had to say about it, along with what inspires her, how she’s managing quarantine, and new music that’s on the way. Check out the interview below.
Q: Give our readers a brief overview on how you got started writing songs and playing guitar and how that developed into building as an artist.
A: There was never really a plan or a time when I made an exact decision. For as long as I can remember music was my passion, from dancing in front of my dad’s drum kit as a toddler. I picked up the guitar at 12 and writing songs shortly after to deal with my intense teenage feelings and found I had a knack for it really, and never looked back!
Q: How did you come up with the stage name "Minke"?
A: I wish I had a more romantic answer but it was mainly practical. I mainly loved the fact it felt representative of what the music feels like to me. A mix of my guitar based, rock n roll roots and modern pop production. The name sounded like it could be a 60’s rock band or a 00’s dj duo or 90’s girl band or 10’s indie girl.
Q: Your soulful vocals combined with guitar riffs really create a timeless quality to your music. How has your sound evolved over time? What would you like to explore musically in the future?
A: Thank you! I think naturally as you get older you pick up inspiration from new places whether that be people and experiences, new bands you discover and love. Currently I’m loving the idea of going fully back to basics, the more stripped and raw the sound is, the more emotional it’s making me feel. It might have something to do with quarantine and the necessity of working more from home and having less access to studios etc... and might change in a month but that’s currently haha
Q: What from the world around you inspires you? What artists or songs have you been inspired by lately?
A: Anything can spark something in my head! It’s pretty unpredictable... a conversation, the way someone says something, a news headline... I’m subscribed to the national gallery in London’s email and I screenshotted a painting in that recently as cover art inspo. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of comfort bands, probably quarantine related, so fleetwood mac, tom perry, aretha franklin, stevie wonder, hendrix... they're continuously inspiring to me. Like some of the best performances, they’re so layered I feel like I take something new from them every time I listen.
Q: Many of your lyrics are honest expressions of your feelings in a certain moment. Is it ever hard to put those songs out into the world knowing they're real pieces of your life, or do you feel like it gives something that your audience can relate to?
A: It’s always hard and actually getting more terrifying the older I get! My awareness of it grows due to some reactions over the years. But I know I can never censor myself so I have to get over it at the end of the day.
Q: Tell us about your latest single "elsewhere" and how it came about. What has been the response so far?
A: It’s been really great. I had zero expectations putting something out during quarantine, it was as much for me having something to focus on as it was for everyone else to be honest. So to be over half a million plays is mind blowing! I wrote it with Sophie Hintze and Ian Walsh a while back but it hit differently once we were all locked down, I just knew I had to put it out.
Q: How has quarantine been for you in terms of writing and recording music? A lot of artists have been saying that they're less inspired/motivated to create during this crazy time in the world right now. Has the extra free time been helpful for you or are you ready to get back to playing live shows?
A: I go through phases but mainly, I’ve found it difficult. I guess I’m feeling pretty emotionally drained a lot of the time, and so there’s not a lot of well to pull from as the emotion is always what drives the songs for me. Having said that, I’ve written some bits I’m really excited about and putting the finishing touches on now which really feels like a new chapter for the project so that’ll be with you soon!