Ask Jens

Interview with Lelia Broussard

The Midnight Wiki had the honor of interviewing Lelia Broussard of Jupiter Winter in January 2021. Lelia joined The Midnight as a touring member for the Fall 2019 tour and also co-wrote and sang guest vocals on the song Monsters. She talks to us about beginning her music career at a young age, the pros and cons of being independent versus being signed to a label, appearing on TV on Jimmy Fallon and The Voice, her work with The Midnight, and her plans for Jupiter Winter in 2021.

The Midnight Wiki: What have you been up to lately?
Lelia Broussard: I’ve just been making a lot of music! It’s been kind of nice to have all of this uninterrupted time to write. Royce and I are working on a Jupiter Winter album which is very exciting for me. Other than writing and working on music, I’m really into cooking. I go on a lot of hikes, I do a lot of workouts in my yard. Ha! Just trying to stay sane and not get or give anyone covid.

TMW: Let's go back to the beginning. When do you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music? How did you get your start in the music business?
LB: I developed a big interest in music very early on. I sang incessantly as a kid and I started playing guitar around 12 or 13. I was writing songs as soon as I could string a few chords together and it’s been a lifelong love and pursuit ever since.

As far as my start in the business, when I was a teenager I would religiously seek out every open mic I could find to practice performing in front of an audience. I started playing shows around the Philadelphia area, made some recordings of my songs and started selling them at my shows. 88.5 WXPN - the public radio station in Philadelphia generously gave me some early support and helped to grow my audience in the beginning. When I was 17 I skipped going to college and moved to New York instead where I began collaborating with other writers and producers and doing a little bit of touring. That eventually led to my first publishing deal.

TMW: I was able to learn a lot about you that I didn't know when I created your article on the wiki. You released a few albums independently starting at a very young age. What was that experience like?
LB: It was amazing! I don’t know if I deserved to record in a studio with the incredible musicians I got to work with just yet. I was a baby who had no idea who I was as an artist and I definitely wasn’t writing very good songs yet but it was a great learning experience and a huge privilege to be exposed to that world so early on.

TMW: I read that you had inked a publishing deal and lived in Los Angeles for a time. What other artists and writers do you work with? Did you/do you enjoy writing and making music for other people?
LB: I did! The first publishing deal I signed was more focused on my own artist development, so I wasn’t really writing for others at that point. I started writing for other artists and projects a few years later, and yes! I love making music for other people. It can be kind of freeing to work on something for someone else because there can be a lot of overthinking and preciousness that goes on when making your own music. I love to help other artists realize their artistic vision and to help them say something that feels honest and true. With the right fit it can be very fulfilling.

TMW: You've dipped your toes in many facets of the music industry - you've crowdfunded an album, have done solo work, was in a band (Secret Someones) and signed to a label, toured extensively on stages big and small - what would you say is the biggest thing you've learned? Do you think an artist should try to stay independent as long as they can?
LB: Don’t compare your path to anyone else’s. I’m still learning that one. Study the greats and always find and celebrate the joy in making music, especially when it becomes your job. Write a LOT and don’t be too precious with your ideas. That’s a lot easier to do when you’re prolific. Routines and staying connected to yourself, whatever that means for you really help with creativity. It can be good to stay independent as long as you can, but I think it just depends on the circumstance. There’s so much you can do now as an independent artist and getting as far as you can on your own obviously means more leverage for a better deal. My band Secret Someones got signed pretty much right away, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for us. Labels can provide a lot of support but they also suck in a lot of ways. I think it just depends on your circumstances.

TMW: You've been on TV several times - Jimmy Fallon, The Voice - am I missing anything? What was it like being on television?
LB: Nerve wracking! The Voice is fucking terrifying. It’s a lot of pressure and they make sure you’re well aware of that. Jimmy Fallon was a blast. He was very nice and exactly the person you would hope he is. My band and I got to write a parody song about an audience member and it was the best. Questlove liked my song and that made my life.

TMW: How was it competing on singing competitions?
LB: Honestly, it was a wild experience. I met some wonderful people that I love dearly, but reality tv is a strange beast. If you don’t fit into the mold that the producers have invented for you, you won’t last on the show. It was definitely an interesting experience, but I can’t say that I would ever do it again.

TMW: Your current project is Jupiter Winter. How did you meet Royce, and when did you guys decide to team up and start making music together?
LB: Yes! Royce and I met on tour in 2015 at The Wonder Ballroom in Portland (which was coincidentally my first gig with The Midnight years later!) I was playing with my band, Secret Someones and we were opening for our Canadian label mates, Marianas Trench. Royce was working with Marianas and we became friends over the tour and after that we started dating. Shortly after we started dating my band broke up and I was trying to find my own creative voice again, and we just started making stuff. It’s taken a long time to evolve into what it is now, but it’s been the best growing and learning experience!

TMW: What are each of your roles in this project? What type of sound are you going for?
LB: Royce is more focused on production and I’m more focused on the songwriting, although both of us contribute to both aspects. Lately I’ve been writing and fully producing out a demo, then I’ll take it to Royce and he’ll add in new elements and help to polish and finish it. Sometimes Royce will write and produce a track on his own and I’ll write a topline (lyric + melody) over it. We love a mix of organic and electronic elements. We want to make smart pop music that makes you feel things. I guess that’s indie pop? Tyler says we’re pop wave. I hadn’t heard of it before but I think that feels like an accurate genre for us.

TMW: Let's get into your involvement with The Midnight. I've read that you got the touring role through an audition. Can you tell me a bit more about that process and experience?
LB: A wonderful artist manager friend of mine recommended me to their team. We chatted on the phone and they asked to see a few videos of me playing their songs. Tyler and I had been in the same singer/songwriter community for many years, although I don’t think we had ever formally met. He was familiar with me as an artist and songwriter and I had a lot of other mutual friends with the guys. After sending a few videos of me playing, singing and doing my thing over their recordings they asked me to join them for their upcoming tours and after that I had I think two weeks to learn about 25 songs. It was intense but so much fun!

TMW: Prior to joining The Midnight on tour, did you have any prior experience or exposure to the synthwave genre?
LB: No, I didn’t!

TMW: The synthwave genre and style is quite different from the music you've made for most of your career. Did you find it difficult to learn and get in tune with the songs?
LB: I didn’t find it to be extraordinarily different than learning any other genre or style of music. Most of their songs have a very classic pop structure but their palette is very specific. Recreating all the sounds is one of my favorite parts of doing this gig.

TMW: OK - let's talk Monsters, the song. I remember when I saw The Midnight in Fall 2019, Tyler originally sang all parts of the song. When was it decided that you would sing on the album version? (you sound great by the way!)
LB: Thank you! Yes! While we were on tour in 2019 we were playing a few new songs they were working on, Monsters being one of them. They had the idea to make it into a duet and they gave me the opportunity to take a stab at rewriting and singing the second verse which was so very cool of them. I did it on one of our days off in a hotel room somewhere in the US and thankfully they liked what I did. I’ve played with a lot of artists and it’s not very often that you’re welcomed into their creative process, so it’s been a real honor to get to collaborate with the guys in that way.

TMW: Let's talk about the amazing The Midnight Online concert you guys did last fall. When did you first hear that the band was interested in doing a livestream concert? Was it odd to play in a big outdoor venue with no fans?
LB: They let us know a few months before so we thankfully had plenty of time to prepare. Oh my gosh it was so incredible to play music with my favorite people again. All of us had missed it so much. It was very weird and a little sad with no fans, but it was such a huge joy to be able to come together to do that.

TMW: What is your favorite The Midnight song to perform and/or your favorite The Midnight song in general? (other than Monsters!)
LB: That’s so hard! I really have so much fun playing the whole show. I love playing America 2, Lost & Found, Los Angeles, I have a blast playing the solo in Gloria. From the new record, Last Train is VERY FUN for me. Neon Medusa is crazy. Royce shreds and that riff is so fun to play.

TMW: What are your plans as a musician for 2021? Do you think you and Royce will release an EP or album sometime this year?
LB: Yes, we’re working on an album for Jupiter Winter and I’m so excited to have a whole body of work to finally be able to share. Hopefully we’ll have it wrapped up later this year. I just want to continue growing as a person and an artist and writing, more collaborating with my friends and making things that feel honest and true.

TMW: Anything you'd like to say to all the Kids and Monsters out there in The Midnight universe?
LB: Just that I have so much love for all of you! Thank you for being so sweet and welcoming to me. Best fans in the world.

Be sure to follow https://www.instagram.com/leliabroussard and https://www.instagram.com/jupiterwinterband on Instagram!