Since her a meteoric rise to global fame, Leona Lewis’ incredible voice has captivated millions of people across the world. She’s broken countless sales records and smashed chart records universally. Now, with a new label and a new album Leona is about to embark on a 14 date UK tour including a stop in Ipswich on 7th March. I caught up with her on a cold December afternoon for a chat…
This tour is the first in three years, more importantly it is the first since leaving Syco – what difference is that going to make do you think?
The sound of the album is a little bit different to what I’ve been doing previously in the fact that its been a few years since I released my last album and I’ve had a lot more to talk about and to express on this album so naturally that is going to feed through to the tour.
It is a very personal album, isn’t it?
Yes, it is really personal – I talk about a lot of the highs and a lot of the lows that I have been going through in teh past few years. And also, the main thing about it is that it has an uplifting tone to it. That’s what I want the tour to feel like, I want it to feel very uplifting, very moving… yep, that’s what people are going to get from it.
You are no stranger to touring, do you enjoy it?
I do, when I did my first tour which was almost ten years ago, I was a bit nervous about it and I didn’t enjoy it because I’d be so nervous. But now I absolutely love it, I love getting out there, I love the fans as well – I do meet & greets and things like that. I have grown to really, really enjoy it.
Have you got a favourite or least favourite part of touring?
My favourite part would be just getting out and being with the band and performing. The least favourite part is the travel.
The tour starts on 21st February, months away yet, loads of time – have you started preparations yet?
I am so gald you think is is so far away because everyone around me is like “We need to do this, we need to do this!” It is like so much pressure so I am going to be like: “Do you know what, we’ve actually got months and its all good?” But yes, I know it is going to come up so quickly because we are all going to go away for Christmas and then we have to get into everything when we come back. Right now we are talking about the creative things – what the stage is gonna to look like. I like to have a really interesting stage setup, on the last tour I used a lot of projection, the tour before I used a lot of props. So we are thinking of what it will be creatively this time around.
Is that difficult to achieve give the variety of venues you will be visiting?
Yes – I’ve done a theatre tour before and there is something good about them, the sound is always so controllable and you can get amazing sound in these theatres but as you say, the stage size, the proportions always vary. But the creative people that I work with have to sort all of that out, figure out how to get everything in – theirs is a job that I do not envy!
Toby I’ve known for a few years now and he has become a very good friend of mine. What Toby does is, he is great with female artists – drawing emotions out of people. He wrote some of my favourite songs, he wrote “If I Were A Boy” (Beyonce) and “All of Me” (John Legends) – he is just great at pulling out emotions from artists and really digging deep and that is what I needed on this album.
Is it true that Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks has helped out in some little way?
Yeah – I actually got to meet her when she was rehearsing for the world tour and she kinda gave me a little pep talk. She was really inspiring saying how much she admired the music that I was making, that I needed to keep singing – she definitely helped. I mean pep talks from Stevie Nicks – is this real life?
I have heard you describe the album as going back to the beginning, to why you got involved in music in the first place. Why did you get involved in music?
Music for me, I guess when I was younger, was about expressing yourself and having an outlet to express myself and thats why I got into music – I loved having that outlet. And I loved performing as well. This album, when I say it felt like coming back to myself – I had recorded albums independently before, not had many people involved. This album is really about going back to basics – most of it was recorded outside of a record deal, then I got a label involved to help me put the album out. It was a different process, one not a lot of people take. There is good and bad about it but I am so glad I did it this way because I got to do an album that is very much me, me just going back to basics.
It comes across as a very personal production. One of the things I like about the album is that on the sleeve notes you thank your Mum & Dad, who have been very supportive of you, have’t they?
Yeah – my Mum and Dad are fundamental to everything really. They have supported me, when I was jobless and didn’t have any money they would always be there encouraging me to pursue something that I loved and to have a career that I loved and that I would get fulfillment out of. They were instrumental in me pursuing music – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing this.
From there you have gone on to becoming a very well known name in music, you have James Cameron ringing you up to sing the theme to Avatar – do you ever get accustomed to things like that happening in your life?
No. I remember when they asked me, I was like… blown away. It was amazing. I got to see how they made Avatar with James, sitting there going through the scenes – it was surreal and amazing that I am getting to experience these different things through my music. I didn’t ever think that my music would go into film and things like that.
The UK tour is all set – beginning in February. Are there any plans to bring it further afield?
Not yet. I was supposed to tour Europe and have a bit of a longer tour but I cut it down really because I just wanted to focus on the UK and then I want to get back in the studio – I didn’t want to have too much time away from the studio. I know a lot of artists go on tour and they make an album on the road, I found that I can’t really do that! So I didn’t want a tour that was too long that I would be away from the studio. I really admire when artists can tour and record, but I just can’t do it.
Leona it has been a pleasure talking to you, we will catch up with you in Ipswich. Enjoy the tour and have a Happy Christmas.
- Sunday – 21-Feb – UK, Liverpool, Empire
- Monday – 22-Feb – UK, Sheffield, City Hall
- Wednesday – 24-Feb – UK, Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
- Thursday – 25-Feb – UK, Gateshead, Sage
- Saturday – 27-Feb – UK, Bournemouth, BIC
- Sunday – 28-Feb – UK, Birmingham, Symphony Hall
- Tuesday – 1-Mar – UK, Bristol, Colston Hall
- Wednesday – 2-Mar – UK, Cardiff, St Davids Hall
- Friday – 4-Mar – UK, London, Palladium
- Saturday – 5-Mar – UK, London, Palladium
- Monday – 7-Mar – UK, Ipswich, Regent
- Tuesday – 8-Mar – UK, Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium
- Thursday – 10-Mar – UK, Nottingham, Royal Centre
- Friday – 11-Mar – UK, Plymouth, Pavilions