Leslie Mills, if you don’t know then you will soon.
Is all this interviewing new?
Yeah it is.
Did you expect this?
It’s all new territory. I’m excited. It’s exciting to get this album out.
You say the music has gone through changes, what were those changes?
When I first started the record it was really more programmed, super-pop. It evolved to have more guitars and was more band oriented. I did write more songs in the course of making the record. New material came into play and a lot of the record has new songs that have come from that evolution.
You had a deal once with a band, was that pop music or more rock?
That is totally different. It was a rock band. When I left the band I started writing different music.
What kind of music have you been into before signing a record deal and as a teen?
I have always loved pop and pop melodies. But growing up as a kid I was influenced by my brothers’ taste like U2. I loved them. I listened to all types of music.
Has the folding of A&M Records into Universal and losing that record deal now a blessing in disguise?
Completely. What a thing to go through. There were so many bands and artists affected at the time. It was a blessing because it was a moment where you question what you want to do. It was hard and scary. I realized that I wanted to do it and keep going. I realized I wanted to go on my own and try something new.
Getting signed seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity, did you think it was your one and only chance?
Thankfully I didn’t think of it that way, that it was my one chance. My feeling was more passionate. It inspired write and me to work as hard as I could work. I jumped into the fact that I wanted to write on my own. There was no question. I’m glad that it has happened. I’m glad it happened on my own because as a band it’s a unit with everything.
When were you found by another label as a solo artist?
I was actually shopping around for a deal and singing for everyone. I had a number of songs and I literally took on the east coast and the west coast for agents, record labels and movie companies. Atlantic was one of the first I sang for. I got an offer from them and I went with my gut instinct with them.
Was the publishing deal after signing with Atlantic?
It was really close together. They loved what I was doing for myself and I have lots of songs in my catalogue for other artists. They saw me as a songwriter and an artist, too.
How did you end up in Yellowstone?
I was in Washington right before I went there and a friend told them they had summer jobs in the park. I was going with the flow in life and it sounded good. I thought it would be great to soak it up. I was working in a recreation center for employees, checking their Ids, really tough job. I met these two guys and starting a band.
Out in the middle of nowhere.
Right, and who would have guessed it would change my life.
You couldn’t be any further from anything.
It was really strange. As soon as I started singing with them I knew that was it.
Were they escaping like you?
They were there on a whim too. They were there having fun. They were on their way to doing other things. They had plans after that and I didn’t have any plans. We sold our cars and bought a really old van and drove it across the country. I don’t know how, but we did.
Was that when you started writing?
What was it about that time?
I do have a background in music, but at that moment and I was just making things up and singing. It was crazy. It was some kind of magic. I was singing and they were playing and it was really cool. There was a light bulb that went off and I felt I had to do it.
Was it natural and were you surprised it was just coming out?
It was just a moment. It was new and my songwriting has greatly improved. I like the first songs because they were so naïve and they had no rules. I wasn’t thinking about it.
Has songwriting gotten easier as you learned more about the craft?
I learned a lot about production and the making of a record. It was strange. The songs started on an acoustic guitar or piano. It is wild. Writing is a playground where you can do anything. I find it to be really interesting.
Did you record a record with your band?
We did record a full album and it never came out. It’s really sad. We had an EP that we sold at our shows. But this is my first album on my own so it is very different. With the band we went into the studio and laid down the songs. This record was recorded in a lot of different places and in different studios. It is my first album to me.
+ Charlie Craine