Interview with Nancy Leticia
In December last year we reviewed electronic/classical artist Nancy Leticia’s wonderful song, Perma-smile, and she was kind enough to talk us through her creative process, where she finds inspiration and her love of long showers.
So, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve done a little cyber-stalking (as I’m sure all good music journalists do to prepare for an interview) but I haven’t really been able to find much bio info on you. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Mostly I like playing the piano. If I could, I’d play Beethoven and Bach (and all those other composers) all day. But that’s not really possible, so I make up for it by making music on my computer and having lots of coffee, cake, and alcohol. How I got into music? When I was 11, I was once locked out of my house and decided to hang out at a friend’s place while I waited. She had a piano and I asked her to play me something. She played Für Elise, pretty badly I think, but at the time I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. That night I begged my mom to put me in piano lessons and wouldn’t stop until she conceded (we were poor, so I reeeally had to beg). Other things about me: I live in Vancouver. I mostly like staying in. Mornings are my favourite time of day, especially because I have them off. I really like tacos. I went to school where I studied jazz piano for a while. Leticia is my middle name and it’s pronounced Le-tee-seeya. I like taking long showers.
How dare you be so charming?! Actually the last person I interviewed was also a Vancouver. Are you exposed to a particularly “creative” vibe in the city? You said that you mostly like to stay in – is all your inspiration in your head, or do you need to get out from time to time to plug into external stimulus? If so, where do you go? What do you do? Who do you see for that??
I get inspired by the internet! You’re not confined to your own city when you’re on the internet. I get to see what people are doing all over the world. I also like that I have complete control over what I see and do on it; I’m never at the mercy of anyone else’s plans (as opposed to when you’re out in real life). Also, my boyfriend is an artist and we live together; we’re usually inspiring each other creatively.
I have a friend who has a policy of only accepting Facebook friend requests from people she would have a coffee or a beer with. You have over 4000 Facebook friends. It’s unusual for an artist to make their personal FB page so accessible. Is that the way you “connect” with your fans and admirers? Would you have coffee or a glass of wine with all of them? Have you ever had any “trolls” or bad experiences??
It’s my main ‘blog’, and as an artist I want it to be as accessible as possible. Facebook feels more intimate than some of the other platforms and I think that’s cool. I like that it’s interactive; I feel more like I’m sharing my music with friends and not just fans. I also like that I get to mix my music posts with my regular posts, it makes each more interesting. There are a lot of people that I don’t see or have any clue about, so no, I wouldn’t have coffee with all of them. But of course, I would have coffee/wine with many of the ones I know. In a way, I already feel like I get to experience that just by seeing their posts and chatting with them. I’ve had a few trolls, not enough to make me feel bad. They’re mostly just funny because the accusations have been random and dumb.
OK, I guess that some people might suggest that, as a female piano player, you could be compared to Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, Alicia Keys. Do you relate artistically to any of those performers? If not, what makes you different? (PS I don’t actually think you’re anything like those artists.)
No, I don’t relate artistically to them at all (nor have I listened to much of their stuff). I feel like I’m going in a very different direction. My music is about the computer and the internet and social media. There are so many amazing producers and artists I’ve discovered through social media who have influenced and inspired me more than any of those big artists. I’m a lot more interested in performing on the internet, and while I do some offline performing, online is a bigger priority. Also, I don’t care about making money off my music, I just want people to easily be able to listen to it.
I’m fascinated that you say you don’t care about making money from your music. Obviously, artistically the most rewarding thing is getting your music out there for people to enjoy. But why would you not want it to be your career? Is it too difficult a market to crack into? Does the idea of it being a business take the romance of it away or is it something else entirely?
I wouldn’t say no to making money off my music, but it isn’t my objective. My only objective right now is to make music, and to make the kind of music that I want. I’m more inspired this way. I feel that if I want to make money off my music, then that’s what my music making will be about, in which case, it becomes a job.
Your Perma-Smile EP is completely instrumental. Do you sing?? Are vocals something that you are interested in playing around with in future recordings (whether your own or someone elses?).
I don’t sing, which I actually feel is a good thing. It forces me to focus on making beats. I do have some friends who rap and sing that I’m excited to make beats for. So yes, working with vocals is definitely something that I plan to start doing more of!
I just watched an amazing YouTube video of you playing a very difficult Rachmaninov piece. So, you’re a classically trained pianist who makes modern electronic tunes. What kind of music do you prefer to listen to for enjoyment?
It depends on my mood and what kind of day it is. Right now I’m listening to Wagner’s Parsifal, but an hour from now, I’ll probably be listening to Mariah Carey or something like that. To be honest, I feel like I don’t get to listen to as much music as I’d like to because I’m either playing the piano or making music when I have free time.
To get back to Facebook, your Xmas Day status read “my dad saw my fb and bought me pants for xmas” which was quite amusing, as you do indeed post a lot of photos of yourself in varying stages of undress. Also, the art that accompanies your music across various sites includes a lot of female nudity. Are you trying to make a statement? Is it a form of self-expression? Did you Dad really buy you pants for Xmas??
He really did buy me pants for Christmas! He saw my piano videos and said I looked like I could use some pants, hah. It feels odd to say that showing skin and being sexual is making a statement. It’s perfectly natural. I grew up in a super religious household where showing skin and being sexual was immoral and shameful, and I never agreed with that. So I guess in that sense, I’m making a statement, but as an artist it’s more about self-expression. Making music, and especially playing classical piano, is totally sexy and romantic.
I listened to your recent track “12 notes on tumblr” and really loved it. It seems quite melancholy and fragile which ties in with a few things you’ve mentioned on FB. Is sadness something that inspires you to create? Is the old saying true, that artists need to be tortured on some level to produce?
LOL, being sad inspires me to drink. And drinking inspires me to write, so… Honestly, I don’t know. It’s something that influences my art, but I’m not sure that it is what inspires me to make it. I think it keeps me sensitive, which is important to music making.
What’s next for Nancy Leticia? Musically, professionally, artistically, personally?
I’m not sure. All I know is that I want to make as much music as I possibly can for the next while; then I’ll see where I can go with that…
By Chryss Stathopoulos