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Up-And-Coming Aotearoa Artists: Jessica Leigh

“I would say my music is for the lovers – I’m such a hopeless romantic”

Jessica Leigh


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Jessica Leigh has found her ‘lightbeam’ with her latest EP.

Originally from Nelson and now based in Wellington, the up-and-coming singer-songwriter and producer is trying out confident synth-pop and refining her lyricism, moving away from her previous acoustic and folk sound.

Acknowledging her inclination towards romance, the 5-track EP, titled LIGHTBEAM, reflects her experiences in her 20s, covering love, loss, and friendship.

Recorded across various studios, including her flat’s home setup and Auckland’s Parachute Studios as well as a studio in Sydney, Leigh worked with producers such as Josh Naley AKA Wells* (Paige, Thomston, Foley, Luca George), Liam Quinn (Peach PRC, Ruel, ASHY), and Jules Evans (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood).

“I wrote LIGHTBEAM over the last two years, as I moved to a new city and started a new life,” reflects Leigh. 

“The tracklist is in order of how that process went chronologically. Starting with the end of a long-distance relationship, me getting over it by falling in love with my new city friends and life as a city girl – then finding new love by the end of the EP.”

To mark the release, Rolling Stone AU/NZ had a chat with Leigh to learn more about her life and music. Check out the full conversation below.

Jessica Leigh’s LIGHTBEAM EP is out now. 

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How did music influence you in your early life?

Jessica Leigh: Music has always played a significant role in shaping who I am and how I understand the world. From a really young age, I was exposed to a huge range of music and artists through my parents, who treasured music and had it on all the time.

I think music really influenced my emotional development as a kid when I discovered how it could connect with whatever I was feeling. Writing my own music has been such a powerful form of self-expression and I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to get to do it for a job!

What artists influenced you growing up?

Taylor Swift was definitely my hyperfixation when I was younger (for obvious reasons as a young aspiring female songwriter), but as I got older I adored Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and The 1975. These artists all really soundtracked my teenage years, and the deep sense of nostalgia I felt listening to them was super influential as I began writing my own songs. There was also a lot of Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, and Leonard Cohen playing in the house as I grew up, which I’m sure influenced me subconsciously!

What are some career highlights so far?

Hearing my songs on national radio is always so surreal and makes me so happy! Earlier this year, a song of mine that I produced alone in my bedroom charted at #17 here in New Zealand which was insane. I’m also super grateful to have been able to work in Sydney with Liam Quinn at his beautiful studio!

What kind of personality traits and values do you believe it takes to succeed in the music industry?

Tenacity, bravery, and confidence in who you are and what you believe in.

How would you describe your music to a potential fan? 

I would say my music is for the lovers – I’m such a hopeless romantic and I feel like it really shines through in my songs and lyrics. I love making dreamy, glittery synthpop about falling in and out of love more than anything!

 What are your goals for 2024 and beyond?

I am feeling incredibly inspired at the moment so I’m planning on writing lots of new material.

Tell us about LIGHTBEAM. What themes did you explore on the EP?

LIGHTBEAM is a 5-track EP that chronicles my experiences of moving to a big city over the last two years. It explores themes of heartbreak, friendship, self discovery and, of course, falling in loooove! 

Do you have a favourite track on the EP?

My favourite track is “lightbeam”. It’s a very special song to me about a very special night I had with a total stranger. Every time I listen to the song I’m reminded of all the magic, hope, and romance of that night and how it felt to be there. I feel like “lightbeam” perfectly encapsulates the golden feeling you get when you’re falling for someone new, and it just makes me really, really happy.