Exclusive Interview: Lennon Stella

Lennon Stella | © CeCe Dawson

American actress and recording artist Lennon Stella arrives back in the U.K. this month to play a string of live shows up and down the country, as part of her highly anticipated, sold out European tour.

After stops in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands, Stella will visit Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham before playing two shows at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, in London.

“Everything feels really exciting for me right now.” Lennon tells us as we sit down to chat ahead of her first show of the tour in Oslo, Norway. “This is my first time headlining overseas, so I can’t wait to get out there and put on a really fun show for everyone… I’m ready!”

Lennon Stella | © CeCe Dawson

From There to Here…

It’s hard to believe that its been almost eight years since Ontario native Lennon Stella first came into the public consciousness as part of viral-video sensation singing group Lennon & Maisy, the musical duo she formed with younger sister Maisy (now 16). Having gained national attention with their unique cover of Robyn’s 2011 hit single Call Your Girlfriend, the sisters ascent to international superstardom gained further momentum in 2012 when they were cast in the ABC/CMT musical drama series Nashville, becoming series regulars from season 2 right up until the shows end in 2018.

In the time since Nashville wrapped, Lennon has gone on to experience even greater career highs as a solo artist, seamlessly establishing herself as a respected and credible singer-songwriter, taking full creative control of her artistry and the timeless sounding music of which she makes.

“Each song safeguards a memory, preserving the moment behind melody.”

Now famous in her own right, for monster hits such as BITCH (takes one to know one), Like Everybody Else and Bad, as well as collaborations Polaroid (with Jonas Blue and Liam Payne) and Takeaway (with Chainsmokers and ILLENIUM), fans the world over have connected with Stella’s deeply personal, honest and autobiographical lyrics, forming a kind of musical kinship that continues to grow and flourish with each year that goes by.

What we’re seeing right now with Lennon Stella, is an artist coming into her own – thriving in an endless consciousness of artistic freedom, whilst whole-heartedly embracing and relishing in a new found sense of unlimited purpose and power. Stepping away from such a popular and celebrated television show and taking the road less travelled may have proved tricky for some young performers, but that has certainly not been the case for the seemingly fearless Stella…

As we enter a new decade, exciting moves are being made! And things certainly don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon for the La Di Da singer as she gears up for the release of her, as-yet-untitled, debut solo album.

“January 2020, has for sure been the busiest month of my life.” Lennon admits. “But it’s definitely feels good to have the year start off this way; it can hopefully only, go up from here. But whatever happens, happens. Even if we slow down for a minute, I’m good with that too.”

Effortlessly cool, super stylish, with a natural charm and acute personality wise beyond her years, read on as I become the latest member of the CelebMix team to meet the phenomenal Lennon Stella…

So you’re in the Europe right now, about to embark on your first EVER headline tour! How are you feeling ahead of tonights show?

Yeah, tonight’s the night! (laughs) I’m super, super stoked. I always get a little nervous for the first night of a tour because it’s like a totally different world that I’m stepping into, and because each tour I do is so different from the last, I’m still kind of figuring everything out and seeing how things are going to work within this particular show. So yeah, there are a few nerves there but really, more than that though, I’m just excited.

It must be a pretty cool feeling knowing that everybody who has bought a ticket this time around is there to see you and only you!

I must admit, that is a nice feeling. It’s a totally different thing when you know people there to see you – I love that; headlining your own show is so fun.

Being onstage in front of a live audience must be such an exhilarating experience! What a trip to see all of those people in the crowd united together in their love for you, singing along to music that you’ve had a hand in creating…

It really is amazing actually, there’s nothing really like it! Getting to play my songs live and seeing people enjoy it and sing the words back to me is like the most rewarding thing ever! When you’ve been in the studio for a long time, and you’re not quite yet at the stage where you’re ready to project what you’ve been working on into the world, you can kind of fall into a bit of a funk. But being out on the road and being onstage, and, like you say, in front of an audience that’s having a really good time… it kind of reminds me that it is actually really fun (what I do). It’s very fulfilling.

I’m always intrigued as to how artists mentally prepare themselves ahead of a live show? I’m also equally fascinated at how they deal with the comedown post-show once they’ve exited the stage…

It’s really funny you say that, because I was thinking about it the other day… well I think about it all the time actually especially when I’m in bed after a show because it’s such a weird thing! It’s like you spend your whole day doing regular things, then you just go onstage for an hour or so and experience this like amazingness! And then you come off stage and go back to the most normal life. But I guess that’s the same for everybody, it doesn’t matter how high up you are – it’s just a weird concept but it’s cool though, I love it, it’s great. I’ll get used to it (laughs).

Lennon onstage with The Chainsmokers at The Bell Center, Montreal | © Eva Blue

You’ve just been on tour in the states with Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer – that must have been a lot of fun for you, and also really great preparation for these upcoming shows?

Absolutely. That’s exactly what I learned from being on the road with those guys, just getting real comfy (on stage) – it definitely helped me to prepare for this tour.

Aside from the performing aspect, do you enjoy the touring lifestyle or do you prefer having more of a structured, regular routine?

I do enjoy it yeah. And actually a lot more than I thought I would because I’m such a homebody – like, I really like being at home. But I must say, being in a different city everyday, or a different country even, and travelling all around the world is kind of cool.

Are there any countries / cities that you’re particularly looking forward to visiting over the next month?

Honestly a lot of the places I’m going to, I hit last time when I was over here on tour with Anne-Marie, but it will be fun to re-explore. On that tour I wasn’t with my band, it was just like me and this one other guy, I was pretty much on my own, so I didn’t really have that same kind of drive to get out there and explore. But this time, I have my full band with me, and my boyfriend will be out, so I’ll definitely have more of that want to venture out and explore around.

You spend your whole day doing regular things, then you go onstage for an hour and experience this amazingness! And then you come off and go back to the most normal life.

So tell me a little more about your show, what can fans coming along expect to see from Lennon Stella the ‘headliner’?

Well, I’m going to be doing a bunch of new songs from the album… which is pretty exciting for me, but also kind of crazy having them finally be out in the world, but it will be fun playing them liveand good see what reaction they get.

Is that kind of pressure another thing to be nervous about though?

Erm… maybe a little, but I know how hard I’ve worked on this music and I really believe in it, so whatever the outcome, I’m proud of it.

The demand for this tour has been amazing – venues have had to be upgraded, your first show in London sold out leading to a second date being added at Shepherd’s Bush Empire...

Yeah it’s a cool thing that it’s sold out in London. It’s kind of overwhelming but it motivates me to put on a really fun show for everyone.

To get that kind of response outside of your home country must be a pretty cool feeling! How do you expect European audiences to differ from those you’ve just played to in the US?

Well, I haven’t done my own headline show here yet, so I can properly answer you that question better after tonight (laughs). But when I was last over here, opening up for Anne-Marie, I feel like everyone was pretty lively and it’s maybe a little more inclusive than in America. But yeah, as I say, I’ll have to see what it’s like tonight, I’m sure it’s going to be different.

So as well as the tour, you’ve got a brand new single out ‘Kissing Other People’ – which we LOVE here at CelebMix! It’s such a cool lyric, I don’t think there’s ever really been a song that touches on heartbreak from that kind of perspective – can you tell me a little bit about how the track came about?

Initially I was just talking about you know, how to move on and getting over this certain person to a songwriter/producer friend of mine called Caroline Ailin. And I was saying how there’s obviously so much that goes into actually moving on from a relationship or a situation, but really when you’re kissing somebody new and you’re finally not thinking about that other person anymore, like you’re not feeling guilty and it doesn’t feel like you’re cheating, that’s a good sign that you’re moving forward and you’re on the mend. So that’s kind of how it started, and from there Caroline went and put this concept together and we worked on it and finished it up together.

What you’ve created, musically and lyrically, is so refreshing! It’s unique yet so relatable, because we all know what it feels like to have our hearts broken, but with ‘Kissing Other People’, you’re showing us such a different way to approach dealing with lost love – because it doesn’t have to be all dark and depressing, it doesn’t mean our lives are over, and all we really need to do is have fun, enjoy ourselves and let go! And when it (love) happens again, it happens! 

Awh thank you, I love that! It’s so weird because when you’ve been so close to somebody, you can’t imagine them not being in your life anymore can you? But then all of a sudden, when it ends, it’s like you’re total strangers… it’s very weird. But yeah, you’re right, your life isn’t over just because somebody breaks your heart, no way.

“Kissing someone else is like one of those signs that you’re finally moving on, and you don’t have to feel guilty about that.”

What’s the fan reaction to the song been like so far?

The reaction has been really great. I mean honestly it’s gone better than I ever thought it was going to! People seem to like it, which is really good. Typically I tend to like things that feel a little bit more melancholy and have a sad feel to them, so it’s been really different for me to put out more of a feel good, empowering song.

It’s for sure going to go down a STORM on this tour

Yeah I think so too! It’s so much fun to sing live and when I have performed it at other shows, it’s been cool to see people singing along and relating to it – that feels really good. 

The music video for the song is just genius! Not only is it hilariously funny in places, but it’s also another clever way to spin the song and the lyrical meaning behind it... I for sure want go to that party! It looks like you had a lot of fun making it!

It was so much fun; it was literally as much fun as it looks. Everybody had a great time. I’d say it’s more of a lighthearted vibe, than my previous music videos, but it made a nice change and I really enjoyed myself – I think it translated well.

Lennon Stella – Kissing Other People (Official Music Video)

You’ve been working hard on your debut solo album for a while now, is “Kissing Other People” a good indication as to what kind of style and feel we can expect from the record as a whole?

I would say so, yeah. I think when you’re making an album there’s so much room to have a bunch of different sounds and to explore more topics, but yeah it touches on a couple of songs like that, with that same feel but then there’s also a darker side to it as well.

Starting the process, did you have a vision for what kind of album you wanted to make, or was it a case of going into the studio, experimenting with a bunch of different writers and producers, and seeing what happened?

I mean because I’ve been writing songs for so long, I’d say the feel of the album was quite wide and broad at first, it was kind of like just writing to write. But as time went along I’d say things narrowed in a little, and the direction of the album got more pointed as far as a vision and what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.

As a recording artist, you wear your heart on your sleeve – it must be pretty daunting to be so open and vulnerable on record. Did you have any go to people who could act as a sounding board and support during the process of making this album?

I’ve played it to a bunch of my family. I use them as a sounding board for sure, especially my sister! She helps me out a lot when it comes to picking songs and things that fit me musically. Sometimes I can be quite precious about certain songs, so it’s good to have a nice balance of input from people you love and respect. 

Lennon with ‘Polaroid’ collaborators Jonas Blue & Liam Payne

You had a MASSIVE international hit with Jonas Blue and Liam Payne back in 2018 – are there any collaborations that appear on the record?

Erm… there’s won’t be any collaborations on the album, no. But… oh, oh, oh… sorry (laughs). My manager is looking at me like ‘yeah there are!!!!’ So yeah there is one collab on there, but I don’t wanna speak of it right now – I want that to be extra special. Honestly, to begin with I really didn’t want to have anyone feature on the album with me, just because I’ve done so many collaborations, I just wanted it to be me and my sound, but when it comes out, you’ll understand why I changed my mind, it’s really special.

So let’s break things down… you’ve got the tour, the single, the album… you must be exhausted right now?!

(Takes a deep breath) I’m definitely… yeah I definitely feel a little kicked in the butt (laughs). But you know, I’ve never felt so excited either! I’m so, so excited about everything that I have going on; I feel very full inside… but I’m not gonna lie I’ve never felt as tired as I do either. I guess the two go hand in hand in a way don’t they?

What’s fun for you? How do you relax, chill out and forget about all of the chaos going on around you?

Honestly, and I know I said it earlier, but I’m such a homebody and I really like being at home, so that’s like my true place of relaxation. I like getting out there, reading a good self help book, doing some mediating… so yeah whenever I have time out, I’m all about getting in tune with myself and my body as I possibly can.

Lennon with Nashville co-star, and real life younger sister, Maisy

Many people will know you from your acting career, and your role as Maddie Conrad in the hit television show Nashville – is acting still something you want to pursue or do you think music is where your future lies? 

I would definitely love to circle back and see what happens with acting, once I’ve really explored music. Right now I just wanna give this (album and tour) my all for a second, but I’d love to do more film in the future.

So does that mean we expect the album to be released soon?

Well, there is a date scheduled, but I’m not ready to put that out there just yet. All the songs are finished and it’s in the final stages now, which is such a nice feeling. And when it’s really finished, like finished, finished, I’ll be shedding many tears because like you said earlier, it is such a long process putting an album together, and listening back to all of the songs together, fully produced as one complete body of work will be amazing!

As we wrap up our conversation, it’s clear to see just how much this new record means to Lennon. “This album is probably my most favourite thing that I’ve done in my life and my career.” she tells us as we say our goodbyes. “I know how hard I’ve worked on it and the time it’s taken to make it, so honestly regardless of the response, to me it’s gonna feel so good and I’m going to be so happy that I did it, and that I got the chance to put it out.”

Taking into account what we’ve heard of the record so far, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans, something tells us that Lennon won’t have anything to worry about when the album is released later this year.

LENNON STELLA: European Tour 2020

You can catch Lennon Stella on tour, in the U.K. and Europe throughout February and March at the following dates (tickets available here):

February 11th Columbia Theater | Berlin, Germany
February 13th Techikum | Munich, Germany
February 14th Gibson Club | Frankfurt, Germany
February 16th Kaufleuten | Zürich, Germany
February 17th Gloria | Cologne, Germany
February 19th La Maroquinerie | Paris, France
February 20th La Madeleine | Brussels, Belgium
February 22nd Melkweg | Amsterdam, Netherlands
February 24th SWG3 | Glasgow, United Kingdom
February 25th O2 Ritz Manchester | Manchester, United Kingdom
February 26th Olympia Theatre | Dublin, Ireland
February 28th O2 Institute Birmingham | Birmingham, England
February 29th Anson Rooms | Bristol, United Kingdom

March 2nd O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire | London, United Kingdom
March 3rd O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire | London, United Kingdom

Do you have tickets to see Lennon Stella on her U.K. & European tour? Have you had a listen of her new single ‘Kissing Other People’? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter @CelebMix now!

Written by Philip Logan

Contact: logan_philip@hotmail.com
Twitter & IG: @philip_logan