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Leigh Mary Stokes - The IndieLondon interview

Leigh Mary Stokes

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LEIGH Mary Stokes released her new single, Perfect, earlier this month (November 2010), a rallying call to people to respect themselves and take confidence in their own appearance without worrying about what other people think.

The singer-songwriter talks exclusively to IndieLondon about writing the track, why 2010 has been such a fantastic year (complete with headline Camden Crawl appearance) and what her hopes for the future are, including plans for that debut album!

Q. Hi Leigh Mary, we enjoyed the single Perfect… it must be nice to have it out there?
Leigh Mary Stokes: Yeah, it’s nice that anyone can listen to it at any time if they like. It’s always good to have it out there just in case!

Q. So, what inspired it? It’s very much an empowering track in our opinion…
Leigh Mary Stokes: It’s pretty self explanatory really. I wrote it because I’m sick of the media putting people down and saying if people can’t live up to their unrealistic expectations then they’re not good enough. I have lots of fans on my Facebook and Twitter who are 15 and 16 and they are updating their status’ about how they’re sooo fat and they’ve not eaten in days but they’ve not lost any weight and it’s terrifying. It’s not healthy and it shouldn’t be like that. It genuinely is what’s on the inside that counts.

I’m not the skinniest girl in the world but I have amazing friends and just an awesome life regardless. You shouldn’t let people put you down. There’s more important things in life than what you look like.

Q. How has 2010 been for you? You sound as though you’ve been busy making new friends?
Leigh Mary Stokes: I’ve had an amazing 2010! I’m genuinely sad that it’s almost over. We’ve met some amazing people and I’m so grateful to everyone who got involved this year. Here’s hoping 2011 is even better!

Q. How was the experience of getting to headline a stage at the Camden Crawl?
Leigh Mary Stokes: It was a bit ridiculous really. It was raining and everyone was squeezed inside and it was just totally rammed. Everyone seemed to like it and there was free cider. We also got introduced to stage by the BEAUTIFUL Ross Sutherland who I’m a huge fan of :) lovely.

Q What have some of your other live highlights been this year?
Leigh Mary Stokes: Playing the Big Bash to 5,000 Girl Guides and Brownies was pretty special. I also enjoyed Redfest, Hootenanny’s Brixton, London Imperial College and Bedford Esquires to name a few. It’s difficult to choose because so many have been excellent!

Q. I gather your band-mates actually discovered you during an open mic session… can you talk a little about that?
Leigh Mary Stokes: I met them at Roger Courtney’s Open Mic Night at the Barn in Portsmouth. It’s at the end of my road and it’s the first place I ever performed live – thanks to the world’s most wonderful promoter, Nick Courtney. He encouraged me to play week after week and after a while I started writing and performing my own songs – queue the boys turning up and seeing me and offering me help. That’s it really!

Q. So how long have you been together now and what do you like about them?
Leigh Mary Stokes: We’ve been together for about a year and half and I’m very grateful for all of their help! They’re all very supportive and lovely and I can’t imagine doing this without them!

Q. How do you find you’re growing as a unit – and has this past year taught you more about yourselves now that you’ve toured more?
Leigh Mary Stokes: We’ve learnt what gets on each others’ nerves (for better or worse) and we certainly gel better together. We can play our set back to front and are tight as hell. I think I’ve learnt that I LOVE being on the road. And I don’t want to stop doing what we’re doing.

Q. At what point did you know you wanted to become a singer?
Leigh Mary Stokes: When I was five. I watched the Spice Girls on Top Of The Pops when they first released Wannabe and I knew there and then that I wanted to be a singer because it looked SO much fun. I idolised them.

Q. What’s been the best piece of advice in helping you to get to this point?
Leigh Mary Stokes: My manager told me that everyone will have an opinion on what’s best for me and I shouldn’t listen to everyone or take anyone too seriously because not everyone can possibly be right. I stuck to that.

Q. Who inspires you?
Leigh Mary Stokes: Dusty Springfield, Dolly Parton, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Mundane and Average, The Extraordinary, Friends, Family, Films, Books… Life.

Q. When can we expect a full album from you?
Leigh Mary Stokes: Aaah now that would be telling ;) There will be an album, I’m sure, when there is a call for it. We have the songs, but I don’t want to waste them by putting them out at the wrong time. Patience is a virtue.

Q. At 19 and with the world at your feet, will you be continuing with education and going to university or hitting the road and concentrating on your music career?
Leigh Mary Stokes: I’m 20 now but I shall not be going to Uni as I don’t have a clue what I’d do if I did go! I’m going to just keep on trucking with the band and hope for the best!

Q. Your songs tend to be inspired by themes everyone can relate to… how easy does song-writing come to you?
Leigh Mary Stokes: It’s just second nature really. I get an idea and just write about it. My lyrics aren’t particularly powerful or ambiguous, they just tell it like it is. I think that’s why people find it easy to relate to them.

Q. Which tracks should we really look out for that are maybe in a state of near completion – and what inspired them?
Leigh Mary Stokes: There will be a single in January called Your Smile, which is about not getting over a relationship. There may also be an EP in early 2011. All the songs vary in mood depending on what’s going on in my life, but I’d like to think they’re all worth a listen at least!

Leigh Mary Stokes’ single Perfect is available now… Read our review