January 20th, 2020

Leanne Bowes

Artists Worked With: Cyndi Lauper, Hank Von Hell, Linda Perry, Corey Feldman, John Early, Shiragirl, Hunter Valentine, Tim Armstrong, Jane Holiday, Derek Day, Jennie Vee

leannekbowes.com, @leannekbowes

FEMMUSIC:  How did you become involved in music?

LB: My dad was a drummer and my mom was a music lover, so I grew up with music around me at all times. I naturally gravitated towards any instrument around me, but I specifically picked up the bass when I was 12 years old. My dad wanted to try out his new home studio setup so he asked me to play “So Lonely” by The Police on his bass while he played the drums and recorded it. Essentially, I haven’t put the bass down since then! I learned every CD in my house and beyond, which is how I taught myself to play. My dad actually passed away in 2011, and I’m proud to carry on his legacy by touring the world playing music I love.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?:

LB: When it comes to songwriting, my strengths lie more in collaboration! I love bouncing ideas off of my co-writers and brainstorming to create something meaningful. Alone, my process is slow, and I tend to feel overwhelmed by all the possible options. When I work with even just one other person, those options are beautifully narrowed down to what we agree upon!

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

LB: I absolutely adore being on the road, it’s my favorite place to be. However, my biggest challenge is the “post tour blues.” It can be difficult to drastically switch routines. Going from “tour life” to “home life” takes a toll on your mental health, and I’m certainly still navigating that balance. Luckily I have a community of musicians around me and they all deal with the same challenges, so that support can be vital when I need a reminder that those feelings are common! I’m also happy to be that support for any fellow road warriors who need it.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

LB: Tons! I used to only do studio work for the musicians for whom I also play live, but lately I’ve additionally been working on production and writing for other artists with my co-writer, Jake Bonham.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

LB: It’s all about prioritization! I take my live performances with bands very seriously, and I play live a LOT. So, depending on which show or tour is next, I’m practicing for that first and foremost. As for separating projects, I have a huge file system that contains every chart for every band I’ve played for in the past 5 years. If and when they call me back, I can pull out their song charts rather than restarting from scratch.

FEMMUSIC:  What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

LB: I’m not always taken seriously at first. People tend to assume I was given a gig because of the way I look rather than the way I play, and unfortunately some men have gone out of their way to express that. Luckily on tour I’m at least able to prove them wrong with stellar performances and a professional demeanor. I don’t feel I alone can overcome the challenges we face as women in ANY industry, but I consistently recommend my female-identifying friends for gigs to build a bigger professional woman-identified presence in touring bands. I feel fortunate to have only worked with bands and crew– male and female–who show me nothing but respect.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?

LB: A lot of industry networking jams and events focus on the “big name” hired guns. They’ll have the same 10 musicians on rotation constantly. Of course it’s fantastic to watch them and to be inspired by them, but I’d love to see a jam or event that highlights the lesser-known musicians! There are so many talented people, especially in Los Angeles, and I think more should be given a platform occasionally.  

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