Photos by Maria Jose Govea
2018’s Girlschool music fest (coming up this weekend Feb 2 to 4) is brimming with killer female-led performers, and Low Leaf isn’t an exception. Set to take stage this Sunday at Echo Park’s Bootleg Theater along with the Ascension Orchestra, Low Leaf’s music couldn’t be more appropriate for a celebration of female excellence. Combining various genres to create an ethereal sound by fusing harp with electronic beats, her music is spiritual, unique, and unrestrictedly experimental, and aims to heal, unite, and spread love to her listeners by connecting them with nature. Did we also mention she taught herself how to play the harp, guitar, and add to that insane production skills? Badass. We caught up with the LA songstress to chat about following your heart, self-discovery, and what we can expect from her highly anticipated performance.
How excited are you for the Girlschool festival?
Super excited! I’m putting together a set list of songs that all have to do with empowerment, oneness and love!
Is there an artist you’re looking forward to watching play?
I’m excited to see Mereba play. I caught her performing solo once for a peace benefit we did over a year ago. She has such a stunning voice and presence.
What can we expect from your live performance? I know you started as a solo artist, and now you play with a band. How was that transition?
I will be playing on my blue electric grand pedal harp n a keyboard with a 5 piece band. The transition felt very natural and overdue. When I would perform solo there was a heavy emphasis on creating soundscapes and performing songs that were very much rehearsed. With my band situation, there’s more room for fluidity and improvisation. I also get to focus more on instrumentation and exploring new realms of straight up songwriting. As we grow though, I will be slowly introducing electronic elements back in to my live show.
Your music is very intertwined with spirituality and nature. What do you want your listeners to take away from it?
Nature is one of the ways the spirit expresses itself, and this inspires me every day. I’ve always felt the music in the beauty of a flower, or the grandeur of a massive wisdom tree! It’s all harmony! I hope my listeners would be inspired to reconnect with mother earth and realize the inner-connectedness we have with all creation.
You wear so many hats when it comes to your music—you play multiple instruments (some of which you taught yourself!), you sing, and you’re a composer and producer, which is really rad. By doing so, you’ve created your own unique sound which is very much your own—especially the combination of piano and harp with electronic beats. How would you describe it to anyone just discovering Low Leaf?
I’ve always asked this question, and I always feel like I could never answer it properly… But I finally think I found the word to describe what this whole process is for me. My music is a continuously evolving creative experiment. In this way, there’s always room for growth, where no walls of genres exist. I would simply describe my music as experimental.
I read somewhere that your search for your cultural identity as a Filipino woman led to your interest in music. Can you tell us more about that?
Well I was already involved in music even before I could conceive that I was having a Filipino-American experience growing up. I think everyone gets to a point in their 20s where they’ve climbed a few mountains and can look back on the story they’ve written so far in their life and evaluate what it all means. I started to zoom in on how I was pretty lost when it came to having a cultural identity. But I found myself resonating with indigenous Filipino music. The more I searched deeper into those cultural roots, I discovered another layer as to why being a Filipino woman in music is really powerful. I am a unique voice. When I speak, I not only speak for myself, but for all Filipino women. So I’m doing my best to keep it real and natural!
Where else does your inspiration come from?
I get inspiration from listening to new music every day, especially jazz… and jazz harpists! Just hearing how someone has mastered an instrument so much to the point of complete freedom in expression just makes me wanna go even deeper into my playing so that one day I could be able to play exactly what I hear in my head.
What is your creative process?
Hmm, I feel like the entire day is the creative process. Like, I used to look at my morning ritual as something I absolutely had to stick to, otherwise my entire day would be off balance. But then I realized that I needed to give myself room to switch it up cuz I was limiting myself. I like to look at time as something I can design, like art. So the flow of my entire day allows for creativity and inspiration to happen at any time. So long as I’m in that flow (which is diff every day) then I’m ready for what the present moment brings!
Tell us about your progression from your first album to your most recent, Palm Psalms: A Light to Resolve All Darkness? Where do you envision your music going?
I think the progress has been one of self-discovery. Every single project I was exploring something new, experiencing something new, and trying to make sense out of life through music. Ironically I felt the most unresolved after I released Palm Psalms bc I was already in a different place musically by the time it was released >,< …but I guess that’s just a part of the creative cycle! I envision my music going towards–new colors, and a new approach–more improvisation, more songwriting. So long as I’m alive, I will continue to create <3
What’s next for you?
I just finished mastering my next project called PRiMiTiVA ! It’s my most upbeat experiment thus far, blending elements of live and electronic feels. It’s my offering for the divine feminine uprise, that raw feminine fire in all of us. And I feel like it’s my strongest and cohesive project thus far. So excited to release it when all da stars align!
Stay tuned for more info on performers at Girlschool, and for tickets, visit here.