In Session: LEWNA.

ALBANY – Sometimes, as artists, it’s understandable – even expected a lot of the times – to trip during a debut release. They may not have created a track that is entirely fleshed out, or experience hiccups along the way. This doesn’t seem to be the case for Wanda Lewis, who goes professionally by the moniker of LEWNA.. Releasing her debut single, “Falling,” on February 22nd, she has truly found solid footing in her debut. A thoroughly well written piece from start to finish, “Falling” serves as a song that establishes sentiments of a relationship while not holding on to tired metaphors or cliches. With instrumentation that ebbs and flows, pulling and pushing the listener’s ears as the song progresses, LEWNA. is off to a great start in her songwriting career.

It was my pleasure to take a minute to sit down with the artist to discuss her music, and path moving forward. Please continue reading to catch the interview.

“Falling,” cover art. Credit: Aaron Sarmiento

Lucas Garrett: Hey, Wanda! Thanks for sitting down with me today to talk about your music!

Wanda Lewis: Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be here!

LG: I heard your debut single, “Falling.” It kicks ass.

WL: Thank you! I’m glad to hear that.

LG: Tell us a bit about it.

WL: I wrote “Falling” in May of 2020. The story behind it is kind of funny and random. I went on a hike with someone during the height of COVID.

LG: That was the thing to do then…

WL: Right, haha. We were at Thatcher Park in Upstate New York. We were going along the hike; coming back things had started to melt. We hit this point where he stops and – not having touched anyone in forever – I fell and hit him. Threw my hands off; fell on my butt. There was so much going on. It was one of those moments during COVID; we hadn’t had physical touch with anybody else. You know? There was all of that.

Later, we were talking about it because the gentleman that I wrote the song about is also a local musician and artist. He’s pretty clever and witty with his lines. And I was like, “Bro, you could’ve caught me!” He goes, “I couldn’t catch you; I was already falling!” From there, I took that one line and wrote the whole song – basically about our relationship experience, essentially. That was two years ago; I kind of shelved it for a while. I worked on it with a producer for a little bit; back and forth.

I recently moved out to California. I have a friend, Jake Hite, who ended up being the producer for the track. I sent him the song, and he pulled off the production – we worked for about four or five months on the song. Then, Nick Cavin, a local producer, engineer, and drummer came in. He played drums on the track and mixed it for me. James Cronier, who is from the Westchester area, mastered the project for me. It was a super fun experience! We did 90% of it virtually, because I was in California. It was really cool to have what I believe is a 518 and Upstate New York song worked on on both coasts!

LG: A lot of pop music uses cliches. I like what your song did because it took what I feel is a unique concept and it made it relatable – without relying on cliches. I think it’s very well written.

WL: Thank you so much.

LG: We’ve talked about relationships… Do you, as an artist, have a hard time talking about that kind of thing? I know I struggle with it. It’s not easy to talk about that kind of stuff.

WL: I think it can be both and… I, as an artist – for me – my whole life is expressed through music. Music and writing. Relationships just happen to be a piece of that for me. It’s funny you say that; when I wrote the song, I didn’t want to show anyone else because it was talking about something a little mysterious; I didn’t know the person that well and didn’t know what was going on. For me, as an artist, it’s less about focusing on the relationship and speaking more about my life, in general. I have a holistic approach to my artistry; I’m wanting it to always reflect what is going on. Even if that entails a relationship: good, bad, or ugly; I write about it.

LEWNA.. Photo credit: Adrian Lewis

LG: When we’re in the process of making these types of songs, it’s awesome and abstract. But, then when we’re done with it, we’re like, “Shit, now we have to release this thing.” I just got done with one myself; now that it comes time to releasing it, I don’t want to, you know? It’s all real. It’s different when it’s only you listening to it, right?

WL: Right.

LG: For me, I hide behind metaphors. A lot.

WL: I do, too.

LG: I’m proud of artists that don’t. I’m always like, “How the hell do they do that?”

WL: Hahaha, yeah.

LG: Let’s talk about your voice; I love your voice. Are you trained?

WL: I’m not, but I grew up singing. Both my dad and mom were solo artists. My dad was in a group called Atlantic Star; he was in a bigger group. My mom had a solo thing going on for a while, then they got married. They became Christian artists and I spent a lot of time singing in church; almost my entire life. Between worship teams and choirs and singing at home with my musical family, that’s where my unofficial training came from, I guess you could say.

LG: Who are some of your favorite artists?

WL: Some of my favorite artists? I would definitely say I’m inspired by Hope Shorter; she was someone I grew up knowing. Alicia Keys is a huge inspiration to me; the soulful but sweet. She always had that going on. Now, I listen to a lot of indie-pop music. I really enjoy bands like Nightly or the band Camino. I also listen to a lot of R&B and soul. It’s that balance; my voice is soft, but I also have that soul thing going on.

LG: When I heard your song, I also heard that type of Motown vocalizations. Some of the best records out there, in my opinion.

WL: Oh, nice! I actually adore the 1980’s. So, eighties’ pop is my favorite. I’ll listen to that all day, every day. The way they wrote back then; the way the instruments were used; the samples. All of that gets me so hyped. All of what I’m working on now, and what I’ve written the past couple years has that eighties’ soft pop vibe to it.

LG: So, your debut single is out now.

WL: Yes.

LG: What are you going to do going forward? For new artists – especially with COVID – it’s hard to get out there. What would you like to do with your music?

WL: The biggest thing for me is being a songwriter. At this point in time, I’m not super interested in going out and performing. But, I love songwriting; it’s engrained in me – it’s what I’ve done forever. Whether I’m releasing my own projects or writing a song for someone else and handing it off to them. I’ve always loved and respected that. I love when I write a song and feel, “Oh, this is a perfect song for so-and-so.” I’m really leaning into doing solo projects that will be released, but a lot of it will be songwriting.

LG: Is there anything you’d like to discuss that we haven’t gone over?

WL: I’d like to say thanks to Chase Keener; he was there for moral support and played keys. He’s a good friend of mine and he also just came out with a song for his project last night. I’d also like to thank Hannah Amigo who is one of my best friends. She also helped sing on the project. I’m super thankful for everybody that was involved with “Falling.”

LG: Well, thank you so much, Wanda, for your time! I look forward to hearing more from you!

WL: Thanks, Lucas, I appreciate it! I’m excited to release more!

LG: I’ll talk to you later. Have a great day!

WL: You, too!

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