Leeni’s New Album Lovefool Proves She’s as Sharp as Ever (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Jake Uitti
photo by Morgen Schuler

Celene Ramadan aka Leeni (who also performs as Prom Queen) is part creative tornado, part stage troubadour and part torrent of musical storm. In any given moment, she might produce an elegant song about a femme fatale or she might be combining songs from the TV shows Stranger Things and Twin Peaks or she could be backed by doo-wop vocalists while wearing a bouffant and strumming a ballad on a pink guitar or, as in her latest creation, which we are happily premiering here, Ramadan has whipped up a digitally produced EP, covering beloved songs from the 1996 classic Romeo & Juliet soundtrack that would make Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes swoon with a modern smile. To celebrate the release – and to get a little deeper into the reasons behind its creation – we caught up with Ramadan to ask her about the recording process, her other recent projects and what spending time in L.A. of late might inspire. 


What made you want to don the Leeni chapeau again and put out a digitally produced EP?

Even though I've taken a long break from making a Leeni album, I've continued to produce synth-based music over the years. I made Stranger Peaks in 2016 and a few singles ("Boredom Kills" and a cover of The Killers' "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine"), as well as performing a few live Leeni sets on occasion. For this particular release, coming down from releasing Prom Queen's Doom-Wop and then co-creating the music for Femme Fatale, the Can Can show, I really wanted to make something fun and simple that I could do by myself. A passion project. So a new Leeni EP felt like the perfect thing. 

How did you land on the idea to cover songs from the 1996 Romeo & Juliet soundtrack? 

I was driving back to Seattle from North Bend one day and had the urge to hear that record, so I put it on. And I remembered how incredible it is. And I knew in that moment I really wanted to cover these 5 songs in particular. 

What was the best thing that happened during the recording process for the new EP, something that put the biggest smile on your face?

The entire thing makes me pretty happy because I really love being able to produce - taking the time to craft the songs the way I would want to hear them. Programming and performing each note. But the biggest a-ha moment was, in my search for the perfect "orchestra hit," I stumbled upon the Peter Vogel CMI app and ended up using it for a lot of the record once I found it. Incredible sounds on there. It was very inspiring to me. 

You have such range as an artist - both on this EP and in general. What do you enjoy about working in different creative fields?

The beauty of working within a myriad of creative outlets means that I can always be creative and still have variety in my life. I can step away from Prom Queen and still create music and have it feel totally different. It helps with burnout prevention. 

You shot the video for “Lovefool” at The Ruins with the new female-run cabaret group, Valtesse. Their digs are so fancy and they’re so talented. What about the shoot did you most enjoy?

The whole thing was amazing! I absolutely love working with Jonathan Houser, he was the DP and he designed the lighting and was an overall one-man-show for this shoot. We've done many creative projects together over the years and he's so talented and a joy to work with. And shooting at The Ruins has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and I am so grateful to Fiona and Valtesse for making it happen on a quick timeline with such impeccable style. 

You’re spending time between L.A. and Seattle now. What goals do you have for 2019 as you spend time in both cities?

It freaks me out to write my goals out in print but, no matter which city I am in, my goal is to continue creating and to find more new people to collaborate with. And to let the universe take care of the rest. 

Listen to Leeni's Lovefool in full below

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