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13 Questions with Leonie Jakobi

With her latest single just released, we talk to Liverpool-based artist, Leonie Jakobi, on influences, social media and more.

Liverpool-based artist, Leonie Jakobi released her latest single, You’re So Special at the beginning of the month.

Following on from last year’s singles, Walk West to Berlin and Are You Lonely Enough?, You’re So Special continues the sonic thread of Jakobi‘s 2020 releases.

Laced with a gothic country twang that has a radio-friendly groove, You’re So Special is the kind of ditty that could enlighten an abandoned roadhouse somewhere in the middle of America. A song with ’80s homage along with slight echoes of the Gun Club.

We caught up with Jakobi shortly after the release of You’re So Special for our 13 Questions feature.

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1. Congratulations on your new single, You’re So Special. How’s the reception been so far?

Leonie Jakobi: “Thank you so much! It’s been really good, I’m very happy about it! Although it feels a bit underwhelming to release music at the moment, because the online world is so saturated, and you can’t really celebrate it. A little launch gig would have been exciting!”

2. What was the inspiration behind the song?

LJ: “The song is about how much of ourselves we often give up in relationships and how exhausting this is. Often, we don’t even realise we’re doing it. The line, ‘I’m glad you got your morals right, too bad they’re just not quite like mine’ was meant to be sarcastic, but actually we do have very different ideas of what is morally right or wrong. As long as you’re on the same page with the people close to you.”

3. Who would you consider to be your major influences in writing music?

LJ: “It changed a lot over the last year. I’ve always been a big Springsteen fan, as a teenager I loved Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Sum 41. But over the last year I found it a lot more inspiring to find more female role models. I adore Suzi Quatro, Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar and I also love bands like Blondie, Larkin Poe, Dorothy.”

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4. You hail from Frankfurt, Germany. How long have you been in Liverpool and what drew you to Merseyside?

LJ: “I moved to Liverpool in September 2018 to study Songwriting & Performance at LIPA. I was very lucky that I got the chance to do this and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I love Liverpool!”

5. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?

LJ: “When it started in March last year, I went straight back home to Germany. I had just bought a new guitar, so I practised a lot. I spent half a year at home with my family, I listened to my dad’s record collection and finally gave myself permission to take a break.

“I came back in September for my last year at university, which was great, because I’m in my own flat now and have all my gear with me. This lockdown feels a lot harder, though. It’s very grey and seems to never end. I also have a finger injury, so I can’t practice much anymore. But I’ve been reading tons of books, which is very inspiring, too!”

6. You work for new label 9×9 records which is a part of the 81 Renshaw Street patchwork. Despite being in lockdown, how’s that been going?

LJ: “I actually only started working there in September, so I’m not too familiar with what is ‘normal’ there. It’s been going alright, we still have an online shop and with setting up the label, there was a lot of admin work to do. This lockdown is a bit more difficult, with the shop fully closed and I can’t even go in to take pictures.

“Our releases with the label started last week, which is exciting but also a bit sad for us and the artists. This is definitely not how you imagined releasing your debut album! But we’ll do our best and keep going. There is always a need for new music!”

Leonie Jakobi - You're So Special

7. We ask a lot of artists this, what’s your take on social media?

LJ: “I personally love what social media can do for us. I know a lot of people hate it, but I think it’s important to figure out a way that works for you. I put my phone in flight mode in the evening and only turn it back on after breakfast. But for music and social movements and education I find it very helpful!

“In real life, we think so much about who we want to hang out with, listen to or work with. I think we should do the same with social media. Be very mindful of who we follow and don’t be afraid to block or mute people! Even online, it’s still your own life and you can decide what you want to see or hear. Then it can be very inspiring.”

8. Some fun questions now. What was the first gig you went to?

LJ: “My first ‘real’ gig was a German punk rock band called the Donots. They did a feature with Frank Turner once, called So Long, if there are any fans here!”

9. When were you last told off?

LJ: “Good question. I haven’t seen many people who could have told me off lately! Possibly my mum for not doing the dishes right away (laughs). And I sometimes get insulting reactions on my Instagram, when I post about human rights – which should not be controversial at all.”

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10. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

LJ: “I have LOADS! But I’m actually not ashamed of it anymore, I think it’s very city-dependent what is considered a guilty listening pleasure. Last year, when I was in charge of the music at the shop, my boss told me, ‘Oh Leonie, you really wouldn’t have been one of the cool kids in the ’80s’. And I only played Suzi Quatro, Pat Benatar, Slade, Status Quo,… I blame my dad for my taste in music.

But what you’re looking for is probably bands like ABBA, the early country Taylor Swift and loads of Musicals.”

11. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?

LJ: “Vinyl for quality, streaming for quantity. Can’t beat a record player, but I can’t afford every record that I want to listen to on vinyl. Streaming is great to discover new music and if I like something a lot, I’ll buy it on vinyl.”

12. What’s next for you musically, should we expect an EP or an album for 2021?

LJ: “Can we expect anything from 2021? (laughs) I wish I could answer that! You’re so Special was the last of my first bunch of singles. I’m hoping to work on an EP this year, I’ve got lots of demos already, but I don’t want to release it until I can finally tour again! As soon as this is over, I’ll see you at the first Open Mic and I’ll start booking again!”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Any last words?

LJ: “Thank you! Feel free to message me and let me know what you think of You’re so Special! Also, I have an Artist of the Week series on social media at the moment, where I’m trying to learn more about my idols, and I’d love some recommendations! Stay safe & #spreadthelove!”

You’re So Special is out now.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

One reply on “13 Questions with Leonie Jakobi”

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