While studying at California College of the Arts, Lelani has been developing her own aesthetic universe. She’s created film scores, illustration and animation, and earlier this year she released her compelling album Fantastic Planet – a collection of minimalist songs built with drum machines, Casio keyboards and synths that hover and hum like a UFO. Written, composed and recorded between the ages of 12 – 18, there’s a youthful energy which glows through her distinctive melodies.
Immerse yourself in Lealani’s world via our 100% Q&A below.
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born and raised in Pomona, CA. I go back and forth between the Bay Area and SoCal. I’m in the Bay for college, but my hometown is in Pomona.
20% What kind of emotions and experiences are influencing your work?
All alien emotions from my home planet, Fantastic Planet! My experiences of discovering my alien-self also have influenced my work and creates the stories that are contained within my music.
30% At what point did you realise you’d found your own sound?
When I wrote my song Lonely Stars. It was the first time I felt I actually wrote a song that was 300% of who I am.
40% What can you tell us about your current/next project?
From what it looks like right now, it’s going to come from a place of anger; but that could end up changing in the process.
50% Break down your typical day at work…
I wake up and eat bananas with oatmeal, or sometimes I’ll have my leftover vegan pizza. Then, I go back to my room and start creating music or art; or I go to my college classes. I come back home and then go back to work on whatever projects I’m focused on in my room. But, I do take breaks in between! I’ll go for a walk, dance to music in my room, eat yummy snacks, or talk to myself like a crazy lunatic.
70% You can only listen to three albums for the rest of your life. What are they?
Portishead – Portishead
Jonwayne – Oodles of Doodles
Damaged Bug – Hubba Bubba
80% What’s the venue/bar/restaurant in your city that’s closest to your heart?
A Café called Full of Life used to exist in downtown Claremont. I would go there and get THE BEST tofu sandwich in the world. They had amazing bread and it was the most perfect sandwich a vegan could ask for. In high school, I would always go there before going to the Pomona College radio station, KSPC Claremont, to do my weekly radio show. Also gave me great energy as a radio host. They unfortunately closed down just before I left for college. I tried asking for the recipe for the bread in the sandwich, but it’s a secret!
90% How did you celebrate your last birthday?
Alone in my dorm room, as I was studying and working on college finals. I had a nice dinner to myself though! Ate vegan fried rice and vegan fried shrimp.