Meet Canadian Music Artist Leanna Oki
From the suburbs of Toronto, Canada, Indie artist Leanna Oki blends elements of soulful Pop, R&B, and Electronic music to create her unique and captivating sound. Finding her outlet in music at an early age, singing and songwriting have evolved into her forms of self-expression and therapy. Being self-taught in piano, guitar, and music production, Leanna is almost fully independent in her music creation until it nears the very final stages. She utilizes the strong projection of her voice, hard-hitting basslines, and an abundance of vocal layers to produce her signature bold style.
Leanna Oki has been featured across Canada by Toronto Guardian, Canadian Beats, Aesthetic Magazine, Ottawa Life, The Permanent Rain Press, The Wire Megazine, and Cashbox Canada. Her music has been aired by CBC Radio, CJMQ-FM, and KOOP Radio. Leanna also appeared on CTV Ottawa Morning Live for their Morning Jam. Drawing inspiration from the emotionally freeing styles of Adele and Maggie Rogers along with the moody resonance of Banks and Lorde, Leanna aspires to be another prominent female musician that uses passion and soul to propel her sound. Leanna has received comparisons to the deep and rich tones of Phoebe Bridgers and Ruth B, while still maintaining her distinct vocal presence. The Wire Magazine stated, “Her sound is deeply rich in passion with a powerful complexity, a true introspective delight.”
With her single and music video, “Warning Signs,” out now, we took some time to hear more from Leanna Oki. Read below to learn more about Leanna Oki, the story behind her latest single, and what’s to come.
Hi Leanna Oki! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
Hi! Leanna Oki is my real name, so I thought it was unique enough to keep as my artist name as well. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a more interesting backstory behind it!
What city are you from and where are you based now?
I am from Toronto, Canada and that is also where I am currently based.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?
I have always loved music, but I started writing my own originals during freshman year of university when I picked up the guitar. I released my first song, “HEISENBERG,” in August of 2020 and have continued releasing and creating music ever since.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
My upbringing has definitely shaped me into the person that I am today. Growing up, I was enrolled in the arts program throughout elementary and high school. My parents did not push me towards a specific direction, and kind of gave me the space to explore my interests and pave my own path. I think that sense of freedom along with my exposure to the creative arts allowed me to naturally find my way to music and discover my unique sound.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
I would describe my sound as a fusion of soulful Pop, R&B, and Electronic elements with a strong and emotional vocal prominence.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
Yes! Apart from music, I love baking, cooking, and strength training. To stay creative, I try to experience new things every day, whether that’s meeting new people, exploring nature, trying out a new activity, or experimenting with different sounds through my voice and instruments.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
So many artists have inspired me throughout the years, but I would say Adele is one of my main musical influences. I really resonate with her music and have deeply connected with many of her songs, especially from her album, “21.” I have also been inspired by other prominent female artists like Lady Gaga, Stevie Nicks, Mary J Blige, BANKS, and Lorde.
What are some of your future music career goals?
Well, I definitely want to release a full album sometime in the future with a collection of the songs that I’ve recently written. I would also LOVE to perform at a music festival one day, along with other venues (big or small). Most importantly, I want to continue growing as an artist and creating music that genuinely connects and resonates with more and more people.
Now onto your release, “Warning Signs.” What inspired this song?
“Warning Signs” was inspired by the abrupt ending of a certain past relationship that left me feeling completely blindsided and quite resentful. I was compelled to write this song as a way to express my unresolved anger, but also my realization for why it ended.
What is “Warning Signs” about in your own words?
“Warning Signs” is about becoming aware of all the red flags and issues that I failed to notice in my relationship until I was set free from it.
How did the music video for “Warning Signs” come about? What was your vision for the video?
I collaborated on this music video with my good friend, Dustin Trabello, in my hometown. I wanted to create a video that conveyed the edginess, rage, and intense energy that “Warning Signs” is all about. We shot the video in a variety of eerie scenes at night including the railroad tracks, a dark alleyway, an empty parking lot, and a dark garage. My vision was for these scenes to reflect the sense of danger and caution from my relationship (a.k.a. the “warning signs”). Out of all my music videos, this was definitely the one I had the most fun creating.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from “Warning Signs?”
I hope my listeners feel the vulnerability and raw emotions that I pour into each and every one of my songs. The music I create is fully true to my personal experiences and feelings, and is often inspired by really challenging moments in my life. So, I hope it resonates with listeners and helps them feel understood and heard. As for “Warning Signs,” I hope it makes listeners feel confident and empowered to let go of any toxic people in their lives and come out of it a stronger and wiser person.
What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?
One moment I was really proud of was having the opportunity to share the backstory for my single, “Sink,” on CTV Ottawa Morning Live. It was a really special experience to be on live television and have that platform to speak about my music. But, honestly, I feel most proud of building myself up to a point where I have the confidence to create and share my own music with the world!
What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?
One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned is to find joy within yourself and not from the actions of others. Seeking validation and approval will always leave you disappointed, so do what you love as if nobody’s watching.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?
Yes! I have several tracks lined up for the new year that I’m gearing up to release. I have also written a series of new songs that will be part of a future EP, so stay tuned for that!
Where can we follow you on social media?
Yes! You can follow me here:
Before you go, let’s ask you something random. What’s your favorite food?
My favourite food would have to be sushi. I will NEVER get sick of it. As for dessert, the Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter half baked non-dairy ice cream will always have a special place in my heart.
Thank you for the great interview, Leanna Oki. It was a pleasure to learn more about you and your music!