Leslie DiNicola

Sitting across from Leslie DiNicola, you get the feeling that you’re sipping coffee with Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Aniston- the sexy “girl next door.” But when she opens her mouth on stage, she unleashes the soulful blues diva that will rock your world. Not many artists today can dazzle 38,000 people at Citi Field and then, moments later, take the stage at an intimate club like Googie’s Lounge and captivate the audience with merely a whisper into the microphone. But Leslie DiNicola can. And has.

DiNicola moved around a lot when she was growing up, and has that unique perspective of someone who’s been “the new kid at school” a few too many times. After graduating from Syracuse University, Leslie found herself pulled in opposite directions by her love of music and her love of sailing. She reflects, “By the time I was 22 and moved to Manhattan, I had already lived in 8 different places. No matter how much you like a place, the way I liked NY, there’s a hesitancy to get too comfortable. I think that’s what kept me running off to sea so often, sailing to different countries every chance I got.”

After one final journey of self discovery through French Polynesia, Tonga, and Fiji, DiNicola woke up one morning, and finally made the ultimate choice to settle into her home in Manhattan and get serious about music. She responded to an ad on Craigslist for recording sessions in Brooklyn and met, studio owner Ellis Traver who has worked in various capacities with Diane Birch, Fischerspooner, Sean Lennon, and Mark Ronson. Traver turned out to be somewhat of a musical soulmate for DiNicola and produced the 5 songs on “It Resembles Fiction.” What started as an afternoon recording a couple tracks quickly turned into a 3 day Lock-In turning out song after song with top notch artists including: Angela Webster (Rhett Miller and The Believers, The Holy Ghost), Michael Cheever (Fischerspooner, Avan Lava), Greg McMullen (Chris Whitley, Glenn Branca), and Jeff Hudgins (Matt Bauer, Loiter). "It Resembles Fiction" is refreshingly honest and uncomplicated. These are tunes that will echo in your head for days. Leslie reveals, "Lay Me Down is about a relationship that is about to end, but you want to pretend that everything is okay, so you can have one last night together." There is a nice warped horn sound here that provides a perfect contradiction to Leslie's clear, bright vocals. I Wish is a playful song about being in love with someone who is totally wrong for you. There's a hint of Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz here and it's nice to see a modern artist who can evoke one of the greatest singers of our time. Now That You're Mine explores the emotional torture of being in love with someone who is obviously in love with someone else. There is a subtle anguish to this song reminiscent of Sheryl Crow's Strong Enough. "It Resembles Fiction" is that rare EP that sounds both fresh and familiar from the first listen.

Over the past year, Leslie has built an impressive following of fans and played packed shows at classic NYC venues such as Crash Mansion, Arlene's Grocery, Fontana's, and Googie’s Lounge. This summer she embarked on her first mini-tour, during which, the highlight was being asked to sing the National Anthem for the Atlanta Braves on two separate occasions. Once in Atlanta at Turner Field, then, again, in New York at Citi Field. Since that time, Leslie has been sought after by nearly every major New York sports team to perform the Anthem, including a performance at the famed Madison Square Garden for the NY Rangers. As Leslie DiNicola's songs continue to reach a wider audience, it is easy to imagine her playing sold out shows for thousands of fans every night.

How do you describe your music to people?
The best way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine a world where Janis Joplin did just a little less heroin. Maybe on Sunday mornings she got up, lit a cigarette and made herself a Bloody Mary, instead of shooting up.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I had been singing competitively since I was 10 and was trained classically. But when I was in high school I started to lose interest in the music I was studying and became more interested in a very dreamy boy named Paul. Paul loved rock music. And I loved Paul. So, I followed him every weekend sneaking into clubs to see live bands. And that's really how the transformation began. Paul now works for Prudential.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
There are two things I love more than anything in the world. One, is to wake up in the middle of the ocean and climb up onto the deck of a wooden boat barefoot with no land in sight and know that it's going to be days before I see land again. The second... is probably a bit inappropriate for some audiences and best left undiscussed.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The hardest thing I think, for all artists, is to know what people are going to help you and what people are just going to run up your bar tab, jump up on stage grabbing the mic, and puke outside the venue- all while telling everyone they're your manager.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pirate when I grew up. I wanted to sail all over the world and discover new and exotic lands. As I got older and learned that not only was there no "new land" to discover, but that pirates weren't exactly the adorably misguided but good hearted explorers you see in Disney movies. They were, in reality, cold hearted and murderous criminals. So... I decided I should probably pay more attention to my voice lessons and focus on a more legal and respectable source of income.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Growing up, we moved around a lot. I think the exposure to so many different parts of the country had a HUGE impact on my development as a musician. I was lucky enough to be exposed to many different styles of music, landscapes, culture, and people. I have never been short on inspiration or a good story to write about. I mean, people in Seattle get arrested for totally different reasons than people in Texas do. All of which, makes for a great song.

What other artists out there do you love?
I am proud to say that recently, I can't get enough of My Morning Jacket, Brandi Carlile, The National, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

I am not so proud to say, that I, for some reason, have acquired tickets to the NKOTB Concert next June.

Is this interview still going to run?

What does your future hold?
I'm hoping the next couple years hold new albums, national and worldwide tours, and a cure for my constantly shedding cats. Because, as much as I love them, I am one sinus infection away from shaving them bald.