Who Is Amanda Leigh?


By Noah Michelson

Are you a fan of pop music? Do you have any guilty pop music pleasures that you'd admit?
This is going to sound terrible but I don't even really listen to the radio, so I have no idea what's out there. I'm sure there's great music but --

Well, what about someone like Lady GaGa? You must have heard her stuff -- especially now -- she's kind of hard to escape.
I actually haven't. I've been living under a rock. I know what she looks like but I don't know her music. But of course it's meant to be really cool. I know it's like the thing right now but I've totally missed it. But that to me wouldn't be a guilty pleasure -- there's nothing guilty about that.

How much of an influence has Ryan [Adams, singer and her new husband] had on your music?
I think when you're lucky enough to be in a relationship with a partner that's supportive but that you also have a lot of respect for and you happen to be in the same line of work, it's only natural that there's a little bit of influence, but I feel like that's a question that will be answered on the next record. Amanda Leigh is very contained to me. It's my little pet project with my friend Mike [Viola]. We wrote it together, he produced it and he and I and my engineer friend were sequestered in the studio like the Three Musketeers. It feels very much like my own little project. But it's nice to have someone who's supportive and who's a fan of what you're doing.

When I was on your Wikipedia page, I found a few things that made think perhaps you've got a little bit of gay man trapped inside of you -- any ideas what I'm talking about?

Well -- it says that one of your favorite, favorite artists is Bette Midler.
Oh my God! Yes!

When did your obsession start?
When I was a kid. I know everyone else says, 'I looked up to Madonna,' and I liked Madonna -- I sang 'Papa Don't Preach,' but I loved Bette. I think it's because I remember when I was a kid my mom and my aunt and some of her friends went to a Bette Midler concert in Orlando, maybe? Because I remember there was this concert book there and I would flip through this concert book all the time. I was totally enamored with her. I just thought, She's done everything! She's done movies and Broadway and TV and she does music and she does concerts and that's the kind of career that I want to have. So, she's kind of been my ultimate idol from that perspective. She's really been on a pedestal to me and then I was lucky enough to meet her last year. I saw her show. And she is so delightful! Really everything I wanted her to be. I was just shocked that she even knew that I existed in the world. She knew my name -- she was like, 'Hey Mandy!' She knew that I was like a creepy stalker fan, but she was still very nice to me. So if that makes me a gay man, I'm cool with that. [Laughs]

If you ran into 14-year-old Mandy Moore, what's something you'd want her to know?
God. 14-year-old Mandy Moore. Jeez. I'd probably be pretty insulted by what I was wearing. Not that I have any fashion sense now, necessarily, but I just look back at pictures and think, Who let me wear my hair like that? Who let me wear that awful tablecloth as a skirt? Just dumb things, but I would say just try and hold onto that confidence and fearlessness when you're younger because it slowly evaporates over time. I'm constantly searching for that similar feeling. Being on stage and performing in front of tens of thousands of people when you're 14 -- I just remember never batting an eyelash. I was cool as a cucumber about that. But now to perform in front of a fraction of those people, I'm a nervous wreck all day and I put all this pressure on myself -- I've built it up to be something that it's not. So, I'd probably go up to the younger version of myself and ask her to maintain that sense of confidence as long as I could.

Do you think the difference between the two of you and the reason that you get so nervous now is that you actually care about the music you're putting out there? There's something personally at stake?
I'm sure that definitely factors in, but I also think it's just the age old evolution; when you start growing up and the naivety wears off you realize there's more at stake the older you get -- whatever you're doing in life. Writing my stuff and being truthful and revealing myself in ways I didn't when I was younger probably factors into being more nervous but at the same time I realize that I may not be everyone's cup of tea and I'm OK with that.

Amanda Leigh is now available in stores.

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