A call to create: Ridgefield musician releases four new albums
Recording and releasing four albums in a single calendar year seems like a daunting feat to most musicians. For Leslie Costa, it’s simply a new challenge and the most productive way for her to artistically spring-clean her older songs.
Costa reclined against the couch in her Ridgefield home, as she clarified that two of the four albums she’s releasing this year consist of some of her older songs that she never got around to recording. “Electric Blue,” which was released in March, and “Rainmaker” coming out in August will feature tracks with her singing partner Mary O’Hare, who she has performed with for nearly 30 years. Some of the songs will also be known to fans of her band Leslie Costa & the Usual Suspects, whom she’s been performing with since the 90s.
Costa’s other two albums “Storm Chaser,” which dropped at the end of June and “Long Distance Runner,” to be released in October feature a solo Costa performing fresh tunes that she has written in the past year and a half.
“I have a huge amount of material and I want to be current. I want to feel like I’m done catching up,” she said.
How is she catching up? By physically recording and making the albums herself on her computer Costa doesn’t have to worry about paying for studio time or finding a producer to mix her songs. At this point she’s a self-recording veteran, having released two albums in 2018. Costa can’t help but create. In addition to writing, performing and recording Costa, who is also a graphic designer, makes the artwork for her albums.
Turning to her cat, Maddie, who was bathing in the afternoon sun, Costa laughed and admitted that she featured her cat on one of the songs on “Long Distance Runner.” She said she was recording her song, “Bridges” and didn’t realize Maddie was jingling her tags until she listened to the playback later and heard what she thought was a tambourine. “I decided kitty needs to be represented, so she’s in there with me. She will be making her album debut with the mama,” she joked.
She describes herself as a “middle of the road, soft rock” musician and admits her songs are on the moodier side. She grew up listening to Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Cat Stevens and credits them as her musical roots. Now Costa said she spends more time listening to indie folk musicians like Gregory Alan Isakov and Peter Bradley Adams. “I’m listening a lot to these newer artists and I feel inspired by them, their sounds, their points of view but my other influences are where my roots are.”
Costa has been creating music since she was 12 when she got her first guitar. It shouldn’t be too surprising considering her family’s musical background; her grandfather played guitar, her father played ukulele, and her mother played the piano and sang.
When writing, Costa said the best songs are written within an hour. “It starts with a feeling and so when I have that feeling I grab my guitar and I just kinda start to play a couple chords and if I feel like I’m starting to get into that zone, the whole thing happens at once,” she said. “My best writing is about the pursuit of something I think is attainable but I don’t have it yet.”
When writing her songs, Costa said she often embraces the darkness. “You have to get below the surface, you have to really feel stuff to generate it,” she said. “We sometimes have to make light of some of the darkness we go through, so I’m glad I have this. It’s always been there, music.”
While Costa’s music might have a darker tone, she certainly does have upbeat and even funny songs. She wrote a song, “Like a Toilet Bowl,” that she was inspired to write after hearing someone say how they felt like things just kept going around and around for them as if they were stuck in a toilet bowl. Costa found the idea amusing and wrote a funny song about it.
A creative soul
She feels that complacency prevents her from being able to create. However, just because her music has a moody vibe Costa is quick to point out that she isn’t a weak person.
“My biggest fear is being misunderstood. I think that because people think I’m so emotional and so sensitive [that] they think I’m a weak person and I’m always sad — that’s not true,” she said. “I don’t want to be misunderstood where people think I’m always in a dark place, I’ve just always had this intensity behind the emotion, which generates the music.”
When writing, Costa injects a raw honesty into her work and pushes listeners to be honest with themselves about how they’re feeling, arguing that people can’t feel 100 percent happy or sad all the time. She also takes care to add layers of hope into her music.
“If your heart’s been broken that blows, no doubt about it. I try to put some sort of hope for people to reach out for, because if we don’t have that, then what’s the point?”
As she scrolled through the recordings saved in her computer, Costa smiled and said her songs are all about the journey through life.
“What I want people to always come away with is a place where they can relate to the journey, whether it’s a happy song or whether it’s a sad song. Because you don’t want to feel alone, you want to feel like somebody knows and they put it in words, they put it into music and I want to offer a place where people can feel like they can relate to it,” she said. “They’ll just feel comfortable knowing they’ve felt it too so they won’t feel alone.”
For more information about Costa’s music, visit lesliecosta.com