Imagine writing original material so personal, that you are
afraid to perform it in front of anyone until you're in college!
Alice Leon had been writing since she was a child but lacked
the self-confidence to allow others to share that music. "I'd
been writing music since I could remember," Alice revealed,
"but I didn't do anything professional until I was in college.
I was never in any school plays and I never even let anyone
know that I wrote music. I was too afraid."
So what was it that turned Alice's professional life around?
An accident, of sorts. Check out this story: "Just for the
experience, I went to England one summer and took a job as
a waitress. I brought my guitar along with me and would play
in my room. Well, I guess the walls must have been pretty
thin because the people next door heard me and insisted that
I perform in their local pub. I went out and played live for
the first time and got this really great response. In fact,
the pub hired me and paid me more than I was making doing
my waitress job. I got more and more comfortable playing and
soon I started telling stories during my set about the songs
I was playing. And that helped a lot. They hired me to play
there every night."
Summer ended and Alice made her way back to America where
she continued to play out. She "liked the rush" of performing
live and, with renewed self-confidence, took to it like a
fish to water. Leon began working with a band called After
Alice, had a local hit and sold about 4000 copies of their
indie CD. "We were a rock band then. I dyed my hair black
and wore all black and did the heavy rock chick thing. I even
had a song that Lita Ford wanted to record. It was harder
stuff although my sensibilities were more closely tied to
the singer-songwriter material."
In 1996, the artist went out merely as Alice Leon and snagged
a development deal from John Kalodner [Sony Records]. Kalodner put her together with a few record
producers and for the first time, Alice found herself in the
inner circles of the music industry. "The Sony thing lasted
about a year and I worked with heavy metal producers. Finally,
a lot of changes went down and the label didn't pick up my
Not at all discouraged, Alice put together yet another band
called The Alice Project and forged, headstrong into the storm.
"This band is still together but what's great now is that
because of TAXI, I don't have to only write heavy metal songs.
TAXI allows me to write out of the box a little. TAXI allows
me to write songs that I normally would not do live. I love
to write in all different styles--even country songs. I wrote
pop songs that were forwarded. I wrote angry chick songs that
were forwarded. I even have a Christmas novelty song that
got forwarded. It gives me the opportunity to really think
outside of the material I'm performing."
What makes Alice Leon wise is that she cherishes the critiques
and always asks for them when submitting new material. They
give her objectivity and fresh insight into her material.
"For the most part, the critiques have been pretty spot on.
And I appreciate the fact that the screeners listen to all
of the parts of the song--not like some contest where they
won't listen to the bridge or to the lyrics."
Thus far, Alice has concluded three deals thanks to TAXI,
and she couldn't be happier. "The bottom line is that I haven't
yet made it to the point that I would like to make it. TAXI
has become a good vehicle for me to just get things flowing.
I always feel like there's a place to send my music. The first
deal I got was with a music supervisor who is helping to place
a lot of my songs in films and TV. Then, I got an original
song of mine into an indie film called Random Shootings in
L.A. and the third deal was getting a song on a compilation
called Guitar Girls featuring girl singer-songwriters. Right
now just about 25% of all the things I send in get forwarded."
In anticipation of the birth of her first child (a boy named
Eli), Alice upgraded her membership to Dispatch to make it
easier and quicker to both send material and get results.
"Now that I have a baby, it's a lot easier than making the
burrito. I just send my MP3 and it's a lot more efficient."
Alice concludes by putting everything into perspective. "Right
now," she said, "I'm having fun with TAXI. Even if something
doesn't get forwarded, you know someone's listening to your
music and it gets my creative juices flowing all the time."
And so I ask you---what good are friends if not to get your
juices flowing? Alice Leon is one passenger who knows how
to take advantage of us. And has benefited from it!