You might have heard her track I’m Feelin’ Sexxi on the popular MTV hit show The City (The Hills spin-off) or perhaps you caught her when she opened up for Kelis on the main stage for LA Pride 2010. Or maybe you met Liana Piper, stage-name Letron, as I did, in a quiet restaurant waiting tables. She is humble and unassuming while stunningly gorgeous and remarkably talented. She recently dropped her label and is about to release her first indie album, confidently. But she’d be the first to tell you, it wasn’t always that way.
Letron has opened up for some of the hottest acts in Hollywood in some of the most exclusive night-clubs- Les Deux, Club Area, The Conga Room, Nokia Theater, you name it. She shared the stage with acts including Kelly Rowland, LMFAO, The Cataracs, Mickey Avalon, Dev, and Will i Am. Her eclectic style- a mix of electronic, dance, rock, pop, and even metal- has become a hit with the night club scene. She has the sassy style of Gwen Stefani, the no holds bar attitude of Pink, and the quick-rise potential of Kesha (plus she writes her own music!) So how did this one-time folk singer from a small town in Northern Illinois (population 1100) find the strength to make her music, her way.
“I grew up on a farm, literally. We had goats, a well for water, we grew our own produce. I always had a big dream but a differ ent one- one day I wanted to be a gymnast, the next an author. I was awkward, I’m six feet tall now and was always too tall for my age. I was’t any good at sports, but I’d always played music. It was something I had a natural inclination to do. I taught myself to play piano, followed by saxophone, accordion, recorder, guitar… I came from am musical family. My parents loved to play the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Still, I never really knew I wanted to be a singer until I saw No Doubt when I was 14.”
But this career was a long way off. After dropping out of college her first year- a cocktail of too much partying and not enough ambition for any particular thing- Liana found herself 19 and moving to LA with one suitcase to her name. “I didn’t really know what the real world was like and that you had to go out and get want you want. I thought because I was tall and pretty I’d just be spotted by some agent and that would be it. I really imagined LA to be what I’d seen on TV- Venice beach with bikinis and roller blades where no one worked and everyone was famous. I wasn’t thinking in terms of I want to be a musician, just I want to be a star. I quickly realized LA is just like anywhere else, different scenery. Even a few years ago, I would have been embarrassed to admit that about myself, but I’ve matured and I’m serious about my career.”
Her early music was a combination of folk and carnival? That’s right literally carnival music with some lyrics laid on top, her “psychedelic experimental phase”. “I met a guy about a week after I moved here, we dated, lived in his van. We surfed, skateboarded, travelled and I left music for a while. Eventually I began playing shows, mostly acoustic, just me and a guitar on stage.”
Her early influences were artists Ani DiFranco and Peaches. “De Franco was huge in the woman’s movement. I idolized her. She had her own label, recorded her own music…she was a feminist and had a heavy influence on my early music. Peaches is a Canadian artist that became big in the gay clubs in Berlin and huge overseas. She has no censorship to her music and some of her stuff is raunchy. It’s rap and electric beats which she made and recorded all herself. These woman really set the bar for me to take my career into my own hands.”
Once in LA, it was the city itself and the nightclub scene that became Letron’s biggest influence and shifted her career. “I got turned on to the dance world, and I began creating my own beats with a keyboard and computer. I realized I didn’t need other people to produce my music, I could do it myself. The first few years, I kept my music to the confines of my apartment. I’d gotten used to being on stage with instruments or a band and the idea of performing alone with just a microphone and your music felt intimidating. My biggest fear was it would sound like karaoke, but I began playing local venues and house parties in the hills, wherever was av ailable. I began to think, I can do this myself, I’m a tough bitch.”
Eventually, she signed with Sean Meier of Sean Robert Entertainment. She made a EP on his indie label called Letronation and shot a music video for her first single In the City, which also aired on the MTV series. She began touring the club scene with top artists and for a while, enjoyed the ride. When her contract was up this past March, Letron decided to make a change. “I appreciated my label and all it did for me, and a lot of the things I have accomplished would not have been possible with out SRE, but I simply felt in my heart like it was time to go separate ways. I wanted to pursue a career in the way Ani and Peaches did, without censorship, with artistry, and most importantly, I just wanted to be myself. I made a decision. There is no formula for success and I wanted it my way.”
At 29 years old, Letron’s decision would be considered bold for a pop artist on the rise who’s age alone could deem her all but expired. She got a job waiting tables to pay for producing her album. She hired Augustus Cryns, a double platinum music producer in Canada who works with signed and unsigned LA acts. “He is also my little bro, aside from being an up and coming producer. The relationship was an added benefit because we got to partner on something that was so important to me. We are creating the album in a studio in North Hollywood. We started in mid-May and hope to have it mix and mastered by the fall, then ready for release. It’s really different and totally honest. It’s a mix of styles and even has two instrumentals on it that I am very excited about.”
The title track, Don’t Wanna Dance, just released as a single on iTunes August 2nd. It won’t be long before Letron is back taking reservations to play at Hollywood’s newest hotspots… that I can say quite confidently.