By Simone Goldstone | Soundcheck Columnist
“Windy nights, balconies at sunset, and tower bells blazing all year round,” are the sights and sounds that Newport Beach resident Leslie Ledezma evokes with her idiosyncratic music and poetry.
Unique and inimitable, Leslie’s inventive dreamscape songs and poetry books are contemporary classics inspired by the best writers of literature and icons of old.
At age 24, Leslie already has two poetry books out on Amazon: “The Enthralled” and “Waking Dream.”
In addition to her ethereal and mesmerizing poetry, Leslie self-produced two mystical and transportive albums that are available on all streaming platforms: “Dying Prime” and “Take a Journey.” They are hypnotic, vintage, and nostalgic studies of the newly surfacing Dreamscape genre.
During a fascinating interview, Leslie took me on a journey through her writing process, transition from poetry to music, and the past legends who shape her art and philosophies today.
Q: What got you into poetry and who are your influences and inspirations?
A: Poetry and music are definitely intertwined to me so the influences overlap. My first love was doowop and literature. Reading about moors while listening to Dion and the Belmonts or the Flamingoes diner-tunes made me feel alive.
Bob Dylan was one of the first artists that led me to this world where the vines could be parted revealing poetry and music truly being one. I even took a class on him in college, I got in deep. Early on, I was into the Sinatras, both Frank and Nancy. Some Velvet Morning was on my mind for what feels like centuries. Queen, with Freddie Mercury’s enthralling personality, was an early love too.
Leonard Cohen’s sublime, entrancing music is golden and was my daily regimen. I would read his works religiously too. Classic rock became my dose for my coming-of-age period. Patti Smith also amazes me, while Mazzy Star has lulled me to sleep many-a-nights. When I was in the American poetry section at the library ages ago, I had collected a Kerouac and some anthologies when I stumbled on Jim Morrison’s poetry too.
An angel from the north, John Moore, introduced me to Townes Van Zandt and I am indebted in gratitude until the end of time to him for that. Townes makes my heart feel such joy. “Snake Mountain Blues” makes me want to catch the first train out and just go.
The list of influences goes on. There’s John Keats, William Blake, Rimbaud the genius, Fitzgerald (who also loves Keats), James Joyce, Ferlinghetti, Emily Dickinson and Tennessee Williams. Tennessee has been one of the profoundest influences. His writing is a dream and god-almighty truth.
Oh right, I used to read Nietzsche to get an understanding on the whole Dionysian-Appollonian style, and I found he was quite positive. Lastly, film, primarily expressionists and technicolor made, have been a menagerie of images and truths that resonated with me.
Q: What are your songs and lyrics usually about? They are full of imagery and so complex.
A: My lyrics are about the truth and love I have found in this world. Usually, I’m writing about revelations, about moments in time that have been overwhelming in a joyous or sorrowful way, or about the people and artists that have really affected me.
The moon’s shine, views of dawn from a train window, the eternal ocean, all these things seem to mean so much to me and bring out a great deal of poetry. Cypress trees and their melancholic sway, beautiful architecture with belfries, and traveling all thrill me. Symbolism in each of these things comes easy to me – especially when I’m in the midst of reading Rimbaud or whatever book I’m reading at the moment.
Ultimately, my search of truth is what I tend to write about. Whether this is an understanding of what the past means or what the point of everything is, it’s all reflected in the works.
Q: Can you tell us about your Dreamscape genre? It’s such a new, largely unexplored sound.
A: Dreamscape is what reflects the sort of way I think and see everything around me. It’s mostly related to things in nature. It’s the sound of moonlight, the stars over the ocean, and the feeling of listening to music that makes you palpitate.
Primarily, it’s the sound of the wind that has inspired me to create in this style. The howling wind is immersive and gets me thinking about time and significance. In trying to figure this feeling into music, I got the dreamscape sound.
Q: How did you transition from writing poetry to making music?
A: Music has been a part of my life since I can remember. While I was taught a bit of piano growing up, Waylon Krieger taught me how to play guitar. Playing guitar has always been a dream of mine.
I started filling these journals with poems, quotes, and little statements about what I had taken away from some life event or whatnot. Somehow, this turned into music. I mostly attribute it all to Bob Dylan and folk music. I would read these lyrics and think, my god, this is poetry.
I remember creating songs and being so thrilled that I had something that meant so much to me. I joined some bands at USC, as I was pretty entrenched in the music department even though I was a business student. Anyways, I took courses on music production which really helped me better capture the sound and direction I wanted my music to have.
Q: What are your personal views and philosophies on the world? How have they been shaped by the artists you read and listen to?
A: I view the world as a place to travel in, walk alongside those whose souls are like magnets to your soul, a landscape with meaning in each mountain’s dew drop. I especially love the inspiration that comes from other artists’ works and what they have learned too. Books and letters of artists that have come and gone are staples in my life.
I think this world is what you make of it. There’s sorrow too. I was told not too long ago that there is holy ground in sorrow, so I think there is symbolism everywhere.
Q: Being a Newport local, what are your favorite spots around the city to sit and write?
A: Newport is so beautiful with such great spots to write at or gather inspiration. Of course things are a bit different now with Covid, but when everything was open I would frequent a number of coffee shops.
Alta Coffee Shop is one of my favorite stops. I felt like such a moveable feast writer in a Parisian coffee shop there because of the wooden-panel and warm style of the shop. Alta is nice because there is a palm garden aligning the docks where the evening lights reflect on the water in a dreamy way.
There’s C’est Si Bon which is a French coffee shop with the prettiest vine and iron courtyard. There’s a fountain and little tables to write on that I’m sure would please the ultimate coffee shop writer, Patti Smith. I also like Kean Coffee up the bends of the coast.
The sites from PCH along Crystal Cove when the sun is about to set gives you a sky and sea that is copper and heavenly.
Q: Lastly, walk us through each of your albums, your poetry books, and your future projects
A: My albums are mostly about what I’ve gathered from the time they were created. They also include hopes, dreams, and the things that are significant to me.
“Take a Journey” is mostly a whirlwind of artists, stories, and travels I had immersed myself in. The song “Strangely Pure” for example, is partly an ode to poets I love and a longing for the same qualities I have found in them to be part of those I surround myself with now. I’ve a friend like this who is a pensive writer and thoughtful artist that I enjoy writing shorts with, singing songs with, and sharing poetry with.
“Dying Prime” is mostly about devotion, acknowledgement of what I find enthralling and meaningful, and a bunch of journalistic moments. The title song, “Dying Prime,” is close to what I have felt and took away from a period in my life I consider to be a home in the scheme of time.
I have a bunch of new works coming up. I will have another poetry book coming out soon. My two poetry books “The Enthralled” and “Waking Dream” can be found on Amazon. These were published in 2018 and 2019. Those tie into the whole dreamscape approach I have.
I have another album coming out next month too. It’ll include a single that is out called “Ancient.” Additionally, I have been working on shorts with topics ranging from diners to poets. I’m working on one with Waylon Krieger which will come out in the near future.
I’ll also have a book published soon under a pseudonym. So look out for that. Ultimately, I’ll have much more music and poetry released that is truth bent and of the heart.
Where to find Leslie Ledezma music and poetry:
On streaming services:
Books of poetry: