- 04 Jun 20
Lennon Stella is part of a new generation in Pop music. We sat down with the singer-songwriter to discuss her debut album.
Indie-pop star Lennon Stella spent the first part of her life in rural Ontario, in a house with no television and two musicians for parents. She remembers listening to Fleetwood Mac and Bread vinyls on repeat, and both her and her little sister Maisy learned to play instruments at an astonishingly young age.
Her parents, despite being creatively minded, were hopeful the girls would choose a different career path.
“It’s so funny,” she laughs, “because everyone always thinks my parents must have just thrown me into it. I literally remember my mom saying to me, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to be a teacher?’”
Her mother’s concerns, whatever they may have been, proved unwarranted. The Stellas posted a YouTube video of Lennon and Maisy singing Robyn’s ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ to their own cup-drum instrumentals, à la Anna Kendrick’s Pitch Perfect audition. The video instantly went viral, garnering the Stella Sisters parts in a country music soap called Nashville.
Lennon’s unstoppable rise has culminated in her acclaimed debut Three. Two. One, which arrived in April. Of course, by then, the world was in the middle of lockdown, and we were all getting familiar with the highly questionable and uncomfortable deeds of one Joe Exotic on Tiger King.
“It’s like opening a tub of ice cream,” says Lennon of the Netflix hit. “You just have to eat the whole thing.”
Still, amidst all the Zoom and gloom, Three. Two. One. is everything we could have hoped for – an exciting pop listen with a sophisticated grasp of nuance.
Interestingly, perhaps the most poignant track, the ballad ‘Older Than I Am’ – about the struggles of growing up in the limelight and feeling more mature than your age – was not written by Stella herself.
“It was written at my writing camp, so I’d handpicked everyone there,” she recalls. “I knew that when I was in a session, there were three other sessions going on, with people writing specifically for me. When I heard ‘Older Than I Am’, we were at dinner. I walked out of the restaurant and sobbed my little face off.”
It wasn’t due to a bruised ego or jealousy. Although that writing camp was an exercise in letting go of creative control for Stella, it ultimately paid off in spades.
“That feeling of being older than you are, being unable to be a kid, because of outside pressures and things you have to take care of – it manifests in different ways for everybody.
“I had been talking a lot in general about how many people would be affected if I were to do something stupid and make a normal 19-year-old mistake. There’s a lot of weight and pressure that comes with being in the limelight at a very young age.
“That song hit me so hard because it’s something I never would have been able to write myself – it’s uncomfortably close to home. I know I won’t ever be at a point where people are writing all my songs – but with that song, specifically, there was never a bad vibe.”
• Three. Two. One. is out now on Columbia.