Shayna Leigh reveals her biggest inspiration behind her new album

Photo by Joshua Shelton​

Every hit song starts with inspiration. For Shayna Leigh, her songs come from her unique past experiences. When creating the concept and lyrics for her newest album "Drive," the young singer/songwriter decided to turn to the most personal memento she could find: her diaries. Leigh arguably did one of the bravest tasks any musician (or person for that matter) can do, and read her personal moments for the past ten years aloud in a studio room. Luckily she was in good hands. The album was produced by and co-written by Multi Platinum & Multi Grammy Award-winning producer Michael Mangini as well as Emmy Award-winning, Multi-Platinum songwriter and producer Peter Zizzo. The three creative geniuses sat down, sifted through Leigh's past, and came up with the incredible 10-song album with lyrics that do not disappoint.

Raw, emotional, but also wise, "Drive" gives listeners a glimpse into Shayna Leigh's noteworthy journey to becoming a musician and maturing as an adult at the same time. This is a record where love songs aren't just about love; they're about learning, growing, and finding yourself all at the same time. They're messages that resonate with people from all walks of life.

We recently sat down with Shayna Leigh to talk about her newest single "Goodbye July," how she created "Drive," and where her love of music came from. Ahead, find out about her music process, what life in the studio was like, and more!

And don't forget to watch her newest single "Goodbye July" below!

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, including more exclusive Shayna Leigh features, click here. ​

Was there ever a moment growing up where you realized that you wanted to be a musician?
For me it was a very steady growth into it. When I was a kid I tried every hobby, every sport imaginable, and I was not great. I was like the only kid never promoted in gymnastics. And this is a story that I don't tell that often, but there was an acting commercial shoot where you had to write a script, go to the mall and recite it. My grandma had come over with the casting clipped out of the paper and was like "Shayna should go!" And I was super shy so no one thought that I would do it. But I wrote this speech for the March of Dimes -- which is what the event was for -- and I practiced it, went to the event, and ended up booking the commercial. When you booked the commercial, you actually received acting classes and then that led to singing classes and once I tried those out, I knew I loved it. I really feel like it was a love of singing that grew into a love of creating my own content. I've also spent parts of my life singing other peoples' music but I got into my own because I knew there was something I had to say. I didn't know what it was but I had this nagging feeling that I had something as a human to put out in the world. So I decided to start writing and that was many moons ago. Once the momentum built and enthusiasm built, I decided that I wanted to find my sound. Once I nailed that, I wanted to find my songs. So it really was a progression for me becoming a musician instead of one defining moment.

What's your music writing process like?
I'm a co-writer so a lot of what I do is bring ideas into a room with different people. I co-wrote this album with Peter Zizzo and Michael Mangini who also produced the album. We tried co-writing a song, so we got together and I brought a quote along with me. That idea ended up becoming the song "Drive" which is also the title track of the album. I'm not an expert instrumentalist, but Peter is. So he will just play different things that go with the vibes or ideas one of us has. And a lot of this album came from my journal and just stuff that I have written in the past 5-10 years. We flipped through and picked interesting ideas or words. 2015 Holiday Party - Arrivals 2015 Holiday Party - Arrivals

What was that like for you bringing your journal into the studio?
The concept itself felt cool and personal, but then you actually do it and realize you watch someone go through your journal and that is a little scary. But I have an interesting thing about the way I write in my journals -- and I didn't even think I was a journal writer until Peter said I should bring one in and I realized I had 100 of them. I don't write about anything by name, it's just nothing that I've ever done. Probably because I'm scared someone will find it. I always have written more philosophically , so I couldn't tell you what I was actually doing that day, but I could tell you if I was heartbroken. It's kind of adorable though because it's a written history of my progress. There are times in my journal where I will read it and realized how proud of myself I was in a certain moment and even if what I accomplished was simple. I was still proud. It feels very sweet. The journals also gave me a different perspective into my music. I felt a lot of what I was exposed to in music growing up was just romantic love but I always felt like the ugly duckling in high school. I didn't have a boyfriend so I felt like I wasn't included in it. And although I could interpret things to be meaningful to me -- which is what I use music for -- there wasn't a ton of songs where I could avoid romantic love as a central idea. Now I do have romantic music since as I've grown older I've realized that love takes many forms. Love is not just romance. So I have opened my mind to that. But before, I was like no love songs! Peter and Mike were like, "All music is a form of a love song" but I was like, "No! We're not doing it!"

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, including more exclusive Shayna Leigh features, click here. ​

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