Watch Jessy Lanza Break Down “Don’t Leave Me Now”
Jessy Lanza dives into her session for “Don’t Leave Me Now” and shows of how the track was made.
In this video, Jessy Lanza dives deep into her lead track “Don’t Leave Me Now” and shows off all the layers that went into her “Doofy Bass”, the techniques behind her soft-yet-powerful vocals, how she combines VSTs with analog synths, and her favorite vocal sample in the chorus.

Artist and producer Jessy Lanza’s latest album, Love Hallucination marks her first full-length release since moving to Los Angeles, a journey that has influenced and emboldened her sound. Lanza’s music has been a fixture on the decks for the past decade, and Love Hallucination marks a new chapter in her evolution. The record dances between the frothy and the forward, touching on a variety of classic R&B and pop influences along the way. We spoke with Lanza about how place influences creativity, some of her favorite music, and the nuts and bolts of how she crafts her unique sonic world. 

You’ve spoken about how LA has informed the sound of your latest work. Can you tell us a little bit about that? 

When I started writing Love Hallucination I had just moved to LA. I think that living in a city built on confidence and bravado really helped me to find this artistic voice that I didn’t really know existed within me. I wrote “Don’t Leave Me Now” pretty much right after I almost got hit by a car. So it’s very much inspired by the city and the streets and walking around and what that experience is like. This song is like a celebration of moving to LA for me.

[In the Open Sessions video] it was really fun to dig into “Don’t Leave Me Now” and listen to the lyrics and just be reminded of why I chose this song as the first single, because it is so much about getting over your fears. Like, I almost got hit by a car, but I came home and I wrote a song about it and got through it. 

And you definitely leaned into LA for the music video — the streets of Silver Lake being featured prominently. 

Winston Case, who directed the video, had this idea of doing really long perspective shots of me running up and down the hills in the neighborhood. We spent a lot of time on the steps by the [Silver Lake] reservoir taking long shots — this neighborhood’s known for its really steep hills.

There are some visual similarities between this video and the “Kathy Lee” video you did a few years back — is there any connection?

Kathy Lee was shot in my hometown of Hamilton, Canada. What we wanted to capture is that even though I know it’s uniquely Hamilton, it really could be any city — it could be Cleveland, it could be Philly, it could be Pittsburgh. There are so many cities that look like Hamilton to me in North America. As much as the Kathy Lee video is unique to Hamilton, I honestly think it could have been shot anywhere, which is what I really love about the video. 

The thing that’s really cool about the “Don’t Leave Me Now” video is we’re shooting it very much in the same way that we shot the Kathy Lee video, which was like, we don’t have a big budget. We have the city and the city has so much personality. Just being on the streets tells the story. 

In general, do you think place influences creativity?

I think place does have a big influence. I mean, I’ve always struggled with that connection because I’ve never lived in a place that was in the epicenter. Like I’ve never been in the zeitgeist. I didn’t grow up in a booming club culture — I grew up in a place where it was Top 40 music and jello shooters — which is why I love r&b and rap so much because that was the only good music that was on the radio. Hamilton, Canada is really close to Toronto. It’s also really close to Buffalo, so there’s a ton of snow. The winters are pretty brutal — very different from the city of Los Angeles. Moving to LA, away from my friends and family, was such a huge step for me — to move here and connect with this kind of confidence — place has a huge impact on music.

Can you share a few of your references for this album and “Don’t Leave Me Now”?

When I was making Love Hallucination, I was also working on DJ-Kicks for !K7 Records, so I was listening to a ton of dance music, and then at the same time I was also listening to a lot of synth pop. I think of Love Hallucination as those two worlds coming together. One group I think does that better than anybody else is The Other People Place. Their record Lifestyles of the Laptop Café is just such a huge influence for me because it’s definitely a dance record, but there are vocals over top that manage to… there’s still songwriting there. I think that’s such a hard line to walk — to do a pop song, but it’s still a dance track. When I was making this track, I thought a lot about what they would do to make this a really engaging song.

What did you focus on in the production of the track to help express the concept of this song?

Because “Don’t Leave Me Now” was gonna be the first single from my new record, and because Love Hallucination is so much about confidence and being in LA — which is like the most confident city in the world, I wanted the track to be really big and really full. I was focused on layering the tracks and making them sound as big and deep as possible. I took the same approach with the synthesizers that I did with the bass, where I ended up layering a lot of different frequencies to get the sound that I was looking for. I also processed a lot of my Juno through a software I really like called Iris. Basically, it lets you like sculpt a sample as though you were using Photoshop, which is really cool. It’s really all about the layers on this song.

Keep up with Jessy Lanza.
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