Get To Know Rolling Stone Cover Contest Finalist Lelia Broussard

There is still one more month of anticipation until the Rolling Stone Cover Contest presented by Garnier Fructis reveals the first unsigned artist to appear on its cover. Last week, we heard from The Sheepdogs, and this week, we meet the lady who's making the boys chase their tails. Lelia Broussard is the indie-pop princess whose music is part singer/songwriter soul, part dance-party-inducing. Born in Louisiana, this current NYC East Village resident already looks like a rockstar in head-to-toe black and a rad pair of aviators. We chatted with this 22-year-old as she sipped a cappuccino and dished on traumatic childhood experiences (braces and bad haircuts still haunt us) and her appreciation for glam rock, McQueen, and the irresistible allure of cute puppies.
Advertisement
Photo courtesy of Jeff Kennedy, Kennedy Etc.
How did you get started playing music?
"I was 12 or 13 when I picked up a guitar. I took lessons and it was an immediate love. It was the only thing I really liked to do as a kid."
One of the first songs you ever wrote was about your orthodontist. What kind of song came from that?
"Well, I told him that I wanted my braces off, and he told me that I was going to be ugly and boys weren't going to want to look at me. (Laughs) At that point I started writing, it was kind of like an outlet for dealing with that. It still kind of is."
Where's the most random place that sparked an idea for a song?
"I wrote a song called 'Waiting On The 9,' about the 9-Train here in New York that stopped running. It was a song about life, death, waiting on stuff to happen. I feel like a lot of people wait on a job, or like, 'If I have this and this, then I'll be happy, then my life will start.' So, we tied it into the train."
There's been a different mix of sounds in your music. How would you describe the genre of music that you play?
"It's an indie-pop kind of thing. I don't really like to put a category on exactly what it is. As an artist, I think we're always evolving, and hopefully that's a good thing—to be able to go wherever we want to go. Wherever the song needs to go."
Advertisement
You played at Bonnaroo, and you were recently on Jimmy Fallon... Just being a part of this whole conest, what's been the highlight?
"Jimmy Fallon was super fun. ?uestlove said he liked us. For me, that was a personal highlight. It's been really fun, really great. It's been a blast.
There were some fans at Bonnaroo who painted their face like I do, so that was cute and a really sweet thing. Walking out on that stage and seeing everybody out there was an insane moment."
Tell me about your pre-performance routine.
"I'm usually with my guys [the band] before the show. We get pumped up. I actually do my own face paint. I have a huge paintbrush that I got from the art store, so that's what I use to put on the face paint. And I'm like a chemist now. I mix colors and it's really fun. It's a visual tie-in behind my album, Masquerade. I wanted to give a visual to the whole album, so I started doing it in photo shoots and experimenting with things. Also, I love David Bowie. He's got that glam-rock-theatrical thing."
Where do you get inspiration for your style?
"New York has been a big influence on me. You see people walking around in the most crazy thing or the most stylish thing. Everyone's real creative and it's a cool energy for figuring out your personal style. For me, it's about what's comfortable, especially when your playing a show."
So, when you perform, is it heels or flats?
"Everyone tries to get me to wear heels. I hate heels. If I wear heels, you're going to hear about it. I'll be in a bad mood. I'll wear them for a short amount of time, and I think they look fantastic, but I cant hang with them for a long time." 
Advertisement
What's the worst haircut you've ever gotten?
"I remember when I was like six or seven, I had long hair down to my butt. I wanted to get my hair cut, but I was being a baby. They cut half my hair first and I started crying. They were like, 'Well, we have to cut the rest.' It was devastating to me. I thought I looked like a boy...and I did. I had been a tomboy at the time, and then I started wearing dresses so that people would know I was a girl. I remember being out at a restaurant and I was sitting in a booth (my mom told me this years later), a woman came up and said, 'What a well-behaved young man you've got there.' I was devastated."
So, out of The Sheepdogs, who would you say has the best hair?
"I guess Ewan. He has pretty good hair."
If you do win the Rolling Stone contest, what will the Lelia Broussard Rolling Stone cover look like?
"I can't give it away, but I hope I look like a badass."
Are there any designers or photographers you would want to work with?
"There are so many. It was so incredibly tragic, [the death of] Alexander McQueen. I think he's just on another level. That was such a sad thing, but they're still doing really incredible work in his honor. [For photographers,] there's a lot, like Annie Leibowitz and David LaChappelle."
I saw your Youtube video where you're rallying for votes with bunch of puppies. Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve in these last few weeks of the contest?
"I mean, puppies are always a good option. (Laughs) I just think we have to get people's attention and let them know what's happening."
Finish this sentence. If I wasn't a musician, I would be…
"Dead! No, I don't know. I really think it's my only love. It's the only think I can see myself doing."
Advertisement