Scary Love Monster EP – OUT NOW

Belts and Whistles proudly presents the release of Scary Love Monster, the brand new EP from Leila Adu. Scary Love Monster is an EP of global urban and suburban romantic ensnarement, impressionist avant- tronica written and recorded in Rome out of a suitcase and houses in Rome, London, Wellington and New York. With sound worlds of Grimm’s fairytales and Toni Morrison, these dark tales hint at moments of light and love.

After four studio releases, this EP is intimate, mostly self-produced, with the help of gear from friends and extra production from London dance producer Alex Morris in London and New Zealand drummer/producer, Riki Gooch and final-mixing in New Zealand. The first video from the EP is Bluebeards and Monsters. NYC Deli‘s New York EP Release Show review says:

Here at The Deli we like to reward unconventinal artists – although unconventionality must be matched by talent – and New Zealand composer/musician/producer Leila Adu definitely belongs to this category. Her new EP “Scary Love Monsters” presents us with six unpredictable tracks (that’s a trendy adjective in these Trumpish days, isn’t it?), fluctuating between pop, weird jazz, dark lyrics and brainy experimentation at times reminiscent of Brian Eno’s early records…

The Scary Love Monster EP is out now on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp

Performance with Orchestra Wellington

Orchestra Wellington Little Russian

On June 20, 2015, Leila Adu, sang her orchestral piece, Rain as Blessings Fall, written as Orchestra Wellington’s Emerging-Composer-In-Residence-2014, to a packed house of sixteen hundred people at Wellington’s historic Michael Fowler Center. Listen to ‘Rain as Blessings Fall,’ Orchestra Wellington with Leila Adu from the live broadcast on Radio New Zealand.

Orchestra Wellington Pic 1


She stands pretty motionless, expressionless, yet seeming totally self-possessed and confident. I’m sure her demeanour persuaded most of the audience that we were going to hear something unusual and significant, and there’s no doubt about the forces of personality and character that work in her favour in any role she chooses to adopt.

Her voice arrived first and for a moment seemed to dominate the orchestra, even though it appeared not to be amplified: it’s an engaging voice that switches several times into a surprising falsetto which was presumably to reflect the spirituality of the words. After a little while, the shape of the piece emerged: limited amount of melodic material, mostly consisting of descending scales in a rhythm that might be described as part-time jazzy, related more to the idiom of the mid-century American musical than to jazz itself. The words sometimes sounded as if being forced into existing musical patterns…

One had the feeling in the end, trying to weigh the music, assess its value, characterise it, that given its base in Buddhist philosophy and morality, the standards that are applied to western music were irrelevant. That it’s not meant to be judged as we might judge a sonata or an opera, but perhaps rather, a madrigal or a protest song, where the message or the spirit is more important than the artistic clothing in which it’s dressed. Read more: Review by Lindis Taylor in ‘Middle C’

 The thread, always, is her voice. And Blessings featured a Buddhist text by Kalu Rinpoche and revised by Chime Shore (an early meeting with Shore had been a formative experience in Adu’s life) with Leila singing against the rise and fall of the orchestra. It was mesmerising as the voice became a mantra when singing of mantras, as the strings and horns moved around in a constantly modulating piece, tempo shifting, keys changing, it had busyness but never bluster.
Read more: Review by Simon Sweetman in ‘Off the Tracks’

 Orchestra Wellington Leila Marc

Musicambia—for Social Change in Incarcerated Communties

This year I am honored to be part of Musicambia, a project teaching music to inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York. I am teaching music theory and vocal techniques along with fellow composer, Elliot Cole; instrument lessons are given by jazz pianist John Chin, brass by trumpet player Thomas Bergeron and strings by viola player and founder of Musicambia, Nate Schram. We have been working hard to create a comprehensive music curriculum at Sing Sing Prison alongside composer Daniel Levy and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. It is a life changing project for us and for all the incarcerated people we work with.

We have been raising funds through Kickstarter, as well as Musicambia’s Faculty Concerts, the first of which ias at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC on Sunday December 14. Musicambia is a charitable trust and is only made possible through your continuing generous support.

Love and Mettā,

Rockwood Musicambia Poster 2

Leila Adu’s Ghanaian Roots: Music and Research in Accra

Leila Adu received a (PIIRS) Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies grant towards a visit to Accra, Ghana, for her PhD research on electronic music and hip-hop producers. Leila’s father is London-based a Ghanaian poet, playwright and musician and she is keen to reconnect with her culture on her first visit in fifteen years.

On her stay, Leila is also playing at Republic Bar and Grill, a hotbed of culture for local Ghanaians, many of whom have returned from living abroad, as well as expats. (Read more about Republic’s contemporary take on Ghanaian food in this Guardian article A foodie revolution cooking in West Africa).


Republic has weekly live performances on Wednesdays curated by Omon Blanks, as well as DJs at the weekend, curated by, Akwaaba Music’s Benjamin Le Brave. French/American, Le Brave founded Akwaaba Music in San Francisco, and moved the label to Accra three years ago; Akwaaba (“welcome” in Ashanti Twi) is dedicated to making African music easier to access worldwide through releasing, distributing, licensing and growing an online presence in a way that is fair for the artists.

Leila is collaborating with Accra artists and has recorded two tracks at 2 1 Entertainment with Ghanaian poet, Kwame Write.

Lord Echo New Zealand and Japan

Leila features in Lord Echo’s single “Molten Lava” and is singing in the live tour of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as shows in Tokoyo, Niigata and Kyoto, Japan. Check out this sneak preview of the Lord Echo’s Bastard Jazz (New York) and Wonderful Noise (Osaka) release at Spin Magazine: Her voice sounds beamed in from ’60s Brazil, but the production soon ramps up and we find ourselves in the middle of a modern dance floor. Listen and Read More…

saturday 29 march, 12pm – 6pm
Leila sings with Lord Echo
Silo Sessions Presents Lord Echo & Electric Wire Hustle
Silo Park
Corner of Beaumont and Jellicoe Street

Wellington Orchestra’s Emerging Composer-In-Residence 2014

Currently based in New York and in her third year of PhD studies in Composition at Princeton University, Leila has been chosen to compose a work for . Leila will compose a songcycle for her own voice and orchestra to be performed in Orchestra Wellington’s 2015 season Read More at ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON…

Letterman and Luscious Jackson Shows

Leila has been singing backing vocals, as well as playing additional percussion and keyboards for Luscious Jackson, famous for their 90′s hits including “Ladyfingers” and “Naked Eye” and for being the first signing to the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label. Check out a recent performance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Luscious Jackson’s Shows Coming Up

May 30 — Los Angeles CA — El Rey Theater

May 31 — San Francisco CA — The Independent

June 7 — Boston MA — The Paradise

Bunch of NY/PA Shows Coming Up

Photo by Jessica Hope

saturday may 12
Bill Direen
Hamish Kilgour
Leila Adu
@ The Cakeshop
152 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002

friday may 11
Bill Direen
Hamish Kilgour
Leila Adu
@ Kung Fu Necktie
1250 N Front St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

saturday april 13
Hamish Kilgour + Leila Adu
@Ding Dong Lounge
929 Columbus Ave
Upper West Side
New York, NY 10025

monday march 18
The Miz’Ries (Leila Adu/Jeff Snyder/Quinn Collins)
@ Public Assembly
70 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Princeton Student Readings

Photo by John Munson, The Star Ledger

“The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra musicians rehearse new works by Princeton University graduate student composers at Richardson Auditorium. Professor Michael Pratt sits on the conductor’s stool and discusses revisions with graduate student Leila Adu-Gilmore after hearing her piece played.” Princeton, Tuesday, December 11, 2012, The Star-Ledger

See more photos by John Munson of the NJSO readings at The Star Ledger

Futurospective: Song of the Day No. 6 from the Electric Foundry

The Electric Foundry — Past and Present Electronic Works

Celebrating our LAST PIANOS RESIDENCY SHOW THIS WEDNESDAY 19th at 9PM. Futurospective: Song of the Day No. 6 is the electronic alter-id, rare and unreleased oh!

Rare Cuts from the Lilburn Electroacoustic Studios (2003.)