AT just 20 years old, Ellen Murphy from Cork city has spent the last few years trying to take the New York music scene by storm.
Ellen, known by her stage name Lenii, has spent her life surrounded by music and made her first move to New York at just 15. She’s since been signed to a management group and released two singles and a music video.
Lenii, who grew up on College Road, credits her Cork upbringing for inspiring her love with music.
“My mom used to manage artists and bands so I grew up around the artistic community in Cork,” she explains,
“I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember.”
Both Lenii and her sister play violin, guitar and piano and her brother plays drums and cello.
“If there wasn’t music in our family down the line there is now!,” she says.
Lenii began playing violin at just four years old and went on to study music theory in the Cork School of Music and studied violin with Andrew Petcu until she was 18. She also played with the Cork Youth Orchestra. Lenii says that her Irish culture played a big part in her artistic development.
“I think musicality is in the Irish genes in general. Whenever my family got together we had a big sing- song and we were always brought to trad sessions in local pubs as kids.”
Lenii knew she wanted a career in music from a very young age, so in her transition year at Mount Mercy College she went to New York to study music production for six months. As the only female student among 15 older men, she says: “It was initially shocking but I was excited to be in a new place doing what I loved.”
After completing her Leaving Certificate in Hewitt College, Lenii decided to go back to New York.
“It was a tough decision because of the stigma surrounding the idea of not going to college. I only planned to go for another six months, little did I know I’d be here two years later!”
She says that while she’s now used to life in New York, it was hard to adjust.
“The biggest adjustment I had to make was building the confidence to stand out in such a huge city. Everyone is so extroverted and extravagant here compared to home, life is very fast paced. I definitely miss the open space and nature at home.”
Lenii met her manager, TJ, last year. “There are so many musicians trying to make it in New York, it can be a bit overwhelming but when I met TJ things really started rolling,” she says.
Having always envisioned herself as a producer, with TJ’s help Lenii started to see herself as a singer. She began doing performances she never would have dreamed of before and has started moving her music back to the more melodic styles she grew up with versus the electronic music she was producing.
“It’s a huge change viewing myself as a singer/songwriter first and a producer second. But I’ve realised that songwriting and singing is really my first love.”
Following the recent success of her first music video, Bones, Lenii has spent the last few months working on her EP and released a new single on October 20.
“I focused my lyrics on topics that are important to me. I’m an outrageously emotional person and I think that comes through in my music,” she says.
“I hope whoever hears my music feels some connection. Obviously, I’d love for as many people as possible to hear it but even if it’s only one person and they can relate to it, well that’s the goal.”
Twenty may seem young to accomplish all this but Lenii says she feels decades older than some of the 17 and 18-year-olds she works with.
“I know I’m young but funnily enough, at 20 I feel pretty old in this industry. I’ve gathered so much experience since I first started out and have gotten to work with so many amazing people. Breaking into the market is an ongoing struggle but now I have this new material that will hopefully do well”.
Will she be moving back to Cork anytime soon? “Right now, it makes sense for me to stay in New York. I really want to travel and I’ll go wherever the music takes me. It is always hard to be away from my friends and family so I would love to be able to visit more often!”.
Lenii’s new single, Not That Brave, which has an ’80s retro/synth pop vibe, is available to download now. Find her on on Spotify and see her video for Bones on Youtube.
For more see https://www.leniimusic.com/bio