Interview | Leoni Kennedy

Our Masters student on her studies, crowdfunding and her love for rockers Rush... 


ICMP Masters in Songwriting student Leoni Kennedy is enjoying a hugely creative 2023. 

From crowdfunding and subsequently releasing her re-interpreted Rush covers album ‘New World Woman’  to joining the band of ICMP tutor and artist The Anchoress (aka Catherine Anne Davies), there's been plenty of musical action going on in recent months. 

As she gears up for more live shows, we had the chance to quiz Leoni on recent projects, her studies at ICMP and how the Rush covers album came about...  

What led you to ICMP and the Masters - how did you find the course? 

I originally went to another music university for my degree course and after the pandemic hit I spent two or so years contemplating what I was doing/not doing with my time.

I needed change and to feel challenged. London was the next big step for me, and I found ICMP through Ace who teaches here, as I’ve known him since the very early stages of my career.

He’s been hugely supportive and I trusted his judgement when he recommended ICMP. I wanted to take my songwriting to the next level and ensure I was prepared for any possibilities that arose.

How has the course helped you so far? Have there been any key learnings you've taken on board? 

The course immediately took me out of my comfort zone and challenged every fibre of my being.

I really didn’t expect much to be completely honest, as I’ve studied music my entire life and I suppose I felt confident in what I already knew, but this course has since shown me that you really never stop learning, unless you want to, and I certainly don’t. Some of the key things I’ve learned so far:

  • Question everything: your instincts/beliefs/ask why things make you feel and think the way you do
  • Challenge the above to understand your mind better - without this awareness, life seems too hard to even start
  • Have an open mind to new music (seriously… there’s too much amazing unheard stuff)
  • Write that f****n song!

What does the MA mean in terms of your career development? 

If you would have asked me this before starting, I would have said it was my excuse to get to London.

Now that I’m here and fully involved with the process of creativity as a practise, I can tell you with confidence that the MA has been vital in creating a solid foundation for me to work from, more so in the mental awareness sides of things."

Having the skills and abilities to do your work is useless if you can’t take care of your own body and mind alongside it.

Self-care needs to come first before trying to allow any sort of creativity flow through you. I imagine this like those dreams where you’re trying to run away from something, but it feels like your legs are stuck in honey. That dragging sensation eases up as you learn how to positively manoeuvre your way of thinking through tough times.

Could you talk about current projects? What are you working on? 

I’ve just completed an acoustic album of re-interpreted Rush covers called ‘New World Woman’ after raising 5k via an online Kickstarter campaign covering the production costs.

The full album has now been released online. After dedicating my dissertation to Neil Peart (drummer of Rush) after his unexpected passing in 2020, I felt the need to do something further with my music to show my appreciation for his lyrics and work throughout the years. The support through the Rush community has been insane, and I was lucky enough to re-join RUSHFEST Scotland this year over their weekend festival in Glasgow, where I had the opportunity to perform in front of Rush producer Terry Brown and album cover artist, Hugh Syme.

The highlight, however, was that Neil Peart’s sisters attended the event, and to receive their praises on my versions of their late brother’s work made for a very emotional weekend and one that I’ll never forget.

I have an original album coming out later in the year called ‘Synthetic’ which consists of seven original tracks that I’ve been working on for a long time now. I can’t wait for them to be out in the open and hopefully put on a tour of my own later in the year to promote this.


Any advice for anyone looking to do the MA? 

My advice is this: be true to yourself. If you are truly open to change and you are willing to do the work, then this course could seriously take you that one step further that you feel you are being pulled towards. Do something that scares you. You won’t get anywhere by feeling comfortable!

Have you any tips for musicians/artists looking to navigate London's music scene? 

Do absolutely everything that you can. The first week I moved to London, I went to an Open Mic night every night in a different venue in different areas of London.

That first week led me to getting my first band headline show at the Buck's Head on Camden High Street. It also meant that I got my name across the town so that people follow you online and share your socials, ask you back for more and recommend venues etc. The more people you know, the more opportunities arise. It’s unfortunate that some might not feel comfortable going out and socialising in this way, and I totally understand that. I’d much rather be cozied up in bed with a good series and a nice IPA and a pizza, but that sort of stuff I’ve learned is the reward you give yourself after doing something good with your time. You won’t get to where you want to be with procrastination.

If you procrastinate, it means you actually know what you need to do. Especially if you’re the sort (like me) to leave everything until last minute. Get that under control before it’s too difficult to change. Persevere for YOU."

What does the future have in store for you and your music? 

I’ve got so many beans in me it’s unreal.

My repertoire at the moment is seething with possibility and I can’t wait to use my recording skills to try and bring out some awesome features within production elements as well as exploring technology and effects/synthesisers. I’ve recently borrowed a bass synthesiser pedal that you play with your feet. Very similar to Geddy Lee of Rush, I’ll be playing around with sampling some sounds and incorporating them into my live band set to thicken up our noise.

If you want to hear said noise, stay updated with shows and releases on my website - you can find all social links here too!

Visit to find out more. 

Write songs that last for generations

A great song can become truly timeless, remembered for generations as part of the world’s cultural legacy. Whether you want to craft a killer melody or pen poetic lyrics, our tutors will teach you everything you want to know, including all the production, performance, professional and entrepreneurial skills needed to ensure that your unique creations get the recognition they deserve. You’ll also benefit from A&R-style critique sessions, collaborative opportunities, access to fully equipped live rooms, recording studios and tech suites, and a community of inspiring contacts and friends.

To catapult your songwriting and music career to a whole new level, email our friendly Admissions Team at or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

Songwriting courses
by Jim Ottewill
June 16, 2023
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