Standout Track: Track No. 5 on Janel Leppin’s solo debut album as Mellow Diamond, a melodic, melancholic exploration of samples and loops, with her elegantly layered voice anchoring it all. On the album, titled Mellow Diamond, Leppin—a highly skilled and versatile multi-instrumentalist fluent in a number of styles and genres—channels Björk and Portishead with her take on dreamy, ambient experimental pop.

Musical Motivation: Sometimes the best art is inspired by your surroundings, and such is the case with “Belly of the Beast,” which Leppin says has “undertones of dissatisfaction” about living in the D.C. area. “Harsh words fall like stone/ Too heavy to inspire/ You could lift them up/ No reason to conspire,” she sings with wistful, but ominous conviction. “It alludes to my discomfort knowing there are people here who are making poor decisions that have the potential to affect people for generations.” Leppin says.

The Walking Dread: There’s a very real possibility that, of all people, a certain despised business mogul with terrible hair might be the next leader of the free world. That’s certainly a scary thought, but “Belly of the Beast” alludes to the people already in charge who don’t act in the best interest of the people. “It’s strange living around individuals who are making bad decisions for the world,” Leppin says. “I call them the walking dead. It’s hard to know who you are talking to at any given moment.”

Mellow Diamond performs with Pree and Roz and the Rice Cakes tomorrow at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe, 2477 18th St. NW.

Photo courtesy the artist.