Halifax-based Leanne Hoffman is a singer-songwriter, poet, personal trainer, and rock climbing aficionado. She originally moved to Halifax to study Marine Biology at Dalhousie and ended up spending more time writing songs, so she made a major pivot. Lyrically influenced by artists like Paul Simon, Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, her songs speak so specifically to a certain experience or feeling, it’s like you’re living it right in that moment.

Her debut solo album, What Remains, was released earlier this spring. We caught up with her this week.  

SDTC: Describe your dream vacation/getaway scenario:

LH: Either somewhere where I can do nothing the entire time and not feel guilty, or somewhere where I am doing so much that I need a vacation from my vacation once I get back home.

Who/what is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?

Poetry. Reading it, writing it, thinking about it. I’ve committed to writing and posting a poem every day for a year, and it’s proving to be quite challenging.

What have you learned about yourself in the past year?

I have learned that I am capable of being a lot more patient than I once thought.

One fun, little-known fact about you?

I used to be a competitive gymnast, and now I’m just a person with a bunch of body problems.

What book have you really connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?

The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson completely changed the way I look at writing and reading. It’s technically a verse novel, but it reads like nothing I have ever read before and it’s extremely beautiful and challenging and funny and engaging.

What’s the worst piece of life advice you’ve been given?

Get a real job.

What is your motto at the moment?

Sweet easy! I saw it on a clementine box, and I like the thought of things being the perfect combination of sweet AND easy. My friend and I got it tattooed on our sides because we liked it so much.

Any plans for the summer?

I’m hoping to do a lot of co-writing over the summer but also have a lot of climbing goals for when the weather in Nova Scotia finally clears up.

What are the qualities you like least & most about your parents?

It’s possible the things I like least are the things I now see in myself. Example: My dad is very particular and so it takes me forever to make decisions, and my mom is a worrier so I spend a lot of time imagining worst case scenarios. The thing I like the most about both of them is how understanding and caring they are. There isn’t anything I can’t bring to them; they are world-class listeners.

Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?

Stop doing things you don’t want to do.

What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I had to look up the definition of courageous to see if anything I’ve ever done falls into that category. “Not deterred by danger or pain; brave” seems like a bold label, but I guess the closest I’ve come to that was getting help for my mental health issues.

What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?

When I was in kindergarten, I threw sand in the air and watched it fall down because I wanted to see what it looked like to be underneath it. I had to go to the hospital to get sand removed from both eyes and then had to wear an eye patch for a week.

What unnecessary object would you love to own?

A waffle maker.

What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?

Moisturizing my face! Honestly did not know how soft face skin could get until I started using moisturizer. I can thank my cosmetically informed friends for that tip.

What issue do you wish people took more seriously?

Gender and racial equity. Recognizing our privilege, listening and learning, and fighting the urge to get defensive are things we could all do better at, and this is something I am constantly working on.

What outfit do you wear more than any other (your uniform, basically)?

I wear a lot of jeans and bodysuits. I really hate bras AND underwear, so any time I can avoid them, I do.

Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?

People! All of them! The older I get and the more honest and genuine my relationships become, the more I am surprised with how deeply caring and kind people can be. My friends in particular are such beautiful humans with an extremely large capacity for emotions, and it’s so inspiring to know them and love them.

When you look back on your life, are you at where you thought you’d be by now? Why or why not?

No! Definitely not. But I think I am getting over that slowly. I spent a lot of time feeling like I was “behind” everyone else and that I “wasted” a large part of my life while I was working on my mental health. That is an issue that still comes up when I am feeling low, but for the most part I am happy with what I have accomplished and the experiences and opportunities I have been given. I don’t regret anything, and that feels more important than a hypothetical timeline.