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Natural Awakenings Boston

Leo*Leo - Artist Spotlight: Making Music and Championing Women’s Wellness

Apr 29, 2014 12:24AM ● By Micah Lysette

The story of pop duo Leo*Leo is a bit of a music industry anomaly. The band features longtime pals Sarah Hope on percussion, synthesizers and vocals and Vanessa Wheeler on electric guitar, bass and vocals. Often noted for their “difficult to pin down” sound, Hope and Wheeler create a fusion of rock, bossa nova, reggaeton and jazz.

Leo*Leo has captured the interest of music critics, industry experts and labels. Their music has been described as sexy, seductive and scandalous, yet built on a foundation of friendship and wellness. Hope and Wheeler are as passionate about building positive communities and donating to Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals fundraisers and ovarian cancer awareness groups as they are about making music.

“We are incredibly grateful to do what we love while giving back to the communities we connect with,” says Wheeler. “Sarah and I have women in our lives that are currently going through their own battles with cancer, and we want to promote healthy eating and daily exercise as preventative measures.”

Hope, who has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), says that she needs to keep up with regular exercise to keep her symptoms at bay. In an industry where drunk, raucous behavior is often rewarded, these two women are more likely to be found sipping Kombucha tea than beer. “Even if you took the healthy out of us, we’d still be artistic nerds without much recklessness to brag about,” says Hope. “I think our manager sometimes wishes we’d do something crazy just to get more press.”

Both women started their relationship with music through the piano, while Wheeler switched to the electric guitar at age 12 and went to the Berklee College of Music before completing a master’s in Music Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. Hope, after obtaining degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Wentworth Institute of Technology, taught herself how to play drums. The two met in a Boston coffee shop.

“I was already an ‘adult’ by societal standards when Vanessa encouraged me to take the up drums,” says Hope, shrugging. “Here we are, six years later, making music and representing everyone who dreams but has yet to dare.”

Leo*Leo can be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/leoleotheband), iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Google Play. The band is scheduled to perform from 4 to 5 p.m., May 3, on Berklee radio station BIRN. Other performances include a community fundraiser at Tres Gatos, in Jamaica Plain, on May 6, and Great Scott, in Allston, on May 28. For details, visit LeoLeoBand.com.

Micah Lysette is a writer and illustrator based in El Paso, TX. Connect with her on Twitter @BeYourGenius.