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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deeper Dish with Leslie Hunt

Leslie Hunt was a 24-year-old dog walker and a self-described indie rocker when she became an American Idol semi-finalist during the show's sixth season in 2007. Since then, the talented singer/songwriter returned home to Chicago (she grew up in suburban St. Charles) to become a vocalist for the progressive rock band District 97 and release two solo albums for Ellenel Records--2007's From the Strange to a Stranger and this year's Your Hair Is On Fire with its fun and catchy debut single, "American Dream Man" (you can watch the music video below). Leslie and her husband, Tommy, also became parents on August 30th when their daughter, Eliza Joni, was born. So she's been keeping herself busy--to say the least--and I couldn't be more delighted to have her here on the Dish to discuss her groovy music and answer a few pop culture questions.

Let's start with Your Hair Is On Fire. What is your favorite song on the album?
It honestly changes depending on what I'm going through. If I'm feeling particularly dark and depressive, I gravitate towards "Down Day" or "Lonely Home", but if I just wanna rock for rocking's sake, I appreciate songs like "American Dream Man" and "All The Way". There are also some songs on this record that are painful to listen to, due to their intensely personal subject matter, but sometimes I enjoy that pain, so they then become my favorites.

You began playing the piano and singing at the age of four. Do you remember the first song you ever played or sang?
I remember the first song I played AND sang! "Got to Get You into My Life" by the Beatles.

Of course, I have to ask about American Idol. If you could go back and do one thing differently on the show, what would it be?
I would have sang different songs, and I would've watched the show for a season before impulsively auditioning. I had never seen a single episode, so I didn't know the format at ALL. I also would've tried to gain confidence as a performer by seeking out a lot more experience beforehand.

What's your favorite thing about living in Chicago?
I love the energy here. And the extreme weather makes me feel like a hardass.

In three words, how would you describe your experience so far as a new mother?
Selfless, wonderful, eye-opening.

Since it's the holiday season, do you have a holiday tradition that you look forward to every year?
Tons and tons of family saturation. Bring it on.

My favorite Christmas song is:
"The Little Drummer Boy"

The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
Pearl Jam's Vs.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark, Sigur Rós' Untitled, Mayer Hawthorne's Strange Arrangement, Björk's Vespertine and Stevie Wonder's Innervisions.

If I could sing a duet with anyone--living or dead--I would choose:

In high school I was:

My favorite comfort food is:
Tom Ka (Thai Coconut Soup).

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Pee-wee's Playhouse, The Mickey Mouse Club, The Golden Girls (weird but true).

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Big Love, Dexter, The Office, Parks and Recreation, True Blood.

The last good book I read was:
The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding

Three of my favorite movies are:
Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, Spirited Away, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

What's next for Leslie Hunt?
I hope to tour soon. My band is smoking hot and I would hate to keep our sound confined to the Chicagoland area.

Thank you, Leslie, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Leslie Hunt and her music, check out her website at and her YouTube channel. You can also become a fan of hers on Facebook (click here) or follow her on Twitter (click here).

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