Leah Culver on the New MySpace and Why She Stopped Going by MK Ultra

"...It actually hits a lot closer to home than I was initially aware of..."
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"...It actually hits a lot closer to home than I was initially aware of..."
Leah Culver, formerly MK Ultra

Leah Culver didn't emerge as one of the Atlanta EDM scene's chief exports by accident. In five short years she's become a favorite of music fans all over the country for her infectious style of electro/progressive house.

Be that as it may, Culver still calls Atlanta home, which is why she plans to debut much of her upcoming released during her performance at Imagine Festival, which takes place from August 26th-28th. In the meantime, she's premiered her latest track, "Ex is a Loser," on MySpace Music.

Culver set aside some time to tell Magnetic Magazine about her MySpace experience, among other topics. In addition, she went on the record to discuss why she retired MK Ultra as a stage name, going as far as to explain the history of the term.

After seeing what Leah Culver had to say, make sure to enter our contest to win tickets to this year's edition of Imagine Festival.

You're going to be returning to Atlanta for Imagine Festival next month. How excited are you to play your hometown's biggest festival? 

Leah Culver: I’m always so grateful to come play Atlanta and be apart of the Imagine and iris family! It’s where my whole life has always been; I love Atlanta so much! I can’t wait to show them what I’ve been working on this year! I can’t wait to play them my unreleased Radiance EP and maybe a few from my upcoming unreleased fall Ep! All in all I just can’t wait to be with them, they’re home to me.

I couldn't help but notice that your SoundCloud account says that you're based in L.A., now, though. Are you planning on staying? 

Leah Culver: Yeah I stay all over the place spending a lot of time in L.A., New York, and Atlanta as well. I moved all my things to L.A. and have an apartment here, but I also have a home base in Atlanta and spots I stay in New York. I think I’ve spent an equal amount of time living in all three this year and I love it that way! I have a big soft spot for Atlanta so I try not to stay away for too long! As far as where all my things are I’ll probably stay in L.A. a while maybe a few years and then I’ll probably move to New York, Atlanta, or Denver next.

I know this isn't the first time you've been asked, but some of our readers may not know why you shelved the stage name MK Ultra. Why did you pick it in the first place, and what led you to to distance yourself from its connotations? 

Leah Culver: I picked MK Ultra based off of Project MK Ultra which was a slew of government experiments that were taking place in the '60s. The goal was to get scientifically closer to obtaining full control of the mind’s ability to control other things. I chose to be my own name because I’m ready to just be me, and I feel it’s a better artist name because of how negative of a connotation Project MK Ultra has with it when you really dig deep into researching it. These weren’t all nice experiments and it actually hits closer to home than I was initially aware of and I’ll just leave it at that. It was just time to make the switch to who I am, Leah.

MK Ultra is also a marketing issue when it comes to google algorithms and coming up first. I’ve had a lot of people ask me to sing more and so that’s what I’m trying to give them, more of my own vocals. I feel my own name fits better for what I’m putting out now long term.

What do you think about last year's TomorrowWorld catastrophe? Do you think that Imagine Festival might have more room to grow without it in the picture? 

Leah Culver: Absolutely, TomorrowWorld was a lot of fun to play last year but Imagine now has a huge market pretty much to it’s own and for that I am way way way excited! If anybody deserves to fill the shoes it’s Imagine festival! This year is going to be historical for them and it marks the beginning of many many even bigger years for them, they’re only getting bigger and it’s so cool to watch! Their dedication and actual care for their consumers is at the same standard of Pasquale Rotella’s love for his “headliners."

Keep your eye on Imagine Festival, they are already hitting major charts in the festival circuit. Can’t wait to watch them get bigger and bigger every year! Imagine Fest is home to me and I hope to play it annually and would be absolutely honored to do so. I believe in them 100 percent!

Your new single, "Ex is a Loser," has a borderline punk rock sound to it, so it's kind of fitting that you got to premiere it on MySpace Music. That's still kind of a trip, though; what are your impressions of the modern-day MySpace after having worked with them on that? 

Leah Culver: Yeah, most of my musical influences of writing and singing come from more of a punk place. Naturally that definitely comes out sometimes and I’m always cool with that. That was super cool! I am very grateful for that premiere; it got a lot of traffic for sure, which says to me that the new MySpace is doing wonderfully. I think the new MySpace looks really relevant and informative and I give it all my thumbs up!

You've stuck to your big, main stage-friendly sound at a time when other electronic music artists are trying to soften theirs to some degree. Have you been exploring subtler sounds as well with upcoming productions? 

Leah Culver: There are a few songs I’ve worked on that are more subtle. I’ve got a pretty diverse bundle of music getting ready to walk out the door so I can say that there are songs that are also not very subtle! Some of it I would say is a little more soft in some ways, but I’ll let you be the judge!

Do you have any collaborations or other tracks in the works that you haven't told anybody about yet? How about an EP or studio-length album? 

Leah Culver: Alright, there are a few things I haven’t mentioned yet mostly because you never know what could happen when you’re the writer and singer on somebody else’s track. My friend Justin Padron records me in Atlanta and we had been previously recording for another artist who I’ll call M. M didn’t use all of the vocal files we sent and I later woke up in New York to a text from Justin down in Atlanta saying they used my spare vocals for a Gucci Mane track. I haven’t talked about that at all yet because like I said you never know what could happen. This happened a few days after Gucci was released and so I feel honored to get to work with him on something.