We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica LeAnn and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erica, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am from the Chicago suburbs of Illinois. Metal music became a factor of my life at a very young age. My dad had the biggest influence on my taste in music as some of my earliest memories include singing along to AC/DC and KISS in the backseat of his car. When I was 7 years old, he took me to my first concert which was Bon Jovi, Daughtry, and Buckcherry. I remember my favorite Bon Jovi song was “Bounce” and the Chicago show was the only show they played it. My family told me it was because he knew I was there. As I entered middle school and started my self-discovery journey, Nu Metal speedily strengthened my love for the whole Metal genre. I feel that this time of my life has one of the biggest impacts of the person I present today. Struggling with self-image through disordered eating and self-harm as well as suffering from destructive thoughts, bands such as Disturbed and Godsmack offered me a sense of release and company. Growing up in an area that lacked metal music appreciators quickly installed a sense of loneliness early on in my teenage years. Many boys at school used to stereotype me and tell me that they’re scared of me. I was embarrassed by my interests and physical appearance which led to my decision to switch things up. In 8th grade, I dressed myself in bright colors and girly jewelry. Social acceptance and fitting in were important to me so I stayed with the “popular kids”. During school, I would listen to Rap/Hip-Hop (Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge love and appreciation for these genres as well) and when I came home, I would isolate myself in my dad’s basement and listen to metal music via his Dell computer. It wasn’t until interactions with other metalheads on TikTok that I realized this entire time I was so far from alone.
Younger me would be so proud of the person I am today. She would be so relieved that I finally overcame the resistance I had with self-acceptance. Throughout my self-love journey, the biggest thing I learned is to pay close attention to my interests and take them seriously. Having the opportunity share music that I’ve kept hidden for years on a platform and getting a response of relatability is something that still stuns me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am most known for my presence on TikTok and am often referred to as the “blonde metal chick” or “heavy metal Hannah Montana”. On this platform, I share my passion for Rock and Metal music to a community of 330+ music appreciators. I centralize my content around the variety of existing Metal subgenres which represents my upbringing and appreciation of the genre. I am also one of the creators of a collaborative group known as M0shtok. M0shtok consists of six other creators on TikTok and each member brings a different upbringing and taste to the table as this is extremely reflective of the Rock/Metal community. We all have been introduced to this genre of music by different people and in different ways. Of course majority of the metal community shares love for similar bands but the beauty of this community is that we all have love for different varieties of artists.

I downloaded TikTok during my 3rd year of college due to pandemic boredom and my FYP quickly filled up with emo and pop punk challenges/compilations. It was so fun to watch others jam out to songs I used to listen to on the school bus. However, I noticed quite a lack of metal videos. I vividly remember searching hashtags such as #robzombie and #disturbed in attempt to find metal creators to watch. This is when I came up with the “Jam With Me” video series which is how my TikTok presence started. My first “Jam With Me” video was Avenged Sevenfold themed and people seemed to really enjoy and relate to the bands I started posting about. This past year, I’ve spent hours upon hours filming videos in the corner of my college dorm as a distraction from my STEM major. Every second spent has been so enjoyable and so worth it.

Today, I have the opportunity of working with several Record labels as well as Danny Wimmer Presents. I collaborate with an array of bands and fun companies that specialize in clothing, glasses, and skin care. Throughout this last year, I have learned more about myself than ever before. I continue to explore my abilities and step out of my comfort zone. I am ecstatic to see my further growth in this industry and where I end up by the end of 2022.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Currently residing the Chicago suburbs, it would make most sense to take a trip to the city! Chicago offers a variety of incredible museums such as the Art Institute and Science & Industry Museum. It’s also essential to hit up the House of Blues or Aragon Ballroom for a concert. If we’re ever at Aragon Ballroom, we absolutely need to hit up the Green Mill Jazz Club beforehand where it has hosted people ranging from Frank Sinatra to Al Capone. While walking around the beautiful city, we must go sight seeing around Millennium Park and stop by the Pavilion for a free-outdoor show. For sports fans, we have to make a pit stop at Guaranteed Rate Field for a White Sox baseball game (sorry not sorry Cubs fans) or the United Center for a Chicago Bulls basketball game. For sleeping arrangements, we’d stay either at the Congress or Drake hotel. These two gorgeous hotels are notorious for being home to several haunting spirits. Chicago is home to many mouthwatering foods. For those who have never tried a classic Chicago hot dog or deep dish pizza, these are two of plenty items Chicago is famous for. We would have to prioritize going to Chicago Pizza And Oven Grinder Co. and stopping by Joy Yee Plus in Chinatown for dessert. For quicker grab & go places, the famous midwestern Portillo’s or Harold’s Fried Chicken are fantastic. Finding places to eat is never a challenge in the city

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate and thank the metal community on TikTok. This community has some of the most incredible, down-to-earth people I have ever had the chance to interact with. These interactions provide me a sense of belonging and home. This community has shown me light and has aided me in discovering my purpose in this world. I’ve spent the past four years crying in a library over failed exam scores and contemplating if I am meant to spend the rest of my life in the medical field. The metal community on TikTok has listened and supported my growth this past year as I’ve discovered a level of capability that I never knew I owned. I wish I can hug every single person that has supported my journey in some kind of way and I’m so incredibly grateful they have given me the opportunity to share my passions with the world.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericaleann_/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericaleann_

Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ericaleann_/video/7067315332305915183?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&lang=en

Image Credits
Keegan Hon

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.