Lenay Dunn

I won’t lie to you. I don’t like flying. And it’s not necessarily because I’m scared of flying… it’s those airports. Those lines. Being crammed into a seat when your shoulders are really broad! It’s all so stressful!... and I might be a little scared of flight. Anyway, that’s not the point. Lenay Dunn, host of MTV’s “10 on Top” doesn’t have one issue with flying; at least it seems that way. She flies from Nashville to NYC 3-5 days a week. 3-5 DAYS A WEEK. Impressive. It’s all business in NYC though, working on “10 on Top” which counts down the most popular subjects in pop culture each week. In Nashville however, Dunn gets to focus on herself, and on her music. Lenay gave us a little insight on how her tunes come to her: “I like to sit down with my guitar and just start playing around with chord progressions and melodies. 

Then if I have a new melody in my head and I'm in a public place, I will try to make it look like I'm talking on my phone but I'm really humming the tune into my phone video recorder.  It's more of a mess than anything because when I try to listen back to my melodies I can sometimes hardly hear them!” So if you’re ever wandering around Nashville and see a young woman humming into her phone… you may have spotted Dunn. Lenay is about to release her latest music video titled “Daylight”, so keep an eye out for it. There’s much, much more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Lenay Dunn
PensEyeView.com (PEV): With a busy life between hosting a show for MTV and a music career – how do you balance it all?

Lenay Dunn (LD): I live in Nashville and fly to NYC 3-5 days a week to host MTV's 10 on Top.  While I'm in NYC it's all about the show, script reads, voice overs, meetings, and going to events!!  Then I go back to Nashville and have some downtime to jog, and write some songs for fun.  Nashville is 'Music City' and doing music is just contagious there!
PEV: Calling Nashville home now but growing in Minnesota, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?
LD:  Minneapolis actually has a big music scene!  Aside from Prince being from there ha, the guy from Owl City is also from Minneapolis, and so many people do all different types of music there.  The first CD I owned was Ace of Base!  Actually I think I 'borrowed' it from my parents and just never gave it back.  I grew up listening to the Spice Girls, Go Fish (acapella group from MN), country music.... and then the Beatles and Eric Clapton since my dad always had it on.  As I got older I started getting into music that was popular in the UK  and Canada but not the US... like Mcfly, Hedley, Billy Talent, and The Streets.  Then my family went to Hawaii and we all got into the band 'Three Plus'.  They are named that because everyone in the band is over 300 pounds!  And such good tunes!!  These days I love electro-pop songs like 'Lights', indie folk-rock like 'Phantogram', and country-pop like 'Taylor Swift'.  Basically anything with a catchy melody is my inspiration.  I love melodies.  
PEV: You traveled to South American and lived there after college, what was that experience like?
LD:  South America was one of the coolest experience EVER!  I stayed with families who lived in each place and I just spoke Spanish the whole time.  Wish I could retire into traveling lol.  In each place I've traveled I have a friend who lives in that country burn me a CD of their own fav tunes on it.  I'm fascinated by bands and music that are SO popular in other countries, but then they come here and no one's heard of them.  When I first met Tim from the band 'Rise Against', I told him I knew of his music from a boy in Peru always putting 'Swing Life Away' on repeat.  
PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself as your career blossomed, that – “I am really onto something!”?
LD:  I don't know if there was a defining moment where I was like 'I am really onto something!'... more like lots of little moments that are like 'I need to remember this moment and not take this for granted!'
PEV: What can fans expect from Lenay Dunn as a performer and an artist?
LD: I'm concentrating on hosting first and foremost so thus far my performing has not left my living room ha.  My passion with music is in the entire song making process -- writing it, then recording and producing it (I'm learning Logic).  So I don't put a lot of thought into actually performing them, but who knows. PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
LD:  For 'MTV summer wraps' (commercials I do for MTV in the summer), I make up silly songs on my guitar on the fly and have random people sing along with me.  So if by stage you mean 'beach', then yes that is the extent of my 'on stage' performances.  
PEV: Tell us more about the show you host on MTV. How did this all develop and what do you have planned for the future?
LD: The show I host is on Saturdays at 11:30am EST on MTV, it's called '10 on Top', and it's a pop culture countdown show!  Top 10 things people are talking about this week!  Could be Movies, TV shows, people, etc.  It's geared towards teenagers through young adults so it's a lot of younger celebs that are on it a lot like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez etc...  We film it on green screen and then add in a cool bedroom/dorm looking scene behind me in the edit.  Sometimes I have a special guest co-host with me, so far some co-hosts have been: Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson (from 'Pretty Little Liars'), Ken Jeong (from 'the Hangover'), Chelsea Kane... all were so fun to work with!  We also have a 2 month break for the summer coming up soon (going to use that time to work on more music! xo)
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
LD: I like to sit down with my guitar and just start playing around with chord progressions and melodies.  Then if I have a new melody in my head and I'm in a public place, I will try to make it look like I'm talking on my phone but I'm really humming the tune into my phone video recorder.  It's more of a mess than anything cuz when I try to listen back to my melodies I can sometimes hardly hear them!
PEV: Tell us about your latest video released.
LD:  I just finished filming a music video for my song 'Daylight'.  Half of the video was shot in Nashville, the other half in NYC.  The video has not come out yet, and is in the process of being edited, but I'm very excited about it!
PEV: Tell us about the emotion and feeling you bring with you to a song.

LD:  I think that's a huge thing -- to sing like you mean it.  I've heard a few songs with heartfelt words, where the singer does not sound like they mean it at all!  If I hear back a song that I've recorded and it sounds like I don't mean it, I go back into the studio and re-sing it until it does!  
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Lenay Dunn?
LD:  I was born in the Congo, Africa.  (My parents were traveling there).  And I can talk with my mouth closed.  
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
LD:  When I was little and found my parents video camera, my friends and I started a band called 'the Lightbulbs'.  Our band anthem was the song 'We are the Champions', but sub the word Champion for Lightbulbs.  All of our songs had the same melody but different words, and they were super weird words that didn't make any sense lol.  So yes my passions of making videos and music were combined at an early age!
PEV: What one word best describes Lenay Dunn?
LD: a little quirky. sorry that's 3.
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?
LD: flying back and forth to NYC is the best!! I get the best of both worlds.  Like Hannah Montana but without the wig lol.  I go to Nashville and chill out, go to NYC and rock out.  
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
LD:  I want to go everywhere! Australia, China, Japan, India... everywhere.  Even if it's not to sing, I just want to go ha!
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
LD:  My parents are awesome and have always supported me in their own awesome parent ways.  Always asking questions about my work but at the same time making sure I have my head on straight.  My sister came and visited me in NYC for the first time the other week and we had a blast!!  We are close in age and everyone thought we were twins.  
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
LD: I just went dirt-biking the other week for an MTV promo shoot and caught my first air on a jump ha so I was like... I gotta do this more!! I've been before but there are some dirt-bike tracks in Tennessee that I might start going to more often... who knows.  Other than that I jog.  Occasionally salsa dance.
PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
LD: People are buzzing a lot lately about Hot Chelle Rae.  They have a fun summer song out called 'Tonight Tonight'.  Hopefully they'll be more than a one hit wonder, seems like a fun band.  
PEV: If you weren’t playing music and acting/hosting now what do you think you would be doing as your career?
LD:  I went to college to be a Spanish Teacher, I have that degree, so I'd probably be teaching!!  Growing up I couldn't decide between wanting to be an artist (drawing), a pianist, a Spanish teacher, or a pilot.
PEV: So, what is next for Lenay Dunn?
LD:  more music and hosting!!!! and cramming in every possible random thing I can think of on the side.  I'm really good at over-booking myself, getting worn out, then taking a biiiiiig nap and doing it again. 

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