Leah Chisholm is so excited to go grocery shopping, she’s literally screaming.
“I’m so fucking good, it’s scary,” the Oregon-raised, Austin-based 27-year-old better known as LP Giobbi says over the phone. “I get to be home for a whole week, and I’m freaking out.”
While a trip to the hair salon can be an enjoyable escape, it doesn’t usually elicit such visceral enthusiasm. She finds joy in the mundane, particularly since her life has recently been anything but.
She’s been on the road for the last two months, spending her nights in strange beds from Miami to San Francisco, Tulum to New Zealand. While on tour, she transforms into LP Giobbi, a wide-smiled superhero, bringing euphoric piano house grooves and pumping club beats to dance floors around the world, both as a DJ and producer.
With a background in classical jazz, the piano player’s evolution into a global electronic force has been a whirlwind. In the last five years, she’s carved a unique niche as the effervescent woman who jumps behind the decks and plays live keyboard over mixes. She’s easily recognizable from her ponytail that bounces as she claps her hands in the air, her skinny tattooed arms peeking out of oversized tie-dye t-shirts.
As she shares her story, she speaks in rapid fits, laughing and gasping and exclaiming at every turn. She’s also quick to thank the mentors, friends, family and supporters who made her who she is. Without them, she’d never have played grand piano accompaniment to Pete Tong and a full orchestra in London’s O2 Arena in December. She’d never have released an official remix for her idol Jerry Garcia — a love instilled by her Deadhead parents — in January. And she’d certainly never be standing on the precipice of her debut album, Light Places, which was just officially announced.
“Man, ignorance is bliss,” she laughs. “If I had known how much work it would be, and how much every day you have to battle all sorts of thoughts and images—just go to battle every day for your art—I don’t know if I would have done it.
“Luckily, I didn’t know how hard it would be,” she continues. “So I did it, which is great.”
Light Places is the closing of a circle for Chisholm. Her debut album was the end of the beginning of her journey, and the start of a whole new road. It will celebrate all those glowing personalities that lit the path before her, holding her hand every step of the way. It’s a culmination and a celebration, all released on taste-making electronic label Ninja Tune on May 12.
But long before she was ready to announce her debut album, Chisholm’s transition into LP Giobbi began in Eugene, OR, with her parents — a poet and a local radio employee — and older brother. She enrolled in piano lessons in second grade, and her family encouraged her through a classical jazz major at UC Berkeley.
One day, when she was playing a solo jazz gig in a bar, audio engineer Peter Franco approached her. The industry veteran who worked on Daft Punk’s game-changing Alive 2007 album wanted to recruit her for an electronic girl band. That project didn’t pan out, but it did inspire her to DJ.
Soon after that, Chisholm DJed an afterparty for Sofi Tukker. The Grammy-nominated electronic duo invited her to join them on tour, and singer Sophie Hawley-Weld has been one of her biggest supporters since.
Prior to moving into the electronic scene as an artist, Chisholm met friend and collaborator Lauren Spalding (better known as Hermixalot) while at Berkeley. She also discovered the liberating scene of queer clubs and raves, which eventually led to a series of late-night, whiskey-fueled commiserations. In 2019, that turned into the formation of Femme House, a non-profit that organizes femme-centric Ableton workshops to teach new voices to express themselves through music.
In 2022, Femme House teamed with major dance label Insomniac to release an 11-track compilation that put those voices into the world before getting them onstage during one of the biggest events of the year, EDC Las Vegas.
“What made me want to launch Femme House is wanting to be that belief for somebody else,” Chisholm says. “[I want] to give other artists that tiny little grain of ‘You can do this. You’re going to make this happen’ — and then they go and make it happen because you believe.”
When it comes to Light Places, that “grain” of belief came from Pete Tong, a legendary BBC Radio 1 host and house music DJ who’s also the head of the electronic department at William Morris Agency. Tong met with Chisholm over Zoom after her signing with the agency in early 2022, and he casually informed her that he saw her as an album artist and nothing less.
“He was so clear and matter-of-fact about it,” she says. “It made me see myself differently.”
Six months later — a month after her show-stopping midafternoon Lollapalooza set — when she joined Tong to record their collab “Free” with Jules Buckley and Ultra Naté, he gave her what Chisholm describes as “the most ‘pinch me’ moment ever.”
“I’m in the studio with a full fucking orchestra, sitting at a grand piano,” she says. “Pete is there, and he’s like ‘So how’s the album coming?’ — not even knowing I’m in the middle of it. I’m like ‘Actually, Pete, I’m about to fly to Paris after this to finish it up.’ He’s like ‘I fucking knew it,’ and it was just crazy. Here I am sitting at a fucking grand piano with Pete Tong and an orchestra talking about my album. Like, what the fuck happened?”
In creating Light Places, Chisholm bridges the gap between the single-driven house music producer, the psychedelic storyteller and the melodic virtuoso that reside in her chaotic mind.
She’s released four singles so far; the disco meditation “Body Breathe” with Monogem that unfurls in expansive, dynamic chords; the groovy and mysterious “All In A Dream” with DJ Tennis and Joseph Ashworth with hints of Fleetwood Mac; and “Forever and a Day” with Caroline Byrne that brings R&B pop sensibility to a springtime piano.
“Can’t Let You Go” featuring Little Jet has punchy bass lines and piano melody swagger like a ‘70s stud on a lit-up dance floor. It further builds the album’s explorative vibe, tied together by Chisholm’s particular palette of vintage synth and acoustic drums.
“I didn’t have to only make bangers,” she says. “I could make interludes and intros and outros — musical statements — and I don’t need to worry about how it will stream. I really freed myself to actually be a bit more musical and a bit more emotional. I didn’t need the drums to hit as hard, because I want people to listen to this album in their homes as they get ready to go out, or when they come home from the club. That’s why I was really dead set on recording live drums and layering those.”
The title stems from one of her dad’s favorite Grateful Dead lyrics, shared during a text message poetry exchange that started when Chisholm felt particularly ungrounded in Australia. He texts her a line of a verse, and she texts one back until she hits the stage. Then he emails the completed poems with the title “Leah in Sydney, Dad in Eugene,” or whatever city his daughter was currently playing.
One day, he texted her “Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right” from the Dead song “Scarlet Begonias.” The two words struck her in particular, even if it only hit her later on that “light” and “places” create an acronym for her performance moniker.
When Light Places is released, a limited number of vinyl will come with a book of those very poems.
“It rarely happens, those moments of ‘Ah, this circle feels a little bit complete,’” she says. “I’m trying to just sit in it and appreciate it, because right now, I feel like I’m supposed to be here in my life. What a magnificent feeling, and I know it’s not going to last. Tomorrow I might wake up not feeling this way, but in this moment, I feel so grateful that I do.”