For The Love Of Simplicity: An Interview With Lea Lu

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Simplicity can be so wonderful for those of us who have hectic, stressed-out lives (And who doesn’t these days?) and it’s easy to admire artists who have a reductive streak to them, who chisel away all that is extraneous and leave just the bare essentials.

Lea Lu, a Swiss singer-songwriter based in Zürich, is one such artist. Her new single “Nothing Sweeter” is like a haiku crafted out of a sweet melody; a simple form that is balanced and humble. It’s this simplicity that makes her music so addictive. When listening to “Nothing Sweeter”, or watching the video for it, only once, you’ll be hard-pressed to get it out of your head.

We had the good fortune of touching base with Lea Lu and she spoke about her music and artistic view. Her EP titled Rabbit is now, so hop to it and give it a spin.

Stereo Embers Magazine: Hello Lea! It’s so good to connect with you! Can you explain your background, music- and otherwise?

 Lea Lu: I’m a singer/songwriter born in Zürich with origins in Spain, Poland, France, and Algeria. I wrote my first composition at the age of six. Playing music has always been easier for me than talking. Up through today, I’ve written over 2000 songs. Two years ago I had the great possibility to open the show for Coldplay in Zürich. The band seemed to like some of the songs. I have even kept composing when I lost my hearing for half a year. After writing 90 songs, my hearing abilities came back again. Some heroes and heroines of mine are Erik Satie, Camille, and Tom Waits. At the moment I am writing my fourth album. I am playing in Switzerland and in Nice, where I am part of a musicians’ collective around the French indie label Dime On Records.

SEM: According to the press release, your new single, “Nothing Sweeter”, is about a rather dark period in your life. Is music your personal anodyne?

LL: It’s more of a catalyst. I think sadness is a very strong and precious feeling to get closer to ourselves. Sadness is the way in and music the way out. Does that make sense?

SEM: I’m curious to see what you think of the cultural myth that we have constructed the idea of the ‘suffering artist’? I’m not implying that this was your personal path, but just wondering what you think of this particular idea.

LL: Suffering is just a part of life, like happiness is too. If we try to push the uncomfortable feelings away, we will stumble upon them sooner or later. When you’re suffering, there might be a bigger need to express that in one way or the other, whether in writing songs or painting or writing a book. I think songs that come from there are quite honest. Art should bring you closer to the truth, if it’s yours or a completely different perspective. It should allow you to see the world from a different angle.

SEM: I can imagine that you write your songs from the standpoint of strong emotional impulses. Would that be a correct assessment? 

LL: Absolutely correct.  Therefore I always carry a travel guitar with me. Whenever there’s an emotion that wants to be translated into a song, I will be ready!

SEM: How have you learned to channel your emotions through song? They probably don’t always come to you when you’re in the studio with a guitar in hand, right? So what technique do you use to summon them? 

LL: The good thing is that emotions do not know the concept of time. You can travel through them to past places and situations, like in a time machine. When I start playing a song, I’m back there in the story.

SEM: If creating art is a journey through time, memory, imagination, and future expectations, what does your artistic trek look like right now? 

LL: I am back home rethinking my packing strategy for the next long travel! I have to think about what I am taking with me carefully and what I’ll leave at home. I’ve got only one suitcase. And a one-way ticket.

SEM: If there is an ultimate destination that you want to reach on your musical journey, what would it be?

LL: I’d rather try to enjoy the each step to the fullest. Wouldn’t it be great if you arrive at the destination and you don’t even recognize it because you’re in a deep creative flow? Let me give you a picture of a mountaintop destination I once had a vision of that keeps sticking in my mind: There’s a nice open-air stage on a hill at the seaside, somewhere in England, and all my dear musician friends are with me on stage and we play for a nice crowd while the sun is going down.

SEM: In closing, here is a more traditional question: What’s coming up next for you?

LL: During the summer I’ll play shows in France with the musicians’ collective around the label Dime On Records. I am very happy to be part of that. We’ll play at DIME ON FEST in Nice on the 4th of August with great artists like Charlie Winston, Paperface, Medi, David Zincke, Yana, and Solestones. In October I’ll play a show with Paperface at the Green Note Camden in London. Paperface is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. In the meantime, I continue to work on my new album.

Find out more about Lea Lu here: https://www.lealu.ch/