Photo Credit: Anna Azarov
Yes, TGIF on ABC was my reason for breathing as a child, but there were a weird group of us who absolutely loved ‘20/20’ that night too. I lived for Barbara Walters to interview her most interesting people every year, but as I got older I realized that everyone is interesting. It’s probably the reason I love asking people so many damn questions – from artists to podcasters and beyond, including a musician I just cannot get enough of, L’FREAQ. This week her EP, ‘Showgirl,’ drops and we had a very interesting back and forth not only about the music, but about the media tearing us down, the industry using talent, and more!
Kendra: With a bit of your foundation in music being tarnished growing up, when did you decide to take back matters into your own hands and start anew with the craft?
L’FREAQ: I have an interesting relationship with music. It’s something I’ve been doing since before I can remember. Then my mom started dating a musician when I was around 8-years-old who complicated my relationship with it. He would tell me I wasn’t “ready,” which has taken a lot of mental gymnastics and unlearning to overcome. But through moving out and living on my own in New York and LA I rediscovered my love of music, my tastes, and my writing style. I had to be selfish and take that time to discover what I truly love.
Kendra: You’re revered for these dark synth-pop sounds, but it’s quite apparent that you did grow up with R&B records spinning because you belt out notes like a gospel choir. Who were some R&B artists you listened to in your formative years?
L’FREAQ: R&B is one of my favorite genres. I grew up studying jazz like Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan which helped me discover old-school R&B like Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind & Fire. ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ was one of the first records I truly fell in love with.
Kendra: I connected with your beginnings as I had a similar past with a single mom who got with someone who wasn’t ideal when I was around eight, they parted around 18, and like yourself, I’ve drawn inspiration from her in my writing. Mine were essays, yours? Songs like “Showgirl.” Being that you work closely with your mom in your creative endeavors, were you able to sort of keep this one under wraps until it was done to surprise her, or was she aware of this track from start to finish?
L’FREAQ: Wow, I love that. There are so many people whose stories we don’t know, and ultimately that’s why I create; to connect and to heal. I shared the song with my mom in the demo phases and she loved it.
Kendra: I also want to talk about “Gimmick” because a lot is going on in the video. First, the puppetry of artists. It makes me think back to groups like TLC, the late ‘90s boy bands, and even today with Britney Spears and how much people behind the scenes like to shove their hands in unmentionable places and use talented people for their gain. Artists today, like yourself, are more aware of that but it still happens. What’s your advice to younger artists out there when it comes to avoiding toxic industry folk?
L’FREAQ: Honestly, I would say stay independent for as long as possible. With social media these days it’s entirely valid to just do your own thing and build your audience organically. The power is being put back into the hands of the artist, which is incredibly inspiring. We can avoid “puppetry” altogether if we empower ourselves with knowledge and the right tools.
Kendra: “Gimmick” also touches on the impact media has on kids. On one hand, I love pop culture and was raised on TV, but…it was the ‘90s and the push of thin white girls with blonde hair and blue eyes as the standard of beauty did make me feel so inferior as a fat, Black girl with a head of curls. Do you have that pairing too, something you loved about mainstream media, but also something it did that made you feel less than?
L’FREAQ: I totally agree. For me, it was about seeing classic “beauty” everywhere, perfect and airbrushed. Growing up I never felt like I was pretty enough, tall enough, or “model-esque” enough to be accepted. Especially since I saw my mom, a photographer, shooting gorgeous models all the time. I’m so happy we’re seeing such a vast array of representation in the media now.
Kendra: There is no doubt ‘Showgirl’ is going to make waves as did your debut ‘Weird Awakenings.’ Which was everywhere from ‘Good Trouble’ to the dramatic world of ‘Riverdale.’ Are there any recent shows you’ve seen where you thought this song or that song off ‘Showgirl’ would be the perfect fit?
L’FREAQ: I’m obsessed with the show ‘Euphoria’ and think the songs from ‘Showgirl’ would fit really well there. I also think ‘Peaky Blinders’ would be a great fit.
Kendra: On top of all your musical goodness, you’re also a huge mental health advocate. You know, every day the conversation about the importance of mental health gets louder and stronger, but with well…everything that’s transpired from last year to recently – it’s taken such a toll on everyone. Do you think there are alternatives to traditional therapy that people can do who are hesitant to go that route but need something?
L’FREAQ: One thing that has helped me immensely is meditation. It is simple, and you don’t need anything to practice it. Another thing that has helped is a routine. I used to wake up with anxiety in the mornings because I didn’t have a plan. But something as simple as knowing I start my day with a 15-minute meditation, some journaling, and mindfulness helps me appreciate the day much deeper.
Kendra: With the new record out near the end of September, what else do you have planned as we head into the fall?
L’FREAQ: I have plans to re-release some music that most people haven’t heard from me, as it was one of the very first things I ever released and doesn’t exist on most platforms. I’m also working on my first album, so I’m very excited to continue shaping that and watching the ideas grow. You can keep up with all new releases at my socials!