Dirty Dozen: Lena Laki

Lena Laki, 2016Lena Laki is an indie folk singer-songwriter based in London.  Her Debut EP Take Me With is out now and has received acclaim from media. Gigslutz made her the Discovery of the Week and hailing Lena as “One of those ultimately talented musicians it is essential to appreciate“, while Love is Pop declared Lena’s material as “nothing short of gorgeous.”

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I’m from Germany, from a small and picturesque town in the South, and moved to London a few years ago. I started singing when I was 15, and was singing Jazz and Soul at first, before I discovered more folky, indie and experimental music. I started writing my own music quite late, in my mid twenties. I have been playing lots of gigs in and around London over the past year and have now released my Debut EP Take Me With.

How would you describe your music?
What is kind of characteristic of my music is an overall melancholic feeling. I think it can be described as melodic-atmospheric Indie folk with a jazzy touch.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
When I got into singing I was very much influenced by Jazz singers like Nina Simone and Etta James – these jazz singers really influenced me and my voice. Later then I discovered more indie music like Portishead, Goldfrapp and Radiohead, that I immediately connected with, and of course folk, like Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen.

What are you currently promoting?
My Debut EP Take Me With that I released a few months ago! I also released 3 music videos over the last months which are all quite unique in their style. Shooting them was an amazing experience and I’m really proud of the result – especially Craving is quite an interesting one, check it out! J

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I have a special attachment to the song Craving, I guess also because it has accompanied me for many years and has evolved with me in a way. I’m really proud of the final version of the song.

What are you currently listening to?
I love Ane Brun’s recent album When I’m Free, the bands/artists The Antlers, Dark Dark Dark, Lera Lynn and Lisa Hannigan. Also artists like Ólafur Arnalds and Max Richter, who mix classical with electronic music.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?

Really difficult to pick just one, but I’d go for Felt Mountain (Goldfrapp).

What are your hopes for your future career?
I’m currently playing mainly in and around London and I would like to play across the UK and Europe. This autumn I will play a headline show in Athens, I’m really looking forward to that one. And then I want to release an album at some point in the not-too-far-future J

If money were no object what would be your dream project?

It would be pretty nice to take a complete year off and entirely focus on music, on writing songs, on experimenting, maybe take piano lessons too, and then recording an album and organize a Europe tour.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
It’s such a unique way of expressing yourself, of connecting to your emotional and artistic world.  Besides it’s a lot of fun and you get to meet great people too.  And it challenges you, it makes you expose yourself and what you create, which is beautiful and sometimes scary at the same time.  It makes me so happy to know that I have created something that will exist forever and hasn’t existed before.

And the worst?
Mmh, not sure, maybe that sometimes people might expect you to just happily sing and play in all kinds of situations, like an entertainer all the time ready and willing to do what you do, whereas for me singing has always been more of an artistic way of expressing myself, rather than a fun thing that I just do all the time to entertain myself or others. Sounds a bit weird maybe, haha, but singing has always been a somewhat “sacred and special” experience for me.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?

First of all, thanks a lot for taking the time to read this! It would mean a lot to me if you go and check out my music, please feel free to also sign up to my mailing list on my website (I don’t spam, only update on new releases or possible tours) and follow me on Spotify J I hope you like my music.

Author: Rudie Humphrey

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show - The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session - playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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