“I want to promote the ‘Acceptance’ movement” Words of Wisdom with L’FREAQ

Acceptance! There is too much intolerance in this world nowadays. Being raised with the internet is both a blessing and a curse. There is…

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Acceptance! There is too much intolerance in this world nowadays. Being raised with the internet is both a blessing and a curse. There is unlimited knowledge at your fingertips, but so much hatred that comes with it. Part of the L’FREAQ name, like anti-bullying and access to the arts, is also simply about accepting people for who they are.

I had the pleasure of interviewing L’FREAQ, which is the alias of Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Lea Cappelli. She has performed privately for Muhammad Ali, shared the stage with Jakob Dylan and India.Arie, and her cover of Peggy Lee’s “Angels On Your Pillow” was used by NBC in the original television promos for NBC’s hit show, The Voice. L’FREAQ has released two singles, both with stunning visuals that are now on YouTube, from her upcoming EP Weird Awakenings — “Moonlight” was debuted by Bust and the title track was premiered via Billboard. The five song EP is set to be released October 26th.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up an only child in Arizona with a fantastically artistic mother. She painted me, photographed me, and let me watch her create. This naturally led me to seek my own talents, which instead of using my hands to create art, was my voice. My mother brought me to vocal lessons at a very young age, where originally I was convinced I would be an opera singer. Then, at 12 years old, I discovered jazz. And at 16, started writing my own music. It was a long progression.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

When I performed for Muhammad Ali at a small dinner party of eight, I was nervous. I sang and played guitar for him, and we sat down to eat dinner together. At the time the only thing he could eat after dark was ice cream. I couldn’t believe I was in the presence of such a legend. I was nervous to look at him the whole night, so I kept my head down while the guests chatted. Finally, I mustered the courage to look up at him. He turned to me and winked.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My new five song EP, Weird Awakenings, has been an incredible journey to create. We’ve made a detailed music video for each of the three singles, with the upcoming single “New Skin” as one of my favorites. I’m very visually inclined so it’s fun to watch the songs come to life. We went through a lot to make each one, especially “Moonlight,” where I was hanging in rope bondage for hours. That was a shoot I’ll never forget. It became so painful after so long of being suspended that I had to have all six people on set help hoist me down.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I played guitar and sang for Timbaland about five years ago, which was an experience. We met him at his studio in an unassuming, unmarked building. I had no idea what it was going to be like. When we reached the top the elevator doors opened to a gorgeous studio, where he was working on a new project. I have a picture of him smiling at me, standing behind me and watching me play. At the time I hadn’t written many originals so I played him a cover, “Sugar in my Bowl.” He sat down at his drum machine and started playing along with me.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I’m inspired by women that fought for what they believed in, whether it was societally accepted or not. Nina Simone is a big one for me, her story has many peaks and valleys but she wasn’t afraid to show herself through her art. I believe that’s an issue nowadays. Everyone wants to seem so polished that they forget what it’s like to show themselves, warts and all.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When I was younger, kids used to call me a freak in school. They used to tease me for being different; a tomboy, a loner, controlling. Nowadays the names kids get called in school have transcended the campus, to the point that they follow them home through social media and online bullying, which is horrific. Over the years I learned how to reclaim those words, and eventually settled on the stage name L’FREAQ because I loved the message behind it. I want to help other kids, whether through anti-bullying campaigns, arts education in under-funded districts, or access to safe spaces, know that it’s okay to be different, and it’s possible to come out the other side thriving.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Acceptance! There is too much intolerance in this world nowadays. Being raised with the internet is both a blessing and a curse. There is unlimited knowledge at your fingertips, but so much hatred that comes with it. Part of the L’FREAQ name, like anti-bullying and access to the arts, is also simply about accepting people for who they are.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do something small every day. Whether it’s returning emails, writing a bridge of a song, or discovering new music. I push myself to do anything small, which makes it easier for me to look back at my week and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

#1 — I wish someone had told me to be patient. I need that advice even now! In a world trained to reward instant gratification, it’s hard to feel like you’re getting anywhere with the constant refreshment of a social media page. But there is power in creating behind the scenes, being patient, and collecting your thoughts. I created this new EP, Weird Awakenings, mostly behind the curtains. I wanted to spend time with music that I idolized, consume it, and create something in my own unique voice. That was hard to do, when I saw so many around me consistently releasing. But sometimes it’s all about the wait.

#2 — I wish someone had told me that there is so much to this business, especially as a woman, that you will have to learn how to navigate yourself. From little things, like how to not undermine yourself when asking for pay, to bigger things, like how to avoid feeling taken advantage of, especially by men who have been in this industry for a long time. So many friends of mine have been afraid to say “no” because they think it will take away an opportunity for them. Most men do not understand that women in business constantly have to question their safety; why am I being considered for this job? Is there a risk in taking it? It’s something I, and so many women, are still learning how to navigate.

#3 — Don’t take the ones who help you for granted. Often it’s easy to feel like you don’t want to reach out to someone because you’d be wasting their time, or maybe they wouldn’t help you. But it’s so important to create a solid base of mentors that will help you grow and learn over time. When I first started learning Ableton, a computer production and performance software, I was at a loss. I found an amazing teacher, Julie, who nurtured my curiosity and helped me grow. Now I perform and DJ with Ableton regularly.

#4 — Be passionate. If this is something you really want to do, it’s going to be messy, inconsistent, and sometimes upsetting. You’re going to feel like you’ve failed some days because you’re not where you want to be. Keep a journal of the things you’ve done and look back at it. Let that passion fill every part of you and drive you to be a better artist. As my mentor once told me, “fall in love with the process of becoming great.”

#5 — It’s okay to be weird. You’re going to have inclinations to do things that other people may not like. You’re not creating art for every person you meet, you’re creating it for yourself. Art is such a deeply personal experience. Make it weird, make it colorful, make it as crazy as you want; because at the end of the day the only thing we can ask is that we made a meaningful connection with somebody through our own human experience. Maybe your weirdness made somebody else feel like it was okay to be weird. And that’s the real beauty of it all.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet with David Byrne. His career has spanned so many decades and he’s published books, organized shows, and co-written with new, young artists, bridging the gap between the digital world of music and the old school. When I was working at a restaurant in Manhattan he came in and attended a conference about how social media is changing the music scene. I ran all the way home to my Brooklyn apartment in the rain to get my guitar, and then back to Manhattan. My idea was that I would be sitting outside the door waiting for him when he got out, so I could play him a song. By the time I got back he had already left, and I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted to fulfill that meeting. I think we could write a great song together!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on all social platforms as @lfreaq, and keep them updated regularly! I’m playing a show October 11th at The Satellite in Los Angeles, with more info soon on my socials.

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