By Nicholas Jason Lopez
In late 2019, Lea Cappelli auditioned for a singing show and put on what she felt was a passionate performance, only to be bluntly dismissed by the judges as “gimmicky,” a dagger that struck her self-confidence and mental health at its core.
The only way she could get out of it was to build herself back up and sharpen her unique personality along the way, slowly donning the moniker “L’FREAQ.”
Unbridled originality, blazing vocals, runway-ready gothic fashion and female empowerment are just a dose of what you get from L’FREAQ – and it’s all by design.
The Los Angeles-based musician dropped her sophomore EP ‘Showgirl’ via Position Music this past September – a dazzling, dark synth-pop extravaganza comparable to artists such as FKA Twigs and Banks, supported by singles like “LOUD” and “Gimmick,” the very song that serves as a callback to the judge that set her on the path to happiness.
As she declares in “Gimmick” – “Got the courage to be vulnerable, got the guts to wear the crown, ’cause I dare to bare it all, I refuse to water down.”
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with L’FREAQ about ‘Showgirl’ and more.
Music Bugle – It seems like of all the songs on ‘Showgirl,’ the one that may be the most personal was “Gimmick.” What was your experience like making the video for it and how would you describe the video?
L’FREAQ – It was about my experience on a singing show where one of the judges called me “gimmicky.” I was gutted after that experience and wanted to take it a step further in the video to show how the media manipulates our sense of reality, especially with young kids. The puppet master idea came to me as a perfect visual representation of a gimmick and my director Shepherd Flashman Lowrey helped me bring it to life.
Music Bugle – What is it like getting to play Amy Winehouse in “27” in Las Vegas?
L’FREAQ – It’s honestly one of the most surreal experiences ever. Not only playing her, but doing it five nights a week for a different audience every night. One of the things I love the most about live performance is that you never know who will resonate with what and when. There are nights when people scream just watching Amy walk on stage and there are nights when they start swing dancing to “Valerie.” It’s a magical experience and I feel grateful to watch people be touched by her music.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
L’FREAQ – Obviously, it was terrifying at first. I was wondering if I’d ever be able to perform live again. I really had to strip my ego and bring everything back to basics. It was just my roommate and I in our apartment for almost a year. Through those experiences, I learned myself more than I ever would have if I had been busy or traveling all the time. At the end of it all, I’m grateful to have gone through it and discovered myself on a much deeper level.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
L’FREAQ – Usually to nature. I never used to be an outdoor person. I lived in New York for four years and loved the city, but when I moved to California, I started hiking, going to the beach and letting myself rest in the stillness of it all. It’s my most treasured time now.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to become a musician?
L’FREAQ – I have footage of me singing at my first vocal recital at age 4, so I guess you could say I always knew. When I turned 9-years-old, my mom and her partner opened a photo studio and producing facility, so I always saw musicians, models and actors coming in and out. It was never a question of if I wanted to be a musician or not, I always just felt that it was natural.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
L’FREAQ – I love to discover new music. Ashnikko, James Blake, Erykah Badu, Tei Shi, Sevdaliza and Massive Attack are what’s currently playing in my ears.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for as 2022 begins?
L’FREAQ – I hope to keep this genuine happiness I’ve been feeling.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
L’FREAQ – “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away,” from Pablo Picasso.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
L’FREAQ – I think it’s a bit of both. I don’t love feeling the need to post constantly, but in some ways, I feel incredibly grateful for it, because it levels the playing field and creates diversity where it may not have existed before.
Music Bugle – What is your proudest accomplishment, so far?
L’FREAQ – I’m really proud of ‘Showgirl.’ I worked really hard on it with my producers/cowriters Myles Avery and Shayna Zaid. There was a lot of molding and sonic discovery that happened in that room. I’m also proud of my next project I’m dreaming up.