“I’m obsessed with FKA Twigs. I’m obsessed with anything that’s inspired by goddess imagery, feminine empowerment, kink culture, anything subversive.” Lea Cappelli, better known as L’FREAQ, is describing her sartorial style, but the characterization could just as easily apply to the sentiments of her music itself. “I think it’s important for people to know that I try to be incredibly inclusive and that’s the underlying message behind L’FREAQ. I want people to know, ‘You can be your wild, authentic self!’” she proclaims. The LA-based synth-pop chanteuse is preparing for the release of her sophomore EP, Showgirl, which drops September 23, courtesy of Position Music. The first single, “Gimmick,” premiered last week and has a music video set to premiere next week. The track is a sassy retort to a judge on a singing show who, in 2019, called the singer/songwriter “gimmicky.”
L’FREAQ’s first EP, Weird Awakenings, was released in October of 2018 and garnered critical praise from the likes of Billboard and NYLON, who said, “L’FREAQ’s blend of gothic sensibilities and sultry soulfulness manages to continually hit the marks of bona de pop bangers.” For Showgirl, L’FREAQ used a full book of her poetry as the starting point and composed a collection of five songs with Mike Irish, who also produced and mixed the EP. During a recent phone conversation, the postmodern songstress tells me that Showgirl serves as a direct follow-up to Weird Awakenings, but that this time around she’s showcasing a slightly different side of her.
“Showgirl is a little more edgy. It’s like a sequel to Weird Awakenings. It’s a little more defiant, a little more subversive, a lot more loud. My first album was a little sexier… My influences always stay the same: Portishead, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, St. Vincent, but for this record I was kind of referencing dancier tracks. The first album was more stuff like Chelsea Wolfe, but this one’s more like Sofi Tukker and dancier stuff like that.”
An additional difference for L’FREAQ’s latest output is the absence of her mother, fashion photographer Kelly Cappelli, who had always done all of the photography and artwork for L’FREAQ (in addition to directing certain music videos, including “Such a Lovely Thing,” seen below). “She’s always been my collaborator, but she’s been stuck in Australia, so I haven’t seen her for a year and a half,” says the younger Cappelli, who tells me she was forced to really step up for her new EP: “For this one, I had to do all this artwork on my own, I had to find new photographers… It pushed me in a way I wouldn’t have been pushed had she been with me. It was an interesting hurdle for me to do this without her.”
When I ask Lea about some of the highlights of L’FREAQ, she quickly tells me that playing a private show for Muhammad Ali before he passed was a major highlight, but she also says that having her music on Playboy and in Riverdale was a really big deal: “To have my music paired with really cool television shows was really exciting. A big dream of mine is to have my music in the Harley Quinn film series. Just to have my music in something that is like a major motion picture is a really big dream of mine.” Although it’s not quite cinema – or her own music – Lea is currently splitting her time between LA and Vegas, where she’s playing Amy Winehouse in 27, a play about the 27 Club. However, she tells me that she also has even more new releases of her own planned after Showgirl drops.