Picture: a.s.s. concerts & promotion gmbh/Jens Koch
Singer-songwriter music is currently climbing up the popularity scale in Germany. Songs in German are conquering the radios, unagitated arrangements far away from overproduced beats, autotunes and stage choreos are winning over ears and hearts. And between all the Philipp Poisels, Jupiter Jones, Mark Forsters and Tim Benzkos (don’t get me wrong, they’re all amazing too), there’s one whose music somehow stands out. It doesn’t have to be loud and shrill to be heard. With a whispered tone and just the right words, it touches more than many a loudly barked “Oh`s” on a high C. We’re talking about LEA. The songs of the musician strike a chord in the heart. Are sometimes almost painfully honest and show how relentlessly beautiful music can tell stories. LEA has made it from the YouTube video shot during school break to the very big stages – and has never become aloof. She has remained true to herself and her music. And hits the mark with her fans from young to old.
LEA’s love story with music
Lea-Marie Becker, as the musician’s full name is called, grew up very sheltered in Kassel, according to her own account. As the daughter of a music therapist, she was surrounded by music from an early age on. She took her first piano lesson at the age of six. Like every child, she doesn’t feel like practicing for hours and hours and gradually finds her way into the world of tones and melodies with childlike ease. The times when she doesn’t feel like practicing quickly disappeared. It becomes obvious to young Lea that she can no longer imagine her life without music.
“I’ve always made music, and I knew I would always make music in my life,” she says in Barbara Schöneberger’s podcast “Mit den Waffeln einer Frau”. In doing so, she is not pushed, does not get pressure from her parents to practice every day or to win competitions. Today, the singer is very grateful for that. Because, as she says herself, “nothing works under pressure”.
As a teenager, LEA began experimenting with melodies and lyrics, much preferring to find out for herself what sounds beautiful together instead of stiffly reading notes off paper. As the years went by, her first musical attempts became coherent song elements, and by the age of 15 she had written her first song. For LEA, her music becomes some sort of musical diary. Her way of expressing herself and giving her emotions and thoughts a voice. She writes about the pain of separation, self-doubt and experiences. She relentlessly writes down what can be expressed most easily through chords and symbols. In interviews she even describes it as a kind of therapy for herself.
The Stepping Stone YouTube
LEA became a YouTube star at the age of 15. At that time, still using her first name Lea-Marie, she published her song “Wo ist die Liebe hin” (Where has love gone) – recorded during the long break at school using the teacher’s video recorder. “All of a sudden, my song was featured by YouTube on the front page,” recalls the singer, who was already happy about the first thousand clicks and at the time had no idea what would follow that thousand people. Today, by the way, the video has almost 3 million clicks. A year later follows “Wohin willst du” the first musical success for the singer.
But LEA, as always, doesn’t let herself be pressured. She finishes her A-levels, concentrates on school and only uploads something now and then. Even after school, she doesn’t frantically focus on music and doesn’t, as one might think, go to a music-only college. She deliberately decides to study special education with music as a second subject and goes to Argentina for six months to work with children from difficult social backgrounds.
Music is a part of her life – but simply in the LEA way. Without pressure, without the need to succeed, simply out of pure joy and passion. Later, in Barbara Schöneberger’s podcast, she says, “I knew that if I wanted to do this consistently, then it’s very important that I always do it for myself and not for a professor or anyone else.” And it’s exactly this approach to music and the way she uses it as a real means of communication that gave birth to songs like “Kennst du das,” with which LEA writes down the impressions of her stay in Argentina.
LEA’s path of becoming a professional musician
Already during her studies, despite all the ease and the view of music as a hobby, it becomes apparent: this thing with music, it could become something big. In 2016, the FourMusic label signed the singer, and while she was still studying, LEA recorded her debut album Vakuum. The song “Wohin willst du” (Where are you going) becomes LEA’s first hit, thanks partly to the remix by the DJ duo “Gestört aber geil”.
All of a sudden, without doggedly working towards it, LEA becomes a professional musician and her “hobby” is played on the radio. In 2017, she goes on tour for the first time, but the great breakthrough should follow shortly thereafter at a time when LEA probably least expected it…
When your own song becomes a huge hit during your vacation
One year later LEA releases her second album “Zwischen meinen Zeilen”. The song “Zu dir” is already very successful. But it is “Leiser” which is to give LEA her first major hit. And while “Leiser” is gradually going through the roof, she is currently enjoying her annual time-out in Thailand and Vietnam.
LEA finds out about the “Leiser” success from her team and still stays there, where she doesn’t get to hear about all the hustle and bustle. If you look back today and look at LEA’s musical journey, actually quite logical and almost amusing perfect fitting for the musician. While other musicians shoot a music video for every hit-potential single and go on promotional tour, Leiser doesn’t even have an official video at the time. The song is accompanied on YouTube only by a cover picture. And exactly this cover picture has more than 50 million views by now. Of course, the promo tour followed the great success later on anyway.
LEA still takes this time off to this day. Once a year, usually in January and February, she leaves the country for seven weeks. Away from the music world, the life between tour and song recording, songwriting and everyday life. Social media as well as notepad and pen for songwriting stay at home. During these seven weeks, LEA takes a break, clears her head and collects new impressions – which, of course, often provide material for new songs after her travels.
Once again, you can see how refreshingly different LEA is in dealing with the music business and the apparent pressure to constantly put out a new number one hit. She takes her time off, no matter if it fits in or not. No matter who expects something from her. Because she needs it and because by just such attitudes her music becomes as honest as it is. LEA has not changed with the times, has not adapted to the trends of pop music, just to swim with the masses. “I don’t publish anything I don’t love,” says the singer, and this is noticeable.
The “Sing meinen Song” phenomenon
It was eight very intimate evenings in South Africa, where LEA conquered the hearts of even the last living room. The VOX show “Sing meinen Song- das Tauschkonzert” was a very special journey for the artists. Shortly before the pandemic broke out, the musicians around Max Giesinger, Nico Santos, Ilse DeLange, MoTrip, Jan Plewka, Michael Patrick Kelly and LEA were able to get up close and personal with music once again and show viewers how much music is rooted in their lives. And as is almost always the case with “Sing meinen Song,” the evenings seem magical, the artists more real and close than ever before. “LEA is the most emotional voice in Germany,” says Nico Santos about his colleague during filming.
A very special moment occurs when Jan Plewka tells his colleagues and LEA that he has chosen the song “Monster”. A song from LEA’s first album and a very special one for the singer. At night at a hotel wing, she used it to process deep-rooted pain and feelings about a breakup. Written the thoughts out of her soul within an hour. “I chase away all the ghosts that scream loudly how beautiful you were,” she sings in this song. The monster, the ghosts, all this stands for a time in which the singer had to fight with depressive moods and self-doubt. With her music LEA once again treats herself, manages to get out of the low with deep lyrics and melodies:
Jan Plewka turns it into a gloomy rock song. With this he probably hits in a completely different way and at the same time on the same what LEA must have felt at that time.
Through the show, the already increasingly successful artist is pushed one last time and is now no longer an unknown name to hardly anyone.
How LEA conquers the German singer-songwriter scene
LEA writes honestly. Both her lyrics and her music. True words meet softly breathed tones. Her singing works without much gimmickry and convinces even more with skill. LEA sounds fragile and strong at the same time. In moments when the tones almost sound as if they would break off at any moment, her vocal talent is revealed. The absolute control over her vocal apparatus, with which she has a breathy head voice just as well under control as a strong and expressive chest voice and sometimes a clear sounding mix register with rough and full tones. The slight vibrato that almost naturally belongs to her singing voice makes LEA’s voice unmistakable and adds a very special touch to both piano ballads and songs with catchy beats.
You can read more about the different vocal registers and the use of head and chest voice here in our article on Belting.
With all this, LEA is now shaping the German singer-songwriter scene. In 2018, she provided the title song for the film “Das schönste Mädchen der Welt” (The Most Beautiful Girl in the World) and made “Immer wenn wir uns sehen” (Whenever We See Each Other) a hit together with lead actor Aaron Hilmer. Even big names like Capital Bra and Samra, who for many apparently do not want to fit together with LEA at first, team up with LEA. The collaborative single of the three “110” is catapulted to the top of the German single charts in no time at all. With “Capi,” as LEA calls her colleague, she also records the song “7 Stunden” (7 hours) and rapper Majan joins LEA for the hit “Beifahrersitz” (passenger seat). Artists from completely different genres, such as Max Raabe, also work with LEA. Only recently there was the concentrated songwriter power with “Drei Uhr Nachts” (Three o’clock at night), for which LEA and Marc Forster have teamed up.
LEA cares about music, not about her appearance
Even after the success has long become part of LEA’s music, she is not concerned with hype about her person. She wants the hype to be purely about her music. What she has to share with the world. That’s one of the reasons why LEA’s cover of her debut album Vakuum, for example, shows her not with her face, but behind a flower mask – even if she doesn’t wear it consistently, like Cro or, earlier, Sido. Nevertheless, this cover decision was her way of saying “listen instead of informing yourself about my person”.
While she partly serves her heart, her opinion and her feelings on a silver platter in her songs, she keeps her private life as good as possible right there: in her private life. There’s not much private stuff about LEA to read. And that wouldn’t fit in at all with the overall LEA construct. She radiates a musician’s personality through and through as a matter of course. There are hardly any listeners who feel the urge to find out about LEA’s current boyfriend, a break-up battle or certain friends. With her, everything simply revolves around the music – and that’s also what makes the singer so likeable and somehow different from many others. Because even without gossip articles and home stories, fans feel like they know LEA. Because that’s exactly what her close and genuine songs do with listeners: They open a portal into LEA’s head. Into a world full of emotions and dreams. Full of honesty, fragility, but also full of strength and positivity.
LEA – honest, approachable and genuine
With her third album “Treppenhaus” we have arrived in the present day with LEA’s story. As before, the singer has remained grounded, loves to touch other people with her songs. In terms of depth, she has even gone one step further in this album. She processes thoughts such as the question of whether you are actually okay the way you are. Before the song “Okay”, for example, she has – as she says herself – long shirked. Was for a long time not ready to write and publish a song about this feeling. But this album felt just right for her:
On Instagram, where she also shows concerts very closely from her perspective, she takes her fans into the stairwell and goes through a whole 20 floors of stories behind the songs and stories about LEA and the music with them in short IG-TV videos. “The most beautiful thing is when people recognize themselves in my songs,” says the singer in one of the Instagram stairwell videos – and that’s exactly what we do, dear LEA! Thank you for that.
If you would like to see LEA live now, you can still get hold of last tickets for their current Staircase Tour. The album had to wait quite a while to conquer the big stages due to the pandemic. Except for a few picnic concerts, gigs were hardly possible. Now Treppenhaus can finally be experienced live. An overview of the “Treppenhaus Open Airs 2021” and the links to the tickets can be found here. By the way, for some afternoon shows you can still get tickets on site and go spontaneously.
Express your feelings with music
You have the feeling that you feel the same as LEA? You can express your feelings and opinions best with music? That’s wonderful and we are sure that great songs will come out of it! If you get stuck and feel like you need more musicians to give the song what it needs, you’re sure to find soulful and honest fellow musicians here on mukken.