Written by Lottie Macro.
21-year-old German singer-songwriter, Zoe Wees, crafts ‘vulnerable dark pop’, and her debut album, Therapy, is no exception to this. She takes inspiration from female pop artists. In particular, American singer-songwriter, Billie Eilish: ‘I love the way she is so open about everything and she’s not afraid to show her weak times and her best times. I love how I kind of know everything about her without knowing her.’ Whilst she describes the detailed, sensitive work of Billie Eilish, it is undeniable that Zoe Wees is striving to achieve a similar level of vulnerability and self-expression within her own music, allowing her to flourish as an artist, and this is beautifully crafted in her debut album. She provides a glimpse into the highs and lows of her life, exploring different facets such as family, past romantic relationships and learning to love herself. In discussion with Zoe, she confirmed, ‘I write about stuff I’m going through and this album is about my last four years’.
Writing and recording music has been a form of therapy for Zoe, making the title of her debut album a fitting choice that reflects this succinctly. When I asked about the origin of the album’s title, Zoe began, ‘I didn’t think about the title, I’m also not really good at [those]… I just wrote the songs and, to me, every song is so different so I didn’t have a title’, before confessing and concluding, ‘someone in the team said ‘it sounds like therapy’ and that’s how we came up with the title.’ Writing Therapy helped Zoe to process particular parts of her life, which she opened up about when she provided context to particular tracks on the album. ‘21 Candles’ is a track on the album that feels particularly special to Zoe, and she explained, ‘I grew up without my father and it’s about him… I wrote this song, I think it was on Father’s Day… I wrote a couple songs about my Dad but this one felt so real and I really felt it in that moment.’ This combination of vulnerability and self-expression is threaded throughout the album as she emotionally works through various personal circumstances.
When asked about the creative process of her songwriting, Zoe commented on the opening track of Therapy, ‘Sorry For The Drama’, stating that ‘the song happened. We started with the piano. I don’t know how it happened, it was so magical.’ Sometimes, Zoe’s music forms from studio sessions like this in which ideas effortlessly pour out of her, as if by magic. On other occasions, her creative process stems from how she is feeling in the moment, which reflects how she wrote another track on the album, ‘Hold Me’. She recounted, ‘I wrote this song [after] I’d played a really big show. I just came back to the hotel room and I felt so lonely. For the first time in my life, I had this weird feeling that I never had before… this song is about that.’ In that moment, songwriting was a form of therapy – a way for Zoe to process what she had just experienced and how she felt about that.
It’s admirable that Zoe Wees releases music, in particular, her debut album, Therapy, that is so raw, honest and emotional. In discussion, she actively advised ‘be open because the more honesty you give people, the more honesty you get back’. The courage to do this originates from how she thinks when she writes music: ‘When I write the songs, I don’t really think that I have to release the songs… I don’t think about how deep or how private or personal it is… It’s really hard because I’m talking about really personal stuff that I’ve never told anyone, but it’s the best way for me to express myself and make other people feel a little stronger and less lonely.’ This only confirms just how much of an influential artist Zoe Wees is and reaffirms the power behind new music.
Zoe Wees’ creative process has taken her on a journey, which she described: ‘I’ve learnt a lot. I’m so confident now. My music sounds so much stronger than it did two years ago. I’m only getting stronger and learning.’ This album is also a source of strength for the listener and a form of escapism. Therapy covers a diverse range of musical styles, from beautiful ballads to powerful pop tracks, and the emotional storytelling completely captivates the listener. I cannot wait for her upcoming releases and to witness her consistent growth as an influential artist. Without a doubt, Zoe Wees is one to watch in 2024.
Written, edited and published by Lottie Macro, photography by Lillie Eiger.