An Interview With The Australian Singer-Songwriter LENKA On Her Latest Collection, Favorite Artists, Her Comedic Timing and More!
Posted On 03 Nov 2017
Lenka is an Australian pop sensation. On Friday, October 13th, she released her fifth studio album “Attune.” The first single “Heal” premiered with Billboard who praised Lenka for her “power to heal”.
“‘Heal’ was written with Sally Seltmann (Feist’s “1234”) whilst drinking tea in my home in Sydney,” shares Lenka. “It is inspired by a difficult situation I was having with a female friend where we really had to resolve conflict in a peaceful way to move forward and save our friendship. It’s about the struggle against the fighter we all have inside us to find a gentle, humble, peaceful resolution in human relationships.”
Lenka is best known for her song “The Show” which was featured in the 2011 Oscar-nominated film, Moneyball. Her song “Everything at Once” was used for Microsoft and Disney commercials.
Born Lenka Kripac in the Australian coastal town of Bega, Lenka’s family moved to Sydney when she was seven years old. It was here that she received schooling in acting and music, and began work as a highly regarded actress. As a teenager, Lenka studied at the Australian Theatre For Young People, where she trained with Cate Blanchett. Aussies know Lenka from her starring role as Vesna Kapek on the Australian ABC series GP. She also hosted Cheez TV and has guest starred in other Australian TV series, including Home and Away, Wild Side, Head Start, and Spellbinder.
Lenka was also a vocalist and keyboardist for beloved and critically-acclaimed Australian electronic-rock band, Decoder Ring. She has released four studio albums: Lenka, Two, Shadows and The Bright Side.
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Learn more about Lenka in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
I’m in NYC, in my hotel room doing my vocal warm up. About to do a Billboard live performance. There is no music, just the sound of me going “goog goog goog goog” and my kid telling me to go into the other room so he can hear the TV! My baby girl is watching me do my make-up. She seems very into all the feminine rituals and decorations…
Fave song at the moment is from Lana Del Ray. The whole album, but “Love” in particular.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
No I did not want to be a musician, but I did sing with my dad’s jazz band when I was 6 and 7 years old. I wanted to be a ballet dancer, then an actress, then an artist and THEN a musician! I started late I guess.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
I think I just have less f*cks to give as the years go by and that is very liberating creatively. This album was just for me (and my fans of course) but I really just made the songs exactly as I wanted. I produced the album myself, I totally indulged in creating the sounds and it was a very pleasurable experience. 2017 has been beautiful for me in a personal level, I’m very happy, but I’m very worried about the world.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and your music today?
I was born in a country town and I am now actually returning to a country life so I guess the roots are there in my soul and I can only be a city girl for so long! Nature is a big part of my lyrical inspiration and the sounds of my farm are actually on a few of the songs on the album.
What did it feel like releasing your fifth studio album, “Attune’? Did you go into the studio to start working on this one any differently than your previous collections?
Yes, as I said I produced it myself and really did it just for me, rather than thinking about any music industry expectations. We recorded in a few chapters, it was a bit stop-start to fit with my family life, but over a whole year the music came together beautifully. Releasing it feels incredible. Like a weight off my shoulders. I guess I was concerned with the reaction after all, even though I tried not to be! The response has been positive so I feel very proud right now.
Over the years, how do you think you have really grown as an artist? What about your process has remained the same?
I can’t seem to shake the optimistic energy in my music, even if I start out writing a depressing song. When I first started making music it was all a bit darker and weirder but over the years this sunny, happy energy sorta became my flavor and now that seems to have stuck. This album is a little more mellow and soulful though. As always, Music is my therapy and I work out many of my issues through song writing.
Can you talk about how your first single, “Heal” came together? What was the inspiration for it? What was it like directing the music video? Have you directed other videos of yours or has this been something that you have wanted to do for awhile?
I co-wrote this song with Sally Seltmann at my home studio. I was pregnant at the time and having a situation with a close girlfriend where we were in major conflict and had to really rise above to save the friendship. That was the inspiration and it became about healing relationships in general. We recorded the song in a converted church in Byron Bay.
I’m always very involved in making the videos and this time around I wanted to just get a visual vibe to suit the song. No story, nothing fancy, just a nice healing vibe. It’s sorta like we are a sensual cult or something, but I was really just letting it be a subtle interpretation of the song. We were improvising the movement, with a choreographer giving directions. It was a real pleasure to shoot it actually!
I was just at your show here in LA at Hotel Café and I must say, I was just as impressed with your voice and music as I was with your effortless humor on stage. Does that come naturally to you? You seemed very comfortable and at ease performing. Do you still love performing as much as you used when you first started doing it?
I was being rather a comedian, wasn’t I?! I’m not always telling that many jokes on stage, haha! Partly because I was nervous about the sound because our soundcheck wasn’t that great. I want to at least make the audience have a good time! But it ended up sounding great so all was good. The humor is also part of having no f*cks to give. I’m a natural clown and I just let it fly free now. (Only if the shows at 21+!!)
I find performing very natural but I often feel drained afterwards. So I have a kind of love/hate relationship with touring.
Do you have other fall or winter tour dates scheduled? Where can your fans see you perform next?
This is it for me for a while. NYC tonight, a sold out show, then I’m heading back to Australia to enjoy my *hashtag* Farm Lyfe. I just want to enjoy my sweet little kids for a while and live on the land. We just planted an orchard so I need to nurture the trees over the summer too. Next year I want to record some more music, which will be an extension of one of the songs in the album, called River Spirits. It will be pretty arty I think – not pop.
I read that you did study acting and then went on to act in several Australian series so I am curious whether acting is still one of your passions? Do you ever consider acting more these days?
I occasionally do audition, but find it so much less satisfying than creating my own music. I do still have a space in my heart for acting though. Hopefully one day!
With the summer over now, what was something fun or new that you tried this summer?
My and my husband got into drinking unsweetened iced tea. It’s not really a thing in Australia. We drink hot tea a lot tho. But iced tea on a hot LA day is definitely the vibe!
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
i am just waiting for some amazing, overtly political songs to come out and maybe make a social shift right now. Eminem was a good start, let’s have Lady Gaga or someone do a massive political hit song! Music is powerful.
Speaking of, I loved your cover of Aretha Franklin’s hit “RESPECT”! How did that come together?
Earlier this year when the Women’s March happened (it happened in Sydney too) I was feeling a lot of feminist passion and I listened to the song R.E.S.P.E.C.T with fresh ears and got this desire to play it on the piano. It was written by Otis Redding so it may be sacrilege, but I changed the chords slightly – from being 7ths to Major 7ths, which gives the song a different, sweeter feel. I loooove playing it…
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I mostly just listen to the same old stuff. Old jazz and blues, Beck, Cat Power, Bjork, Fleet Foxes, to name a few… the only new stuff I’ve really fallen in love with recently and found inspiring is Solange Knowles and Lana Del Ray.
Your songs are incredibly sweet and bright but is there anything else that you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a message to a lot of your songs?
Yes absolutely. There’s always a message and a deeper meaning underneath the sunny vibes. If you really listen you definitely would find that and I hope people absorb that too.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
Start practicing and honing your style now and be clear on your identity when you start to put content out into the world. Do it for the love of it and keep doing it and showing people as much as possible.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Just gratitude. I’m so lucky I get to indulge in this and share it with people. I’m grateful that you hear me.