In less than a year, young pop singer/songwriter Zoe Wees has emerged as a talented artist to watch. Just 18 years old, Wees has been gaining international exposure since the release of her debut single “Control” last March (2020). And now, Wees has released her second single, the uptempo song “Girls Like Us.”
What makes Wees stand out initially, is her powerful, soulful singing voice. Her vocal performance on the ballad “Control” is particularly impressive, and indicates that she may be one of the best young singers in pop music. But beyond her singing, her songwriting for “Control” and “Girls Like Us” shows depth, and her ability to convey her thoughts and feelings with her songs.
The success of “Control,” which has been streamed over 270 million times, led to her signing a worldwide deal last fall with Capitol Records. Notably, she’s been able to build her success story this past year, even if the midst of the pandemic & lockdown.
Wees was born in Hamburg, Germany, and she still lives there. Raised by her mother, she fell in love with music and singing at a young age. As a child, she was diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy, a traumatic, isolating condition that can cause severe seizures. Around this period, “I just started singing,” she remembers. “I began writing songs when I was eight because it was the best way to show everyone how I felt. I love dark songs, I love deep songs—my songs have always been about demons, or voices in your head. Music was my diary…it still is.”
When Wees was 15, she met Nils Bodenstedt, who would become her manager. He encouraged her to develop her singing & songwriting, and they worked in the studio together. After that, she connected with Hamburg-based producers Patrick Pyke Salmy and Ricardo Muñoz, who linked her with fellow songwriters Emma Rosen and René Miller. Wees has also signed with Valeria Music Group.
In addition, while writing & recording new songs in the studio, Wees drew attention on YouTube by singing excellent cover versions of the hits “You Say” (by Lauren Daigle) and “Someone You Loved” (Lewis Capaldi). Both of these videos have now been viewed a million times on YouTube.
Here’s the video of Zoes Wees’ hit, “Control.”
Besides releasing her own singles, a few months ago Wees was invited by hit U.K. artist Tom Walker to be featured on his song, “Wait For You.” This duet recording provides a strong showcase for both Walker’s and Wees’ vocal performances.
Currently, Wees has written & recorded several more songs, and she plans to release her debut EP in a few months.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Zoe Wees. She tells how she got started as an artist, and she discusses her singles “Control” and “Girls Like Us.”
DK: I read that you’re from Hamburg, Germany. How did you get started with singing, and writing songs?
Zoe Wees: I’ve always been in love with music, and I love singing and writing songs. I just felt like music is my home since I was around 9. I realized that I wanted to do music and would give my all to do music. And then I met my manager who was my teacher at that time. And he said, “I really like working with your voice, “ and I said, “Sure, let’s do it.” And then we went to a studio and we recorded songs.
DK: How old were you went you went into the studio?
Wees: I think I was 15. I had written songs at home, and I came to the studio with all the songs I had.
DK: I like your song, “Control.” What inspired you to write it? I read that you had to overcome epilepsy and anxiety attacks.
Wees: Yeah, I had rolandic child epilepsy when I was younger, and I had a teacher who helped me with my anxieties and my epilepsy. And I wanted to say thanks to her with a song, because I really appreciate her and I think we should all appreciate our teachers a little bit more.
Here’s the video of Zoe Wees’ single, “Girls Like Us.”
When I was in the studio, the first songwriting session I had was for “Control.” We were in the studio, and I had all the co-writers sitting there. I was so nervous…I told them that I wanted to write about something really deep, and we shared a note, and then we talked a little bit about epilepsy, anxieties and depression. And “Control” came out (laughs).
DK: You have a new single called “Girls Like Us.” What inspired you to write this song?
Wees: On the “Girls Like Us” session, I met Hight, a songwriter who’s so cool. And we talked a little about the topic for this song, because for me, it was really hard to grow up in a world that you feel doesn’t accept you. So I wanted to write a song about that because on social media, everything seems so perfect…you see all the girls with their clothes and makeup and they always look good. And you feel like you’re not enough, and that you can’t talk to anyone, because your family, like my mom, never took it serious. She just said, “Yeah, there are so many worse things.” So I wanted to write a song about that.
DK: You’re off to a terrific start with your two singles. Are you working on an EP or a full album?
Wees: Yes, I’m working on an EP and always on my album. I always write songs and hope that I like them for the album.
DK: I like the duet you sang with Tom Walker on his song, “Wait For You.” How did you connect with Tom for this song?
Wees: I love Tom, and he just wrote us and asked me to jump on this track. I asked him directly what the song was about, and he said, “It’s about helping a friend through a tough time.” And I said, “Okay that’s perfect.” Then I went to London and we talked a bit about it. It’s so crazy that Tom Walker gave me the chance.
DK: Last fall, you signed with Capitol Records. How did you sign with Capitol?
Here’s the audio for Tom Walker & Zoe Wees’ single,
“Wait For You.”
Wees: Capitol Records U.K. came to Hamburg to meet me, and I was so thankful that they came. And then we met a little more and then we signed (laughs).
DK: In the past year, you’ve had a breakthrough with your music career. What’s it been like for you?
Wees: Everything that’s happened in the last year was so crazy for me. We had been working really hard before “Control” came out. For two years, we were working to find my style and everything in music. And it still feels unreal that we got over 100 million streams on Spotify for “Control.”
But of course with the lockdown, I didn’t have the chance to go on tour and see all the people who were listening to my songs. Right now it seems like a dream that’s far away, but I really want to go on a world tour. And I hope that when everything calms down a little, I want to come over to the U.S. and write with amazing songwriters there. I can’t wait for that day (laughs).