In the past three years, pop/R&B singer/songwriter Zoe Wees has emerged as an outstanding artist to watch. Just 21 years old, she has a powerful, soulful singing voice, and she writes songs that are very honest and emotional. She has recently released her debut album, Therapy (on Capitol Records), which is a collection of 20 of the best songs that she has released to date.
Wees has already built a large following, particularly in Europe. She first broke through in 2020 with her deeply personal single, “Control,” which was certified gold and reached Top 20 at pop radio in the U.S. She then followed up with her single, the uptempo “Girls Like Us,” that continued to build her audience and was a hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
“Control” and “Girls Like Us” are included on Wees’ new album, Therapy, which consists mostly of newer songs that she’s released in the past year. This album also contains highlights such as “Sorry For The Drama” (a heartfelt song where she thanks her mother for being supportive through her ups and downs) and “Lightning” (a dramatic, uplifting song about empowering yourself).
Throughout this album, Wees demonstrates that she’s a skillful songwriter, particularly with her lyrics. She’s not afraid to write about her innermost feelings, and the struggles she’s had in her life. One key song is “Daddy’s Eyes,” a very emotional song about her father, who’s has been mostly missing from her life. She noticed that she has the same eyes as her father and it reminds her of him, even though he’s seldom been around.
Other highlights on the album are “That’s How It Goes” (featuring a strong chorus and a rap by 6LACK), the empowering dance track “Don’t Give Up,” the softer, understated ”Lifeline,” and “Hold Me Like You Used To.”
Here’s the video of Zoe Wees’ song, “Lightning.”
Wees grew up 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 and Capitol Records.
Besides writing and recording her own songs, Wees has also sung duets with other artists, including two British pop stars: Calum Scott and Tom Walker. She recently sang on Calum Scott’s song “At Your Worst,” and two years ago she sang on Walker’s song, “Wait For You.” She has also collaborated with top DJs/producers Kygo and Felix Jaehn.
DK: I read that you live in Hamburg, Germany. How did you get started with singing and writing songs?
Zoe Wees: I started professionally writing songs when I was 14, which was the first time I went into a studio to write songs and record. But before that, I would write songs at home. I started very early because I love music, and I love writing.
Here’s the video of Zoe Wees’ hit, “Control.”
DK: Three years ago, you had a breakthrough hit with your song, “Control.” What inspired you to write that song?
Wees: It was inspired by my past, because I had epilepsy. And I had a teacher who was always with me, and she was always there for me. So I wrote the song for her, to say “Thank you.’ And I know a lot people who struggle with epilepsy right now, or had to go through the same thing. So I wanted to help make other people stronger.
DK: Your next single was the uptempo song, “Girls Like Us.” Can you talk about writing that song?
Wees: I wrote this song with a really good friend; he’s from London. I was telling him about how I hate my legs and my body, and how I wish I’d feel more comfortable, and accept myself and love myself. Then we talked a little, and the song happened.
DK: I like your lyric writing, which seems very personal and emotional. How do you come up with your lyric ideas and stories?
Wees: I love being very personal in my songs, because for me it’s really therapy. I write down everything that I feel, without thinking about having to release the song one day. And yes, I love being personal because I feel like people need it a lot. Billie Eilish has inspired me with her writing. She’s very personal and that’s why people love her so much, because she’s so honest and authentic. You can really feel Billie Eilish when you hear her songs. So I love that.
DK: I like your song, “Daddy’s Eyes,” which is a very personal song about your father. Can you talk about your father, and what made you want to write this song?
Here’s the video of Zoe Wees’ song, “Daddy’s Eyes.”
Wees: It was always something that I had to struggle with, because my mom never talked about my dad. When I asked her questions, like “Where’s my dad at,” she couldn’t answer because she doesn’t know anything about him. She didn’t even know his real name. So I never knew the other side of me…my dad’s side. I only knew my mom’s side and where I was from. But I never knew where my dad was from. I saw a picture of him, and I met him when I was 16. And one thing that I realized is that our eyes look exactly the same. That’s when I decided to write a song called “Daddy’s Eyes.”
DK: Your album contains 20 songs including “Control” and “Girls Like Us.” Can you talk about putting together your album? You’ve included some of your older songs plus your new songs.
Wees: Yes I wanted to include a mix of older and new songs, because this album took four years to write. This is my first chapter, and “Control” and “Girls Like Us” was part of my first chapter. I wanted to add them to this album, because they’re really personal and they’re two of my favorite songs that I’ve written.
DK: I like your new ballad, “Sorry For The Drama.” What inspired you to write this song?
Wees: My mom, because when I was a kid, I was really mean because my mom couldn’t afford a lot of things. I still had a good life, but I always wanted to have the things I couldn’t have, that my friends had but my mom couldn’t afford. So I wanted to say “Sorry” to her with this song.
DK: I also like your song “Lightning,” which is very positive and uplifting. Can you talk about writing this song?
Wees: Yes, because I’m always really deep inside, I wanted to have something that is kind of sad, but also gives me hope. Like when I feel sad, I can listen to this song and feel better.
Here’s the lyric video of Zoe Wees’ song, “Sorry for the Drama.”
DK: You recently sang a duet with Calum Scott on his song, “At Your Worst.” How did you connect with Calum for this song?
Wees: We met when he was here in Berlin for The Voice Kids…we were both singing on the show. Then I was in the studio in Hamburg, and he was there too, because he played a show on that night. That’s when were talking a little bit, and taking pictures. It was a nice vibe, so we talked about collaborating on a song, and we did.
DK: I want to ask you about your live shows and touring. Next year, you’ll be playing shows in several European countries. Can you talk about your upcoming shows and tour?
Wees: Yes, we’ll be doing six dates. I wanted to have something very intimate and small, so I could really feel the people and see everyone. And I think because of my album, Therapy, I wanted it to feel like a therapy session. So that’s why we chose very intimate venues. And I’m excited to be doing these shows.
Here’s the link to Zoe Wees’ site: https://www.zoewees.com/