4 versatile songwriting tips from L’FREAQ

L’FREAQ is the alias of singer-songwriter Lea Cappelli, who crafts songs inspired by pop and R&B—but with a biting edge.

Some highlights of her career include performing privately for Muhammad Ali, sharing the stage with Jakob Dylan, and performing alongside GRAMMY-winning artist India.Arie. Songs from L’FREAQ’s first full-length album The End of the World were recently used in shows like Nancy Drew and Good Trouble, while her second album, Edge of a Knife, is set to be released later this year.

In celebration of the release of her new Dark Ages sample pack, L’FREAQ sat down with us to share four versatile tips around songwriting—read on for highlights.

1. Craft sonic worlds

L’FREAQ attributes much of her inspiration for her songwriting to an interest in crafting sonic worlds. “My sonic identity has shifted and morphed throughout the years—from being inspired by ’90s trip hop on my first EP to pop-leaning sensibilities on my second EP and vintage sounds on my first album,” she tells us. “But, the biggest constant in my work has always been my love for creating ‘worlds’ or ‘eras’ with each project. I’m very happy that this Splice pack is a reflection of my new album, and a new era, inspired by medieval sounds and the music of Hildegard von Bingen, one of the first female composers of her time.”

The producer behind the projects, The Grand Mess, also shared this intentionality around storytelling and creating a world with sounds. “The harder part about making a sample as opposed to a full track is that you have to tell a story and pique the listener’s interest in a much shorter amount of time,” he says. “I think my favorite samples from the pack were pretty much exactly like creating a full track—a lot of trial and error and going back and editing each part. Especially when it came to the chorales, there was a writing and composing part before we moved into the production, much like creating a song.”

2. Embrace collaboration

Sometimes, working alongside other creators can be a powerful way to spark new ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own—and this was absolutely the case for L’FREAQ and The Grand Mess. “One of my favorite moments was when we created the first track, ‘100 Years,’ off the new album,” L’FREAQ recalls. “I was singing freestyle and The Grand Mess played along on his keyboard using the TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3. What happened was this beautiful spur-of-the-moment improvised piece—something that could have only come out of the purest moment of our creation together.”

Working with someone you trust also allows you to lean into taking creative risks that can be imperative to your evolution as an artist. “The Grand Mess hand-wrote a few chorales the night before our days recording at Sound Factory,” L’FREAQ shares. “I then learned them on the spot and sang them, which is a beautiful challenge as a vocalist. After we got all the parts down, I did my thing and improvised a bunch of runs and lines over them. The classical part-writing mixed with the more R&B-inspired and blues-scale lines gave these samples a really unique color.”

“A personal favorite of The Grand Mess’ is the one where he recorded and bounced a four-part choir and reversed it. After he reversed it, he ran it through the plate reverb at Sound Factory and automated the amount being sent to the plate. It gave us a really cool push-and-pull effect.”

3. Be consistent

While it can absolutely happen from time to time, solely waiting for inspiration to strike isn’t a winning strategy when it comes to building a sustainable career as a songwriter. “Over the years, I’ve realized that writer’s block is a particularly sinister form of self sabotage,” L’FREAQ says. “I used to be the type of person who felt like I couldn’t create unless an idea struck like lightning, but I have since found most of my artistic freedom through consistency. I take great inspiration in Nick Cave’s method—treating his art as a 9 – 5, sitting down every day, and never judging the results of his work.”

4. Be yourself

Last but certainly not least, L’FREAQ encourages upcoming songwriters to never lose sight of who they are. “Just be you,” she urges. “Write freely, without the persistent nagging of outside voices. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by what you think is ‘good’ or ‘current.'”

Incorporate L’FREAQ’s sounds into your own productions

“I have had ‘make a Splice pack’ on my list of goals for four years now, and I feel so incredibly grateful that it’s coming to fruition,” L’FREAQ shares. “Not only am I proud to have the pack, but I’m proud that The Grand Mess and I put so much thought and care into all of it, creating a sister piece to my new album. The sounds are entirely individual from the album, but directly inspired. I can’t wait to hear the uniqueness that you create.”

Explore an ethereal blend of the past and present with L’FREAQ’s Dark Ages sample pack:

March 22, 2024

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.