If you haven’t yet heard of Lea Van Sky, you’ve been missing out. She is to be found regularly performing around the region and will be next in concert at L’Entrepôt in Nice at 7:30pm on Friday, the 7th of August. So, to help you get to know Lea better, we sat down with her and asked her a few questions.
Thank you Lea for meeting with us. First of all, could you describe your background a little for our readers? We understand that you are from Riga but moved to London at a young age and now live in Nice.
I am of Russian Ukrainian and Greek origin and I was born in Riga. Both of my parents are cardiologists and I have an older sister who is a marketing director and yoga instructor. They all still live in Riga.
I went to London when I was 17; it was meant to be for a summer break only. I was instantly smitten with the place and begged my parents to let me stay. I still don’t understand how it all happened as I was yet to finish my A levels and my parents are very strict. I studied for my A levels by distance learning, and went on to study Law in London. What was meant to be a summer break lasted 9 years!
Towards the end of those 9 years and shortly after I had started teaching myself French following a last-minute trip toProvence, I met my boyfriend, Bruno. He was working in London at the time but chose to move back to Nice for professional reasons. Meeting Bruno has changed my life and, despite concern expressed by people surrounding me, I did not hesitate to move to Nice with him.
And what made you decide to drop everything to start a musical career?
I have dreamt of a musical career ever since I was little. My parents had gone to great lengths to buy a piano and I enrolled at a conservatory to study piano at the age of 6. I began writing poems and composing tunes around the same time.
I was captivated by the beauty of music and fascinated by its capacity to move, uplift, and inspire. I loved going to concerts and would be the first to dance and sing along.
However, it was strongly ingrained in my mind that a musical career was not for me. It was a realm for a chosen few, who were significantly more talented, creative, and special than me.
So I went to study Law because I was lost and it seemed a safe bet. Throughout my legal career, I felt unfulfilled and sad as I was convinced that there must be more to life and that one should not be spending the majority of their time on something that, to them, has no meaning.
Bruno once asked me what I would do if anything was possible. To me the answer was blatantly clear, and so I started taking singing lessons, bought a piano, and the rest is history… Around the same time I witnessed a dear friend’s unsuccessful battle with cancer and it further pushed me in the direction of living my life to the fullest and on my own terms.
How would you describe your music?
In line with my personality there is a clear dichotomy to it. It is playful and serious, luminous and melancholic, fragile and powerful…all at the same time! One can discern influences from pop, pop rock, folk, jazz, classical music, Slav and Andalucía/Argentinean music. I have also been told that it bears a resemblance to the songs of Suzanne Vega,Sting, Coldplay, Regina Spektor.
If you could collaborate with one musician or band, who would it be and why?
It would be Sting, without a doubt. I love his music – it is moving, soothing, beautiful and very melodic. To me Sting is an epitome of beautiful music, pretty much like Chanel is an epitome of elegance and style. And in addition, I admire his extensive charity work and his devotion to music.
What has been the most memorable moment of your musical career so far?
Going to MIDEM in June and being offered a record deal and a publishing deal by two record labels. It shows that following your dreams is a viable approach. And I guess it also goes to show that a musical career might in fact be for me…
What’s next for you? Are you working on an album and can people see you perform on stage here on the Côte d’Azur?
I am currently working towards my first record and I spend as much time as I can find writing new material and working on the existing songs. I am extremely lucky to be collaborating with my multi-talented friend Frank Brody (of the F&V duo). He is a guitarist, producer, photographer, and cinematographer. Our collaboration is hugely fruitful, inspiring and enjoyable. In addition to music, we did a photo shoot in London at the beginning of May, and we are preparing to do another one in Nice at the beginning of August.
I am performing on the Côte d’Azur and preparing for a series of concerts in London and Paris. Something that I am really excited about is organising my concerts at art galleries. My next art gallery concert in the region is on August 7th. I will be accompanied by Frank and Papy Mallo, an excellent multi-instrumentalist. The concert will take place atL’Entrepôt – a stunning art gallery next to the beautiful Cours Saleya in Nice. Tickets for the concert are available to purchase online. The best way to stay updated is by subscribing to my newsletter.
Do you only write and sing in English?
I do write in English only for now, even though I have dabbled in writing in French and Russian, as well as translating my lyrics into Russian and Spanish. I sing in English, Russian and French.
Finally, what do you like about the French Riviera?
I like its climate and the scenery, the charm of the little villages, the beauty of the sea, the location (one can fly or drive pretty much anywhere from the Nice airport) and the fact that it is fairly cosmopolitan. In summer, I love the music festivals and open air concerts. The quality of life is very good. It is a privilege to be living here.
Many thanks to Lea for taking the time to talk to us, and we wish her the very best of luck with her upcoming concert. To find out more about Lea’s work, you can visit her website.
All photos courtesy Lea Van Sky, © Frank G. Brody