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In New York City’s intimately set Mercury Lounge, Zoe Wees stands on stage backlit by red and green stage lights that blend into her neon green signature slicked back pigtail braids. The complementary tones of the lights compliment her resonant tone- her voice, almost like a growl at times, billows through the sold-out crowd like a bass thumping up from the concrete floor to your throat urging you to scream or sing. For concerts, the crowd almost always mirrors the artist’s look and energy as most of the audience was dressed in oversized street style with neon pops of color creating an electric fluorescent synergy in the lounge.
Zoe Wees is a German singer-songwriter hailing from Hamburg, and has been singing and playing guitar and piano since as long as she can remember. At 15 years old she was on The Voice Kids and has since gained massive popularity following her debut single, “Control,” and debut EP Golden Wings. She has amassed over 1.6 billion combined global streams, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, included in Forbes’ Billboard’s “30 Under 30” Class of 2021 and featured in “21 Under 21: Ones To Watch.” She has appeared on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” American Music Awards and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Stripping back all of the shining accolades and praise is a singer whose vulnerability is what makes people connect to her.
Her debut single “Control,” like a gravitational force, pulled masses towards her as her voice sounds as if she is fighting tears with deep growls contrasted by high-pitched sweetness sprinkled in. She has a powerful energy- when she’s on stage, she often grounds herself in place, closes her eyes tightly and beats on her chest. In “Control,” she writes, “I don't wanna lose control/ Nothing I can do anymore/ Tryin' every day when I hold my breath/ Spinnin' out in space pressing on my chest/ I don't wanna lose control.” Although the record is meant to represent her struggles with anxiety and epilepsy, this concept of control describes her presence on stage in a positive light- as she sings, she seems to feel every word she sings deeply, her feet are planted in the moment with the crowd, and she holds a powerful force over the crowd that sings every word along with her as they each relate to her words in their own way.
Her connection with the crowd is most spirited when she sings “That’s How It Goes.” During the song she gives up control to the crowd and they sing back “But that's how it goes/That's how it goes/That's how it goes/ That's how it goes (yeah) that’s how it goes.” Wees, who sings mostly with her eyes closed, looks wide-eyed suddenly in an expression of half surprise, half joy as she smiles at the crowd. Her songs are deeply personal, so the feeling of a crowd singing back is one that many artists never get used to- and given the fact that Wees is new to headlining, it was one of the many moments of genuine expression that made the concert so memorable. “Hold Me Like You Used To, for example, is one of her most personal songs as it is dedicated to her great grandmother who has passed away. As she sings, it’s almost like she's reading her personal letters out loud and everyone’s reciting them, but grief and loss is something everyone can relate to so you could see in each set of tear-filled eyes in the crowd, each person writing their own narrative in their mind as they connect to Wees.
The music video for “Hold Me Like You Used To,” represents the song well. Much of the video is in black and white, while select frames have a golden haloed overlay possibly meant to symbolize her hopes that her great grandmother is proud of her and the warmth in feeling her close to her. She does the same with color in several other music videos. In the “Control” music video, Wees stands in front of a bright red background filled with hazy smoke, which coincidentally looks a lot like the Mercury Lounge’s fogged ambience. This red overlay is also present in “That’s How It Goes” and “Girls Like Us,” with the latter overlay being contrasted against a deep blue monochromatic background. Wees’ most recent single, “Third Wheel,” released on July 8, 2022 is accompanied by a music video featuring several mostly monochromatic rooms- one bright yellow with sprays of daisies and sunflowers, one lime green with cubes on the floor, one blood red draped in velvet curtains, and one deep blue with a green velvet bed. As Zoe Wees says, “I decide my vibe,” and the vibe she decides is almost always evident in color palettes laced through her videos and braids.
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