Pop and Poetry
Light-footed joie de vivre meets courage in Leslie Clio's songs.
It's Friday evening, and the Mercedes me event in Stuttgart is in full swing. For four days the 'Kleiner Schlossplatz' complex and popular Waranga bar adopted the motto 'Discover me': Transformed into a world of experiences covering many aspects of future mobility, inspiration and connectivity, the space allowed visitors to come into close contact with the digital innovations from Mercedes-Benz. In this casual setting we meet the singer Leslie Clio just before her live concert, and talk to her about her literary idols, changes in her creative direction and musical categorisation.
Wearing tight, black jeans, a pullover with a kiss motif and bright yellow pumps, 29-year-old Leslie Clio already exudes a laid-back attitude and a good mood at first sight. And she has every reason to: Clio entered the German charts straight away with her first album Gladys, which she produced with her musical partner Nikolai Potthoff two years ago, and later topped this with an Echo nomination. This April, after two years of work, she released her second album Eureka, which has almost seamlessly achieved the same success as her debut album – following the motto 'After the album is before the album'. Unlike in the case of Gladys, however, Clio worked with numerous songwriters from all over the world: 'You learn many different things working with different people.' Always in search of inspiration with musical companions by her side, she travelled a great deal in the process – from her current place of residence in London to Stockholm, Los Angeles and Nashville, her favourite musical city and the 'Shangri-La of musicians'.
In pop music you only have a limited number of lines, and not much time. The art lies in hitting the nail right on the head with just a few words. And that's where poetry comes into play.
Leslie reads poetry to relax after her energetic musical appearances. She is particularly fond of the works of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Lord Byron and Walter de la Mare. Does this preoccupation with lyricism inspire her when writing songs? 'In pop music you only have a limited number of lines, and not much time. The art lies in hitting the nail right on the head with just a few words. And that's where poetry comes into play.' Clio writes stories of love and separation in the form of expressive, accessible lyrics that are always in English. The consistent theme is her playful approach to melody, rhythm and lyrics. Musical laissez-faire with a strong instinct for catchy songs is her recipe for success.
Asked why she has chosen to pursue a more poppy musical direction in recent times after her previous dedication to soul music, she laughs: 'I simply wanted to create a good mood'. She certainly does - during her appearance at Waranga, Clio creates a cheerful atmosphere and encourages her audience to dance and sing along. 'It's difficult to plan for something like this. Every evening is different when it comes to live performances, you never play the same concert twice.' Good for us, because this means that the next concert with Leslie Clio will be just as exciting.