Grammy Award Winner
P= Producer, W= Writer, CW= Co-writer
|“Hollow”, “Famous Son”, “Origins”, “This Kind of Heavy”
|Dancing On Tables
|“Stay”, “Letters”, “How Do I Get Back to Her”, “So What”
|“To The Moon”
|“High”, “Won’t Pick Up The Phone
|“Be That Someone”
A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, label owner and soundtrack composer, Femke wears many hats, but her debut five-song EP, “Safe in the Suburbs,” offers an impressive introduction to an original performer in her own right, with a pointed, cinematic vision that recalls the classic storytelling of singer-songwriters like Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell and even a dash of Lana Del Rey. There’s a nod to the teenage angst of Billie Eilish, Boygenius, Lizzy McAlpine, and Olivia Rodrigo as well, but from an adult perspective that looks back on adolescence with a knowledge born of lost innocence.
“I’ve always wanted to be an artist, right from the start,” she says of this new career step. “The dream pivoted into film composing, writing with others and producing, but these are stories nobody else would tell, songs that are very specific to me… and I want them to be heard.”
Recorded at her home studio in Nashville, playing all the instruments, and producing, Femke’s songs form a narrative, with the title track hinting at the alienation and thwarted emotions that lurk behind the neat façade of split-level homes and mowed lawns. The haunting recorder in “Hold On” and the Mark Knopfler Dire Straits-style guitars on “Side of the Road” offer an inside-out look at neurotic anxiety and the fear of missing out, in the latter, singing of “drinking all your old regrets/layin’ in your made-up bed.” “Love Somebody Else” and “Dead End Street” both deal with the perils of romance, loving someone more than yourself, betrayal and how “even the devil was an angel sometimes.”
Femke (Weidema) was born in Drachten, a rural town in Friesland which she dubs “the Kentucky of the Netherlands,” with a population under 50,000, where she played accordion and studied classical music at a Dutch conservatory not far from her home. As a songwriter, Femke won the regional finals of the Netherlands’ Grand Pop Prize before receiving a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied voice and composition, winning several awards, including an ASCAP Harold Adamson scholarship, which enabled her to study under Lin Manuel Miranda as part of the Johnny Mercer Foundation at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“I was like a sponge, just continually working with other musicians in rehearsal rooms until three or four in the morning, playing the piano and writing songs,” she remembers of those early days in a new country far from home.
Moving to Los Angeles, she earned a masters in commercial music at Cal State L.A., then became part of the city’s film and TV music community, composing scores with jazz musician Don Grusin, then working at Hans Zimmer’s famed Remote Control studios as well as with Richard Gibbs on shows such as “Ten Things I Hate About You” and the “Tracy Ullman Show.” Showing her versatility as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Femke sang along with Blink-182 on the soundtrack of the movie “Fired Up.”
Relocating to Nashville to pursue her ambitions to write, record and produce herself as well as collaborate with other artists, Femke signed a publishing deal with Liz Rose Music/Warner Chappel. She proved an adept writer in a variety of genres, including Latin and county, penning the single, “Goodbye,” on Latin Grammy winner Beto Cuevas’ Transformacion, named Pop Album of the Year in 2014, and having her song “Smoke,” a collaboration with Jade Halliwell, honored as Song of the Year at the British Country Music Awards.
Finding herself alone during the pandemic, Femke ended up writing the songs for the EP, which will be released on ENCI Records, the culmination of her experience composing music for film and TV with its visual motifs – as can be seen in the videos for the first three singles, including the title track, followed by “Love Somebody Else.”
With English her third language (after Dutch and German), it took Femke a while to appreciate the subtlety of lyrics, applying that to her own work, using the songs to work through her personal issues, emboldening her to emerge from her shell in a therapeutic catharsis.
“The reason why I got into music in the first place was to be able to write songs that mean something to people,” she says. “Because I grew up so isolated, I still feel like a kid in many ways, learning all the time.”
Intent on using her success to mentor others who want to break into the music industry, Femke, now a mother herself, frequently gives masterclasses and panels on how to turn artistry into a business at events such as Music Bizz, Music Expo and NAMM, among others. She is also using her LV Music label to provide a home for songwriters and musicians from around the world.
“The label was started as a developmental process, to help artists get to the next level,” she says. “To make them aware of their own ownership and help them be true to their creativity, to the point where they can benefit by working with an outside partner.”
With “Safe in the Suburbs,” Femke is taking her own advice by stepping out of her comfort zone. The result was well worth the wait.
“The songs are very personal, but I’ve tried to write them in a way that is relatable to other people,” she says of her outsider perspective. “My goal is to find an audience that is looking for something other than Top 40 love songs, music that is relevant to them. I want to speak to those who don’t believe they belong in a way that they feel heard.”