Storytelling Piano Playing Fräulein
Alev’s Story - Re-Told
Imagine a parallel universe where everything is different yet the same. Where roots rise high into the sky, where “people go where they wanna go”, where singers tell their life stories in verses, and where far, far away cities become new homes.
Imagine a tiny bar in the East Village where smoking is still allowed and where lonesome people “drenched in red wine” who “need warmth to bloom” huddle around the stage of Lach’s open mike session every Monday night to have their hearts eaten out by singer-songwriter Alev Lenz and her piano: a movie scene in black and white -- key tone colors.
Alev, a 26-years young, blonde lady with an oriental soul, an occidental mind and a cosmopolitan vision, is taking over. In a truly captivating way, her mere presence demands attention while she devotedly fills the air with sweet-sounding emotions and sensations. Vividly painting colorful images with her clear and beautiful voice, she sings 1000 and one stories into life - the stories of a caring human, hoping to “find in each other’s eyes” what we are all looking for: love.
It all starts with boarding a plane - “Flight 1701” - taking off into the unknown. A metaphoric experience, as “1701” is actually her birth date and the plane Alev herself. Stories about new possibilities and lost opportunities swirl through the air, the “silence filled with thoughts”, the “soul afraid of dying”. Jumping into the unknown, the music accompanying Alev as “words could not touch anymore”, everything starts to take shape.
Alev recalls: “Inspired by a German comedian who went to New York to partake in open mike sessions, I decided I wanted to do the same. I got myself on a plane and ended up staying for six weeks. I sang, I played, I loved, and I lived. It was great. Since then I keep returning to New York whenever I can."
A new chapter in Alev’s life began: thrown left, right and centre, she who had left her old rock band Alev (which carries on as Alev although she’s no longer part of the story), started to discover who she really wanted to be right now: a “Storytelling, Piano Playing Fräulein”. The metamorphosis of a front singer girl into a grown woman with many stories to tell, lavishly playing her favorite instrument, the piano, was on full throttle.
“While travelling back and forth between Germany and my beloved New York, I ended up finding a producer in Berlin and then a co-producer in New York who I started to work with, simultaneously writing and trying out my new song material in front of an audience. I saw others while they saw me, and I saw them seeing me, and it taught me a lot. I went to concerts of artists like Regina Spektor and Randy Newman -- people who, like me, tell stories with a piano. Upon seeing Randy Newman, I knew: ‘It’s possible. I can sing and play and entertain people. I can just sit on the piano and do it there and then. There are all kinds of people who do that kind of thing, and even more who really like it.’ This is how I started to play concerts, to get feedback, to improve my song-writing, and to write entirely new songs.”
Soaking up impressions like a sponge and at the same time being the water that was being absorbed by others, Alev embraced her newly chosen environment with the verve of somebody who has found their place in space and time. Playing and writing and travelling, Alev’s heart and soul opened more than ever, and while she adapted to the changes, or the changes adapted to Alev, what she most longed for was starting to happen: Stories that turned into songs and songs that turned into stories poured out of her; her solo album took shape.
One Thursday night, when Alev came back to play her weekly gig in a tiny bar in Greenwich Village, the owner came over to ask her: “So, what is it really that you do?” Alev replied: “I tell stories.” - “Well, and you play the piano... So you are a storytelling, piano playing... what??? German?” - “Yes,” retorted Alev, and the woman touted: “So you are a Fräulein! A Storytelling, Piano Playing Fräulein”, and this is how Alev found her identity and what later would become the title of her album. The circle closed. It all made sense now.
“I started to play the piano at a very early age”, recounts Alev (whose Turkish name translates to ‘flame’): “My first piano teacher always allowed me to ‘tell stories’ on the piano by letting me improvise. He taught me how to translate emotions into sounds which I really enjoyed. Later, I just wanted to express myself freely, make some noise and strum, but at some stage, I tried to incorporate piano songs into my rock band repertoire.” This is when she started to sense that she had to say good-bye to her rock-star life and find a new beginning. With her piano.
Alev’s bright spirit gleaming and her lyrics and her arrangements sparkling, her music flows with little classical twirls and a New York songwriter twist. Dressed in ebony and ivory, Alev and her piano resonate in perfect harmony; together, they sound powerfully innocent whilst being incredibly karmic. Her shimmering voice is very versatile and sometimes draws comparisons with female singers like Beth Gibbons, Tori Amos or Fiona Apple.
“Storytelling Piano Playing Fräulein” is the true story of a true person being true to herself. Living her life her own way, telling her own stories, the burgeoning singer-songwriter Fräulein Alev who readily left behind German soils to find herself, is branching out into the world with wide-eyed curiosity while embracing life with all its facets. A bit capricious and a bit coquettish and full of cosmopolitan sophistication, Alev, half German and half Turkish, is torn between places, emotions and identities whilst being hundred percent herself. A natural talent gives this Fräulein her unique flair.
Roaming the metropolises of this planet looking for her place in space and time, she opens hearts where she goes. Full of curiosity about life, men, love, music and places, she ventures out and ends up dancing in the streets to music that nobody else hears while making songs that speak of great maturity. When you listen to an album like this, you learn how to live.
released February 13, 2009
Music and Lyrics by Alev Lenz
All songs published by Universal Music Publishing
String arrangements on track 1 outro, 3, 4 & 11 by Hans Friedl
String arrangements on track 1, 6, 8 & 10 by Sebastian Studnitzky
Produced by Don Philippe
Additional production on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 10 & 11 by Fab
Engineered by Rainer Robben
Recorded at Audiocue, Berlin
Additional recording at purmix.net
, New York City
Mixed by Fab at puremix.net
, New York City
Mastered by Dave Kutch as The Mastering Palace, New York City
Photos by Michael Herdlein
Illustrations by Alev Lenz
Artwork: fpm Factor Product Munich