Photo credit: Svenja Blobel
Every artist dreams of penning a breakthrough track—one that opens all the right doors. The 18-year-old German singer-songwriter Zoe Wees hit that benchmark with her very first single, “Control,” a vulnerable ballad centered on plaintive piano and a powerhouse vocal performance.
Since its release in March, the song has charted on Spotify’s Viral 50 in dozens of countries, and between “Control” and her guest feature on Hamburg duo Moonbootica’s 2019 single “Hibernating,” Zoe has already secured more than 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
“It feels like I’m dreaming,” Zoe tells For the Record. “It’s unbelievable how much feedback I get every day.”
And now, Zoe has been picked to represent Germany in Spotify’s global emerging artist program, RADAR. The program features artists from over 50 markets worldwide and helps performers at early stages of their careers broaden their fan bases. Awareness of the artists is built through Spotify’s social channels, RADAR playlists curated by Spotify’s editors, and bespoke marketing initiatives.
“It’s a great honor for me to be part of the program,” Zoe says. “Spotify helped me to build my fan base from scratch and helped me reach people from all over the world who can relate with my story. They discover me on Spotify and reach out to me on my social media channels to tell me how much they like it. That’s magical, and I’m very grateful for that.”
Part of Zoe’s success lies with her ability to connect with listeners. “Control” is a deeply emotional song with lyrics that are relatable to anyone who’s ever struggled with anxiety and the feeling of not being in control. The lyrics actually draw from something much more specific in Zoe’s life: her prolonged struggle with benign rolandic epilepsy (BRE), a condition in some children that causes nighttime seizures strong enough to wake them. Though BRE often resolves itself during puberty, its formative effects on a child can linger well into adulthood.
“This disease had me fighting for years with problems like helplessness and exclusion from a very young age,” Zoe explains. “The sickness was stronger than me and left scars that have become part of my life. Accepting them has taken so much time, but they make me what I am today: a fighter. ‘Control’ is not only the story of the end of a long struggle for me, but also the beginning of leaving my past behind.”
Dedicated to a teacher who helped her through the darkest times of her condition, “Control” finds Zoe taking ownership of her story in a way that allows her to move on. “I’m so happy that I can finally tell the story of the most important and also the most difficult phase of my life,” she says. “Even though it was painful to write, it was also very healing. The whole process was therapeutic, giving me an opportunity to contain the fear and to deal with the pain.”
As “Control” continues to wow new listeners, Zoe will be working on a follow-up track. And while the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the touring she had planned for this year, it hasn’t slowed the song’s prodigious rise online—especially on Spotify.
Listen to Zoe’s single, “Control.”