Director Steven Spielberg's daughter Buzzy Lee branches out to music


Buzzy Lee, Steven Spielberg's daughter, is a musician. Photo: AFP

Buzzy Lee is a musical alias that hides a famous name: Sasha Spielberg, daughter of the legendary American film director Steven Spielberg. But there is little hiding on her confessional debut album,Spoiled Love.

"I definitely put it all out there," she says. "I said everything I would say to my diary – in fact, one of the songs,Circles, includes a real diary entry."

Lee, 30, has parked her car on the side of the road in Los Angeles for the phone interview – "the most LA way to do an interview ever!" she says, laughing.

But much of her melodic new album has its roots in a broken relationship in France, and there are plenty of other Gallic influences, from her love of Anglo-French singer-songwriter Charlotte Gainsbourg to the cheese-flavoured names she used for working song titles (Brie made the cut, but sadly not Camembert and Gruyere).

The album was recorded with Chilean-American producer and electronic artiste Nicolas Jaar, a close friend since they met aged 18 on their second day of college.

By coincidence, they both have film directors for fathers – even if Alfredo Jaar is best known for his photography and visual art – and that influence emerges in their collaborations, especially the new album's pair of instrumental tracks.

"I tend to think very cinematically – ha, of course!" she says.

"Most of my songs start like soundtracks, an imaginary score ... then I put words and melodies if there are words. Sometimes there aren't."

Lee made a few appearances in her father's films as a young girl but it was the piano that really drew her.

She formed a group – Wardell – with her brother, Theo, for a time, before teaming up with Jaar as the band Just Friends.

"It's hard for us to be in a room and not make music," she says.

It was Jaar who was able to harness her voice in a way that matched the confessional tone of her songs.

"With my band ... I was constantly belting and singing out and Nico taught me to turn it back inwards and make it more intimate as though I'm singing into someone's ear," she says.

It's a style she admires in Gainsbourg, which she describes as "angelic with an edge".

Chatty and quick to laugh in person, did she find it hard to lay herself bare for the album?

"It would have been more frightening if it had come out when it was finished, but because of Covid it was pushed by about a year and I'm happy I've had that year of reflection and space, so it's not as scary," she says.

The delay means she already has another full album of songs ready to go, due to be recorded in the coming days.

"I'm not wasting time!" she says.

But that will have to wait while she gives her debut a chance to find an audience.

"I do want to let this one breathe. It meant so much to me, it is so personal." – AFP

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