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Oceanside’s Love finds her ‘Way’

A multitude of setbacks pushed singer/songwriter into the crossroads of her artistic life.

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Lea Love started writing songs by the time she was 10. Just three years later, the Oceanside native was recording in a professional studio. But Love’s seemingly skyrocketing success returned to normal speed after she endured a multitude of setbacks and allowed different management teams to take creative control.

By the time she was 21, Love (whose first name is pronounced Lay-ah) decided to try her fortunes elsewhere and headed north to Los Angeles for four years. It didn’t work out.

And while her time there ultimately pushed the singer/songwriter back to North County, it also pushed her into a crossroads in her artistic life.

“Rewind things a bit,” Love said recently from her home in Oceanside. “It was like, ‘OK, this is what you’re going to do and this is what you’re going to sound like. And that just wasn’t going to work out. There were dark times. Times where I didn’t think it was going to happen. But really, it turned out to be a blessing. That was when I started to do my own thing.”

Never feeling totally comfortable in the pop, R&B or hip-hop molds that she’d been asked to fit into over the years, Love decided to bring things full-circle. Not only did she return to the city in which she was born and raised, Love also returned to her to Polynesian roots.

The Hawaiian/Samoan performer started writing her own songs again, and in June, seven of them became her debut EP, Way I Am.

“This my first project,” Love said. “My first real body of work. It was a long time coming. But it’s really about living your truth. Being who you are.”

The EP debuted at number 3 on the iTunes reggae charts and its title track has made its way onto Hawaiian radio. It also produced a video that features Love at many of her hometown’s iconic landmarks, including the beach, strip, pier, harbor — even the building that used to house Oceanside Music Supply, one of Love’s favorite old haunts.

But Way I Am is more than any of those things. It is the title of her EP, a song and a video, but above all, it’s the new mantra for the self-driven rebirth of Love’s career.

“This is the real me,” she said. “I sing the lyrics ‘Lost my mind, but I found my soul’ in Way I Am and that’s the truth. All of these songs come from moments in my life and they’re all a part of my story.”

The success of the EP coupled with Love finally finding her creative footing bodes well for the singer’s future — even if she’s not exactly sure what that looks like.

But with confidence and comfort levels up, a successful debut finally under her belt, and plans for a follow-up EP in the works, Love is ready for anything.

“I don’t know what’s next creatively for me,” she said, “other than I do want to bring more people into the process. But I’m dope. I’m good at what I do. And I’m passionate about it. So let’s see what happens.”

Lea Love (opening for FIJI)

When: 7 p.m., July 14
Where: House of Blues, Anaheim, 400 W. Disney Way, Suite 337, Anaheim
Cost: $22.50
Online: houseofblues.com/anaheim