Standing on your own two feet strikes fear in most. Because when you fall, it’s all on you. I wish I’d asked Lauren Lakis about the fears she felt before heading out on her own. While that wasn’t something that came up, we did talk about the inspiration behind leaving a trail of bands in her past as she focused on herself in the present. That was where our conversation naturally started. Where did it end? You’ll have to read to find out but note that along the way you’ll get some information about her “Ferocious” single, an SXSW adventure and more.
Kendra: Not one or two, but three. You were in three bands before heading out on your own. What inspired that musical shift for you?
Lauren Lakis: It all happened very organically! I ended up in my first band kind of by accident. A friend with a band had texted me to ask if I was interested in auditioning to sing, and although I was terrified, I said yes. I ended up being in Hobart W Fink for about a year – we played around LA constantly, toured, and recorded a full-length album. It was never really my music or my style, but it was a great learning experience. Two other bandmates and I quit that band at the same time – we were having a hard time working alongside one of our bandmates – and I immediately started writing in LA Nova, an electro-pop project, with a friend.
LA Nova was such a fun experience; the music was upbeat and danceable, and it was my first time being the primary songwriter and composer. My bandmate quit to focus on his solo work, and in my disappointment and disillusionment, I put LA Nova on the back-burner for about a year. In that time, I played keys and sang for Slow Coda. Being in Slow Coda helped to re-inspire me again musically, so I set forth to finish the LA Nova EP. I put out the EP and played a few shows, and then suffered the single worst heartbreak of my life.
It completely leveled me, shattered my spirit, and obliterated my ego. I took a road-trip across the country to clear my head and listened to all of my favorite female artists while on the road. I came back to LA with the intention of writing a full-length album that might one day help someone else with a broken heart, the way my favorites did for me. Et voila, this solo album came about!
Kendra: We can expect your solo debut early next year. Were you able to showcase more of who you are as a whole because this was all you? Are we getting 100% of Lauren Lakis?
Lauren: Absolutely. It is 100% me. I wrote these songs from such a place of surrender, from a place of not caring if anyone ends up liking the songs; it was truly just for me. I processed so much through the songwriting process this time around. It was my therapy. This album is the most honest piece of art I’ve ever created.
Kendra: We sure got a lot with your latest single, “Ferocious.” The video is an absolute work of art. How important was it to capture the visual like you did in this video?
Lauren: Thank you for saying that! “Ferocious” is a very special track to me – it encapsulated the essence of my pain at that time – it was my personal anthem. I don’t know if the visual was as important, so much as the overall vibe. I wanted to elicit a feeling more than anything.
While writing the song, I yearned for my partner’s physical body – the touch, the sweat, the flesh. I had that in mind when making the video, focusing on the sensuality of bodies and the way we use our bodies to communicate.
Kendra: Buzzbands has called your sound “moody pop,” and I’ve also seen your sound described as “doom.” Where does that angst arise from?
Lauren: Haha, good question! It’s funny because I definitely don’t go into songwriting with the conscious thought of “making it moody” – it’s just what comes out! Even now as I’ve started writing again, my songs can’t help but be a little spooky.
I’ve had a fair amount of trauma in my childhood and past in general, as I know many have, and perhaps I work through a lot of it via this medium of music. I also struggle with this general weight of existence – I go through some sort of existential crisis at least once a week. I ask myself a lot of questions.
And just from a taste perspective, I’m attracted to droney sounds, walls of guitar, minor keys – it’s what speaks to me.
Kendra: You’ve performed all over LA. With that, what venue would you say is the best to perform at vs. be a fan at?
Lauren: I love intimate venues. I’ve played at Silverlake Lounge a few times recently with my full band, and we always have the best time there. It’s a very intimate space and our friends love seeing us there. However, the Echo is probably my favorite spot to be both a performer and a fan.
Kendra: You also headed out of LA to perform at SXSW this year. Was it overwhelming at all? Not the performance but SXSW as a whole?
Lauren: Oh yeah, very overwhelming. This year’s SXSW was a whirlwind, especially the particular way I got there in the first place!
On a Friday morning in LA, a friend booked me last minute for a set happening that Sunday at SXSW – at that time I was still tracking the songs in the studio with my producer, Billy Burke, but they were at a point where I knew them well enough to play a solo set. I wasn’t 100% ready, but I had to say yes to the opportunity.
So I got my shifts covered at work for the weekend, and that evening Billy, myself, and his friend Alex (whom I had just met that day!) set out for Austin. We left around midnight, got to Phoenix at sunrise, had breakfast at Billy’s parents’ ranch, and continued driving throughout the day. We took turns snoozing in the backseat, all the while blasting my songs so I could at least practice singing the set as we drove. That was all the preparation I got!
We drove past a tornado that night, got pulled over (it’s just what you expect driving through Texas!), and arrived in Austin Sunday morning around 5 am. We slept for a few hours and got ready to play the show. Alex and I both had to work the next evening, so right after the set, we hopped back in the car and took turns driving for about 23 hours back to LA, and went straight to our restaurant jobs.
It. Was. Wild.
Kendra: We know the album is coming next year, but what else can be we on the lookout for? SXSW again perhaps?
Lauren: Absolutely! I’ve been playing around LA for the past couple of months with my band, and we plan on touring the west coast early next year. SXSW is in the cards, and maybe even an east coast run near the end of the year.
I’ll also have more singles and another video or two leading up to the full album release.
Kendra: The word “doom” caught my eye so let’s head there. If you had to make a doomsday, end of the world, mixtape what five songs would have to be on it?