LP Interview

LP
LP

LP has gone from being a young girl who just wanted some ‘cool’ music in her life aside from the West-side story soundtrack that she was so used to, to being a songwriter – writing for some of the most amazing talents in the world, to being one of those a-listers with her song ‘Lost On You’ which spent 22 weeks on the radio charts worldwide. The track is currently the fourth-most ‘Shazamed’ song in the world! Following the success of that song, LP has just released her album ‘Lost on You which is now available. The album features ‘Lost on You’ as well as her song ‘Muddy Waters’ which is featured in the very well known series ‘Orange is the New Black’!

Meeting in Knightsbridge, LP walked in, in the coolest jacket ever with her signature curly hair and complete badass, yet still ridiculously polite attitude. Chatting with LP was easy, she wasn’t afraid to delve into personal details as she showed just how much of an open book she really is, and the way in which she speaks honestly through her music, is an extremely admirable trait. We spoke about her past; coming from a much more academic family, her ‘pinch me moments’ and the way in which she looks up to classics like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney who much like her, focused on the actual songwriting rather than the entertainment.

 

You started off as a songwriter for other artists, how do you write for someone, do you picture yourself singing it, or do you imagine a specific voice? 

It depends, as the recession goes on and as the writing goes on, I start to suss out in my head “ this is for me” or “this is for somebody else”. Sometimes I’m in a room to write for somebody else or I’m in a room with that person to write for, so it definitely depends. But I feel like it’s always coming from me, so it’s got the basic tenants of my struggle and my life. I’ve got better and better at honing that into a universal ‘thing’ and then not, you know, just sometimes going “I feel this way do you feel this way?”.

So like the very successful song you wrote for Rihanna, “Cheers” –  do you ever think, ‘oh I wish I sung that? Has there ever been a song you wish you kept for yourself?

No, I don’t. I mean especially with artists like that I’m just like “Fuck yeah!” but no, sometimes I have had it on the flip where I wish I gave a song to someone else. And one time, my last label made me keep a song and put it on my own record when I had already – in my head – given it to this person and had been looking forward to them doing it.

So it’s notoriously hard to break into the music industry, and yet you had your ‘break through’ with your song “Lost on You” in Greece, why do you think you managed to connect to such a large audience in a European country that big names can sometimes struggle to reach the top charts in? 

I don’t know, I always felt like, (and this might come across as a little cocky), but that there would be a song that someone would go “wait who is this singing” because I feel like sometimes with my voice, and as far as how long I’ve been doing this for, and in my vocality and my voice as a singer if one of my songs were on the radio someone will say “wait a second, why do I not know this person, it sounds like a kind of voice I should know or would know”. I would probably think that myself.  I don’t know if that’s being douchey, but to be honest with you, I’ve never had a radio campaign behind any of my songs, it’s always been dropped just short of that. I’m on my 4th major label deal so I’ve seen a lot of this stuff and again it could have just been that this song really touches people or that it just got in at the right time. I think songs are dependant on time and luck as well as being good.

LP
LP

So in the line of ‘breaking into the industry’, it’s very important to be different and be yourself, how do you embrace and encourage that amongst your fans? 

I just go for it, I think I just don’t know how else to be, but to be honest with you to show a human side to it, I have gone down the wrong roads at the label for fear of not playing the game. You say this is a notoriously difficult business and it truly is, but I think it’s like any business you can’t really tell anybody how difficult the little twists and turns are. I feel like I’ve done one thing acquiesce to, and it’s taken me two to five years out of the way, and that sounds very, dramatic, but unfortunately it’s kind of true. In this industry, on one based on immediacy, I’m sure people in regular, normal business jobs can attest to that, certain decisions in a company are made and all of a sudden you’re struggling and on a winding road for a few years and you almost come back to square one because someone made a couple of wrong decisions.

How did you come across your passion for music? Did you grow up in musical household? 

No, my mum was an opera singer, my dad was tone-deaf and listened to Johnny Cash and 50’s music, but he had a definite emotional side that loved the sad songs and he loved that I sang.  Ironically he was the guy that always made me sing in front of people and my mother was always like “oh leave her alone” because my mother sang opera and she knew that it was kind of ‘on the spot’. She played a lot of opera and musical theatre and I remember when I was around 12 or 13, hearing kids talk about songs at school and I would be like “I wanna know cool songs”. I mean I love West-Side story but can I please have a pop song. But to answer your question, was it a very musical family? No, I just knew my mum could sing and she sang well then I kind of knew I could sing but there was no sort of “I’ll be a singer”, that never even entered into my mind until way later.

Was there a backup plan?

No I didn’t really have a back up plan, because in my opinion, (and I think I was right), as soon as I made any money I would have just said “fuck it” because I felt if I had a back up plan, as far as what I was going to do with my life, it might have distracted me. I had to shed several skins of my upbringing because I grew up in a more academic household, everyone in my family is either a lawyer or a doctor and so I really had to deprogram myself and reprogram myself because I didn’t grow up thinking it was even plausible to be a musician as a living. My father would literally say “you can’t make money as an entertainer” and I would be like “Oh because you’re such an entertainer, you can’t because you’re tone-deaf” but you know I also believed him, I had no idea! Even just being a songwriter, if you would have told me when I was 10 years old, you’re gonna be a songwriter, a songwriter at all, let alone a successful one, I would have been like “you’re out of your fucking mind, I don’t even know how to write songs, where do songs even come from!” you know, “do they drop out of the sky?”

How do you write your music? Do you have to be in a specific frame of mind? Can you force yourself to sit down and write? 

I can force myself, what I like to do is collect snippets of things; lyrically, cord wise, even melodically on my phone and then when I make studio time, then I have that. That is when I kind of force myself, that’s when being more of a student comes in to play and I can use my more academic upbringing to go “okay, well you’re in school right now so whip out all your artsy bullshit and put it into a song”.

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So who are people that inspire you in your career?

I love this woman named Lucinda Williams, who I recently became slightly friends with, which is one of the most amazing things in my whole life,just to be like “wow, I just texted Lucinda Williams!” but I just admire her so much because she’s just a badass and she writes these songs that skewer your mind apart and she isn’t like “hey I’m a hot pop star”. That really doesn’t enter into the equation even though everything she does is like super attractive, there is nothing like that. That woman will write songs ’til she’s in the fucking grave. And I’ve like seen that, where there’s no sort of pretences, no subject to outfit changes. Again I love entertainment and I love women who do that and I respect the shit out of those women but it’s not for everyone and I feel that someone like Lucinda, and even classic people like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney just keep going. It wasn’t about being a pretty entertainer or being a hot ‘pop star’ it was always about the songwriting which is the most important thing to me. Again not to insult anyone who is a hot and young pop star, because we need those to make the world go around, I love them, but I just feel for myself, I look at the people who have been cranking out songs for 30 years and I want to be like that”.

So what’s been your biggest “pinch me” moment so far?

Pretty much every fucking show, I just can’t believe that, I mean beyond “Lost on You” people singing many of the other songs, songs that aren’t even out yet. I have a few songs coming out on the new cd, and I’ll hear people singing along to those and I’m just like “what!”. When I first started in September, my first big show was in Bucharest to headline a festival and I was like “I’m headlining a festival… what!” It had only been going since the summer and I remember starting and being like “I can’t believe I’m doing this”.

I have to ask, because I’m obsessed with OITNB, what was it like to hear and watch your song “Muddy Waters” featured in the very violent and emotionally charged closing scene of the season four finale of Orange Is The New Black. It was have been pretty incredible to see your music amongst such a emotional scene?

Oh, incredible. Really incredible, I was just honoured to be in the fabric of a show that’s in people’s minds and hearts, not to give it too much weight but I think that the way television has progressed these stories are a big part of our lives. There have been shows that have influenced my actual life, like books, So to be associated with, and to have that, in such a beloved character’s story line, it’s just incredible.

LP
LP

All of your songs are really quite emotional and personal to you, do you ever have days where you need to be on stage singing these songs, but can’t because of the meaning behind them? 

Sometimes I feel like I get emotional. In the beginning I got a bit compartmentalised in my mind. It was funny because when we first started doing so much press I would finish and say “did I just spend 7/8 hours talking about my ex girlfriend?” It’s like, who does that! And I’m happy with my new girlfriend, and I know I don’t have to tell people what things are about, but it’s just not the way I’m built, I wish, well not wish but I wonder what it’d be like if I was more mysterious about what was going on, but why, who cares? Sometimes songs evolve, and I realise what I was actually writing about. It’s funny with this song “You want it all” I wrote it not even about my ex girlfriend, but about my ex ex girlfriend, I wrote it from her perspective and I think that’s kind of lame sometimes but it’s based loosely on what I feel I did. Now it’s flipped in my mind to where it’s about me, and everything I had to give up to ‘go for it’.

Your ‘Lost On You’ album is available for pre-order which is so exciting, what’s the album all about, what kind of reaction I guess are you looking for? 

I just hope that it’s one of those albums that you can sit alone with in the car and really delve into but also one you can just have on when you have people over, where it is versatile and again it works its way into your life. We all have albums where we’re like “oh man, I was going through that”. I had this really funny, not funny, but this R&B record, by this woman Jazmine Sullivan it’s called “reality show” and all the songs were about things that I don’t necessarily relate to. There is a song called “Mascara” but I remember waking up in the throws of my breakup with that song pounding in my head. So I kind of associate it with a very specific time and like I said again, the word honour comes to mind because it’s just a huge honour and I feel somewhat of a responsibility in being a song writer, especially when people are actually consuming your music, you feel like you’re involved in their life and it’s cool. I just hope they enjoy it.

So what’s next for you? 

Just more touring to be honest with you and then I already have some songs going, ready for the new record but I’m going to be working on more. I’m kind of psyched because this would be the first time in a while, probably in about 10 years I’ve been on a label either as an artist or writing for  people where it’s been constantly “we need songs, more songs, more songs” and since last summer no one has been bugging me really about more songs because I had so many stored up. I did just naturally write a few that are new for this new record but no one has been breathing down my neck about writing, so I’m stored up and I’m kind of rearing to go.

 

Interview: Maiya Sicklin

Photographer: Caroline Quinn for Something About