London-based musician Laurel is a unique talent that is exactly what the British music scene needs right now. The indie songstress encompasses a dark undertone to her lyrics, accompanied by upbeat melodies – all produced and written by herself, and herself alone. Her music comes off as both haunting, yet poetic, much like her musical inspirations, Lana Del Rey and Laura Marling.
Laurel is about to release her album next month and is set to tour around Europe. She kicks off in September, with a few dates in the UK, and making her way through France, Denmark, Poland and many more.
So first off, take me through some of your musical inspirations. Who did you grow up admiring?
Laura Marling, I really loved a lot of folk music when I was younger. Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, like of all of those. Laura’s first album, Alas I Cannot Swim is one of my favourite albums. I think she was 17 when she wrote it, and I think I was a few years behind her so I kind of looked up to her a lot when I was younger. I was just started listening to Lana Del Rey, and all of those big, big female singers who I am inspired by.
What would you say was your first memory of music?
Probably listening to country music. My mum loves country music. When we were younger, we would listen in the car. ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’ by Kenny Rogers was my youngest sister’s favourite song to the point where we all had to call her Ruby for like half the year…
Speaking of country, I still think Dolly Parton is one of the greatest musicians today
Right? So good. ‘Jolene’ is such a banger, she just needs to keep making music forever, to be honest.
What would you say was the moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I’m not quite sure, I’ve always wanted to be a musician like I’ve always known I wanted to do this, it’s been my dream to make music. It’s weird because you have this crazy dream, how will you ever be a musician, but what I wanted to do it, there’s never been anything else, which I guess is really lucky. I remember telling everybody that I was going to be a pop star, listening to Britney Spears, and saying that I wanted to be Britney Spears. When I left school I kind of made a decision that I really wanted to do music fulltime.
What song or artist to listen to if you were in a good mood, or needed that extra step in the morning?
Chico Buarque. I listen to his [self-titled] album every day. It is so good and it’s amazing, so that’s what I would listen to every morning.
What song or artist to listen to if you were feeling a bit down?
Yeah weirdly, when I’m feeling sad it’s when I’m writing music, or at a time when I feel really stressed out. Yesterday I was in a bit of a bad mood, and I could not shift my bad mood at all and then I sat down, and I started writing and I was like, Oh my god – I feel so much better!
Tell me a little bit about your creative process.
I just start playing my guitar, I usually have something in mind which I want to write about, that’s how it works best, if I don’t then it could take me a lot longer. I write down lyrics from the day or something I hear, or something distinct. I just start playing the chords then I just start humming along and before I know it, I’ve finished the song. I know it sounds naff, but it’s different every time so, I usually like to write the song and then I put lyrics to the melody. I kind of do it in sections so I’ll do the verse first and get the lyrics and the verse and then I’ll do the verse and the chorus.
How do you produce your music, do you have a team to help you or do you do it yourself?
It’s just me, really. I’ve tried to work with other people before, but I find that it doesn’t really capture what I’m trying to make. You can sway from it really easily. You just end up writing a song for the sake of writing a song whereas I don’t write songs just to write a good song. I write it because, you know, yesterday, I really needed to get something out, which is where I think the best music comes from. I think it is kind of dangerous to just write music for the sake of writing music. Especially if that doesn’t end up working out for you. It’s frustrating.
As a songwriter, if you could write a song for any musician today, who would you want to write for?
I would love to write for Arcade Fire, I think. They’re my favourite band. Also, if I could write with somebody it would be Tyler the Creator. I think he is absolutely genius.
What kind of song would you want to produce with Tyler the Creator?
A f***ing kick ass song. I just love his songs coz they’re super dark and I love dark hip hop.
Which one of your songs is the most special to you?
I think maybe two songs: I just released this song called ‘Same Mistakes’, and that is my favourite. I’m really proud of it. I think it captures the essence of what I was trying to make with the record. I’m really proud of that. And then also I have a song in the album called Sun King, which is just an acoustic, no drums, so chilled. I don’t know why but it’s really special to me. To me, its really beautiful and I’m really proud that I wrote it.
Another one of your recent songs I loved was ‘Crave.’ What kind of foods are you craving right now?
Everything. I’m the biggest eater in the world. There’s this cafe down the road where I live, and they do the best breakfast in the world. Right now I’m craving a serious brunch with avocado, and toast, and hollandaise. There’s this other breakfast place on the road that does crumpets with avocado and asparagus and bacon and hollandaise. That is the best breakfast yet. I’m always craving breakfast.
What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians trying to make it into the business?
The amount of people that are going to push against you is really really extreme and you have to be ready to push back. You have to really have the guts to know exactly what you are going for, and not be swayed. When I was younger, I was signed with another label, and a lot of people wanted me to do what they wanted to do. It took me a while to really find the words to be like, no, this is what I’m doing. This is my vision. Once you start doing that, you know it works out but you have to be really tough with it. You have to have thick skin and you have to make sure people don’t push you around.
What does the future hold for you? What can we expect in terms of music or projects coming up?
The album’s out in August which is really exciting and I’m doing a European tour at the end of the year from September to November, which is going be pretty extensive so I’m really excited for that…and petrified. Also, I’ve written a book. But I’m trying to get that going as soon as the album comes out. I wrote it when I was writing the album, and it is kind of like journals.
Final question, If you were stuck on an island, what album or record would you want to have with you?
Probably Teen Dream by Beach House. It’s a great album and I could listen to it forever.