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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


PALPITATIONS is out now!

Image: Ale Washington.

British born, LA-based singer-songwriter LAUREL has unveiled her sophomore studio album, PALPITATIONS. We caught up with the artist to go behind-the-album and unpack her new sound, documenting a myriad of emotions, her distinct creative process and so much more.

I'm so bad at Zoom still, and I know it's been like four years of Zoom calls, but I'm still like, where do I go?

You definitely have no excuse. It's been so long [laugh].

I know, I know. But to be fair, I think over the past year or maybe year and a half, I've done way less and less Zoom calls.

Really? All all I do is Zoom calls. Like I never have meetings in the real world now. In fact, I've said I'll come to places to do press and everyone's like, 'well actually everyone just wants to do it on Zoom' [laugh].

Well, you know what, I am totally fine with you coming to Australia if you wanna do that 24 hour flight.

Yeah, it's not so far from LA.

Oh, true - that's like thirteen hours.

Depends where actually. I flew back from Perth last time and it took 24 hours and I was like, 'what the fuck? I thought I got away from this.'

I actually kind of forget how far away Perth is. I have family in Perth and I'm always like, 'I'm gonna go visit you.' It's never happened [laughs]. One day . But we're not here to talk about flight times and zoom calls. We're here because of your sophomore album PALPITATIONS. Such a great body of work! Your debut album, Dogviolet, dropped in 2018. What do you think you learnt whilst making your debut that you were able to implement into the process of this record?

I made the first one on my own completely alone actually, and it wasn't the easiest or most joyful experience but I think I had to do it. I think the biggest thing I know is that if I was gonna make another album alone, I was gonna make the same album. But I really wanted to make something different. If I wanted to make something different, I had to branch out and find a partner, find somebody that could stretch my talents and my ideas. Which is what happened when I met Chrome Sparks. I knew him already, but when we met to work together that was kind of my ambition with that relationship. So I think going into the album, that was just kind of where my head was at, just about having more help and having a partner. But the funny thing is, we tried to expand upon even our relationship because we'd done the EPs together. So we were like, 'okay, let's add in a top liner, let's get somebody else to help me with melodies and stuff.' It was really funny because on one hand expanding was good for me, but actually there was a point when I think we tried to over expand just because we felt like that's what we needed to do to make this album bigger and better than the EPs. But the top lining didn't really work for me. I didn't like to have that much help. In fact, I didn't want anyone to help me with my melodies and my lyrics. We then had a vocal producer come in and do all the vocals with me and I ended up re-recording all the vocals, despite us spending quite a lot of money on doing that [laughs]. So there was kind of a moment where every time we expanded beyond just me and Jeremy, it didn't work and we had to keep everything to the roots, you know, despite this being a bigger release than I'd ever done before.

I like that, it kind makes you value yourself more when and become more steadfast in your own approach. So obviously there was some experimentation in the approach to creating, but how do you think your artistry has evolved into what you've presented on this body of work?

Yeah, it's interesting because I think this sonic space is different from my first album in ways, it's even different from my EPs, but I really feel that all the songs are still exactly the same. Every single song is just playing the piano usually, then we produce it and everything. Every time we do a record, the production changes and we go in a different direction or we emphasise more of something. But they're all just these kind of emotion driven songs. So I really think any of the songs on PALPITATIONS, if I took them away and reproduced them, they could be Dogviolet songs and the same with the Dogviolet songs being on this record.

It would be trippy if you did an EP of songs where you swap the sonics to match the other record. On this one, sonically there's this eighties influence. It's a very adrenaline fuelled body of work. You kind of touched on the soundscapes and sound of the album there, but what drew you to this overall realm that the album exists within?

When I finished Dogviolet, I really wanted to make something which people could move and dance to and kind of let loose to. Because I was watching a lot of people at my shows just, you know, crying, standing still, and you could hear a pin drop and it was a very beautiful experience. But I think there was just a moment when I was like, 'I want something different. I wanna try making people laugh.' And that's really me. Even though I'm very emotional, I'm a very joyful, happy and energetic person. So honestly, the reason the sonics happened was purely from an energetic space at the time. I was also listening more to like Tame Impala, Empire of the Sun. Sky Ferreira has always been a big influence for me and I think I was just ready to explore that side of me. So that's I think how it happened.

I love the little Aussie shout outs there, Tame Impala and Empire of the Sun. You also recently worked with Kita Alexander. It's time to become an honorary Aussie.

Yeah, it's a big influence on my music, honestly. I worked with a producer the other day and he was making stuff, it was Styalz Fuego and he's an Australian producer. We started making something and I was like, 'oh my God, what is the sound?' And he was like, 'Laurel, you just like Australian music. Like that's this sound' [laughs] crazy in music. .

The album is this melding pot of emotions. Could you unpack the themes and concepts explored across the album and the importance to you with documenting them within your music?

Yeah, they're just really intense. I think there's lots of different emotions. You have like some pretty like dire emotions on the song Deathwish. Then you have this like, bittersweet love on Only One where you're so in love but you're so in love that you're kind of terrified of being that in love. Then, you know, 45 Degrees is just like head over heels crazy about somebody. I think every single emotion on there is just very deep. It's just very intense. Where My Thunder Falls is also just kind of about my own turmoil and frustrations with kind of growing up and finding myself. I think what always pushes me to write is intense emotion. That's usually why I sit down to write, is because I need to express something that I don't understand or I just need to say. The way that I channel that is just through music and it always has been just I think the whole style of my music really.

You mentioned how you went into making this album earlier, working with Chrome Sparks and the process of opening up your creative circle and pulling it back. When it comes to songwriting in particular and songwriting, do you find that you have a distinct creative process when you sit down to write?

Yeah, I do actually have a quite specific process which I had been experimenting with recently but I've come back to because I think it's tried and tested [laughs]. I'll tell you my secrets. The last year I've been using Splice loops predominantly to write. So I'll like go on Splice, and I find a loop that I like. It's literally just some chords. It's not usually anything that interesting. It's just a way to get a quick song. Then I put my headphones on and I get my mic and I turn the auto tuner full blast. Like so my voice sounds like a squeaky robot. Because when you sing through autotune, you can sing bad notes, you can sing anything and it kind of snaps into the key. What happens is you end up making melodies that you might not necessarily make if you didn't have this auto tune on. So this is my favourite part, is making a melody. I love making melodies. I do all that and then after I've done melodies for the whole song, then I decide to write lyrics. Which honestly is much more of an arduous task for me. But I have books I use - they're right here - and they're just words I found in magazines, or like poetry I've found and write them down. Then as I'm listening to the melody, I'll flick through the book and I just pick out words and like sing them into the melody, and that's kind of how I write all the lyrics. Sometimes when you write a melody though, lyrics just come out and they end up being the lyrics.

That was like the best creative process I've ever heard. I also love that you had a book right there for show-and-tell.

Yeah, I'm at my recording desk.

If you had to pick three songs album to play to someone who had never heard your music, that is gonna make them an on the spot diehard fan, which three songs would you choose? Like they are going to buy it on vinyl, they're gonna have all the merch, they are going to be lining at least twelve hours outside a venue to be front row.

Oh my God [laughs]. That's a really difficult question. I think it would be 45 Degrees, Only One and... I can't even remember what other songs are on the record [laughs]. Change because I feel like honestly they're all very different sides of me. Change is really like kind of almost Fleetwood Mac acoustic guitar with the flute, and it's just so euphoric. Only One is deep and got my sad girl thing. 45 Degrees is just like the summer banger fun, let's go. Which is a very important side of me. I think those three.

Is there a particular line, lyric or musical motif from the album that you find gets stuck in your head more often than not? The one that you always humming or singing, or maybe if not one then the lyric you're most proud of?

My songs never really get stuck in my head, except for just right after I've written them. I usually write at night time, and then my song will be stuck in my head all night and I can't sleep. It's usually just the first night after that. I never really think about them. But my most proudest, I think when I wrote the chorus for 45 Degrees, the whole thing flew out and it was always the type of chorus I'd wanted to write or if I heard that, I know I would be very jealous of that chorus. So I think I can step outside of the fact that I wrote it and it as like a good pop chorus that I'm very proud of writing [laughs].

That's one of the three songs I chose.

 Oh great, which ones would you choose?

I went with 45 Degrees, Deathwish and Thunder Where My Thunder Falls.

Oh, nice. Honestly, those two are my other favourites on the record. Deathwish is like, I'm really excited for people to hear Deathwish.

It so good. Now, I know you've toured Australia a few times. I saw you, I can't recall the year and it's horrible that I've defined this as like pre-Covid and post-Covid, but pre-Covid in Sydney at the Oxford Art Factory. I think it was, it was in in 2019 or 2018 maybe. It was a great show though and really brought Dogviolet to life. How are you kind of going to go about bringing like PALPITATIONS into a live setting when you do hit the road?

Well, I'm about to do some American shows and I am really excited because Banoffee, who is a true Australian, is playing with me on stage. She's sporting the shows and she's gonna play keys with me and also help me with like triggering stuff on stage. We are gonna make a little duo together, which is really exciting because she's my best friend and we've been starting to kind of like do stuff together and I love that. So that's kind of where things are at right now. I think eventually I'd just love to build this out to be a full band. We did add drums in London and honestly a part of me like really misses the electronic drums whenever I have real drums. So I'm like, 'how big can I make the show while still having all the drums being played electronically,' you know? [Laughs].

Hopefully you'll get back to Australia sometime soon.

We are planning, we're planning to 100%. It's all being worked out as we speak [laughs].

I mean, I'm gonna give you honorary citizenship. I know I don't really have the power [laughs], but for all intents and purposes right now, I'm basically the prime minister, so I can do that.

Nice job promotion [laughs].

PALPITATIONS is out now!


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