Laurel's new EP Limbo Cherry is out now! We chat to the musician about the release and so much more.
Image: Lewis Vorn
Last week, British songstress Laurel unveiled her new EP, Limbo Cherry, serving as the second part to Petrol Bloom. Juxtaposing serious conceptual content with playful soundscapes, the release explores and documents the many facets of love. whilst further exploring her new sonic sound.
We caught up with the musician to unpack the release, her decision to split an album into two EP's, crying on stage in Melbourne and so much more.
Limbo Cherry is out now! Read our interview with Laurel below.
Could you tell us a bit about your background in music and what kind of prompted you to pursue it as a career?
I just saw Britney Spears on the television [laughs] and I was like, "I want to do that". I don't remember not wanting to do this. It's just always been what I wanted to do and here we are. I did change my idols slightly as I got older and kind of enjoyed Laura Marling a bit more than Britney for awhile. But now I'm back on Britney, so that's cool. I lived in the suburbs and it wasn't the most easiest thing to get into. But I don't know how I got here. I'm here though, so that's good.
Happy you're here! Your latest EP Limbo Cherry juxtaposes serious content with playful sonics. How do you think that juxtaposition and balance ultimately elevates the content within the tracks?
Well, to be honest, I think that all of my records have this like juxtaposition. I mean, that's what most of the record titles are born on, like Dogviolet was the ugly with the beautiful. In all of my songs I'm always trying to get that juxtaposition because there's not pain and without the good. Not pain I guess, like bad without good. I think that's what all of the songs are kind of born on and I think that's when you get the most kind of passion because you can't really show one side without the other. I mean, that's always been my experience, especially with love, you know, and a lot of the songs are about love So I think it just gives the honesty.
The EP also cements in your new sound, what prompted you to re-route your sonic direction?
I guess I was just listening to different music. I was also recording everything on my own and I think I had a certain level of abilities and knowledge in music when I decided after my first record to expand and try working with somebody new. It just brought in a whole new sonic of things of, you know, I ended up working with Chrome Sparks and he had his whole synth-wave thing going on. I was really interested in that music at the time, I guess, pumping Tame Impala for a while at that point, so I think it really changed the dynamic. I had something in my mind that I knew I couldn't create on my own and then he brought in a whole new sound with him when we started working together. I just wanted to make something I could dance to a bit more. It was actually after my tour in Australia, it was a hard tour for me at times because it was very painful songs and I was having to revisit them a lot. And at that point I just didn't feel like revisiting that every night and I was like I need to write something that onstage every night I'm going to like, feel alive with and not always revisiting pain. So that's kind of where that all started.
The EP also serves as the second part to Petrol Bloom, together essentially forming a full album. What prompted you to take that more untraditional route as opposed to releasing one larger body of work?
I just thought it would be more interesting to release as I was writing things, rather than wait a certain amount of time and release a full-length, or a traditional way of releasing. Whereas I had these songs, I loved them and I wanted to release them, so we just thought we'd split it up. I hadn't finished the second record, so I wouldn't have had a full album at the time and sometimes you end up waiting for a year or two. And then, you know, at that point, when I released Dogviolet, I'd already kind of moved on a little bit with my taste and then I had to tour the records. So for me it just felt like a more modern way of releasing music and I could keep people's attentions maybe a bit more as well.
Yeah exactly. I remember Miley Cyrus was planning on releasing EP's that would eventually result in one complete album. By the time she had released the first EP she didn't feel an attachment to the remainder of the songs and ended up scrapping them and creating Plastic Hearts instead.
It happens all the time! The amount of songs that I've kicked off my record. You're always writing a new one and then kicking that off. And then that one never gets seen by the light of day, unless it's reworked at some point when you're dry and you don't have any songs left [laughs]. So yeah, releasing as you go, whilst that might be a bit problematic because you might hate the songs in a few years and then their own line, it just kind of makes a bit more sense right now if you are more prolific. Not everybody write that many songs.
I guess also now with Spotify and streaming services it's like easier to release music immediately, as opposed to waiting for the physical production of an album to release in stores. You can put the songs out as soon as you feel ready to.
Well yeah, exactly If you're writing a lot on your own. I imagine if you've got a bunch of producers on board, it might be a bit hard work. But if you can be a bit DIY about it, it's definitely beneficial.
Can you break down the meaning behind each song for us and how do the ideas for each track come to you?
I wrote Let Go last year. It's about somebody letting go of you quite quickly and you not being able to understand how someone could just drop you like that. And you're like, 'but I can't let go of you that quickly'. It addresses not just love, but so many things. Like letting go of friendships, letting go of houses and just ways of living.I found that sometimes I was romanticising in a loyalty with people when other people were like 'well, don't worry, I've moved on, you don't need to worry about it'. And I was like, 'but what?'. So that's kind of where that has come from. Obsessed is just that kind of hot lust at the beginning of your relationship where you were just fucking obsessed with somebody, and maybe they like you more when you're playing it. But you just fancy them so much that you can't play it cool. So you get into a bit of a cycle where they don't fancy you as much because obsessed with them. So that's that one. You're The One is kind of about addiction, about placing all of your emphasis on one person and thinking that they're the one, they're the one that's going to save you. It doesn't have to be a person, it could be drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping. It's like, that's the one thing that's going to pull me out of my situation but it's written in a very playful love song sort of way. I never wanted it to be too heavy, but it kind of took on its own contexts whilst writing it. And then Wild Side is about a toxic relationship where you keep pulling each other back into the relationship with the promise of the wild side, you know? Like the drama of the relationship keeps you stuck, even though you both don't want to be there and you know you shouldn't be there, but then you have wild sex and you have big fights and there's all this passion. But I guess what you mostly have in common is that fighting and the drama more than anything else. And then Drown In Sunlight is just about long-term relationships. So being totally in awe of the other person, but not always, you go between waves. It's not always pretty, it's not always ugly. there's these in between moments where, you know, the lyric in the song is "sometimes I don't know if you love me, you say it like it's sure but you're trying". It's like these kinds of doubts that you get in the middle of a relationship or you're unsure of where the other person's at and you're trying to meet in the middle and you still totally love each other, but you know, it's not easy to be in a relationship for a long time. So that's it, they're all about love, fuck sake.
You mentioned earlier that sometimes like throughout the creation process for an EP or album, some songs end up on the cutting room floor. Are there any songs that you wrote with the intentions of this EP that ends up on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future? Or are they just donezo?
We didn't have Wild Side on the record until the last minute. We had this other song, which is called Only One. I kind of liked them being both on the record, You're The One and "you're the only one is the lyric" in Only One. But we ended up taking that off. We're going to release it though, it's one of my favourite tracks. But we needed something a bit more upbeat and Wild Side was everyone's favourite. So here we are.
You've shared some incredible visuals throughout the EP's rollout. Can you walk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising and how involved are you with the development of the visuals?
I'm mood boarding a lot. Like I really love visuals so I'm always collecting a lot of visuals. I have quite a specific visual vibe in my head that doesn't really change that much. And my boyfriend Elliot is the person that does most of my visuals. So we really collaborated on the visuals for pretty much everything apart from the last couple of videos. So it really helps cause we we live together and we're always talking about it and he has a very similar vibe and I think he's really brought a lot to the table with the visuals. Having him kind of creative direct a lot of what was going on has been amazing. So it's a lot down to him, but I guess because we're living together, we're always talking about it.
How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs?
I mean I love making the visuals. I'm very visual person, but I never really think about the visuals until after everything's done and everyone's like, 'you need a cover, you need a video'. I work very much more focused on the audio. So it definitely does come secondary to me, but I do really, really love it. I know some people think in duality where they're making the song and they see the visual at the same time. I don't really think like that so much. I have to do one after the other, but I do think the visuals for the record gives such an identity with the music. Like you understand the music more with seeing the visuals. So I guess it is very important to me still.
If the EP was a piece of pre-existing visual art which artwork would it be?
Oh my God. I have no idea, that's very hard. If the EP was a piece of art. There's this artist, I love her art. She's called Darby Milbrath. I feel like the colors in her. Oh yeah. Darby mail breath. Her new stuff's a bit darker, but her pictures, there's one picture I'm obsessed with it. I feel like all these colours, there's all these reds and crimsons and that really speaks. This is the piece of art that I would choose. I didn't expect to have an answer to that.
That is so good! Yeah, that's so beautiful.
It's got a real Linbo Cherry vibe.
Is there a particular line from the EP that you find is stuck in your head more often than not? Like you'll just be walking around the house and you'll just be humming that like one particular line?
Yeah for sure! In Wild Side the line goes "Love me, say you’re never gonna leave me" and that I just get stuck in my head all the time. It is really annoying when your own songs get stuck in your head, it's like quite a different kind of a annoying. To be honest, when I write any song, it will get stuck in my head for the week after writing the song and it drives me fucking crazy to the point where I don't like a lot of the songs. So that's kind of annoying.
If you had to pick one song off the EP to play to someone who has never heard your music to make them an instant fan which would it be and why?
Obsessed. Obsessed is my favourite one, I just love it. I think it's very instant, it's lighthearted and I just love the production that Jeremy's done. So yeah, I'd probably pick Obsessed because I just, I love it. Short and sweet.
The UK has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite emerging acts we should be checking out why?
British acts hmm. I don't really follow the British acts that much I guess, not just because he's my boyfriend, but my boyfriend's in a band and I'm obsessed with them, which is quite useful. But then a band called Faux Real, I pretty much wish I wrote all of their tracks and they're about to release a bunch of new tracks and they're Like some of the best tracks I've ever heard. So that's kind of annoying [laughs]. So I would say that they're British based. Who else is British? I don't even know. Can I say some other people?
I'm obsessed with Omar Apollo! He's so fucking good, I'm so obsessed with him. Who else am I obsessed with? I guess she's not emerging, but Rina Sawayama is so fucking good. And then one from America just cause why not: Teddy Geiger. I'm obsessed with Teddy Geiger and her song Shark Bait is so good.
Obviously the pandemic has affected live music, with the UK coming out of lockdown. But do you have any tentative touring plans for 2021? Are you visualising a live show off the back of these EPs?
Yeah, absolutely! I really want to, I'm going to start rehearsing my live show soon because we're going to be doing some UK dates in October and hopefully some stuff in America. I really want to get over to Australia too. I'm just kind of waiting on news about Australia, but hoping that at some point or the end of the year, I'll be over there as well. I'm very excited to tour and just play again because half of my career is just non-existent right now. It's very strange. I've got a lot of time basically, which was fun at the beginning, but now I'm twiddling my thumbs. Like what do I do? Write another record?
Do it! Like Taylor Swift, just keep dropping them.
I know, but I'm a bit bored of it now. I need some experiences to write about.
Biggest musical influences?
Florence + The Machine.
Ooh, one changes every day. I guess actually today I'm thinking Lana Del Ray,
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Alas, I Cannot Swim by Laura Marling
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
A hundred percent where the wild things are. The thing is though, Karen O did such a good job on that. I don't want to rewrite it, but that would be my choice of film.
The most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Actually it was my show in Melbourne in Australia because I cried for the whole show. I just did on stage. Basically the person I wrote the songs about had died the week before. So it was kind of intense. I'm over it now. That sounds horrible, I'm not over it now, but I don't feel like crying anymore. But I had to go on tour the week after and I stood on the stage and I walked on and I just burst into tears. And I didn't stop crying for like 40 minutes. I was mortified by the way, but I didn't know what to do and I was like, do I leave the stage? What do I do? Every one sung my lyrics for me for like 40 minutes. No one asked for their money back. At the time it was really horrible. But I then did Sydney the next night and I got all my lyrics right, it was a really great show. At that point I realised how special Melbourne was, because I don't think I'll ever experienced something like that again. Like it was just me and like 800 people kind of like giving me a hug almost, kind of like pushing me through. So it was, that was really amazing. Afterwards I had a lot of people come up to me at the end and tell me that people had passed away and that my record had helped them get through it. So it was just like the most bonding I'd ever experienced with a crowd before.
First concert you went to?
That is the perfect answer because our next question is Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Oh my gosh. Don't male me choose, I guess mine is a bad bitch. Miley for sure. But the gig I went to, my first gig, was when she'd started to turn more into Miley Cyrus and she pole danced on stage and there was so many kids in the audience and the mums, they were mortified and people were like so freaked out. And I remember just standing there being like whoa, she's fucking amazing.
Best concert you have been to?
Unlikely answer but I used to love Johnny Flynn. I don't know if you know him, he's an English folk musician. I was at a festival, I'd stayed up probably for two nights, not sleeping. Classic. I was in a right mess and Johnny Flynn was on. So I went to see him on my own and I stood in the audience, I was so hung over, I felt like, and he started singing. I didn't take my eyes off him for the whole half an hour. And it was just so magical. It wasn't the best gig I'd ever been to, but it was really just so special. There was something so captivating.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Honestly, it's probably just like Crazy Spice.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
That's really hard and I'm not sure, you know, I do think maybe someone like Billie Eilish. I think she's actually doing a lot right now and it's quite remarkable. She's definitely not doing the whole cookie cutter pop star thing. And even like, I mean a lot with body image, but even her recent song, it's so different from what she's just done. And it's very, for me, it's very, I think folky, I think it's a very brave thing to do to release something like that when you're in the, in the limelight and everyone's going to judge you, cause she's definitely gone for something more alternative and she's just doing her thing. I love that.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Just like stop worrying, [laughs] like chill, chill the fuck out because that is not a wrinkle yet. You know, I'm like always worried about getting older and then one day I'm going to be older and I'm going to be like, you look amazing.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I saw Britney Spears ...Baby One More Time. Maybe it was Oop, I Did It Again. Which one came first?
I think ...Baby One More Time That was so incredible