LONDON'S NEWEST POP-PRINCESS LAUREL COULD EASILY BE THE YOUNGER SISTER OF LANA DEL REY OR THE COOL COUSIN OF LORDE, AND WITH THIS V-EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF THE JANE DOZE REMIX OF HER NEW EP'S TITLE TRACK "TO THE HILLS," SHE'S LETTING HER TRADEMARK SOMBER SOUNDS STEP INTO THE CLUB, DESPITE PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS
It’s been almost a year since London’s self-proclaimed “Last Sweetheart,” Laurel, released her self-produced track "Blue Blood"—one of a few demos that secured the artist a contract with Turn First Artists (Ellie Goulding, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora). The 19-year-old songstress and Next-signed model splits her time between the busy streets of London and her quiet sea-side hometown of South Hampton. The latter environment seeps into the fantastic lyrical narrative of Laurel’s latest musical offering, “To The Hills,” that transports you into the sleepy British countryside.
Between the moody lyrics, ill-fated love, and orchestral melodies its hard not to draw comparisons to fellow songstress Lana Del Rey, but Laurel seems to be carving her own niche in a burgeoning somber-pop genre. Speaking with Laurel, one is instantly hypnotized by her enchanting energy and passion for life—making her “sweetheart” title a founded one. What comes as a surprise is Laurel’s (admittedly charming) affinity for swearing.
As you know, we’re premiering your “To The Hills” Jane Doze remix.
LAUREL: Oh yeah. I’m really excited. Have you heard it yet?
I have. Its so different from the original.
L: Its quite a club banger. Its quite fun for me because I do really sultry, down-tempo stuff so its quite weird to have everything change.
Your songs feel so personal. How do you feel about having your song remixed?
L: It’s really strange having your stuff remixed. I’ve done some remixes myself of other people so I definitely get it. Its really fun to see your music in a different way, but its hard not to be protective over it. There’s been a few times where I’ve said “No, no I don’t like that” and then I realize that its actually really good. I’m just so protective over my song.
Can you explain what “To The Hills” is about or what inspired it? [See the official video for the original in the slideshow above]
L: It’s based on a short story by Ramond Carver. The [song’s video] director had mentioned the story to me a while back and thought it was a wicked story that I needed to read. So I read the story—it’s only like four pages long. Basically, these two kids travel off and run away from home and happen upon a yard sale, but this old man is there… it's all very strange. They all start dancing, getting a bit drunk. There’s nothing significant that happens in it—just a strange atmosphere. So when I read it I thought this is amazing and its perfect. He said lets make it into a film and I said, Fuck yeah!
What is the song-writing process like for you?
L: I used to find all the words for songs in my magazines. So usually I sit with some of my favorite magazines and just pick out loads of words and concepts that I really like.
L: Yeah it is really interesting because there’s lots of words that you wouldn't think of using and lots of magazines have really descriptive ways of talking about things. There’s a song I wrote called “The Desert” which was based on me looking for a Vogue editorial about tanned clothing. Which is quite funny! So yeah I just start with that and then play with different chords. It just kind of comes out…or it doesn't come out. A lot of times it doesn’t work.
Is self-producing your songs a conscious choice, or something that happened organically?
L: It’s quite random actually. I was never that interested in it until probably about a year ago. I just wanted to write songs and not produce them. I never had the ambition to do it. I was just getting quite frustrated in the studio because every time I wanted to write I had to have someone else there. They were taking away from what I wanted to do sometimes and it was quite a hard process. I just found in the end that I like to write on my own better. I just started playing around on the computer and then I wrote “Blue Bloods.” That was the first song I really tried to produced. After that I thought “This is fun. I want to keep doing this.” So then I’ve been learning loads more now though. So no, it wasn't conscious.
Do you produce at home?
L: I produce everything in my flat. There's a small room that was filled with shit and everyone was leaving all their stuff at my house. I went in one day and said, “This is going to be my studio.” So I took everything out. It was a really small room that I covered the walls with magazines. Thats where I write everything. We go to studio sometimes if we need to.
Can you tell me a little bit about going to DSquared’s Fall/Winter ’14 show?
L: It was my first trip to Milan! It was so exciting. I’m really interested in fashion so we wanted to do some fashion shows. I did a bit in London and then I had the opportunity to go to DSquared. Their clothes are so cool. Really classic. Exactly my style. They dressed me and I got to meet all of them. I drank way too much champagne though!
Did you meet anyone at the show?
L: Yeah I met this girl named Sai Bennett who’s really fun. She’s in a show here called Mr. Selfridge. So I sat with her the whole time and I didn’t realize who she was. Then afterwards I said “Oh shit. I watch you on TV every week.”
You’ve talked about magazines being inspirational. You write lyrics based off of them and you plaster your studio walls with them. What is it about magazines that you find so fascinating?
L: I just love the visuals in magazines. The way magazines are set out is so useful. It's classic. White background. Its just really nice looking and I love looking through them. I keep magazines in my house to have and look through. Its fun to go on Tumblr and look at things there. I make moodboards on walls with the images and put them into the studio for inspiration. I change it like every month or two and put up new pictures and words. Thats how I get going. I set up color schemes. If it's wintery I’ll choose dark, rich colors and if I’m feeling happier I’ll choose florals and pastels.
What does success look like to you?
L: Success is just happiness. I consider myself successful right now because I’m happy with where I am. I like how things are going. As long as you’re happy with it then you are successful. Everyone’s got different ambitions so there’s not a real way of finding it.
Last, but not least. What app do you use for your Instagram?
L: I use an app called Afterlight. I'm obsessed with it. I only paid like 60p and I've probably used it more than any other app on my phone. There's like a "Seasons" pack of filters and I like overlapping those.
To The Hills EP is set for an April 7th release on Laurel's own label Next Time Records available for pre-order here.