Throwback 2014: Ich bin wieder bereit die nächste Vampire Diaries Folge zu schauen (don‘t judge, es war eine weirde Zeit). Plötzlich ertönt ein Song im Hintergrund. Sofort checke ich das Lied: Fire Breather von LAUREL. Und so begann meine Liebe für die britische Sängerin. Damals noch etwas finsterer unterwegs, assoziiert man die britische Sängerin heute mit plüschigem Synth-Pop. Ihr Debütalbum DOGVIOLET war gezeichnet von leichter Melancholie, dagegen klingt Limbo Cherry viel leichter und träumerischer. Irgendwie retro und futuristisch im selben Ton. Zusammen mit der 80’s-Pop-Princess haben wir kurz vor dem Release über ihre neue EP Limbo Cherry (mittlerweile schon draußen), Frauen im Musikbusiness und ein Glas, das zum Verhängnis wurde, gesprochen.
LAUREL im Interview
Evelin: Hey Laurel! How are you?
Laurel: Yeah, good! Record comes out tomorrow, so things are quite busy.
Evelin: How do you feel a day before your release? Do you still get nervous since releasing has kind of become a routine for you?
Laurel: No, I don’t really get nervous. It’s funny, I get really excited a few weeks before and then the actual few days before, I don’t even think about it. You just get into a shock almost and don’t think about it. You’re just kind of on ‘go, go, go’-mode, so you’re not really thinking. But I am really excited! I am a little bit nervous for people to get the notes. There’s always that, you know.
“This side is the water emotion”
Evelin: I really enjoy the EP and have my own interpretation of it. Can you explain the meaning behind Limbo Cherry in more detail?
Laurel: It’s the second part of my previous EP Petrol Bloom, which was much more fiery and passionate and a lot of adrenaline in the emotions. This side is the water emotion, the opposite end of the spectrum for me. And this EP really represents me growing into a woman. I’m in my mid-twenties and in this limbo state of being a child, a teenager, to being a woman. And I think the emotions that you can feel in between. The Limbo Cherry is what it represents. Growing into a woman but finding yourself stuck in this limbo state in love, with the world but also coming to realize what the world really is.
Evelin: Would you say that the two EPs are two parts of your personality or that you’ve grown more into ‘Limbo Cherry Laurel’ or are you still feeling like you are in this limbo state?
Laurel: I think they’re both me. I think there’s two sides to everyone. Tracks like Scream Drive Faster on Petrol Bloom, that’s very much me as well when I’m full-charging, ready to go, full of life and just wanting to party. And then the other side of me, which is Limbo Cherry, much more innocent and naïve and maybe reflective of emotions. I wrote Limbo Cherry during the pandemic and the lockdown when I had time to be on my own and be reflective. So, I think that side of me came out more in this EP. I had a bit of space, and I think that’s probably why I wrote this vibe.
“I’m not sure what me as a woman is yet”
Evelin: You said that the theme of the EP revolves around you becoming a woman, stepping into these female emotions. How do you define your womanhood?
Laurel: Uh that’s hard (laughs). It’s definitely something I’m going through right now. Before now I never had any thought about my gender at all. I just was me, and I guess there’s a lot of talk in the air right now about gender and different gender roles. It’s definitely made me think about my own. Whether I identify with my own gender. And I’m not sure, to be honest. I think I’m very much exploring all of that. I’m not sure what me as a woman is yet. I think I’m growing into it. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable actually, if anything. Figuring it all out, I’m not quite blossomed (laughs).
Evelin: That’s definitely happening to a lot of us at the moment. There’s both female and male energies in us. But I don’t know if you really have to find an answer to that, if you have to decide on something.
Laurel: I think that defining things sometimes makes it harder to understand. People always try to understand things and put them into words and thought. Whereas a lot of these things are actually just feelings, and they don’t need to be ever defined. So, I quite like living in this space where I don’t need to ever define certain things, and that’s kind of where I’m at now. It feels good.
Evelin: I think sometimes when you define things, you can feel restricted or stuck. There might not be room for exploration.
Laurel: I guess for some people, defining themselves in roles of gender is very important and really understanding that as well. I guess because I was born into being a woman and I do feel somewhat like a woman, I feel there’s more room in me to explore those feelings. Rather than having to decide anything, because it’s kind of decided for me.
“I fought to prove that I was more than something to look at”
Evelin: So, there’s definitely not enough recognition for female artists and producers. Since you have produced most of your work completely on your own, did you ever feel pressure to DIY everything, because you felt like you had to prove yourself as a woman in the industry? And how did that change now, with you collaborating with Chrome Sparks on both EPs?
Laurel: There probably was a part of me which felt pressured to prove myself. I definitely experienced a lot of people saying “you’re attractive”. I also have a big interest in fashion, I do a lot of photoshoots and there’s a whole other side to me. Which I think some people don’t think is always compatible with being intelligent, being skilled or having your own mind. And I think I definitely fought to prove that I was more than something to look at, which is a shame because I don’t think you have to do that with men, actually.
I think there was a part of me that was doing that, and another part of me which is just very, very stubborn and strong-minded. I just knew exactly what I wanted and I wasn’t finding it with anybody else. So, I just decided to take it on myself. I was very open to working with people at some point, but I just never found the right collaborator. And that made me realize that I was meant to do the record on my own. And so, I did.
Now working with Chrome Sparks there probably is a part of me that has grown up, matured a bit and realized I don’t need to do everything on my own. My art is as valuable and as credible with the help of people. And I was open to collaborate on this record, that was my intention. Jeremy (Chrome Sparks) being a friend, we were sitting around one day, and it really clicked. I got quite lucky there. It was a bit by accident, but I feel very liberated by working with other people now. Before, I was very closed-off to it.
“It really shows my true personality”
Evelin: My personal favourite is Obsessed. Especially because initially, it came from a very negative perspective, and you switched to a more positive one. What is one song that means the most to you and for what reason?
Laurel: Obsessed is my favourite track on the record, because it’s so fun. The one that means the most to me is Drown in Sunlight, the last track. I tried so hard to write a happy song with this one and I really felt happy at the time and like I needed to write something very different. But these lyrics kept coming to my head, they were unchangeable. I tried so many times to rewrite the lyrics, but they just worked so perfectly. In the end, I gave up and came back to it about a year later. These lyrics are so true to me and everything I’ve been through. It’s funny, I was revisiting them so much, trying to write something happy. But they mean the most to me. It really shows my true personality in the way that the lyrics are written, it really feels like me.
Evelin: Drown in Sunlight is very interesting to me as well. I can relate to a lot of the things you say, but I can’t really pinpoint the exact meaning of the song. Can you explain it in more detail?
Laurel: For me there’s two sides. The first is, being in a long-term relationship. There’s these waves that you get, where there’s times of relation and there’s times of doubt. For me, I’m on the other side of the world from my boyfriend. The song is about love, blind love. That no matter what, you’re so in love with somebody. All you can see is that you love them. But there’s so much going on around you, and this is in on these phases of doubt.
Where you’re really not sure where you’re at with somebody at all. But no matter how unsure you are of the logical situation; you know your true feelings. So, I think this song is about meeting somebody in the middle and finding out where you both are and also being realistic. A lot of songs – especially some of mine – are very romantic and like “oh, we’re so toxic but so in love, it’s amazing”. But this one’s really like “let’s be real about where we are as humans” and at the moment I’m doubting. You always get those waves. It’s never just one thing, it’s always changing.
“I don’t want to be in limbo forever”
Evelin: Over the whole EP, but especially in the song You’re the One you explore this ambivalence of emotions, this teenage state of mind. Are these emotions that we feel in lust, in ecstasy, while we drink more genuine and truer because we don’t overthink them? Or are they rather deceiving?
Laurel: I think they’re very deceiving. They’re feelings more in the ego than the heart. But that’s not a bad thing, because sometimes that’s where you’re at, and you just want something that is lighter because you can’t always handle that. It’s not that they’re bad or good. But I would say they’re not totally true. We’re talking about the more addictive side of personality where you want something, but your brain is like “no, you shouldn’t have that” but you want it so much. And that for me is very much based on our egos. It’s fun but it’s not lasting.
Evelin: You’ve grown a lot, in the past year and that’s amazing. Do you feel the pressure to achieve substantial growth with every release? That it has to show something different, something new and bigger?
Laurel: 100%. I’m always going to make what I make, that’s just what happens. I’m not thinking about what other people are going to think when I’m writing a song. But at some point, when you’re about to release something, you get nervous, because you know what they say: “You’re only as good as your last song, book or painting”. Everybody wants to grow. We never want to stay the same, that’s boring. I don’t want to be in limbo forever. Of course, every record, I want to do better than my last. And every record feels more like me. Of course you want that version of you to be liked as much as every other version, because it’d be like rejecting yourself. You can’t get too attached, but there’s no way you’re not. It’s your art, it’s who you are. So, I hope you like it. No pressure (laughs).
Evelin: (laughs) I do, I really enjoy it.
“My life needs to replicate a holiday”
Evelin: When you do feel that pressure, what do you do to reconnect with yourself?
Laurel: For me, I have to get off my phone. Every Sunday I have a tech-sabbath. I don’t use technology on Sunday and it’s life changing. Monday I’m so renewed, I feel like a different person. It forces you to do a lot of things where you can’t use your phone. It’s also not that easy to suddenly meet up with a friend on Sunday. I’m spending a lot of time reading. I love reading, it’s my big thing. I like doing arts and crafts and play music. Getting out of the city is a big one for me also. The city (London) is a major overload with all the senses, they build up on top. You need to bring that down again. So, I have to leave the city as much as I can. I can’t always do it. And when I can’t do it, I take my tech-sabbath.
Evelin: I get you, this hustle culture is very toxic, with people working on weekends next to their actual work for example.
Laurel: Yeah, I’m not like that. I’m the opposite. My life needs to replicate a holiday, otherwise I’m not having a good time. So, I’m more for working less.
“If it doesn’t come quite instant, I drop it”
Evelin: Do you tend to overthink your songs and sit on some details more than you maybe should?
Laurel: I’m not a detailed person, I’m a really quick worker. I don’t work for a long time, I probably have a bit of ADHD to be honest. I just can’t do details, I write pretty quickly, and then maybe I’ll come back and have a look at it again and I’ll try and rework something. But if it doesn’t come quite instant, then I drop it. My attention span is not good for that. But that’s why I like working with Jeremy (Malvin, Chrome Sparks), because he’s the opposite. He has all the attention in the world for the details. We’re balancing out.
Evelin: I know that you love poetry and you write it yourself. Is there any collection you can recommend? Something you’ve read recently or one of your all-time favourites?
Laurel: I haven’t read a lot of poetry recently. I’m about to read a poetry book. My favourite poem ever is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, which is just the best poem in the world.
Evelin: Next to the EP, is there something else that you’re excited about? A new book, a craft that you took up?
Laurel: I’m writing another book. I’m just trying to finish it right now. I’m not sure when we will put that out, but I’d hope not too far away, because I’ve been writing it for a while now. So yeah, I want to release another book and I’m starting to write for my next album, That’s the next big project on the horizon.
The exclusive on the broken tooth
Evelin: That’s a good project to have! We always ask for an untold story at the end, is there anything that comes to mind?
Laurel: I don’t know if this is even relevant at all, but it just happened. I think I’ve broken my tooth, I promise I haven’t told anyone. But I hit my glass with water, a really thick glass, on my tooth. And I looked in the mirror before this interview and it’s got a crack down there. So, I’m quite upset. I don’t know whether it’s going to fall off or not. You might see me looking quite different after this interview.
Evelin: Oh my god, I didn’t expect that.
Laurel: I didn’t expect it either, and I really like my teeth. So, I’d be really upset if this actually happens. I couldn’t tell and then I looked and was like “omg, it’s terrible”. So yeah, that’s my untold story. Because I’ll tell you what: I tell everyone everything. So, I’m pretty sure that’s probably the only thing that’s worth talking about that hasn’t been told to someone. Because I talk a lot. So you got the exclusive on my broken tooth.
Evelin: That’s going to be the headline: “Singer Laurel lost her tooth!” Though it didn’t happen doing something cool, it was just a glass of water.
Laurel: No, I know! It’s so annoying. It was just a glass of water. It was a really thick glass. So, I’m not going to use that glass again, that’s for sure.
Evelin: I guess you have to call your dentist now, but thank you and good luck with everything. I had a wonderful time!
Laurel: Yeah, me too! Thank you so much for chatting, see ya!
Packt Limbo Cherry auf jeden Fall in eure Warteschlange und setzt eure Retro-Brille auf. Im Idealfall habt ihr einen DeLorean in der Garage stehen und fahrt dem Sonnenuntergang entgegen.
Fotocredits: Lewis Vorn