CULTURE:A Conversation with Singer / Songwriter LP
Towards the end of February, we had a chance to sit down with singer/songwriter LP after her show at the Great American Music Hall. Recently signed to Warner Bros Records, LP has her new album Forever For Now coming out in the late part of May.
So, you’re just finishing up this little mini tour, right? This is the last day?
LP: Yeah, well no. We were going to do 2 more shows, but Kodaline’s doing like American Idol tonight or something like that, so I may get a couple of other things, but I had to cancel some shows. It was like a business kind of thing. We just don’t do the last 2 shows. There was supposed to be 6 and it was costing us a lot of money to stay on the road. It’s one of those kind of decisions.
Got you. So what brought on this little mini tour with Kodaline? Was that just a re-do of the one that was going to happen late last year?
LP: No, not really. It was just another tour. I just always want to be on tour, basically. So, I have a booking agent and they set it up and it seemed like a good fit and a good idea and it was. It was a great tour. I had a great time. Every show was really great, it felt like.
Tell us a little bit about your background in music. When did you first start singing? How did you get involved in the music scene?
LP: I was just like in some bands and I was in New York City. I always sang, but I didn’t really think I was going to be a singer and then in school I was just like, I’m going to just start playing in bands… like I didn’t know anything about the business or how to get in it or whatever. I just like kind of gained some experience through just playing out and writing songs. When I got signed to a major label, I had a couple tours and I got signed to a major label.
That’s when I started writing a lot of songs because basically they just put me on. Like, there’s a lot of different songwriters all the time, when I signed to Def Jam, I wrote like 65 or 70 songs in that year and a half that I was on there. It was just like the most volume of songs I’d ever done. It just kind of showed me that I could write a lot of songs. Then I was on Universal for another year and a half after that, I wrote another like, I don’t know like 40 songs on Universal.
Then, both those deals didn’t work out for whatever reason. Then I got signed to a publishing deal and then I started writing songs for the people, which I thought was going to be kind of what I did and then I don’t know, I got new management and they kind of like encouraged me to be an artist again and I started writing songs for me. I started writing songs on ukulele just because that’s what I was playing at the moment and then it just became my thing a little bit and I just wrote all these songs for me and then I got signed on Warner Brothers.
What do you think was the tipping point when you went back to becoming a performance artist as opposed to just writing songs?
LP: It was a gradual one, but it was I was living in LA and just did one form of social behavior. I was going out to this club called Bardot on Thursday nights. A friend of mine invited me to sing a song there. It wasn’t an open mike night, it was like had a live band and people, different people like celebrities would jump up and sing a song. It was just a really fun night. I got up and I sang. The first time I sang there, they just kept asking me back and then people started coming specifically to see me. That caught the fire again because within a few months and within that year, like everybody started coming down.
It just became like a thing. It was a cool platform and I was just singing a cover song and just having fun and didn’t expect it to lead to anything, I think that spirit of big songs, because you really sing a big hit song or whatever. So, having these big like power songs was really interesting to me and I infused a little bit of that into what I’m doing with my records, so it had a lot to do with it.
You’re originally from New York. What brought on the move to LA?
LP: Because of being signed to a label as an artist, I had to keep coming back here all the time and writing songs. There’s like a lot of songwriters out here. So, I kept coming back and then it just kind of caught fire. It was like I had so many more writing opportunities out here, so it just kind of became a job thing. I was like well, if I have this many sessions out here, I’m just going live here. It was not for the artist thing, but it just became. LA brought me a lot of things, a lot of good things in my career, so I just kind of stayed out here.
Just made sense.
LP: Yeah and I really love it now. It’s like, you know, I’m in a rocking chair in the sun right now. I wouldn’t be doing that if I was in New York.
Exactly. Once people come out from the east coast and they just get a hold of the LA weather, it’s hard to leave.
LP: Yeah and if you meet a bunch of cool people, which I did, then all the better, you know?
Let’s get into the new album. When did you first start writing for “Forever For Now?”
LP: Basically, it was the beginning of 2011 and that’s when I first wrote 2 or 3 songs. The song called, “Wasted Love,” it’s on the EP, the song called, “Someday” and the song called “Into The Wild.” It was kind of like after those 3, I was off to the races. I was like, oh, there’s really something here and showed my manager and stuff. So, I hadn’t signed a deal for this yet or anything, but that came later in the year. I wrote those in like the winter of 2011 and kept writing and writing for other people and just singing out on these Thursday nights.
It changed to this place … from Bardot, it changed to a place called The Sayers Club, which is still going. They had Thursday night sessions there, too. I was writing for myself, writing for other people, singing on Thursday nights and just kind of creating a little bit of a following. I put a little band together and I just did some very small gigs like little cool like cafe kind of gigs. No like Viper Room or Key Club or anything like that. I was just trying to keep it chill, you know, and then I just kept writing.
Then I signed on Warner Brothers and over the summer, “Into The Wild” got picked for a commercial and then I got signed by Warner Brothers in September or October and then the commercial came out in October. Then, the commercial kind of blew up a bit, so that’s very good. I was continuing to write songs through that. When the commercial came out and “Into The Wild” got some recognition, I toured for most of 2012, so I wasn’t really working on the record. I was writing stuff, but I was touring a lot.
So, 2013 is when I really kind of put this record together and now it’s coming out. It seems like a long process, but it’s just the way things go.
I know a lot of times when you’re starting to write something and then life gets away from you and it just kind of prolongs the process and then you go back into writing for that same record, you look back at the original stuff and it doesn’t make sense for what you’re trying to do again. Did you ever go back to the stuff that you started writing back in 2011 and just think, you know, this doesn’t really make sense for the album that we’re creating now?
LP: Yeah. There were a couple songs. This record went on a journey for sure. It changed a little bit. It was a little bit more raw and stuff, the EP and everything. Then I started writing. A couple songs came into play that kind of changed up. There’s a song called “One Lasting Stake” that I wrote that seemed like changed the landscape a little bit of the record and then a song “Night Like This” came into play. I think everything fits together in this record, but there is definitely like some different levels on it, which I kind of like because I’m not always a fan of a record just being like one note, you know, the whole time.
I do like some different stuff and I think there’s a few different sounds on this record that I think you could identify a bit. It just came from life, you know? Like different design. I’m always changing. I go through periods where like I’ve gone through a period where I’ve wrote all this urban stuff and I got that “Rihanna” cut. It’s like I go through periods where I’m like writing only pop stuff for people or dance stuff. It’s just how it goes. Being a songwriter I think is like, especially for you and for other people, it’s unlike anything because you are delving into other psyches and personalities
It takes me awhile sometimes to transition. It was very traumatic, kind of like giving birth to this record. It took me a couple of months to go like, okay, what are other people feeling? It’s an emotional thing. I’m an emotional songwriter so it takes me a minute to get a hold of those emotions sometimes.
When you go into writing new songs, do you have to prepare yourself mentally or does it just come throughout the day?
LP: I do both. Little things come to me, snippets, titles, riffs, you know, like cords, things and stuff, but when I go in, most of the time, it’s helps me to go like, okay, I’m in a room for 8 hours today. I’m going to write this song. I just start like blabbing ideas or whatever. Some of those days, it doesn’t work. Sometimes, I hate every single thing that comes out of my mouth, but sometimes it does work. That’s what I like about collaborating, too. That’s pretty much my main thing that I do is collaboration with other people.
Whether it’s because of insecurity or whatever, I kind of need another person in the room to go, oh, that’s awesome. Then the juices start flowing a little more. Otherwise, I can get really like, I don’t like anything.
I can imagine when you’re writing that many songs, it’s hard to distinguish what is worth recording.
LP: Yeah. It gets to the point where you’re like, okay, I can just do this? I can just go tah-dah! There’s a song. I think people get to that and that’s why sometimes major people put out records and you’re like what the fuck is that? Because that person’s just so used to doing great shit all the time that they didn’t, you know, this particular batch or whatever wasn’t as good or as inspired, but they don’t, you know, they’re not … and rightfully so. Some people are just like, they don’t judge their shit, which is good. They’re just like let it come out and put it out and deal with it, you know?
LP: Sometimes that makes the best stuff ever, you know?
Over the years, there’s been a definite degradation of the music quality from all the digital file compressions and people just kind of listening to music more in the background. How does it feel to know that a lot of people will never truly experience the full sound stage that you craft on your album?
LP: I would imagine one of the things that is to that is that the songs have to be better, I guess. Not the songs are better now than they were, but sometimes because the quality. You know, if they say if a song is decent, it cuts through even just on acoustic guitar or whatever. I used to need that because there’s some songs that you wouldn’t want to listen to on an acoustic guitar, but I think it’s just the way it is now. To lament the degradation of the symphonic quality of music now, there’s nothing we can do.
Go like hey, people teach your kids to get a fucking record player and experience records and get some good speakers. Nobody gives a shit, you know? It’s like they just want that song. People will play a song. People get the same jolt a lot of times of hearing a song played crappily out of their iPhone as they would if they sat down in a studio. Maybe, maybe not, but that’s what they’ve got right then. I agree with you, but there’s nothing to do about crying over spilled milk.
So, the album comes out in May? Is that correct?
LP: We have May 20th, I believe, but it’s could get pushed back. Things happen, but I would say May.
So, later part of May probably?
LP: Yes, definitely.
What kind of plans do you have for promotion? Are you able to talk about any festivals or tours that you’re going to be doing?
LP: Not yet, but I have to wait until things kind of come out and then we’ll know more, but I’ll be doing all that stuff.
Cool, definitely looking forward to seeing you live again. I missed you when you had to cancel the last part of the tour last year, but definitely happy that I got to see you in San Francisco.
LP: Thanks, man. Appreciate it. It was nice talking to you.