TODAY’S interview is with Lauren Ray...
who has been telling me about her new single, Irreplaceable, and what its background is. I ask about her musical tastes and albums that are important to her; what we can expect from her forthcoming album, Woman in the Arena – Ray selects some rising artists to watch out for.
I was keen to know whether there will be solo tour dates and how she feels about supporting Paul Carrack (Mike and the Mechanics) on tour; how she unwinds from music – the songwriter picks a great song to ends things with.
Hi, Lauren. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I am very good, thanks. My week has been pretty busy (but great) with my new single being released; the album being announced and the tour supporting Paul Carrack starting.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a singer and a songwriter living in London. I write songs at the piano about my experiences with romantic, platonic; family, lost, unrequited and toxic love. I recorded my first album in Nashville, releasing it in 2016 - and I have just recorded my second album here in the U.K. which will be out in May.
Can you reveal how your new single, Irreplaceable, came together? Is there a story behind it?
I wrote this song with a writer friend of mine, Noraay, who we also wrote Dull Ache and What Would You Do? together. This song is about two relationships: one with someone who makes me feel completely irreplaceable and another with someone previous who made me feel otherwise. This was subject matter I’d wanted to write for a while and it was great having another perspective there to help shape it. We wrote it in a couple of hours and I quickly knew what I wanted for the sound but didn’t think this would end up being the first single.
Julian Emery produced. What was it like working together?
I’ve wanted to work with Julian since I heard Lissie’s debut album ten years ago - so it was pretty amazing to have the opportunity to work with him on my own music. He completely respected my ideas for each of the songs and then brought so much of his own vision to the table that these songs became so much more than I could have imagined on my own.
I understand there is a new album, Woman in the Arena, out in May. What can you say regarding the themes that are explored throughout?
I tackle stories of love, loss; death and infidelity in ways that I hope speaks to those that listen.
How do you think you have changed as a songwriter since your debut record?
I have definitely grown as a writer. I really wanted to push myself of this new record and write more honestly than ever before and then put them out there with a different energy.
When you were young, which artists were you drawn to? Did your parents influence your tastes at all?
I mostly listened to whatever was on the radio growing up. So, for my time, it would have been a lot of Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child; Lauryn Hill and Norah Jones. I was definitely drawn to female vocalists more than the boybands of the day. My mum listened to Fleetwood Mac and a lot of the music from the ’70s, so that probably influenced me too.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
The day I sat down and played my finished first album from start to finish and then seeing people buy it in HMV was mind-blowing.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Ooooh. Hard to choose - as there are so many incredible albums that I love - but I will pick these three albums because they remind me of being young and being inspired by female writers so they will always mean a lot:
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill and Sia – Colour the Small One
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
A few of my top choices today would be Coldplay and Leon Bridges (just so I could see them play each night too).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
If you love it, work hard at it – then get a lawyer to check contracts when opportunities come knocking.
You are supporting Paul Carrack (Mike and the Mechanics) at the moment. How did you come to work with him?
My team put me forward for the opportunity and I guess Paul and his manager thought I would be a good fit for his audience. It’s such a great opportunity and it’s been amazing getting to see Paul perform each night.
Might we see some solo dates a bit later this year?
Yes! I will be touring my new album when it’s out so keep an eye out for those. I will definitely do a handful of shows with a small band and then I will do more solo/acoustic shows.
IN THIS PHOTO: emawk
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Like most other independent artists, I have side hustles and side-jobs to keep the bills paid and the music coming out but, when I’m not doing all of that, I love going for walks; I love cooking and just hanging out at home with my partner.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’ve been listening to his Good Things album on loop recently so play Leon Bridges – Shy
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