Lauren Pritchard Biography
Wasted In Jackson is a detailed audio scrapbook of Lauren's life, and she's not afraid to let everyone in. In fact, her intimate writing style allows listeners an unfiltered first person view. In order to spread her wings, Lauren needed to get the hell out of Dodge. Well, out of Jackson, Tennessee to become the prolific person and songwriter she is today...
She wrote her first song aged 14: she met a guitar-playing boy at a camp with her youth group, and after a weekend of singing other people's songs together, the bereft adolescent wrote Remembering You on her parents' battered upright piano. By the time she was 15, she realized she wasn't interested in anything else and decided to move to Los Angeles where she would meet like-minded people and kick start her life in music. She landed a gig playing keyboards and singing back vocals with a reggae band, hopped round the theatre audition circuit to make money to fund her band activities and fell in love. Then a bump in the road: suddenly and unexpectedly, Lauren found herself close to broke. There seemed nothing else to do but to move back to the comfort of her home in Tennessee. It was then that Riley offered Lauren a bed at her place, but, too proud and not wanting to impose, she declined. Her friend's mom, though, was insistent - she called Lauren's mom and said if Lauren went home, she'd regret it and always think about what might have been. The friend's mom knew what she was talking about. She was Lisa Marie Presley. With this sort of persuasion, Lauren took her up on her offer. 'I know that all of the things that have happened to me since then wouldn't have happened if the Presleys hadn't offered me a place to stay,' reflects Lauren.
With renewed energy and determination, Lauren kept plugging away on the LA gig circuit, and finished her high school studies six months early. The week of her graduation she reached the final auditions for a new musical, Spring Awakening, to be mounted on the New York stage by the Atlantic, a repertory theatre company founded by storied playwright David Mamet. Duncan Sheik, the show's composer, was staggered by a voice unparalleled amongst the others auditioned.
He cast Lauren immediately in the part of the supporting female lead. She liked LA but what the hell - initially there was only a six-month commitment for the show.. Then the show blew up. Spring Awakening became a theatrical phenomenon, eventually winning eight Tony Awards. The show, based on a 19th century German play, is about teens discovering their sexuality. Lauren starred in the original production for two years, playing llse, the '15-year-old runaway outcast kid', before leaving in February 2008. She left because she realised that although she really enjoyed acting, it was the music where her heart and passion really lay.
She'd also left because she had landed a record deal. It quickly became clear however, that the label had a different vision for Lauren to the one she had for herself and so they went their separate ways. But out of that period came an introduction to the work of Ivor Novello-winning songwriter Eg White. Lauren covered Who I Am, which had been a hit for Will Young in the UK. White, signed to the same publishing company, loved her version of his song and asked to meet her. After a few trips to London, she and White's collaborations really started producing some amazing songs and before long word was getting out that there was a really special talent emerging who was unsigned with a catalogue of incredible songs. Lauren then signed with Spilt Milk/ Island Records in the UK this past spring.
The deal signed, Lauren set about creating her new musical world. But that world owed a lot to her old world. So her debut albums, and one of its stand-out tracks, are both named Wasted In Jackson. It's a soulful ballad about how she felt before she left. 'I remember writing the song and thinking, "oh my town's really gonna hate me..." But it really isn't necessarily meant as a backhand to my town. You could insert any town name anywhere in the world and you can be sure that there'll be kids who feel the need to move away, to escape what's comfortable and head out into the land of the great unknown. 'I love where I'm from so much. But I needed to get away from that place, to get to the place where I am now.'
Wasted In Jackson is the brilliant result of Lauren's striking out on her own. Produced by Eg White in his west London studio, highlights include the raspy, R&B-meets-gospel swagger of Not The Drinking and When The Night Kills The Day. The later is a haunting, bluesy shuffle featuring the eerie sound of an ancient piano belonging to Ed Harcourt (who co-wrote the song); Marcus Mumford of indie sensations Mumford and Sons produced the song, helping Lauren realize an epic vision for it. The track is nearly cinematic in scope and gives Lauren room to really belt. She states "I wrote that song about the fear of moving to London. Everything drastically changes when you pick up and move like that. In the daytime, it's not as scary. At night, you try to sleep and your brain starts to hold court." In Not The Drinking, Lauren sings that it's "not the drinking, not the drugs, not the money" that's driven her away from love - just that sad truth that someone has fallen out of love. Who, then, is this loser guy? 'Actually, that was mostly written from my perspective. So I'm actually that loser guy, mostly! But it was written from both perspectives - it was me as the loser guy, but it was also the other person that I was referring to.'
Did the truism apply - that writing these songs made her feel better about the split?
'It did, yeah!' she says brightly. 'The break up, the relationship, gave me this piece of work. Looking back it was a great thing because it broke my heart and I bounced back from it. It didn't absolutely kill me.' Stuck, she says, is the oldest song on the album, and is the only one that makes her feel overly emotional. A retro-soul classic in the making, it's also the song that reminds her most of the music she grew up listening to courtesy of her parents: Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, The Spinners, and The Temptations.
Since then Lauren and White, with some help from her friends, Marcus Mumford & Ed Harcourt, have put the finishing touches on Wasted In Jackson. 'We all share the same twisted sense of humour,' she notes, and are all equally up for messing about in the studio, even letting Lauren play the Hammond even though 'I'm kinda useless at it'. This spirit of inspired abandon, coalescing around Lauren's staggering voice (check her ear-tingling, sassy holler on the epic, strings-enhanced Hanging Up), makes for an album - all the lyrics penned by Lauren -stuffed with big, bold, confessional soul belters.
Lauren has come a long way in her short years to be here. The hard showbiz lessons learnt during her time on the stage in New York and on the LA bar circuit - and in the music biz pop factory - have stood her in great stead. And, so have her experiences in her small-town hometown.
"Wasted In Jackson is the song that's dearest to me because it pays homage to a place that I love. It refers to what inspired the whole record. Being wasted in Jackson - had that not be the case, nothing else would have happened.'