Interview: Lauren Pritchard
Mon, 16 Aug 2010 06:52:44
Lauren Pritchard's debut album, Wasted In Jackson (Universal Republic Records), is an emotional kaleidoscope.
Every feeling under the sun clearly comes into focus over the course of the record. There are moments of doubt and darkness on "When the Night Kills the Day," and then there's an uplifting revelation during "Hanging Up." The first single "Not The Drinking" packs a cavalcade of feelings into a soulful declaration of moving on.
Throughout the entire ride, it's easy to get close to Lauren because she's so open. Very few artists keep it this real. Lauren's in the same league as Fiona Apple in terms of alternative soul, but she's also got a knack for a story that'd make Bob Dylan proud. She shows reverence to the greats, but she's got her own thing going on. Most importantly though, Lauren has made the best debut of 2010.
Wasted In Jackson may very well change pop music for the better, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
The record hits shelves on October 26, but ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino spoke to Lauren in this exclusive interview about the themes behind the record, why it's reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas and so much more.
Is there a thematic thread running through Wasted In Jackson? Do you view it as a whole piece or as a collection of different sonic snapshots?
In a way, it is snapshots. However, they're snapshots that form a story in order. For me, it definitely has a running theme of the overall journey and the ups and downs that led me from point A to point B—L.A. to London and everything in between. When people to listen to the record, I hope that they listen to it as a whole piece, almost as if there isn't a break in between each song.
Your story comes across very vividly in the lyrics. Has storytelling always been important to you?
Yeah, all of my songs and writing have come out of situations or been spawned because of something that's happened. There's a story behind everything. It doesn't simply come from nowhere. I want to tell the story of each song as honestly as possible so you can see the picture in your mind. You can see what's happening, what's going on, how I was feeling and how the other person was feeling.
It's not exclusive to you. The songs have a certain universality.
That was intentional. The songs are definitely about pinpoint things in my life. I don't ever want the music to be one-dimensional or one-sided though. I want it to be relatable to anyone because I think music should do that. The artists that I grew up admiring wrote in that manner. You could put yourself in their shoes and take on their stories as your own. I always loved doing that when I was learning about writing and listening to music growing up. I wanted to do that myself.
There's a literary sensibility to that technique. Are there any authors you often come back to?
I really love Jonathan Saffron Fuller because he writes these books that are really interesting but sort of whacky. They're sort of out there, and they jump around a bit. However, at the end, there's a very personal, hit-you-in-the-gut meaning. I always want to implement that in the writing I do. Sometimes, it works and sometimes it doesn't [Laughs]. It depends.
Do you feel like "Not the Drinking" is a fitting introduction to that style?
I do. In a lot of ways, it sums up the meaning of the record. It enables me to have the final or highest release. The meaning of the song is the running theme that you're always going to have to fight to get through. "Not the Drinking" has gone over really well here and in London because it was meant for both types of audiences and all kinds of people—from young to old. People seem to be getting it. At the moment when the song was written, I realized that my relationship was coming to a close, and it was because I wanted it to come to a close. I wanted to find the best way to tell that story honestly without hurting him. Everybody finds themselves in a similar moment, whether they're in love with someone, it's a job, it's a day that's horrible or they simply realize they can't do it anymore and they have to give it up. That's what "Not the Drinking" is about. I think that's why it can work in any country. That's the sentiment a lot of people share. They can say, "Yes, I had that moment where I just couldn't do it anymore and I had to be honest!" There's that moment in the middle eight of the song where I'm basically shouting [Laughs]. In the video, I wanted to communicate exactly what this is about.
Your honesty is so refreshing.
Well, I was told at a very early age that honesty's the best policy. If we told fibs growing up, we got into so much trouble. My mom was a big pusher on that issue. She just said, "It's not going to benefit you to tell lies about anything. You're going to have to remember so much. It's easier to find yourself by being honest than covering up and never finding who you are because you're living under all these things that you've built around you." That always went into my songwriting. I think one of the reasons why I'm probably more honest in my songs than I might be in real life is because I can put the story into fewer words but still tell it. People can get the meaning of what's going on as well, whereas I'm quite a chatterbox in real life [Laughs]. If I'm sitting here telling you the story, you'll be like, "Is it over?" [Laughs] Writing songs is a moment where I can vocally and musically tell you.
If you were to compare Wasted In Jackson to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a very good question…this is going to be the strangest answer. Just go with me! One of my favorite movies of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington walks through the forest for hours after celebrating a great Halloween at the beginning of the movie. There's that forest of trees with all the different holidays. You can pick a door and go in. He falls into Christmas, but there's also Easter, Thanksgiving and a bunch more. I think the record would be like that if it were a movie. Each song is one of those trees. You open up the door and you fall in—down the rabbit hole [Laughs]. Then you wake up in the song and you go, "Oh, here I am in this one!" You watch it happen, climb back out and fall into the next tree. It's definitely cinematic in a way that you'd watch the songs play out through the trees. That helped me a lot. I really needed that question [Laughs].
What's the story behind "When the Night Kills the Day?"
To me, that song has quite a conflicted meaning because it's about my transition moving to London and being really afraid of going to another country. I was afraid of losing myself, my family, my friends and not knowing anyone. I know fundamentally, if you move somewhere and you lose touch, you are responsible. No one else can actually be held accountable. People might be hard to get in touch with sometimes but if you cut yourself off, that's you and you have to live with it. There's also the other side. You want to find something new and maybe get a bit lost in that. I was really freaked out about the balance. I didn't know anyone there. I only knew the people I was working with. They were taking fine care of me, and I love them. They've become very dear friends. However, at that moment in time, I was scared shitless, and I just wanted to be back in a place where everything seemed okay and I wasn't losing touch or I didn't feel like I was losing touch. Now, when I look back, I completely understand why I felt like that. In some ways, it still is like that. I travel around so much now that it's evolved into a new thing. It's no longer London. It's like everywhere I go I'm saying, "I don't want to lose touch!" The metaphor for "When the Night Kills the Day" is important. During the daytime, people are awake. You're doing things. You're out living your life. No matter how happy or sad you are, you're at least getting out of bed and living. In the nighttime, everything goes still. Everybody goes home and goes to bed. That's when those fears creep. It's like that nightmare that won't go away. The lyrics are, "Nothing can save me when the night kills the day." In a way, that was winning for a long time.
Would you ever want to write a book?
Yes, definitely! I think my maternal grandmother's life growing up was really cool. She came over from Germany when she was young. It'd be amazing to write something along those lines. I'm a history buff, and I always have been. Doing something like that would be really cool.
Have you heard Lauren Pritchard yet?
Video of this interview is coming soon!