The biggest thing that it comes down to in my life is that I’m a songwriter and I will continue to do that no matter what happens. -LP
In between international heading tour dates, opening for Bryan Ferry, and releasing her latest EP, Death Valley, we caught up with androgynous rocker, LP, for an exclusive Untitled Magazine shoot with duo, Guzman, and an interview with Editor-in-Chief, Indira Cesarine. LP rose to fame penning tracks for none other than the likes of Rihanna for her hit song, “Cheers (Drink to That),” and Christina Aguilera’s timeless track, “Beautiful People“. Her major label debut, Forever For Now, which released in 2014, became embedded in our memories with it’s popular single, “Into The Wild”, and cemented LP as a force to be reckoned with as a musician and singer. Countless festival performances and late night television gigs skyrocketed the breakout artist into the mainstream, yet she managed to stay true to her unique style and sound.
Her latest EP, “Death Valley”, which was inspired by the fallout of a relationship, presents five tracks, including “Muddy Waters“, “Lost on You” and “Strange“, that will keep her fans waiting for the full length, which she plans to release next year.
See the full interview and check out the exclusive photo shoot below.
Both pages: LP wears a pussybow, pintuck shirt by LANDEROS.
IC: You have been touring, headlining your own shows as well as opening for Bryan Ferry on his tour this summer, how has that been going? Any highlights so far you can share?
LP: The Bryan Ferry tour was just epic. Opening up for a massive icon is cool. He’s quieter than most icons. You would think that everyone twenty-five to sixty-five years old would know him but I noticed that when I told people I was opening for Bryan Ferry some people would be like “OH MY GOD” and some would be like “Who?” The people that get it really get it and the people at these shows were like the hipsters of their generation. He’s a style icon for me and I know more of his big hits but I didn’t know more of his catalog so that was really fun to get to know. He’s a great performer and songwriter. I didn’t get why they asked me to open at first and then when I saw his show I was like “Ah!” Us playing together flowed really nicely and we got to play in epic theaters. We played two nights at the Beacon in New York and that was fucking ridiculous. We also played the Fox Theater in Detroit. These theaters were absolutely amazing! Stunning. I also did my own shows in between which was really fun. Since then, my song “Lost on You” has gone number one in four countries and is charting in a bunch of others.
IC: You started out as a songwriter. Your album, Forever For Now, was your major label debut as a singer. Was it difficult to transition from songwriting to being a headlining musician?
LP: I started out as an indie musician. I had two major label deals before I got my songwriting deals – that’s how I got into it. I was at Def Jam universal for three straight years and during that time I probably wrote 130 or 140 songs and some of the stuff got picked up. No records came out for two years but I got a writing deal. So for two years I just wrote songs for other people and then at the end of that I got some new management and I bought a ukulele because it was just fun to take to my writing sessions. My new management started calling people and saying “You should do some stuff for yourself again.” I was inspired by some new love in my life so all of these songs started coming out.
Then I got my deal with Warner Brothers and put a live record out and then Forever For Now. Between the live record and that record, I was on the right path but then I got, in my opinion, on the wrong path. I feel like my particular brand, my style and my voice have to be produced just so – in a more raw, live, way. It all fell out of my hands with the powers that be and the things that happen on the way at a major label. I was in the hands of A&R and a really talented award-winning producer but not the right one for me so the record got slick and overproduced. At the same time, basically all of the people that were behind me got replaced at the label. I found myself kind of alone there with this very expensive, very slick, record. They released it but barely put anything behind it. Then I got dropped. I played them a bunch of songs, including the one that’s going number one right now, and I still got dropped. It hurts my heart to think of all the people that maybe have done that and then just given up.
I was lucky enough to get picked up by Vagrant and have some other lucky things happen when the song got put out. I had a guy from Greece call me from another label and within a month and half it went number one there. It’s been number one for 16 weeks now. Then it went to Italy and Poland and Romania, etc. I think the biggest thing that it comes down to in my life is that I’m a songwriter and I will continue to do that no matter what happens with the song. You have to just write another song.
LP wears a pussybow, pintuck shirt by LANDEROS.
IC: Who would you consider your biggest musical influences?
LP: I like real singers like Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, and Jeff Buckley. Songwriters like Kurt Cobain and even Green Day. They have some beautifully constructed songs. The Beatles and The Stones were kind of my building blocks. They’re like the yin yang of the love song / fuck song. You know it all stems from there.
IC: How would you describe your own sound in your words?
LP: I call it “big indie” or “arena folk rock.” It’s big choruses and big vocals with an indie vibe. There’s a romantic torch song that’s got an almost Frank Sinatra tone to it but with more rock in there. It’s hard for me to explain because I think there’s a lot of things that go into it.
IC: Your new EP, Death Valley, released this summer. Can you tell me about the album? I understand that it was inspired by the fallout of a personal relationship.
LP: I named it Death Valley because that was the tone. I was feeling like I was in this dry, needy, wanting, kind of place. This relationship wasn’t really open. My lover at the time was not very forthcoming because I think they were still thinking about what they wanted to do. That’s a thing a lot of people do. It’s not a crime, my thing was just how long it went on. I feel like the journey of the EP is kind of perfect to me because it starts out with “Muddy Waters” which is like ‘Where are you right now? What is happening?’ Then “Lost on You” is basically trying to ask “Can you not see that you’re breaking my fucking heart?” “Strange” is ‘I have friends and I know where they are and they’re my people.’ “Death Valley” is what it is and then “Other People” is the most recent song off the EP. That song is saying, “See?! See what you get when you fuck around!?” It’s a tiny little nugget of “BOOM! This is my life in the last year and a half.”
IC: In your track “Strange” you invite listeners to embrace their individuality and own strangeness. Did that have a personal meaning for you?
LP: I was thinking about how there’s this word ‘strange’ and all these contexts built around ‘strange’ and what ‘strange’ is. You have people that are running the country that are strange, so it’s a funny word because everyone is strange in some kind of way even the most boring motherfuckers – they’re even the strangest to me. Boring is as strange as it comes.
IC: I was told that you prefer to only wear menswear. Can you tell me about your style choices?
LP: I don’t know, that’s just my aesthetic. I do not like to commit to being male or female. I don’t like when people try to be say, ‘Hey, you’re not a guy!’ No shit, I take a piss sitting down every day, I know full well. Tell me something I don’t fucking know. At the same time, in extremely female situations I also don’t feel right. When I’m naked, I’m a woman, so I like to balance that out with menswear because I feel like I’m right in between and I just feel comfortable in it and I feel like I look good in it. Androgyny is one of my favorite things, I love all of the varieties of it, it’s incredible. You’ve got your Chrissy Hines androgyny you’ve got your Patti Smith androgyny and even that supermodel [Cara Delevingne] that goes out with St. Vincent. She’s got a little androgyny going on. It’s fascinating. David Bowie’s androgyny is one of the most famous. I think it’s funny that we lost two of the most unique androgynous people, Bowie and Prince. Those two guys I could spend days talking about and write a thesis on both their androgyny, it’s beautiful. It’s one of those things that I really enjoy watching and portraying myself. I saw Bowie on stage one time, it was 8 years ago, but I saw him and I couldn’t even believe it. Have you seen that thing where someone is dressed like both a bride and groom and it’s split down the middle? That’s what I feel like Bowie was, that’s what he was on stage. He was like a fucking gorgeous, elegant, and beautiful older woman and then this badass, rockstar, kind of a man on the other side. He kept switching so seamlessly, I couldn’t even believe it. It was electrifying.
LP wears a PVC trench coat by LANDEROS and a t-shirt by ALL SAINTS.
IC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
LP: What else would I be.
IC: You never know, some people don’t like to align themselves with that.
LP: The basic tenet of feminism is equality for women in all areas. So, absolutely, I don’t know how I could not want that.
IC: Do you have any words of wisdom you like to live by?
LP: No forcing. Trying to force the immediate nature of things is like that part in Back To The Future where he changes a few things and his siblings start to disappear. When you force shit you’re altering the journey toward that thing you want because you’re forcing the steps. I feel like you gotta relax a little in the immediate future. Stay the course but don’t hold onto the little things too much.
IC: What do we have to look forward to from you in the next year?
LP: I’ll be touring the U.S. and then more of Europe. More of the same really – more touring, more writing. I’d really like the touring to become my normal thing for a minute because I think that’s what would serve me and my art best right now. I have an album halfway ready to go.
IC: When do you think you will be releasing a new full length?
LP: It depends. There’s different territories. I might release a full length in France next month but probably in the U.S. it will be in the new year.
Interview by Indira Cesarine
Photography by Guzman @ Stockland Martel
Stylist: Basia Zamorska
Hair & Makeup by Robeto Morelli
Assistant: Oskar Peacock