It’s hard to believe this is Lauv’s first album. Since I Like Me Better melted hearts on Australian radio in 2017 – not one to follow the grain – he’s focused on grouping his music in playlists and not worrying about the traditional cycles.
Amongst already-smashed collaborations with Troye Sivan, Anne-Marie and LANY, as well as new sounds alongside BTS, Alessia Cara and a joyous Latin flavoured track with Sofia Reyes, it’s pretty evident that the heart-on-sleeve 25-year-old didn’t just channel multiple heartbreaks and troubles into this album – he had a lot of fun making it too.
To unpack it, Nic Kelly is in bold, Lauv is in not-bold.
This album is phenomenally long. It’s 21 songs. No one does these long albums anymore. What was the thinking behind putting all 21 of these tracks on? Do you just suck it cutting it down? Or do they all mean something?
Originally, my goal was fifteen songs, but then I wrote like… a billion songs, and I was like, “how am I going to narrow down to fifteen?” I couldn’t, so then it was sixteen, then it was eighteen, then it was twenty and then it it was 21. And I was like, “you know what? Fuck it.” I love all these songs. They’re an important part of the whole thing and music is just so free today, I feel like there’s no rules, I’ll put the music out and people will listen to what they like and that’s it.
Of course they will. We are in a post album world now. The first time you you did kind of a proper release was when you made a playlist essentially of all your tracks so far. That was kind of the first time I’d heard of anyone doing that. So a 21 track album, it just kind of makes sense for you. I suppose with all these different parts of the one man boy band that is Lauv now, there are going to be 21 kind of perspectives to be had. I want to dive into this ‘one man boy band’ concept. How did this come to fruition and become an actual thing?
The whole album was born a little bit out of a sort of identity crisis I had. The first song that really represented where I wanted to go with the album with ‘drugs & the internet’. I just felt very much like I had boxed myself into like this one image, this “hopeless romantic” image and I would get all these headlines like, “pop’s heartbreak king,” and I was like, “is that really me? I don’t know about that…” so I kind of was like “you know what, fuck it.” I’m just gonna make whatever I feel in the moment, I’m not going to think about what it is, I’m not gonna think about how it fits together, I’m not going to think about a storyline, I’m just going to make songs and have fun. Once I had the songs, I realised it was so diverse and all over the place, sound-wise and topic-wise and in mood, but I wanted to find a way to represent that and represent this concept of people being pressured and limited into being in a box, especially with social media, to have like a ‘personal brand’… I wanted to break that and be like, “yo, we’re so much more complicated than that, you’re not the same person every day, there’s so many different aspects to who we are” and so I wanted to find a fun way to channel that energy and represent it visually.
I’ve gotcha. I know that each of the different colors kind of represents a different part of your personality. Is there one that you are kind of more of than the others? And also as an adjacent part to that question, can two of the Lauv’s co-exist at once, or can you only be one of these types at once?
Well, the hope is that they all co-exist. What this album has been about for me is to not be afraid to traverse between these different parts of myself and not feel limited. I think the ones that are – at least right now in this moment – the most prominent for me, are existential and goofy.
I know there’s a track on there called Modern Loneliness that you’re very excited about. You say it’s your favorite song you’ve ever done, which is a big fucking call. What is it that’s standing out about this song for you?
I think this song is just such a catharsis for me. It came out of the sky. I didn’t expect to write it, it was so out of nowhere, I was just driving in the car with one of best friends – an amazing songwriter named Michael Pollack – and I just got the chorus in my head. I got in the studio with this dude, Mike Elizondo, and he just sat at the piano and we wrote the whole song in like an hour and it was really channeling everything that I had felt for a long time. I felt like a lonely person. There’s a lot of songs about loneliness on my album. This one kind of said it in the best and the most meaningful way. The chorus lyrics, they’re like, modern loneliness / they’re never alone, but always depressed / love my friends to death / but I never call and I never text / la dee da dee da / you get what you give and you give what you get / modern loneliness / we love to get high but we don’t know how to come down. So it’s just sort of like a summation of all this shit that I’ve been feeling for a long time and I think a lot of people feel. We know so many people, but I bet most of the people we know, we don’t really know shit about who they really are. I feel like that’s something that’s very prominent in the world today and this song is really just kind of calling that out. It was really about healing that feeling.
I want to go further into that because I had a conversation with someone the other day about as we get older, I feel like our friendships and relationships that we hold dear, become quality over quantity. Are you finding that with yourself as well?
Yeah! I mean, it takes work to really maintain real relationships and real friendships, not even just romance, but your friends. You know, you have to put time into it. When you’ve got time on your hands, you fuck around for hours, you don’t think about it, you’re bored together, you play video games together, you walk around together and the older you get, everybody gets busier and you only have so much time. It’s so easy to let these friendships sort of fall into a pattern. That’s something that I’m realizing as I get older. It’s also kind of harder to make friends, at least for me the older I get, because I just feel like emotionally you’ve been through more and you get more closed off and you’re afraid of being hurt… as you get older it’s something you get much more conscious of.
Absolutely. We get conscious of being hurt in the same way again, as we’ve been hurt in the past. Because we know how it gets painful. There’s one word you said to me a couple of minutes ago though that I want to talk about. You said making this album was FUN. I think because you’ve got this kind of headline thing going around that you’re “pop’s heartbreak king” that everything’s about heartbreak and sadness and existentialism, but you had fun making this album, right?
A lot of fun! The most fun in the world. Like, there’s a song about my favorite bar and literally, that’s it. It’s just like a fantasy fun song about my favorite bar. And stuff like that. I’ve never done that before, I’ve always taken myself so seriously.
A friend of mine recently wrote a song about having a fake Canadian girlfriend. Since I heard that I’ve gone down this kind of rabbit hole of wanting to hear songs that are just a little bit less serious and intense. I think there’s room at the moment to have fun with songs and just write about simple things right?
Totally! I think there’s moments to be deep, to be emotional, to be in love, to be sad but there’s a lot of moments where we should just be having fun and being happy, you know?
~how i’m feeling~ is out now.