LOLO Talks Songwriting and Broadway Beginnings
Lauren Pritchard’s road to a concert stage was very different than most other vocalists. Her biggest breakthrough came as a music actress, playing Ilse in the Tony Award winning production Spring Awakening. In 2010 she released her debut solo album “Wasted in Jackson” under her own name. In 2013 she signed with Pete Wentz’s record label DCD2, re-branding herself as LOLO and was featured on the Panic! at the Disco single “Miss Jackson.” Last year she debuted her first release under the moniker LOLO with the “Comeback Queen EP” and is currently working on her debut full length album, due out later this year. Recently she kicked off the Communion Music Showcase Tour with Allan Rayman and Mothers. I got a chance to sit down LOLO before her show at Brighton Music Hall in Alston, MA. Here’s what she had to say:
So last night was the first night of the Communion Music Tour, how did everything go?
Great! It was last night; we were in New York City and we played Rockwood Music Hall, and it was packed. Communion Music night there always draws a pretty good crowd. So we were super happy to kick off with a sold out show. The response was great, can’t really complain so far.
Is LOLO a stage persona or a role that you’re playing or is it more of you out there?
I would say it’s probably a little bit of both, LOLO has been a nickname since I was in early high school and I have always identified with it as much as my actual name, my given name Lauren. ‘Lauren’ always felt really grown up, it feels like a really elegant name, I was named after Lauren Bacall – she’s this big glamorous movie star – so it always felt like something I would need to grow into. And LOLO, from the minute it became my nickname in high school, personality wise I always identified with it. So I guess in some ways it maybe could be an alter ego, I think also when you go on stage and you give so much of yourself and leave it all out there on the stage you do have to kind of go into a different mindset and I think it’s helpful for me to put myself into that headspace and be able to do the full LOLO, it feels good.
So in terms of preparation is it different when you’re preparing to play a role on Broadway versus when you’re on tour as LOLO?
I mean yes, because with the Broadway thing you’re definitely playing a character and so your headspace, and the sort of prep before you get on stage is different. It’s definitely different. But I wouldn’t say one is easier or harder, you still have to really mentally prepare to have the right focus and approach when you’re on stage and to be able to be right there with the people you’re performing for too. But it’s definitely different, some times the Broadway thing, in some ways at least for me, can be easier because you can really disappear into what you’re doing, you’re really playing a character and so you can really differentiate between who you are, and who the character is that you’re playing, versus when you’re playing yourself onstage in a concert every night. But I do think it’s important to go into a good headspace and prep yourself before you go out there because you are ultimately playing yourself and you want to be able to be the best version of yourself you can be for those people out there every single night and that can be tricky.
How about in terms of composing, do you approach that differently?
Definitely yes, but also no; I think the one through line that I try to keep, is that I try and write very honest to the human emotion, the human condition so I try and keep very honest in that. I don’t really write in a fantastical sense – though, I can and I have before – but I try and keep the through line very honest so even if I’m writing something that I’m not necessarily going to be singing I try and definitely put my headspace into the mind of the character or the person that’s going to be. I did a bunch of writing for the new Panic! at the Disco record that came out in January and that was really fun being able to get into Brendon’s headspace about what he would have to say. So it’s really fun, I think ultimately you do kind of have to switch gears. But you want to be able to write something that people feel like they can relate to and understand as real to them.
So is there any crossover, for example was there any music that you initially planned for Songbird that you decided to keep to record yourself?
Yeah there have been a couple of things actually, there’s one in particular called Heart Costs which is very prevalent in the Songbird world but its one of those things where I also feel very strongly about it so we’re gonna include it on the album we’re releasing this year. And I didn’t expect that to be a thing, but sometimes song present themselves as something more than just one thing and that is definitely one of those songs.
What inspired you to go back to Broadway and write Songbird?
The composer thing is something I’ve always wanted to do so going back to it, more than anything I though it was something a little bit further down the line before I would be able to go back to it. So to be able to go back to it as soon as I did is really fun, but also a little stressful; for the simple fact that it happened very quickly, turning myself into an official composer. So I’ve had some meetings coming out the other side and people asking me “what do you want?, who do you want?” and it’s not that I don’t know but in some ways this happened so fast that I’m still trying to process and put together exactly what I want my next steps to be; to just go completely back into that world. But it’s been really fun and it’s been a very rewarding experience to be on the other side of the creative table, and I think I would love to go back and do some acting eventually, but being on this side of the creative table and creating and composing feels like my natural home for the theater world and a much more comfortable home for me than being on the stage.
Did your early Broadway career with Spring Awakening and being a part of a rock musical influence any of your current music?
I think that by accident kind of, I naturally gravitate towards alternative and rock music so I think if it comes off that Spring Awakening has an influence on me, yes obviously it does, I spent many years doing that, but ultimately that’s why my ear naturally gravitates to anyway, it’s what I want to listen to so I think that helps that situation.
What was the most valuable lesson that you carried from Spring Awakening into your musical career?
I think probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from the music of Spring Awakening is the intricacy of the emotionally value of the music. That a song can represent more than one thing or one topic, it can have multiple meanings and it can be metaphorical and sometimes literal all at the same time depending on what it means to you. So especially from a lyric writing perspective, the songs were very influential to me in my life, in helping me to understand that more as a writer. Because I started writing when I was fourteen and I would just sit in my room and write and half the songs were fucking terrible but it was just like writing to write and figuring out what that even is as a skill or as an art or a job or whatever. Just trying to get myself more comfortable and trying not to think too much, that kind of thing. Then I got my publishing deal with Sony while I was in Spring Awakening and it was very helpful, especially in those beginning years with Sony and being able to be in the show and understand this music that I had to have such a deep relationship with performing it every night because you want to be able to understand what you’re singing about to people and it definitely helped. A large majority of the songs in Spring Awakening are very metaphorical and they have a bunch of meanings and it helps to cater to the show and deepen these theatrical acting moments, and that also helped going into the headspace to have to write for the musical that I wrote. So it has been very influential and helpful.
You talked about songs having different meanings to different people, how important do you think it is to write music that other people can identify with?
I think it’s really important for us as songwriters to not be too specific about what we’re writing about the majority of the time because everybody listens to a song differently. A song means something very different to every single person because of that, so if you give it too much of a reason – I mean there are certain songs where it’s very clear and it’s very literal like Eminem is a great example of someone who can have certain songs like ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’, which even that it’s very clear what that’s about but it’s still a more metaphorical side of what he does, and then there are the crazy tracks about his mom or his wife and fucking murdering them and you’re just like there’s no dispute over what this song is about, it’s very clear that this song is about potentially killing his mom. And then you have songs where you think, oh this is the metaphorical side of things. – But I think it’s important to leave things up for interpretation.
Are you currently working on a full length as LOLO?
I would say we’re ¾ of the way there, I never stop writing so I hate to say that the writing is done, but what we’re mostly in the production side of things just trying to get the sound right and really particular, we’re trying to make things sound as big as they can with as little elements as possible and that can be tricky so that’s taking some time, but so far so good!
You can pick up LOLO’s Comeback Queen EP HERE
And catch her on tour now through the end of Februrary:
2/4 – Philadelphia, PA @ MilkBoy –http://ticketf.ly/1QJP97U
2/5 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java –http://ticketf.ly/1MfbPqh
2/7 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 –http://ticketf.ly/1mmENQh
2/9 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar –http://ticketf.ly/1UwmrIc
2/10 – Decatur, GA @ Eddie’s Attic –http://ticketf.ly/1ZaSTT6
2/11 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement –http://tktwb.tw/1J9ZiV9
2/13 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room –http://bit.ly/1I7oMYA
2/14 – Columbus, OH @ Big Room Bar –http://bit.ly/1UwmIKY
2/16 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi Fi –http://ticketf.ly/1NSipso
2/17 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s Tavern –http://ticketf.ly/1ZaeAT2
2/18 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry –http://ticketf.ly/1O75N2u
2/20 – Kansas City, MO @ Tank Room –http://ticketf.ly/1ISjU9O
2/22 – Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone Cafe –http://bit.ly/1T0rVtu
2/23 – Houston, TX @ The Green Room –http://ticketf.ly/1TQs0Aa
2/24 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada –http://ticketf.ly/1I6LXCf