Singer and songwriter Lauv shares how he found the confidence to celebrate the different aspects of himself in his upcoming debut studio album, ~how i’m feeling~.
Ari Staprans Leff, known professionally as Lauv, has grown immensely as an independent artist throughout the years, from collaborations with Troye Sivan, BTS, and Anne-Marie, to creating his own work. His music is a celebration of difference, as his songs move between the upbeat sound of ‘Tattoos Together’ to the heartfelt lyrics of ‘Sad Forever’.
Lauv draws strength from his battle with mental health to create powerful and intimate songs throughout his newest album. As part of the upcoming release on March 6, he created his own one man boyband to showcase these diverse aspects of himself, bouncing between the F*ckboy, the Existentialist, Mr Positive, and many others.
Lauv described the concept behind this storytelling technique as, “The album is super different musically. I created this one man boy band where each character is an exaggerated version of my personality.”
Within his portrayal of these characters, Lauv rebels against the monotony of brands while showcasing the fun of embracing variety. Since his soft break-up song ‘the Other’ went viral in 2015, the musician has faced down his own self-doubt to carve out a space where he can be more than one thing.
Before the release of ~how i’m feeling~, Lauv speaks about the complexity of humans, being a ‘goofy’ kid, and finding the confidence to open up.
What was the inspiration behind your album?
With the first project, it was very much about one relationship. I went through a bit of an identity crisis because I felt like I boxed myself into this one aspect of my personality. It kind of made me go crazy and I was like – there are so many other parts of who I am. And I want the album to be about just having fun and expressing every part of myself and hopefully inspiring other people to do that.
Humans are way more complicated than the world around us can be sometimes. We grow up, we start as kids, we are so free and we are so free with our love. Then you grow up, and the world keeps you up, it tells you your supposed to be one thing. Especially with the internet and having a personal brand and everything. I wanted to fight against that. Like f***k that. There’s so many different aspects of who I am.
In a press release, you describe your new song ‘Modern Loneliness’ as “the most important song” you’ve made. What was the creative process behind it?
That song for me, it came out of nowhere. I was just driving in the car one day and the chorus came to me. Then I got to the studio and I just sat at the piano, we wrote the song in like an hour. It was super therapeutic for me.
Sometimes when I’m writing a song, I don’t even realise what I am saying until I listen back. I’m like ‘holy sh*t’, I didn’t even realise I felt that way. I dissect my own lyrics and I’m like whoah that is a lot deeper than I thought.
For the upcoming album, you formed your own one man boyband. What was it like playing different versions of yourself?
We did a lot of shooting, we have a whole little mini series. I had to change the outfits a hundred times to shoot so many scenes. I feel tired but it was also really fun. Acting is really fun. I’m really excited to do more.
It also kind of makes you hate yourself sometimes. With certain characters, when I exaggerate them, they make me feel a little bit – uggh. It was definitely an emotionally creative process.
There is an incredibly personal and vulnerable edge to your songs, almost like a diary entry into the life of Lauv. Especially with songs such as ‘Sad Forever’. Has it been difficult to speak so openly about your mental health?
For me, it is super freeing. Of course, I get nervous putting a song out sometimes, especially when it is that personal. For that song, I wrote it when I was going through a time when I was super depressed, then I got diagnosed with OCD. That song was very much a little diary entry about that point in my life. Especially with the music video, I really tell the story. That one made me a bit nervous but people were very supportive.
People would say a lot of nice things about how I helped them know they needed help. All the music that I love felt very vulnerable, telling real stories, being really open, not just random bullsh*t. That is what inspired me to be an artist, to be open.
What is the process behind overcoming your nerves when creating music?
I have to get myself into a place where I’m not thinking. Whenever I start thinking, I get very self-conscious and I have trouble being honest and in the moment. I have to be okay with the idea of failing. Somedays, you spend 12 hours and you get no song or you get a really bad song. And it’s just about being okay with that, being in a place where I feel comfortable.
I like to write songs with a lot of the same people that are my best friends and I feel very comfortable around them, very loved and accepted. That really helps a lot for me to be in that environment.
You have collaborated with numerous other musicians. What have those experiences taught you?
They always feel surreal, all the collabs on my album. I would have never imagined I would work with artists like that. It has taken me a long time to grasp where I am at in my career. Especially when I was really sad and depressed, I just couldn’t embrace it. I was like this isn’t real.
At this point, I am just super thankful. Everybody has their own writing process and it is really cool to see that. Troye, for example, was super supportive when I was in a shitty time. He was there for me and I really appreciate him. To meet someone who genuinely cares for you and is there for you is truly special.
You have previously talked about being a goofy kid, I was wondering how has that influenced your style today?
It took me a long time till I could embrace it. Cause I kind of felt that I would use goofy as this defence mechanism. I always felt that was my way to make people like me in a new school. I would be like a weird kid or whatever, I think I wanted to hide it for a while. I had to be this way. It has gotten better but, where I was going to school, I started to feel that there was a certain image of what a man was supposed to be, to be attractive and so on and so forth.
I grew up being like a momma’s boy and having two older sisters, definitely tending to be a little bit more feminine. I kind of hid that for a while and it took me some years to really be comfortable with embracing that.
Lauv’s debut album ‘~how i’m feeling~’ will be released on March 6. You can find it over on Spotify, the Apple Music store and most other music sites. For more information, you can head on over to the singer’s website.
© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.