Laurel - Olivia Richardson

EP’s, LP’s and Drilling Walls: A Chat with UK Singer-Songwriter Laurel

I’d just come back from a long (read: loooooong) day at work when I shut myself in my room, laptop open and ready to record. Phone in hand, I dialled the number provided and waited as the electronic rings signalled an international connection in the making. A few seconds later, a chipper English voice greeted me. It belonged to Laurel, a young singer-songwriter who is making big waves in the indie scene. After releasing a flurry of singles earlier in the year, Laurel was preparing for the release of her new EP Park.

How’re things?

Things are good! Just had a coffee, so swell day so far!

Nice! So the biggest news with you is probably your upcoming EP Park. What inspired the title?

I’m not entirely sure. At the time I wrote all of those songs my life kind of revolved around huge parks all around London. Big, beautiful parks. So it kind of made sense, because all these events seemed to happen in parks, so it tied into the songs. And I started writing about parks in my lyrics as well.

Yeah cool! Well the EP has a really broad range of sounds as well, from the airiness of Maybe Baby to the more grounded weight of Too Far. And then the change to a pure acoustic track with Goodbye. Why did you structure the EP in that way, or have the track listing like that?

I’ve always wanted to have an acoustic track on the end of something, and I’m going to try to do it with my album too. I’ve got this track that doesn’t have any production on it at all, it’s just this acoustic demo. I haven’t really decided what I want to do production-wise, but it’s kind of fun to have a demo so people can see where it started. It’s kind of at its most intimate point now, and it’s certainly the most intimate song demo I’ve got.

I guess it’s just cool to have something like this so people can see that side of me. Particularly since I started writing when I was 15 and started messing around with the acoustic guitar, and that kind of reminded me of the tragic songs I used to like.

Yeah well just on Goodbye: It’s really beautiful, but I’d be lying if I said I was expecting a track in that style. Do you get anything different out of an acoustic track like that as opposed to a heavier produced song?

Yeah I guess so. It’s just this completely different type of project. Like they’re totally different songs. And that’s why I couldn’t really “produce” on Goodbye, because I felt like it didn’t need it. I felt like it said enough on its own that it didn’t need anything behind it. But yeah, it’s different for every song. Like every song you have has a different feel to it, and you kind of end up going in different directions.

Totally, it’s all about the feel of a track and how production ties into that! Speaking of production, I read somewhere that all of your music was made completely in your bedroom? What challenges or issues did that bring?

It can be really difficult, because it’s not really soundproofed. So while I was doing work on my EP, my neighbours were doing building work next door *laughs*. And they were drilling into one of my walls the other day but I can never tell when they’re going to do it, so I could be in the middle of recording a track and it be going really well and then someone starts drilling into a wall next to you *Laughs*.

So I love recording at home, and it’s definitely how I want to keep doing it, because it’s really raw and that’s how I think I can get the best out of myself, but yeah. I mean there’s drilling and birds outside and ambience going down the road, which can be annoying! *Laughs*

Yeah I can imagine! Well you’ve been making music for a few years now. When was the point when you kind of thought “yeah this is really for me?”

I think I’ve always felt like that, honestly. When I was a lot younger I kinda just started messing about my hometown, and music was the one thing that I always wanted to do and the one thing that I always thought I would do. So there wasn’t really a point in my head where I was like “this is for me” because it had always kind of been that way for me, you know? It always just fit with the idea of what my life was going to be like in my head.

And what have been some of the biggest highlights for you so far? Has there been anything that you never really expected you’d be doing?

Well the big one for me is having an EP come out on vinyl. I haven’t had a vinyl before, I haven’t really had any physical copies of my music in the last few years, so I’m really really excited to get a vinyl hard copy and have it up on my wall. That’ll be a pretty big moment for me. And then there’s my album, and when I finish recording it and then when it comes out in March/April next year. So that’s probably the biggest highlight so far, finishing my album.

And then going on my first headline tour around the UK will be a pretty big deal for me too.

Yeah just on that tour: Do you ever get nervous or anxious before a show, and how do you get through that?

Oh definitely! I mean, once you get your head on the road, it kind of becomes normal and you don’t get so nervous. But every now and then I just get so fucking scared and I have no idea why. Like I could have this dream where I forget all of my lyrics on stage and the next day I’ll be constantly rereading my lyrics. But you just have to get on with it, you know? Like you just have to do it, because once you get on stage it’s usually fun. It’s just before can suck.

Totally! You mentioned the LP before, that’s coming out early next year right?

Yeah, well the EP comes out I think the 18th of November, and the album comes out in the (UK) Spring of next year, which is fucking crazy! *Laughs*

Will that share any themes or sounds with Park, or will it be something more off the wall?

I feel that it will be a little different to Park, which is why I wanted to put the songs on Park together the way I did, and get them out before the album. The EP has a bit more of a rocky tone to it. The drums are a lot different in Park for sure.

The album? It’s hard to say. I mean, I’m so close to it, so I definitely think it’s good. But I can see how other people might be more put off by the difference in sound. I’d say the album is a lot closer to my song Life Worth Living I released earlier this year, with more beachy guitars and big bassy drums.

Yeah awesome! I loved the earlier stuff you put out this year. How has 2016 been for you as a whole?

It’s been a pretty good year for me actually! I’ve been pretty chuffed with it. It’s been really busy, and I’ve been recording a lot to try and find a sound that I really want to run with for my album. So that’s been really good, both fun and frustrating at times. But I’ve had a fucking great year! I feel like I’ve really found the direction I want to go in, which is good after quite a few years.

That’s great!! And what are your plans for the future?

Who knows? *Laughs* I guess just hang out and have good times! Next year I’ve got the album coming out, so that’s going to be mad. 2017 will be a big one I hope!

Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! Hope all goes well for the future!

Thank you!

Park is out now, available to stream or buy through iTunes or Bandcamp.

Image: Laurel | Olivia Richardson