For New York singer songwriter LP, the idea of authenticity is everything.
It’s a concept that’s driven one of music’s more unique recent career paths. In an era where artists are rarely given the opportunity to develop an identity or grow as an artist over the course of years and albums, LP was given the gift of time.
After a stretch spent writing for artists like Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and Cher, LP found global success with the single “Lost On You” in 2015, one which topped the charts in 18 countries 14 years after the release of her debut album.
Authenticity again lies at the core of the 14 tracks that make up the new album Churches.
“I love it. I’m so excited for people to hear it. My truest thoughts or sort of emotions are that I just can’t wait for people to hear the record. Because I feel like the record as a whole feels so good. I can’t really pick a favorite song. It’s a body of work in itself together,” said LP, looking ahead to a tour scheduled to kick off in London on January 21, 2022 before moving to the United States in April. “I love my fans! I can’t wait to see them out there. And I hope everyone is able to get back to doing things they love.”
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I spoke with LP backstage at Lollapalooza in Chicago earlier this year about getting back on stage in 2021, the value of authenticity and her unique career trajectory. A transcript of that conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.
What was it like being back on stage in front of actual people?
LP: My first show was at the Metro [in Chicago during Lollapalooza]. It was so cool. I haven’t played there in a couple of tours. It was a special show. It was insane. And I’m glad. Because I’ve learned to be careful with my expectations. But it was fun. It was wild.
Something I really relate to in your music is the idea of authenticity – and I feel like fans do too. How important is that idea to what you do whether it’s on stage, on record or anything else?
LP: It’s everything. It really is everything. Because you can feel it. You really can feel that kind of thing. It’s an essence. It’s intangible at some point.
I even know it in myself. As a songwriter I feel that I’ve gotten better and better on a personal level. I’m not searching for a compliment when I say that I’ve gotten better. I feel that in my heart and in my spirit, I’ve gotten better at identifying what really resonates with me. While I’m writing I can really trim the fat well and speak to what’s really authentic in me. And I think that’s everything.
I think that’s why a song goes. And it doesn’t have to be some lofty kind of deep thing – it can even be a fun song that just feels authentic, you know?
“Goodbye” really hits on that idea of letting go, of no longer wasting time. I took note of a lyric: “All of the darkness where there should be light.” That definitely seems like it could be addressing that experience of quarantine in early 2020. Was everything happening in the world an inspiration on the Churches album?
LP: Of course, yeah. And I write songs many times not just situationally – although I do that too – but I write songs to sort of cheer myself on. To be like, “Alright, why are you in a situation that you don’t like in any way? From thoughts that hinder you to people that hinder you to ideas.” So “Goodbye” was something that kind of helped me like clean out my own head as far as, “What do you desire?” and “What would you like your life to look like?”
And I don’t just mean in terms of how you live it or the dreams that you have or whatever – but really your basic surroundings at all times, even your thought process.
I was looking at the timeline on your career this morning. Because it’s really interesting. It took until 2015 for the first big “hit” so to speak in “Lost On You” – and that was by no means an overnight success. That came 14 years after the release of your first album. It just seems like the type of opportunity that artists don’t get today – they’re not given time like that to develop and find themselves and figure things out over the course of years and albums. How important was that to your development as an artist?
LP: No. They didn’t get it when I was doing it either, you know what I mean? I don’t know how I got like seven bites at the apple – or more. I was very lucky.
I’m a determined person and I persevere. But also, the universe – somehow I kept getting deals. My first record deal was in 2001. And then I got another in 2004. And then 2006. 2008. 2011. 2015. It just kept going. And there were publishing deals in between. I kept writing for other people. And I thought I was just going to be a songwriter for a while. And that’s what really brought it all back to me. You talk about expectations… My expectation from like 2009 to 2011 was like, “Well, I’m a songwriter for other people from now on. So I better f—ing hustle.”
I started just writing songs for myself – and suddenly they were the best songs of my life. And people started to notice. As a lesson for anybody, when you’re having fun with your own s—t, people go, “Why are you having so much fun?” And they get interested.
And it doesn’t matter what kind of career you choose, you know? If you’re enjoying yourself, other people want to know why. And then they want to join you.
And I think that’s one of the many lessons I’ve learned in my life.