Lauren Morrow is no stranger to the music industry, and her understanding of the business, together with her professional and artistic integrity, shines through in every song she shares with the world. Nowhere is that integrity – and talent – more noticeable than on her debut album ‘People Talk’, which dropped last month. XS Noize caught up with her to talk about her favourite song on the collection, her song-writing inspiration and her plans for the rest of the year.
You've been a part of the music industry for a considerable while now, having first come to notable attention as the frontwoman of The Whiskey Gentry before unveiling solo music in 2018. When you look back on your musical journey, are you at all surprised how you've stayed the test of time when so many of your fellow artists have faded into obscurity?
Well, I wouldn't necessarily say I'm *out* of obscurity yet! I still have a long way to go, but I think the thing I've tried to do is never give up. Things in this business get really difficult at times, but I really don't have any other choice but to play music. It's been the one thing I've wanted my whole life, and I've worked too hard and too long on it now to give up. I'm never as happy as when I'm travelling and playing music with my friends, so that makes all of the challenges worth it.
How has the inspiration for your songs changed, if at all, over the years, and how easy or hard do you find the songwriting process now compared to, say, several years ago?
When I was with The Whiskey Gentry, I spent a fair amount of time writing songs about things I'd imagined or stories I'd heard. I think the main difference now is that I write things that are deeply personal to me in the hopes that others might find those experiences relatable and comforting. I wouldn't say it's either harder or easier - I'm not a writer that cranks out a lot of material, but I try to make it count when I do.
Tell me about "Only Nice When I'm High” - where did the idea for it come from?
My husband/bandmate/co-writer, Jason, and I were Christmas shopping one year, and I smoked a little joint before we went into some stores. Jason turned to me at one point and said, "You're a lot nicer when you're high," which can certainly be true at times. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and smoking weed helps me unlock my brain and relax and be present in the moment, which is what the song is truly about.
The track is lifted from your recently released debut album, People Talk. As true a statement as that is, what made you think it was the perfect title?
After we'd written the song "People Talk," I thought it would be a great album title, not only because it feels easy to remember and catchy but also because the song really represents a direction I'd like to move into sonically. Lyrically, I think everyone at this point in this age of social media can feel overwhelmed by the amount of "talk" or "noise" that comes from our phones, and I'd like to think the song serves as a reminder to silence the negative self-talk and external voices.
What moments in your life or ideas you had ultimately helped create the album in terms of its artistic content and topics you focused on lyrically?
I think the lyrical content on this album really encapsulates the last few years here in Nashville. Jason and I picked up and moved here in 2017, and it wasn't easy, but it was the right thing to do. The move opened my eyes and mind to a new community and allowed me to communicate a lot of truths through these songs that were happening through my marriage at the time and the general fear that comes with launching yourself into the unknown to follow your dreams.
The press release for the album describes it as one that sees you 'going back to your roots.' What exactly do you mean by that, and how are said roots reflected in the songs you've recorded?
I've always been able to sing country and had a country-sounding voice (I'm from Georgia, after all), but I grew up listening to a lot of Britpop and 90s Alternative and Indie. I think the album toggles between those two genres somehow, and it was the first time in my career that I was able to really reflect the sounds that I grew up idolizing. Anything from Oasis to Radiohead to Alanis Morissette - we didn't hold back from incorporating those influences into these new tunes.
Which song on the album would you say is your favourite and why?
I've always had a soft spot for "I'm Sorry." When we recorded it, the room felt so magical, and we all felt the power of the song. The way you hear it on the album is pretty much the same as it was when we recorded it with very few overdubs. It's powerful and truthful, and I think you can feel it in the song.
What do you hope fans, both old and new, take from the album when they hear it?
I hope people will see that it was necessary for me to pivot my sound sonically to really express my truth as a person. I know it's not like much I've done in the past, but I truly believe there is something for everyone on this album.
Will you be touring in support of the album? Are there any venues you want and hope to play that you haven't yet?
Yes, we begin a Scandinavian tour on April 18 that will take us through Sweden and Norway, and we end with a show at The Green Note in London, which is a huge bucket list for me. In June, we hit the road with my friend Joshua Hedley for a North American tour, which will be super fun. I'd love to play more festivals at home and abroad in the coming year. Someone, please book me for Glastonbury!! It's been my dream since I was in high school!
You're no doubt all too aware of the boom in social media over the last decade, but what are your thoughts on it? Is being on Twitter and other platforms something you enjoy or more something you understand is just part and parcel of being an artist in this day and age?
I think social media is a tool that artists have to use to promote their music, and that's just the way the world is now. Do I love it? No. Do I love feeling like I have to post things every day to keep up "engagement" to feed a computer-generated algorithm? No. But I do think it's a way for me to be myself and break the wall between artist and fan. We all know that social media can be deceptive - you only have to show the brightest parts of your career to your followers. But I try to keep the balance between the real me and what's happening in my life. I also try to remember not to compare myself and my journey to others on social media as well. My journey will be different from someone else's, and that's perfectly okay.
Finally, are there any other plans for the rest of the year - or even beyond - that you can tease, or are you just focusing on the album for now?
As for now, the plan is to tour extensively and promote the record. I know that later this year I will get the itch to start writing another record, but for now, I'm happy to finally give this record the attention it deserves after three years of waiting to release it.