Lauv: ‘I love my work for what it is, and love myself for who I am too’

Lauv doesn’t believe that album-listening is irrelevant today, especially when it comes to devout fans. The pop superstar also known as, Ari Staprans Leff is chatting with Music Plus on the eve of the release of ‘All 4 Nothing (I’m So in Love)’, the second single from his sophomore album ‘All 4 Nothing’. “I wouldn’t say the album is dead,” he insists. “It’s just that people aren’t forced to buy a whole album anymore to hear a song that they loved. Now it’s getting more and more free.”

The American singer-songwriter has been making music since he was 12. He’s dabbled in metal, explored the synth, gone the acoustic route and even released music at 14 under the moniker, Somersault Sunday. Evidently, he’s followed an unusual release strategy – releasing singles and EPs for years before putting together the compilation album ‘I Met You When I Was 18’ in 2018, and releasing his debut studio album ‘How I’m Feeling’ in 2020. Even his full-length efforts are a departure from convention. “I was kind of just going with intuition,” he explains, adding that the lengthy compilation album was also a playlist — with a common thread running through the individual songs. “I just wanted to get music out — and I had a lot of it that I was making.” The singer’s second album will drop in August later this year.  

Growth and numbers

Lauv’s music is as confessional as he is self-aware; he talks about his need to separate his self-worth from his art. “Writing songs is very much a release and like therapy, but sometimes there are songs that are difficult to write,” he says talking about ‘26’, the first single from the upcoming ‘All 4 Nothing’. “Now I love my work for what it is, and love myself for who I am too.”

This album also marked a changing point in Lauv’s creative process — a more freestyle approach. “I would start chords or something, or I would hear a beat or instrumental, and I would just take the mic and go for five to ten minutes — just spit out whatever was coming through me,” he says of the “messy and simultaneous” development of ‘All 4 Nothing’.

An artist who doesn’t shy away from discussing his mental health, the 27-year-old has previously opened up about the pressures to prove himself to labels. Being independent was a stark contrast: it allowed him to experiment and ‘stumble through’ his early years in the music industry. “It wasn’t necessarily some big scheme,” he reminisces. “I think I was able to build a team around me that supported what I was doing, this team is what made it possible to be independent as a pop artist, which is new.”

He admits to feeling bummed though, when a song close to his heart underperforms, even if he tries to not fixate on numbers. “Streaming has been a way for people all over the world to discover me in places that I haven’t even been to,” he says. It has also meant that his debut shows and tours in these territories were well-received.

Making music

The stories of these struggles are eclipsed by Lauv’s successes. In a previous interview with Music Week, AWAL (Artists Without A Label) president Paul Hitchman said, “[Lauv’s] a pop artist building a career with global radio hits, but at the same time, being able to release music and be very flexible and unlimited. That feels like a strategy that really worked for him and his audience.” Most of his songs have earned platinum certifications in territories across the world.

Closer home, Lauv’s ‘I Like Me Better’ is still a go-to track for content creators, especially the mash-up with ‘Dildara’ from ‘Ra.One’. The original itself continues to be streamed globally too, garnering 1.1 billion streams on Spotify as of March 2021. “Now, a song only needs to have one iconic moment to be used by content creators,” he points out. “Then the song is streamed and sold at much higher numbers even though it’s only one moment that people know.” The result, he speculates, is shorter and tighter song hooks which needn’t even be a melody or chorus. It’s the evolution of a new format, he says; like musicians writing hooks to be featured on the radio.

Between comments on the music industry and his artistic process, he signs off with good news – tours dates will soon be announced. Maybe India’s on the list? Till then, there’s always the new music from ‘All 4 Nothing’ to look forward to.

Listen to ‘All 4 Nothing (I’m So in Love)’ here

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