You’ve heard LP before. Even if you’ve never pulled up her bluesy, gutteral tracks on Spotify or Soundcloud, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter has penned singles for some unavoidable pop artists: Cher, Rita Ora, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, among others.
But on her own albums, LP (short for Laura Pergolizzi, her full name) is definitely not bubblegum. Her first record, Forever For Now, was released in 2014, and in September of this year, she dropped Muddy Waters, the first single off her upcoming album. On it, LP’s voice is a low, gritty moan, her deep alto raking seductively over the tracks.
LP, who relocated from New York to L.A. in the beginning of her career, also plays the ukulele, an instrument she says she’s always wanted to learn. Earlier this month, she played three shows at No Vacancy in Hollywood, adding one final show to the residence tonight. Here, the singer talks to us about day drinking, the L.A. muse, and the ghosts of rock n’ roll.
How have your shows in L.A. been so far?
They’re great. I really wanted to play new shit for people and feel the warmth of people who know me. It puts everybody at ease onstage; you can tell we’re having an easy, good time.
You moved to L.A. from New York early on in your career—what brought you out west?
It was the weather and girls. I followed a chick out here, so…but there’s more going on as far as music in L.A. This is, like, the mecca for songwriting in this country. There’s a lot going on in New York, but I grew up there and I could do without another New York winter. I would say the muse is very strong here, very palpable. Like , I don’t know why; there’s more space, I can think better. I can be rock n’ roll, all the ghosts and all the spirits; what’s gone down here feels very much still alive.
It seems like L.A. is having a really cool moment for music. Everything was so ironic for a while; now, there seem to be a lot more raw, honest artists.
That’s how I usually roll. I definitely felt the love from L.A. from the get go. People appreciate good music out here. They do. It’s opened up musically, even art-wise. I feel like L.A. is coming into it’s own. L.A. is that friend that you don’t want to hang out with every fucking day—you wake up like, without your underwear on—but it’s like, yeah, you can have a margarita at 2:00 p.m. because, fuck it. That should be on our license plates; not City of Angels, City of Day Drinking.
What’s your favorite place to play in town?
I love the Troubadour. Speaking about that, the muse and the feeling of the old rock n’ roll, that place is just bawdy as fuck. I love playing there. I’ve done a couple good shows at Harvard and Stone, just shit-kicking there. I like to play the Nokia Theater.
It’s funny to hear you say that you’ve had great experiences at both of those places. They’re so different.
It’s just a vibe, how close I feel to the audience that gets me into it. It sparks the whole conversation, which is what I feel like is happening when I’m performing. I have shitty shows at big venues and great at shows at small venues, and vice versa.
How did you wind up taking up the ukulele?
I never said, “Hey, I’m gonna be that ukulele playing dyke!” I was done with my second major label deal and I was doing a lot of urban sessions, and I had an acoustic itch. And you know, I picked up a ukulele. I always wanted one. And it just resonated with me. I would wake up with this uke in my hand. For me the ukulele just opened this door in my heart. I started writing so much shit; songs just sprang out. Now me and the uke, we got a thing.
Your next record comes out early next year. How is this one different from what you’ve done before?
My last record, it got a little manhandled. It was too produced; I was pushed to lose certain songs that were more of my sound and include songs that were a little more poppy. I let the record get out of my hands. And these things happen with records; they are very fragile, especially at a major label. There’s a lot of people involved. So with this one, we just did it. I’m working with more up-and-comers [who] are insanely talented. We stuck with the raw talent that we had on there and didn’t take it to some other produced level. It’s a visceral thing.
You described this upcoming album as a break-up record. People make a lot of assumptions about what that will sound like—what does it mean to you?
Well, I was breaking up with someone. It was very unclear what was going on; we were breaking up for a full year, one of those things where I was in the lost spot. So all the things I was writing about…it was like, the dark shit. It came at a time when I was having a lot of confusion in my life, lots of turmoil in my relationship and stuff like that. It was when I was really in the heart of my confusion, before I was broken up with the person, when your heart knows something that your brain doesn’t yet.
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