In The Middle with LP
American singer/songwriter, LP (Laura Pergolizzi), performed at Stylus this weekend as part of her ‘Lost On You’ tour. Music writer Katie O’Kelly asked her a few questions about her experiences in the music industry, songwriting, and how she feels about music streaming services.
When discussing the European leg of her tour, LP said that she has “thoroughly enjoyed touring Europe. The biggest thing I came away with is how different every country is and then how the same we all are! That was something that was really interesting to me. The amount of kindness I was shown throughout touring Europe during everything else that was going on in the world was definitely a standout feeling for me.”
Her latest single, ‘Lost On You’, has achieved widespread success across various countries. One country that has truly embraced LP’s music, is Greece. She told us that her initial reaction was “really… Greece? I remember the head of the label in Greece contacted me through a direct message… this guy from Greece was like “Hey man, I can’t get in touch with your label. Can you get me in touch I’d really love to licence your music out here? I think it would work really well here.” And when he said “licence” I thought he meant for a movie or something like that, and I didn’t realise he wanted to release it as songs. And then I heard from management a few weeks later telling me my song was charting in Greece and I was like “what does that mean?” and then they explained that it was doing so well and they’d released it on radio and then suddenly it went from number 10 to number 5 to number 1 and it was just amazing.”
LP originally found fame as a songwriter, one of her most famous compositions being ‘Cheers (Drink to that)’ by Rihanna, but she says that she prefers performing her own material. “I like them both but there’s no substitute for writing a song and connecting to the people directly. I could lie and say they’re both great and they are but I do enjoying bringing it and you know if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself, you know what I’m saying?” When it comes to writing her music, LP’s lyrics are often deeply personal, and she admits that it can be painful, “but I think the excavation of it is ultimately healing and good for me in its own way.”
She also discussed some topical issues facing the industry at the moment, such as streaming sites. “It has absolutely hit us in the pockets as far as songwriters go. But as an artist, you think about it more and it becomes a volume thing, and we’ve reached that point where streaming has floated to a positive aspect of getting music to people where it is generating money but not like in the olden times where people were generating billions of dollars off an album track. Streaming is basically about getting your music to more people and that’s a positive thing.”
In terms of identity, LP is an openly gay woman. I asked her about how she felt about being a role model for fans who could be struggling with their own identities. LP said that “that’s not why I do it but I am very happy to you know be someone’s big gay ambassador and it’s very exciting to me that something that just comes naturally to me will allow them to let it come naturally to them.” In terms of any discrimination that she has personally experienced in the industry, she admitted that “I’m like kind of one of those head down keep going kind of people, I think unfortunately I’ve just been used to it. I also think sometimes I’ve been marginalised in someone’s mind in the business because I feel like gay people in music are often marginalised in music because it’s seen to be not sexy you know I think it’s something that has lessened – I think that songs can prevail. You look at someone like Boy George – I mean what a pioneer – if you watch an early Boy George video and then you think about what time it was and then what people must have been thinking at the time you’re like “oh my god, what astounding courage” but also what astounding talent.”
Another key issue that was raised was that of sexual harassment in the workplace. LP felt that eventually the allegations will start to hit the music industry. “I think it’s just as prevalent in a lot of aspects of life. I’m surprised it hasn’t come out as much in music but I think also sometimes for musicians, and I could be wrong about this so I don’t want to carve this in stone, but I think that we sure have to deal with it but it’s more like we can isolate ourselves from the person. You know actors are so at the mercy of people giving them a job even when they’re very successful.”
LP’s new album ‘Lost On You’ is out now and she will be on tour until the end of February.