Personal growth is nothing short of a challenge. From the moment we are born, we are flooded constantly with rules, guidelines, and ways to live. Whether it’s how to approach dating or what clothes to pull out of the closet, these rules influence how we approach our everyday lives. For singer-songwriter Lauv, it has been a process learning how to navigate the world not by the rules of society but by what makes him happy and in touch with himself. Years ago, he was known as the hopeless romantic with hit singles like “I Like Me Better” and “Paris in the Rain.” Yes, love is still a big aspect of the experiences that he shares through his music, but he is also stretching and growing outside of this box that had completely defined him at the beginning of his career. It’s not just love anymore. It’s sadness, anger, joy, and just about anything in between. Between speaking with him a few years ago at Hangout Fest and talking to him just the other day over the phone, there was a much stronger air of confidence, self-love, and self-awareness. With his upcoming album, ~how i’m feeling~, releasing on March 6th, Lauv chats with us about how he has changed since I met you when I was 18 in our 16th issue.
I watched your set at Hangout on one of the smaller stages a couple of years ago. Since then you’ve massively grown your following and have written tons of hits, including, “Drugs & The Internet.” Has your writing process changed or developed in any significant way?
It’s so hard to think of where I was a year ago. I think I’ve just gotten closer to myself. As an artist, you’re constantly thinking about where you want to be or what your goals are. For me, as an artist, I think I just want to be the best artist I can be, constantly growing and evolving. I don’t want to be stuck in one place, and I never want to be afraid of trying new things. My new album that’s about to come out, ~how i’m feeling~, is about embracing all the parts of yourself and how not to be afraid of different parts of your identity. I [am trying to] focus on things that are important to me as an artist or as a person. I think I got lost before doing all the things I thought I had to be doing to be the biggest artist. Now, I kind of just do things that make me, as a person, happy and things that I think people can connect to. I try to be the best person I can be and make the best music. My life approach definitely has changed a bit.
I feel that as a fan I’ve seen a lot more vulnerability in your writing process. Since you’ve kind of tapped into vulnerable emotions, do you think your transparency has allowed you to stay closer with fans as you continue your journey?
I think it allows me to feel more comfortable and like I have a more genuine connection with fans. I want them to feel like they know me for me, and in that case, I can know them more for who they are. I try to do things that are more social like asking questions and getting stories from people.
Because more and more people are discovering your music, are you ever nervous about being so open with how you’re feeling, or does it drive you more?
I get nervous sometimes, but I think most of the time it feels freeing. By the time I’ve put something out, I’ve processed it, so I’m not really ashamed or anything. More so, I think I get nervous that I won’t articulate it in the right way or I’ll say something that offends somebody. I have this paranoia that people hate me. It can hold me back sometimes.
Connecting your authentic creative process and approach to social media, I did see that you made a post a couple of days ago about wanting to use social media more authentically. It’s an interesting thing to think about, but how would you describe how you use social media now versus maybe five or so years ago when you didn’t have as large of a following?
I think, when I first started, it was so curated. I would spend so, so, so much of my time looking at my photos and trying to make things filtered. It’s almost like I was trying to construct an authentic brand. In the past few years, I’ve come to realize that being authentic creates a brand without everything needing to have the same filter. Now the struggle is I have so much to say, but I clam up when I sit down and actually try to say it. I think that ends up with me having things that aren’t fully vulnerable and authentic in the way I want them to be. I’m still trying to come up with a way to capture things in life in the moment where it’s not totally edited.
I want to do anything that’ll make me happy and not be afraid to try it.
As you’ve grown as an artist, in terms of personal improvement and success, does your view on the industry change at all? If so, how?
Yeah, I used to think I had to know everyone in the business and that I had to network. Now, I’m at the point where I just want to stay in my zone and do my thing. Whoever I’m meant to meet, I’ll meet. I don’t have the goal of meeting everyone and meeting every artist. I’m just trying to live my life and take things in a flow. Whatever’s meant to happen will happen. It makes me calmer and more at peace.
Is there anything different or outstanding about this tour that fans can look forward to?
I’m heavily incorporating the new album concept with the one-man-boy-band and the different characters. I’ve created a theatrical and kind of funny side to the show. It’s very visual, but I am really going to try and take time to explain and portray the concept of who these characters are, why they exist, and how they relate to who I am. It’ll be quite experimental, but it’ll pay off.
Despite success, there’s always room to improve. What kinds of things in your life are you continuing to grow and develop this year?
In my life, I want to focus more on foundations. I want to collect money and donate to foundations, but I’ve noticed that just collecting money to donate doesn’t fill my soul. I’m going to be meeting with small, local organizations on tour, and I want to document the whole experience. I want to meet them, learn what they care about, talk about how they got into what they’re doing, and how to help. I want to learn a lot. I was sitting the other day with one of my friends, and we were meditating. He’s in his 50’s and very spiritual. He told me, “I want to think of my spirit as a baby. I have so much to learn and so much to be open to.” I’m trying to take that approach with anything I want to learn how to do. I want to learn how to freestyle rap, which is hard. I want to try learning how to dance. I used to think that I never wanted to learn, but I actually do want to learn how to dance. I’m trying to become more educated and develop on a mental health front. I want to do anything that’ll make me happy and not be afraid to try it.
If you had the opportunity to talk to your younger self, the Lauv before I met you when I was 18 and your endeavors in the music industry, what would you say to him?
Honestly, I would give him the longest hug ever. We would probably cry together, a lot. I would tell him to focus on being in touch with himself. I lost that part of myself. I was trying to make things for other people and do things to get love from other people. At this point, I’m trying to strip all of that away and get back to the kid who was just the person he was. I would tell him to create the most authentic place possible and to have faith it’ll take you in the right direction.
STORY ELIZABETH STAFFORD
PHOTOS DERRICK FRESKE
GROOMING MICHAELINE at 3PLUS MANAGEMENT using R+CO
STYLIST LISA MARIE CAMERON
ASSISTANT STYLIST ANNA LOWNES
CREATIVE DIRECTION ANNA ZHANG