LP

OLDFASHIONED ROCK STAR LP’S GIGS FEEL LIKE A RE­LI­GIOUS EX­PE­RI­ENCE. CAR­RIE LYELL FALLS UN­DER HER SPELL

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Old-fash­ioned rock star LP is break­ing Youtube with her new track

LP might be small enough to pop in your pocket, but she seems seven foot tall as she swag­gers into our in­ter­view, cof­fee in hand, with an ef­fort­less cool. Her trade­mark black curls bounce gently as she walks around the room, talk­ing en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about her gig the night be­fore at Koko in Lon­don – “It’s a beau­ti­ful venue,” she says, pac­ing aim­lessly. “It feels so… com­mu­nal. I like it when I can see ev­ery­body and ev­ery­body can see me.”

An old- fash­ioned rock star yes – com­pared to the likes of Joan Jett, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks – but LP, real name Laura Per­golizzi, is throughly mod­ern. A vi­ral sen­sa­tion, her lat­est of­fer­ing has been streamed more than 120 mil­lion times on Youtube. She’s no brood­ing rock­star car­i­ca­ture ei­ther. Warm and friendly, the 36- year- old New Yorker – dressed in dark jeans and a navy blazer – is chatty and full of smiles.

“One time I was play­ing, Prague or some­thing. It was a beau­ti­ful venue, al­most cave- like. It felt weird, kind of tem­ple- y. Like I was try­ing to cast a spell on ev­ery­body or some­thing. I was go­ing for more a kinda com­mu­nal singing to and with peo­ple, not to be like…” she throws her arms wide and puts on a boom­ing voice as if giv­ing a ser­mon. “Nah, I don’t re­ally want to go there,” she laughs.

So many of the mu­si­cians I meet say that per­form­ing live is the best part of the job. Would she agree with that? “It def­i­nitely is, but I re­ally love the writ­ing as well. There’s some­thing so es­o­teric about writ­ing a song. Like yeah, you can craft all day, but if god is in the room – that spirit or that un­know­able thing – writ­ing and re­al­is­ing ‘ Oh fuck, this is dope’? That is such a great feel­ing.” Like di­vine in­ter­ven­tion? She smiles. “Yeah. Ex­actly.”

But what hap­pens if god doesn’t show up and the rent is due? What then? “It can be bru­tal,” she ad­mits. “There are days I’ve been in ses­sions scream­ing in my head, ‘ I gotta fuck­ing get out of here, I can’t fuck­ing stay here an­other sec­ond, I fuck­ing hate it here’. And some­times that’s yielded a great song. I’ve been like, holy fuck. That’s a great song! We got a cut from that song that I wanted to kill some­one on. When I wrote Tightrope, I wasn’t sure if it was for me, and I wasn’t in the mood to write that day. I do this thing; I call it writ­ing my­self out of the room. I was like, ‘ I have to be some­where in two hours, I’ll see you later’,” – she mim­ics writ­ing in a fren­zied fash­ion – “and then when I got it back, I was like, ‘ Huh. Am I crazy or is this good?’”

I ask her to take me back to the first song she wrote. Does she re­mem­ber it? “I feel like my song­writ­ing re­volved around my first girl­friend. I knew I was gay but couldn’t re­ally ar­tic­u­late it or get it through my head. The only time it would come out was when I was stoned. There would be this boom­ing voice in my head go­ing, ‘ YOU’RE GAY, YOU’RE GAY, YOU’RE GAY!’ I was like, you know what? I’m not go­ing to get stoned any­more! Fuck it. Drink­ing is for me!” she laughs. “But then I re­mem­ber kind of fall­ing in love for the first time with a woman, and fall­ing in love with song­writ­ing, which was in­ter­est­ing.”

It’s safe to say that emo­tion still pro­pels LP’S song­writ­ing, all these years later. The new al­bum, Lost On

“Break­ing up is dev­as­tat­ing and weird, and I’m ob­sessed with it”

You, is driven by heartache, with the ti­tle track in­spired by the break­down of her last re­la­tion­ship. The pain is gut­tural; ev­i­dent in the wail of lines like “hold me like you never lost your pa­tience”, “tell me that you love me more than hate me”, and the sucker punch, which leaves me with a lump in my throat ev­ery time I lis­ten: “All I ever wanted was you”.

What hap­pened? “Oddly, it came back around to a point where she didn’t want to break up with me,” LP re­mem­bers. “But she did want to break up with me for a good chunk and wanted to be with other peo­ple, and then we were with other peo­ple…” she pauses. “I’m… re­ally glad I ex­pe­ri­enced it. I’ve al­ways been lucky. I’ve been the one who left. I al­ways suf­fered for it and felt very bad about it. I knew it was a dev­as­tat­ing thing for some, es­pe­cially my first ma­jor love. I still feel the ram­i­fi­ca­tions from that.”

Has her ex heard the new record? “I wrote Lost On You and we kinda re­mained to­gether for an­other year. I don’t re­ally feel bad. I mean, I do feel bad that she re­alised a lit­tle too late what she had lost but it was right there. I couldn’t be more clear. I ripped my heart out in songs for you, can you not do me a solid and re­alise what’s hap­pen­ing? No one has ever writ­ten a song about me. I’ve never been some­one’s muse, re­ally. But if I was, I think I might have ap­pre­ci­ated it a lit­tle more than she did. You know what I mean? But to her credit, she was def­i­nitely like, ‘ I think this new shit is some big shit for you’.”

LP has been with new girl­friend, singer Lau­ren Ruth Ward, since 2012 (fun fact: Lau­ren ap­pears at the end of the video for Lost On You) but ad­mits her pre­vi­ous break- up has had a last­ing im­pact. “I’m ob­sessed with that mo­ment when the mol­e­cule touches the other mol­e­cule and goes ‘ I don’t re­ally want to be with this per­son any­more’. That’s such a dev­as­tat­ing, weird mo­ment, and I’m ob­sessed with when that hap­pens in the other per­son’s head. Un­for­tu­nately, I’m al­ways wait­ing for it. And I hate my­self for that. I’ve def­i­nitely made my cur­rent girl­friend suf­fer for that a lit­tle bit.”

She de­scribes her­self as a “very emo­tional per­son, wildly so” which some might view as a weak­ness, but LP be­lieves that’s what has helped her get to where she is to­day – not only suc­cess­ful in her own right, but as a song­writer for an eclec­tic range of artists in­clud­ing The Veron­i­cas, Cher and Ri­hanna. “I’ve forced my­self to write un­der ex­treme con­di­tions,” she says. “Like when I don’t want to, when I have to, when some­thing’s due, when a la­bel is breath­ing down my neck, when no one’s be­liev­ing in me, when ev­ery­body’s be­liev­ing in me. I’ve got­ten kind of like an ac­tor, cry­ing on de­mand. I can get there in a sec­ond and that’s been a real gift for me. I think I re­spond well to emo­tional chaos.”

Tak­ing your­self to those ex­tremes of emo­tion, as well as the iso­la­tion that comes from be­ing on the road all the time, must take its toll on a per­son’s men­tal health. “Oh god, yeah…” LP ad­mits. “It’s a very self- ab­sorbed, im­ma­ture way to live. That’s why mu­si­cians are no­to­ri­ously child­like. You have to be more dili­gent in your re­la­tion­ships, be­cause things can get away from you. You have to show up and par­tic­i­pate. But it’s dif­fi­cult. I see it with the guys in my band too. It’s hard to jump back into the in­ti­macy of a life when you’re out.”

What’s her cop­ing mech­a­nism? LP shrugs, and smiles sadly. “I don’t re­ally know. I just try to deal with the daunt­ing task of singing like a ban­shee for 90 min­utes ev­ery night. That’s all I can re­ally take care of in the im­me­di­ate. I’ve al­ways been like that. I take care of the im­me­di­ate thing be­cause oth­er­wise, it’s too over­whelm­ing.”

Two days af­ter our in­ter­view, I’m at LP’S al­bum launch at Youtube Space Lon­don. In a 45- minute set, she per­forms tracks from the new al­bum, as well some older tracks, in­clud­ing my favourite – Into The Wild. It’s re­ally spe­cial watch­ing her come to life and feed off the en­ergy of the crowd, who part like the Red Sea as LP makes her way from the stage to the back of the room. There’s some­thing elec­tric in the air; that un­know­able thing, and it feels al­most like a re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence. God re­ally is in the room tonight.

“I re­spond well to emo­tional chaos”

Lost On You is out now

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