Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
Laurel 2 credit Kamila K Stanley
Nine Songs

The singer/songwriter and producer talks her favourite songs and why they feature on her morning playlist.

27 July 2018, 09:00 | Words by Sean Kerwick

Laurel’s forthcoming debut album DOGVIOLET may have been a long time coming, but not for the reasons you might expect from an emerging artist. “It’s all been mixed and produced by me” and after a long sigh she admits, “it was quite a lengthy process”. The topic of artistic control and isolation is a reoccurring motif as we chat about the creation of DOGVIOLET; recorded at her home studio throughout 2017, she juggled writing, producing, performing, mixing and remastering duties. “There’s been no collaboration whatsoever. Everything I’ve ever released has been done by me.”

This labour of love has brought about a strange mix of feelings as release day approaches, “I’m excited and quite nervous at the same time. I’ve been waiting my whole life to release this album.” The resulting body of work is a stripped-back, lo-fi suite of songs where her unique croon takes centre stage, augmented by intricate guitars and organic production. This canvas allows Laurel’s heart to be laid bare as she tries to make sense of the flailing emotions and moods that comes with love, for better or for worse.

As we talk through the songs she’s chosen, Laurel explains they’re not established fixtures in her record collection, but are instead cherry-picked discoveries from playlists she’s loving at the moment. The songs reveal her eclectic taste - seven of them were released before she was born, highlighting her affection for records from the ‘60s and ‘70s - as well a love for old-school recording techniques and a penchant for expansive 10-minute epics.

“I feel like I’ve basically given you my morning playlist!” Whilst they’re not tied to the inspirations for her debut record, they do provide clues as to where she may be heading next. “All of these songs represent the vibe I’m interested in exploring more, apart from a couple that I just love all the time.”

“Ela Desatinou” By Chico Buarque

“This song was sent to me on a playlist by my boyfriend and he’s got the most crazy, varied taste in music. Every couple of months I always ask him to send me a playlist of the songs he’s currently listening to and he sends me this huge six hour playlist. ‘Ela Desatinou’ was one of them.

“I listen to the whole album Chico Buarque de Hollanda, Volume 3 nearly every morning. It’s a bad habit really, when I love things I really go for it and play them on repeat, but it’s got the best vibe to wake up to in the morning.

“I try and listen to music in the mornings because I’m usually making it all day, which doesn’t really give me that much chance to listen to it. I’m not going to lie, the last thing you want to do in the evening is listen to music, particularly when you’re mixing and producing a record, so the mornings are the only time when I can really have a good listen to something. A lot of people tend to listen to music when they’re working, but I can’t because I’m making noise.”

“Für Hildegard Von Bingen” by Devendra Banhart

“This song has become one of my all-time favourites. All of Devendra Banhart’s stuff is really different but the production on this is just amazing - I would love to do something like this one day.

‘Für Hildegard Von Bingen’ is a song is about a nun leaving a nunnery, which is a great topic for a song. I find it hard to write about anything but love, which you can probably tell from listening to my album, so it’s nice to hear a different approach.”

“Pablo Picasso” by The Modern Lovers

“This one is a more recent favourite. I think the lyrics on it are incredible, the lyrics are really punky. I love the line where he just says “Pablo Picasso has never been called an asshole” and repeats it a million times.

“All of these songs have that vibe of not being too current. I think a lot of modern music sounds quite similar now because it all comes out of a laptop. That’s what I’m doing as well, because it’s the easiest way to make music and it’s a very creative way of doing it, but you can’t really recreate that warm sound you get on tape.

“I was finding it difficult to mix my album because there were so many different parts and I felt it was too digital-sounding through the computer. So I took it into a studio and put all my stems through a tape machine and ran them through it. It’s more of an organic sound and I wanted to engage with that when I was making music. I ran it off the tape and then I mixed it on a computer. It was pretty analogue, anything you run through tape just has that great sound.”

“The Feeling When You Walk Away” Yves Tumor

“I haven’t actually listened to any of Yves Tumor’s other music. Somebody told me the other day that ‘The Feeling When You Walk Away’ is the only song of his which sounds like this. Apparently when he plays live the rest of his set is super mental, it’s all noise distortion and craziness, but he just has this one song that’s different and hardly ever plays it.

“That guitar loop is just incredible and the vocal line really sticks in your head. Yves Tumor is the coolest name as well!”

“Marquee Moon” by Television

“This was another one that my boyfriend suggested to me. I’ve been listening to the full album of Marquee Moon a lot. It’s good to put on when you’re doing something, although I did try and listen to the song in a car on the way to a gig the other day and I the ten minutes may have been a bit too long. It depends on the setting.”

“The guitars on this song are really hooky, even though it’s a ten minute song there’s something quite poppy about it and it’s really catchy. If it had been shortened it probably would have been played on the radio a bit more. Weirdly, a lot of the music I listen to is a bit more punky compared to my music, which is not really like that at all.”

“Baby Come Back” by Player

“I think this song was a one-hit wonder but I just love it. I didn’t expect the band to look how they do either, their profile picture on Spotify is so funny! It’s just the funniest shot of these four white guys in these weird outfits. For some reason I didn’t expect it to be that.

“‘Baby Come Back’ used to be my morning song but I exhausted it a little bit. It’s just super fucking happy and I love listening to that kind of soulful ‘70s music. That sort of thing is the best thing to listen to - it’s easy and it puts you in a good mood. I’m never going listen to anything electronic in the morning. Put on a gown and make some breakfast to this - that’s the sort of life I want to live.”

“Alone Again Or” by Love

“This is another song I’ve been listening to recently. I’ve only just started listening to this in the last week and I’ve been listening to some of Love’s other tracks as well and I love the vibe of it. Actually, I need to add them to my morning playlist.

“I’m quite picky with music, I find it difficult to latch on to music sometimes, maybe because I hear it all the time and there’s so much music out there. When I like something and it’s really interesting to me, I’m just going to keep listening to it. If you’re not only making music but producing and mixing it as well, you don’t always just listen to a song - I’m picking it apart and I’ll analyse what’s going on here and there. I think to myself ‘that’s a really great instrumental’ but also ‘that melody could have been so much better!’

“I’m really tough on music. I remember when I went to study English at school and the teacher said to me ‘Once you take English Literature, you’re never going be able to read a book in the same way again.’ I remember thinking ‘I don’t know if I like that.’ When I was reading books in English, I was analysing sentences and how they did it, or how that line made you feel. It’s the same with music, you don’t listen to it with the same sort of viewpoint.”

“Only You” by Steve Monite

“I think this is one of the best songs ever written, I swear to God. I heard it a few months ago when somebody put it on in my house and I said ‘What the fuck is this?!’ Every now and then you hear a song which makes you think ‘Wow, this exists! This is the best song I’ve ever heard. Why have I not written this?’ It’s so simple and the production is so weird and retro, the melody line is absolutely legendary - how do you write that? And in the lyrics where he’s talking about being called Steve in there, it’s so casual and downplayed.

“There’s not really much about Steve Monite online. It’s funny, because I’d never heard this song in my life and within days of hearing it I heard it five times in a row at festivals and bars. I don’t know if it’s become big all of a sudden, but it was so strange because I’ve never heard it anywhere before.

“I think music from the ‘70s and ‘80s is better than anything that’s released now in terms of the standard and variation of it; mainstream music was so much more interesting then. You think of some of the bands back then, like Talking Heads who were so big but so different to other mainstream bands. People were exploring a lot more.”

“Everything Scatter” by Fela Kuti

“I really love this track. It makes me feel calm - I don’t know why, but it’s quite soothing and it’s another morning track. It’s also a bit different to what I’m usually listening to and it’s nice to keep it varied. Sometimes I have a tendency to just listen to one type of music and similar artists because that’s what I’m in the mood for, but it’s nice to put other stuff in there to keep you on your toes.

“When I was younger I did a lot of pop writing and I was taught to write in such a constricted way that would be pleasing to the masses. I’m glad I got taught that but sometimes I feel I’m really restricting myself with my writing because I’ve been told that’s how I should write music. Whereas I love that these songs that are non-constricted. It’s like they think to themselves ‘I’m going to keep going because I don’t feel like finishing the song yet’ and that’s great. I never do that and that’s why I love ‘Everything Scatter.’”

DOGVIOLET is released 24 August via Counter Records.
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