LP is riding horseback, the camera zooming closer into what we now see is a white Saint Laurent suit effortlessly thrown on, baldly contrasting against the backdrop of the Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California. An atmospheric guitar kicks in, delivering a cutting tune reminiscent of Sergio Leone movies and their instantly recognisable western scores. We’re only 10 seconds into the official video that accompanies LP’s latest track “The One That You Love” … or are we watching the opening scene to a 1965 Spaghetti Western?
Rambling towards town set against an orange-hued sunset, dust being kicked up from the horse’s hooves, the official video, directed by Darren Craig, establishes the mood of what’s to come from Los Angeles-based LP. There is a nostalgia in her sound, owing to her signature, piercing pop-rock vocals that explode onto the track, and yet the mood appears more relaxed than ever. The track was written in Mexico last November, before the world went into complete lockdown and when staying at home was a luxury, not a chore. “[The track] was very much born out of the intense inspiration that was happening in that moment. I know it will come back, that ease of life, but right now it definitely doesn’t seem as palpable to fly around the world and do fun stuff like that,” LP tells us.
“It all started in Mexico. We went down to Mexico in November, to Cabo, and we stayed in a hotel that had a studio on its premises. It was really cool because we took a bunch of equipment from the studio and put it up on the roof, well not the roof but the Penthouse, and we worked out of that room for ten days. It was very inspiring. I had just come out of tour in Mexico and South America, so I felt very inspired in general. That was actually the second song we made on the trip. We were having dinner across the street at this cheap little place, and there was a singer just quietly doing his thing in the corner with a little guitar, and I feel like we just really soaked it in that night. So, when we went back up to the studio and were messing around with guitars, that first line of the song just popped out at that moment. It was one of the few times that we have had something interesting to work with right away, it was fun.”
“I feel like I’m a ‘band person’ that never found a band. I get inspired by other people. I wasn’t ever lucky enough to find my Keith Richards, but I feel like I have found that same thing in writing partners. The main thing that I now know about myself is that I am a songwriter first and foremost. I am always working towards being a better songwriter; I want to get to the point faster, better, and with more kick.”
Speaking with LP down a long-distance phone line (London – Los Angles), only just returning into a not-quite-back-to-normal world, LP – born Laura Pergolizza to an Italian father and Irish mother – is “wonderful,” despite having “had enough of it for sure.”
“I feel very inspired and I have done this whole time. I’m sick of being at home and I long to connect with fans, but I still have been writing a lot and have spent a lot of time working on this record. It’s cool. This is nothing if not an inspiring time, and we can’t lose sight of that. This is one of the most incredible times, and I don’t mean that in a positive way. There are traumatic things happening all over the world, but often people haven’t heard of them. Whereas, you’ll never say ‘oh, do you know the pandemic of 2020?’ and someone reply no. It’s a collective experience.”
Aside from working on her own music, LP has spent these last few months of solitude exploring the crevasses of her eclectic music taste, switching from Frank Sinatra to Tupac in one afternoon. “I love Post Malone and I love Justin Bieber. Those songs are fun! I also like a lot of Kanye West’s stuff; I actually listen to a bunch of rap because I think the word play is so incredible. When I dive back into the Biggie Smalls catalogue it blows my fucking mind.”
“There is a new guy I have been obsessed with called Tamino. He has this beautifully low voice, it is insane. He is actually the last person I saw live before the lockdown, the night before! The place was sold out. It was cool.”
My songs are both personal and universal at the same time.”
“The One That You Love” follows a string of releases these last couple of years, including a 17-track live album, Live in Moscow, and “Girls Go Wild.” This comes off the back of the incredible success of “Lost on You” in 2016, an all-conquering hit record that reached the equivalent of U.S. Platinum-level sales by selling in markets globally, reaching number one in 17 countries worldwide. Thematically, the track was a cry from a broken heart, a break-up song that resonated with millions of people all over the world.
“I think that there is an emotion element to how I sing, and my music has a blurred genre. In my own country, we tend to be very specific on genre and what that genre means and what it does. Some countries are a lot looser. I think it’s the emotional element that gets people with my stuff, more so than an adherence to what’s current and what is popular.”
“[The music industry] has changed so much. This is the first time that I am properly putting music out. When I was coming up you needed someone sat on the other side of a desk to think that you are the shit and believe in you. When I first signed to Warner in 2011 everyone was so behind me, screaming from the rooftop that I was THE artist there. I put out a Live EP and people were really excited about it, and then over the course of two years the chairman of the label and coincidentally the producer of my record lost his power, and so new people came in. By the time I was ready to release that record I was working with all these new people that were scratching their heads wondering if they even liked me as an artist. They weren’t really behind the record that I had been working on for the past two years. So, when I played them my new stuff, “Lost on You” and two other songs, they dropped me.
I took some time to regroup as I didn’t really know what was going to happen, and then suddenly “Lost on You” took off. It was such a definitive moment in my career – no one really knows, do they? Now, I think the power is a lot more in the artists hands. If you want to, you can just keep on releasing things yourself. It has changed a lot, and it always will. I remember years ago before I signed to Warner, people were talking about the ‘collapse of the industry’ due to streaming. It’s changed a great deal, and mostly for the better.”
LP’s song-writing credits stretch far and wide. “Love Will Keep You Up All Night,” one of the tracks she had written at Island Def Jam Music Group, was released in late 2007 on the Backstreet Boys album, Unbreakable. However, her huge breakthrough came in 2010, when she co-wrote “Cheers (Drink to That)” for Rihanna on her fifth studio album Loud, with only Rihanna’s added ‘Rihanna-isms’ setting it apart from the original. Since then, LP has written for everyone from Cher (“Red,” “Pride”) to Leona Lewis (“Fingerprint”), Celine Dion (“Change My Mind”) to Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful People”).
“When writing, the angle is always from my emotional stance in the world. I have written a lot of songs for other people that were meant for them. But then also, one of the first songs I wrote was given the Backstreet Boys, even though I wrote that song for me. A lot of my songs are both personal and universal at the same time.”
“People are my fuel; I never get tired of exploring the depths of the human psyche. I feel like if I didn’t do this, I would study to be a therapist or something.”
Having continued to write prolifically for other artists throughout her career, LP has decided that now is the time to start releasing music for herself. And despite her worldwide 2020 headline tour being postponed due to the pandemic, she has promised there is still a lot more to come this year.