LOLO | Singer-Songwriter
Images above taken by Catherine Powell
We had the pleasure of sitting down with LOLO, aka Lauren Pritchard, to get the scoop on her new album, her kitty cat lives, what her writing process is like, and more. LOLO's album, "In Loving Memory of When I Gave a Shit", is out now! Make sure to check it out here.
Nora Henick: So start off by telling us a little bit about yourself, where you're from, what you're doing, all that fun information! Kind of like the first day of school, get to know each other game.
LOLO: My name is LOLO, aka Lauren Pritchard, my given name is a not so well kept secret. I'm a songwriter, singer, composer, actress, activist, Hello Kitty lover... Christmas lover, Santa Claus believer, comic book nerd...
NH: Very important question - favorite superhero?
LOLO: My favorite superhero is Batman. I wore Batman pajamas for the entire third year of my life - even to Easter Sunday. My favorite food is a hard tie between any kind of pizza and artichokes. I do eat artichoke on pizza and I do eat Artichoke Pizza. I am an equal opportunity pizza eater. I am 28 years old. I have been professionally working in the entertainment industry since I was nine years old. I was born and raised in Jackson, TN, which is, for those of you who do not know where that is, it's mostly well known for a Johnny Cash song called Jackson. Two hours from Nashville, an hour from Memphis. I grew up being surrounded by music my entire life, grew up performing my entire life. I was in an amateur ballet company as a child, and I was a gymnast - I was a very busy little girl. when I was eight years old I looked at my mom and I said "I want to move to New York and I want to be a singer and I want to be a performer and I want you to help me do that" and she was really freaked out but she was also like, "Okay, let's do it." Hello Kitty is my permanent spirit animal. My favorite singer is Aretha Franklin. My favorite candy is a Twix bar; my second favorite is Good 'N Plenty but I like pretty much all licorice. The thing that put me on the map: when I was a senior in high school - I was in a Broadway show called Spring Awakening. I was in the original cast; I was the original Ilse. While I was doing the show on Broadway I signed my publishing deal with Sony ATV, who I've been with almost going on nine years - which is remarkable. They're amazing and very good to me. I'm sort of like a kitty cat in the industry, I've had multiple lives already. The current kitty cat life I'm in in the music industry is I'm a composer for musical theater - I wrote a musical called Songbird and it ran off Broadway last year (Fall 2015) at a theater called 59 East 59th Street Theater and that was nothing short of a miracle.
NH: Inspired by Fleetwood Mac at all?
LOLO: Nope - Actually, it's based off of an old Anton Chekov play called The Seagull and we adapted it for modern day singer-songwriter Nashville. I wrote all of the music and lyrics for it and my collaborator Michael wrote the script. It was an interesting thing for me to do because I had never really strictly written country music before and I did for that. That was wonderful and we wound up getting really wonderful reviews - we were a New York Times Critic's Pick and it was great. So I'm working on a few other musical theater things as well as Songbird still. We're trying to make it a Broadway show which is crazy and will be a very lengthy process still but it's crazy to be even to hypothesize that at all. And then I'm also a singer-songwriter. I write for other people as well, bands, artists, but I also write for myself and when I'm on stage doing that I'm LOLO. My composer stuff I do is Lauren Pritchard. I'm putting a record out called "In Loving Memory of When I Gave a Shit".
NH: Which is the best name in the ENTIRE world. So what is your writing process like when you're writing for yourself?
LOLO: Thank you! It varies - a few of the songs on the album I'm the complete songwriter, 100 percent - like music and lyrics. In that process, when I'm writing solely by myself it's a very stream-of-consciousness kind of thing, where I will be playing some music and singing ideas and it's very fluid. I try to not overthink it too much - I try and allow my creativity to just come out. I also do what I call daily word vomits. I'll expel all kinds of thoughts and feelings, similar to the stream of consciousness sense where I'll just try and write. I won't try and be clever or interesting, I just want to write whatever my feelings are. Then I'll go from there and usually bring those word vomits to co-writing sessions and say here, these are my feelings...
NH: "Here is my vomit, can we use this?!"
LOLO: "Can we work on my vomit?!" So that's usually what happens. And that's usually really fun too because for the other person I'm working with, we collaborate on the music side of it and the melodies and everything and it's sort of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together with the words - and we do it together - but at the end of the day it's still my words and so it's helpful because it's me being true to myself.
NH: Definitely. I know this is definitely a hard question, because it's like asking a parent to pick a favorite child, but if you could pick a favorite song or song that means the most to you off of your upcoming album what would it be?
LOLO: I would say Dandelion. It's totally an album track, it's not a single, it was not intended to be. That song is probably my favorite because I've had an interesting couple of years. I'm still living in New York sort of but I technically moved back to Tennessee, where I'm from. All of my things are in my parents’ house because I've been perpetually on tour and I just got really tired of wasting money on rent here. There's also been a lot of family health stuff going on back home so I moved home to be close to my family when I can be in my down time. We live an hour and a half from an airport, so for me to get back there it had to be super intentional. Moving back there and being able to be near my family more is really important to me. You know I'm single, I'm untethered in that way so it made the move easy in that way. But the first day that I moved home I was feeling very overwhelmed. I lived my entire adult life in New York or LA and you know I'd go home for Christmas and stuff but I've never lived any of my adult life there, truly. I had these feelings of realizing how divided my life has been in some ways. There's a lyric in this song that says "there's a Mason-Dixon line in the life I made" which I think is so totally true and a really helpful thing for me to own and admit to myself. To be like "yeah you really have a divided life in a lot of ways and it's really hard and that's okay" - and there are days where I feel really happy about it, that I have so much difference in how my life has been, and then there are days when I feel a little sad because it feels like a lot to have a Mason-Dixon line in my life and to be conscious of it. But it feels okay to also be aware of it. I panicked a little at first, and then I realized it and wrote the song and that helped a little. It helps, the more that I sing it out loud.
NH: It's like when they tell you that if you're upset and panicking, if you force yourself to smile or laugh it makes you feel better. So, how do you want to be remembered? Whether it's for your music or for anything outside of that.
LOLO: Of course, for anyone who does anything creative in their life - they definitely want to be remembered for the things they've done. But not to sound cheesy or anything, I would really love to be remembered as a kind person. A person who received a lot of love and then was able to take that and recycle that healthily back into the world and universe. I have always felt, as a person, I'm very spiritual and religious. I go to church on Sundays. I'm not a crazy bible pressing lunatic, but I do believe there is a God because that's what helps me sleep at night. That's the boat I need to float in to help me live my life and I believe that God's purpose for me here beyond anything I do professionally, is to understand the human condition and to understand that while everyone may seem happy and healthy, whatever we present ourselves to be to the outside world, we are all having a really hard time throughout our lives. We're all trying to figure out how to be adults and live our lives and do the best job and stay alive. I do believe I was sent here to give the world and hug and help people feel understood and loved and that's what I try to do every day of my life. Even with people that maybe are not very nice or the most deserving of my life. But I don't question and I don't categorize and there are no conditions. It's a little exhausting to be this way, but I have a lot of love to give and energy to produce that love for everyone around me. So I think more than anything that's really how I want to be remembered.
NH: I think it's a great way to be remembered - I don't think it's cheesy at all. If you could have anyone featured on your next album, who would it be? You can choose a few if you want.
LOLO: There's just so many people. I would really love to work with Anderson .Paak. He is so good. Then there's a band that I'm fucking obsessed with called Fidlar, out of SoCal, LA area. They're total stoner surfer punk rock band and they have put out my favorite record of the whole past year called "TOO". Oh my god it's so good. I just want to work with those boys so freaking bad. My ultimate person that I wanted to collaborate with my whole life was Prince and he died and I was really devastated about it. I have my little raspberry beret tattoo here - it's purple for Prince. He was always my number one so I'm always at a little bit of a loss because I always wanted it so it's like, now what am I supposed to do? I also really like Future, the rapper. I think he's completely bonkers, but I would really love to work with him. I'm not really sure if that would happen, but I think that would be really fun. He and I do not do the same thing at all, but at the same time we do. Lyrically, he keeps things so honest, and so do I. So that's why I sort of think that even though we are worlds apart, I think there could be an interesting middle ground there. I would enjoy to work with him a lot.
NH: Your honesty in your songs is something I really appreciate. You have a line in "The Courtyard" that really stuck out to me. "But the music came before you so don't make me choose because I won't choose you." It really reminded me of this quote that must have been said maybe four or five years ago by Lady Gaga that was something along lines of when it comes down to it if I have to choose between my career or a significant other I'm going to choose my career because my career won't wake up in the morning and it decide it doesn't love me anymore. My career is a part of me; it is the most important thing. I heard that and I was like that is how I need to live my life. I definitely believe in balance. But my career should always be something that matters to me and any person that comes into my life. So that's the first thing I thought of when I heard that line. Do you have any experiences in your life where people expected you to choose between the two? How'd you handle it?
LOLO: Absolutely. I mean that line is very literal. I've been very fortunate that I've never been challenged about my career by close friends or family. I grew up in an environment where I was so determined and I had so much faith in my own desire. Fuck my talent - I had so much faith in my own desire and my need to do it because I loved it so much. I didn't know exactly what I would wind up doing in the creative in the world, but I knew I would be doing something because I had too strong of a need and love for it to do anything else. My passion has always been admitting out of me- every pore of me. It was never a question to friends and family around me. Now, stupid boys on the other hand. Also, girls are stupid. This is an objective statement I'm making. We're all fucking horrible sometimes. But, I do not necessarily pick the best people to date. And pretty much anyone I've ever consistently been with has either dated me because they liked the idea of being with someone like me but then they have no fucking idea how to deal with it and tried to sort of control me and pin me down to a thing. Or I've dated people who have been like, so when are you going to stop doing this thing? Which is so infuriating. It's like "fuck off and fuck you". Roll off a cliff is how I feel about it. I have numerous times said to someone, "it's you or my job and it's not you. It's never going to be you. I'm never going to choose you, not ever, bye." It's happened so many times and every single time it's been for the best. It's always been with someone who's very unsupportive and very unhealthy for me emotionally.
NH: Unless there's a huge, huge, huge, huge imbalance in your life, there is no reason why that should ever be a question.
LOLO: Under no circumstances whatsoever. I was having this talk with one of my good friends who I was in Spring Awakening with and she was like, "You know what? It really pisses me off when people are like so are you still doing that acting thing? I don't look at you and say are you still doing that doctor thing? It's so rude. Also, you don't do that with basically any other profession." The other thing is it's a career and a lot of people do not know anything about the interworking of the entertainment industry, whether you're in fashion or art or media or whatever it is you do. It's a lifetime commitment and it is completely nonsensical, you know what I mean? But it's also very complicated and very convoluted. You can be very successful and not be on the cover of People magazine. That shit is a choice. Trust me, I know those fucking people and it is a choice. I know some of those faces personally and they chose that. That was a thing they wanted - they implemented it in their lives. And it's all visibility. It's not what people would think at all if you really get it under a microscope. People would be very surprised. But I mean, it would also happen to me a lot - so I did Spring Awakening 2006-2008 and I basically didn't go home for a whole year because I couldn't. In 2007, for Thanksgiving, the Broadway stage hand union went on strike and Broadway was dark for three and a half weeks. It was crazy, and it fell over Thanksgiving. And we all got to go home because we couldn't do our fucking jobs. So I went home - and at this point I would have been in the eight time Tony award winning musical, my face was in Times Square with my other cast members, we were the Christmas Gap ad that year - things were really good. And I was a little redneck with a life transformation happening and I was just trying to keep up and figure out how to deal with anything. The reason why none of us drowned was because we had each other to cling to. We were all so young and green and we did not know what was going on. But I went home, and there were some of these people at church, and they did not mean anything by this I think, and this kind of goes back to the awareness thing, but they were like, "So when are you going to be on American Idol?" They just have no awareness of how the industry works. And they don't mean it as an insulting thing, it's just all that they know. That's what translates to success for them. So, tying it all back to that statement in The Courtyard, I've had to live through many versions of it.
NH: So this question is a bit, well... everyone has mixed opinions on it. The music industry is notorious for treating women poorly. Do you find that you've had any setbacks in your career because of this?
LOLO: I have to be honest, not personally. Setbacks, no. I am very, very lucky that I have not really had to go through stuff that I know other people have gone through, friends of mine, that sort of thing. However, the only thing I did go through, was at the tail end of Spring Awakening. I had a development deal with Sony at the time. It was separate from my publishing deal with Sony. I was basically being courted by one of the companies at Sony. My A&R guy, who I will obviously not name, was trying to get me to break up with my boyfriend. He would call me a million times a day for things completely not necessary and he was married and had two kids and was trying to do things to me and it was really awful. So I basically sabotaged that entire situation so that I didn't ever have to see him again. And that was the only time I had ever gone through something that I really did have to see the fucking casting couch part of the world that exists.
NH: It's crazy - you see all of these things going on with women like Kesha, where women are just expected to sit there and have to see their abuser every day. You don't want to see those people, even if you're not working with them, why should you have to have to see them every day?
LOLO: I know - my heart really breaks for her because she is a really good person and I know what I went through when I went through that development deal. I was 19. When you're that young you do not have the wherewithal to be able to make educated decisions about stuff and in her case, she definitely didn't. Unfortunately, I think people made snap judgements about her because she was so crazy, you know what I mean? A lot of people have genuinely said about her, "Well she was asking for it." It's like, fuck off. No one is ever asking for that. But people have always said that about her. There are a lot of people that think that, I mean I don't think any woman feels that way about her per say, at least no women that I know personally. But the thing is would my life be very different but easier if I was a man in this industry? Yeah - I mean I was on a huge tour a few summers ago and out of the 95 people on the tour, six were women. Two of the women were myself and one of the other performers. So there were four female crew members. And that's what you're dealing with. I'm very lucky that my band guys are like my brothers and are very protective and caring of me. I'm also very lucky to have the team of people around me that I do, my management, my lawyer who's a badass woman - Rosemary Carol (literally my hero), my agent who is also a woman, and one of my other agents - a man but also one of my dearest friends. They are people who are really caring of me as a woman and not in a way where it's babying or something, but in a way that's like, "We appreciate you."
NH: Yeah - essentially you're our equal. Your gender does not matter.
LOLO: Yeah, treated like an equal. Now with that being said if I didn't work my ass off, I don't know that that would be the same. Because the people that I work with, work really really hard and I work really really hard because that is who I am, but I also work really really hard to prove to them that their work is worth it and important to me, not lost or unseen.
NH: Your strong work ethic is something to be admired. And the last question, what's next for you? You said you've already lived some of your nine lives... so what's the next one?
LOLO: I can't decide whether I'm on four or five right now. I think I'm on five. What's next for me? There's a lot of stuff going on. I'm still working on Songbird - that's going to be a lifelong work in progress in a way. I'm working on another new musical that I'm creating with an amazing women named Megan Dobkin. It's tentatively called Pink Boxes. It's about nine women in a pole dancing exercise class and how their lives come together. They have self-discovery by being on the pole and it's helping them find their inner selves. It's been so much fucking fun to work on it. It's very preliminary, very early days. So I'm working on Pink Boxes, I'm working on Songbird, this record comes out. One of my really good friends Cari - she's really into numerology and my record is coming out on 9/9/2016 - and she sent me this page from a numerology book because the release date is 9, 9, and 2+0+1+6=9, so 999, and she said whatever the future is, is going to be good. The photo says, 999 - "This is a message signifying completion of an important chapter in your life and now it's time to get to work without procrastination on your next life chapter. This number sequence is like an alarm clock ringing loudly in order to jolt you into working on your life purpose." The date wasn't intentional with this serendipitous nature of these numbers. It's very bewildering, very encouraging, and very validating. Up next, it's consistent songwriting. I think I'm shooting a horror film, which will be really fun. I really want to spend some time with my nieces and my nephew and I don't know when I will be able to do that but I really want to do that soon. I haven't been able to see them enough this year and they're growing up so quickly. And even though I'm working like a dog and I'm very, very happy, one day in the future it would be nice to fall in love and have a person. Who knows when that will be, I don't focus on that at all, ever. I think for me, what the future looks like is uncertain in the best way. There's a million things going on that are coming up that are super exciting, we have a tour in September, and then we have shows for the rest of the year and there's tons of things going on and it's all really exciting but sort of in a bigger picture sense. There's the possibility for anything to happen - good and bad ultimately. I think what I feel is really relieved to have created this body of work and relieved that it exists and that I'm going to be able to put it out into the world and have people hear my feelings of self-doubt and confusion and fear and silliness and encouragement and hopefulness. I know what music has done for me and my life, so what I want to do is give that back any way that I can. We all want to be heard and understood. When people walk up to me and say "Wow I don't know what you were going through when you wrote that song but I can relate to it and it helps me", that means everything to me because I want to be heard and understood just like everyone else, you know? I'm trying to figure it out just like everyone else - that's a really big thing about the particularly the song "The Courtyard".
NH: I listen to that song on repeat - I listened to for 45 minutes straight the other night. I love it so much.
LOLO: You're too sweet. I wrote that song on New Year's Day this year. New Year's Day, I had no idea what this fucking year was going to be like. I could not be more genuine - I landed in LA two days before that to work and finish this record with my super boy wonder music producer/best friend, Jay Sinclair - he's the best. We had gone for a hike to the Wisdom Tree later that day, but I woke up that morning and I wrote the words to the song and then later that day we went to the studio and actually wrote the rest of the melody. And "The Courtyard", what it is - I was staying with my very best friend out there, Alex, and he lives in this amazing building in Hollywood. There's a courtyard in the middle. His old apartment faced into the courtyard, and so it was always really quiet. His new apartment faces the streets and he's on the second floor and the garbage truck is really loud - and it was a literal garbage truck that woke me up that morning, not my alarm. And I didn't have a crazy New Year's, I was at my manager's house with a whole bunch of friends and quite honestly I ate a pot brownie and got really high and went to sleep and it was a great New Year's Eve. I had so much fun. I woke up to the garbage truck, it literally happened like in the song. I couldn't believe that the year was over because I had a tremendous year last year. It really was, it makes me feel emotional to think about it. I had worked so hard my whole life and I wanted to just be a writer always and then my show was on the cover of the Arts Section of the New York Times and I had done all of these really remarkable things and it was insane and I didn't want the year to end because I wasn't ready for it to be aware. It was so crazy and insane. So when I woke up on New Year's Day I was like, "I can't believe I have to try and do another year after that one. How do things get better than that?" It was so remarkable. It's still really stunning to me that it happened at all. And so the line, "My Hello Kitty heart can't believe the year is over" is sincere too. It's all very literal. I forgot to call my mom because I was so stoned - I'm sorry mom! All my mom has ever wanted for me is to be happy and loved and accepted and my dad too - and this song is a very genuine, personal realization of genuinely trying to figure out how to be a human, how to be a good human, not even a great human, how to just even be a decent human - a consistently decent human, and make everything be okay. So to think of that song and when I wrote it, I had no earthly idea what this year was going to be. There has been so much that has happened in so few months - I had no idea that I would be putting this record out with Atlantic, I had no idea I would be doing the tour I'm doing, or doing some of the work I did. I did a bunch of work on the Panic at the Disco album that came out this year and it went number one and it went gold in July and that has been insanely crazy for me as a songwriter. I try not to think too hard about things that have happened, because if I do I tend to cry because it makes me feel a lot of things, which is why the title of the album is really funny because I give a LOT of shits. I just don't care about people's opinions anymore. I don't care. You can either like it or goodbye. Life is too short at this point to be dealing with mean people, or to try and fit into somebody's box of whatever they think people need to be. You know, it's interesting to then sit down and really talk about the future because I feel like every year I just go, "I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to do another one."
NH: Well, we can't wait to follow alongside with you and see where your ride takes you. Thank you again for sitting down with us, LOLO!