From Hip-Hop to Baroque Pop, This Is Lauren Auder: Interview

“My goal is to transmit something that is bigger than myself.”
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Lauren Auder, 2020

London’s Lauren Auder bridges the gap between the hyper-feeling realm and mundane reality. From Albi, a town in Southwestern France, Lauren, 21, has been crafting a unique baroque pop world since their 2018 debut EP, Who Carry’s You. Influenced initially by the likes of Clams Casino and Main Attrakionz, the lineage of Lauren’s sound is decidedly hip-hop. They began their career producing for underground French and English rap acts, burying themselves in these vibrant scenes.

“The thing that started me off making music was these hip-hop producers,” Lauren explains. “It was a natural thing for me to start working in those territories, making beats and sending them around and working with all these rappers. That was what I was listening to, and what I was invested in… That led me into more neo-classical and ambient music along the lines of Tim Hecker. From there, it became a natural progression into left-leaning pop music.”

Today, Lauren Auder is releasing the Who Carry’s You follow-up EP, two caves in. Lauren’s two caves in feels glorious. The sweeping soundscapes and depth of the writing make two caves in this otherworldly experience wherein our conceptions of sound and emotion are constantly challenged and soothed. Lauren makes music to push boundaries of genre and feeling, and it works. Opening track “june 14th” rushes forward on a bed of strings and the cleansing sheen of Lauren’s vocal. The song swells and unveils itself to us movement over movement. Meanwhile, the grave “laurels” boasts an eerie horn section, and Lauren’s writing on fleeting pleasure strikes our heart before a series of windchimes take us to another plane.

Lauren Auder takes satisfaction to task on two caves in. Their work snaps and boils up genre. All we’re left with are delicate and brooding soundscapes, like fine silk in our grubby hands, to have and hold while Lauren’s writing washes over us. On the breakthrough moment of “the shepherd,” a blaring guitar carries the glimmering accents. The suite is gorgeous. “We both have our crosses to bear,” Lauren sings, “You can’t believe me.” It’s enough to summon tears of gratitude, music this beautiful.

“My goal is to transmit something bigger than myself,” Lauren concludes. “It feels like I don’t have much of a choice, as cliche as it sounds. I don’t think I could do anything different. So when that hopeless feeling happens, I remind myself I wanna do something bigger than me, and therefore it’s bigger than those hopeless feelings I may experience.”

Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.

DJBooth: You have a really glorious, sweeping sound. Who were some of your early influences?

Lauren Auder: It’s kind of a funny story. The original thing that pushed me to make music was a lot of the more spacious and ambient-leaning hip-hop production that was happening around 2010, 2011, 2012. I started making music around that time where Clams Casino and SpaceGhostPurrp were beginning to forge the sound of cloud rap. I realized what I liked most was the more vaporous, spacey sounds coming out of [cloud rap]—into the ambient side of things. That led me into more neo-classical and ambient music along the lines of Tim Hecker. From there, it became a natural progression into left-leaning pop music.

I hear you got your start in music producing for underground French and English rap artists. Could you speak to some of those experiences?

The thing that started me off making music was these hip-hop producers. It was a natural thing for me to start working in those territories—making beats, sending them around, and working with all these rappers. That was what I was listening to and what I was invested in. At some point, I felt like I had something to say as well. I also think it was just the people I grew up around were much more hip-hop [oriented] and on a rap wave.

I also hear you were singing the praises of slowthai years before he had his break in the mainstream.

I found [slowthai] on SoundCloud when he had about 100 followers. I think it was a fluke—I could not tell you how I stumbled upon his page. At that point, I was starting to make music or hadn’t even properly started. I was immediately grabbed by his sound and knew from day one; there was something special to it. Of course, at that point, neither one of us had any following.

What role does your family play in your tastes and your sound?

My family [had] varied music tastes. That was key for me, being able to be open to so many different genres. I grew up listening to a lot of metal on my dad’s side and ‘90s indies on my mom’s—but she’s also a huge Ghostface Killah fan. That was the most formative thing: to be surrounded by such different tastes in music. That led to me, at least in my mind, making music that is much less boundary-driven.

Diving into the work itself, what’s the significance of the title of your new EP, two caves in? It summons the ideas of heartbreak, but also Plato’s Cave.

That’s definitely one of the references. I wanted to have a title that could mean a multitude of things to other people and me. The EP [is] based around the idea of coming into your real-life and seeing things more clearly, and without such an influenced vision of the world through expectations… So Plato’s Cave was a huge part of the title. On a more surface level, there’s a cavernous sound to both EPs. It’s also two [EPs] into my career. Then there’s the simple one, although it’s not spelled like this: to cave in on oneself. I wanted something that had a rhythm to it.

I’m blown away by the way you sound within your productions. How do you write to get yourself as one with the music?

All the vocals, production, and instrumentation were written pretty much simultaneously. I didn’t make instrumentals and then write vocals to it, it was at the same time. I was writing the top lines at the same [time] as the main melodies or the core chord progressions. When it came to the production, it was important to think about the way it was written and to have my vocals in the middle.

I think of the amazing, yet simplistic, writing on “june 14th.” How did you get to a point where concision was your forte?

That makes me happy to hear because that’s something I’m trying to get even closer to. On my first record, and this one, I rely on a lot of reference-heavy work and more conceptual things. On this EP, because I knew based on the sound and lyrical matter, I wanted to tell a more direct conversation… It was important for me to cull things down to a minimum and paint a grander scene with more precise themes. That’s still something I’m working on in my work: painting a more ambitious narrative with such small details.

Which song on the EP was the most taxing to write?

I think, “june 14th.” There’s an emotional breaking. It tackles the loss of innocence in the most direct way, and [digs] into my memories. It takes its toll. That was definitely the hardest one in that regard.

In your Spotify bio, it says, “the fruits of my labour, a labour of love.” I have to ask, has it ever felt like you are working towards nothing as if the art was not rewarding you? How did you overcome that?

Every artist probably goes through those phases. It’s felt like that many a time. For me, at least, you’ve got a desire to say something that does not entirely serve yourself. My goal is to transmit something bigger than myself. It feels like I don’t have much of a choice, as cliche as it sounds. I don’t think I could do anything different. So when that hopeless feeling happens, I remind myself I wanna do something bigger than me, and therefore it’s bigger than those hopeless feelings I may experience.

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