The world was introduced to Laurel twelve months ago with the unveiling of ‘Blue Blood’, a haunting and anthemic ballad of discovering love after heartbreak. Since then, a stream of other tracks have brought her attention from across the globe and led to the release of her debut EP To The Hills last month. We caught up with the Southampton-born singer before her show at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, to find out about her love of homeware, the much-anticipated homecoming show and of course, her début album.
First things first, happy birthday for yesterday! Did you get any good presents?
Thanks! Yeah I got a frying pan and a spatula. I used to look at my mum getting cutlery and candles for her birthday and think ‘oh my god, you’re so boring, how do you find that enjoyable?’, but it’s got to the point now where I love getting frying pans and things that I can use for my house.
You recently released your debut EP. How’s it been getting that out there as a release?
Yeah I did, To The Hills it’s called. There are two other tracks on it, two remixes. It’s really nice to have a body of work out there instead of just singles which I’ve done before and it’s great to just get a lot of support from people.
In previous interviews you’ve talked about your songwriting style and drawing inspiration from magazines – tell us about that.
Yeah that’s where I get the majority of my lyric ideas from. I love Vogue and Elle and all of those sorts of magazines. I go through them and don’t actually read the articles, I’m kind of wasted on that, I just scan and if I’m drawn to a word I’ll write it down, and then when it comes to writing my lyrics I have a whole bank of crazy words and I won’t use 90% of them, but something will be there that I think ‘oh that’s cool!’. So for ‘To The Hills’ there was something about ‘the hills’, to do with The Sound of Music or something and I thought that was great and it gave me the idea for the rest of the song.
The EP is out now, but you’ve been working on some new music. Is there an album on the way?
I’m always working on new music, but the album is pretty much done. We’re going to record some more strings for it in a couple of weeks, and then that will be out early next year. So exciting, but I think before that we’re going to put out another single, which is actually 80’s themed, so it’ll be interesting to see what people think about that.
Have you had any ideas for cover art or names or anything yet?
Yeah I want to call it London’s Last Sweetheart. It’s something I put up on my Twitter a while ago because that was what I wanted to call the album, and it has somehow just been picked up as my catchphrase or bio or something, so every time someone blogs about my music, they’re like ‘London’s last sweetheart: Laurel’ and I’m like, ‘I didn’t call myself that! It’s just a phrase I thought of in my sleep!’. But yeah I really love that. I have also been playing with the name Botanical but I think London’s Last Sweetheart might win.
Botanical fits in with your actual name though. All of the gardeners will be after you.
Yeah, Botanical – Laurel. Maybe it’s a bit too close. I went to Kew Gardens and the botanical greenhouse and it was amazing. It got me thinking, and so I’ve written a song called ‘Botanical God’ and yeah, I think it sounds pretty. I don’t know, maybe that will be the second album.
Maybe you can do a tour of arboretums around the country.
I would love that. A tour of all the greenhouses.
You get compared to Lana Del Rey a lot, what do you think of that comparison?
I’m not going to lie, I used to say it wasn’t annoying, but I’ve recently realised that it is. It’s only annoying to a certain extent because she’s an amazing artist and I do draw inspiration from the type of artist she is, because she’s the type of artist I’d like to be. She’s creatively in control, she sings amazing music and goes with whatever she wants to do. So it’s not too bad. It’s annoying that everyone always chooses the same one because there are so many artists in the world that I am inspired by, but it’s so typical that people just choose the first one they think of. Until I’m at Rihanna’s stage, I’m always going to be compared to somebody, and as long as they are great artists I don’t mind. If I start getting compared to The Cheeky Girls, then I’d be worried.
I’ve been compared to Lorde quite a bit and Florence too, and I think we probably just all grew up listening to the same music. You’re not necessarily influenced by your contemporaries because you’re all coming out at the same time. Lorde has only been around for what, nine months; how could that have influenced the music I wrote last year? So I think everyone instantly thinks that, but I think what’s more the case is you all grew up listening to the same sort of music and you’re in the same sort of world. So how are you not going to be similar?
You’re from Southampton, but you haven’t played there in a while. Have you got any plans to do a homecoming show?
I know! I probably haven’t played there since I was about 15. I have got plans to play there though. I’m playing at a festival called Festibelly in the New Forest, and I’m doing their warm-up show at Orange Rooms, which will be fun, because that’s where I used to go when I was like 16, sneaking into the nightclub when I wasn’t allowed in.
What do you think about Southampton as a city; are you a fan?
I didn’t live in the city itself, I grew up out in the suburbs which was lovely, it was really rural and chilled out. But going into the actual city I don’t like so much because I used to have a job at Hollister there for two years. I used to go every Saturday and Sunday, so I just associate WestQuay with this horrible two years having to work as a shop assistant. But it will be fun to go back!
She performs at Orange Rooms on the 26th May.