“It would be dishonest to claim we don’t have these extremely at-odds experiences with the world. As much as I love my Renaissance bullshit, I can’t pretend I’ve never seen a car or I don’t go on my phone first thing in the morning, because I definitely do,” chuckles Lauren Auder. “Things coexist constantly.”
Zooming in from her East London bedroom, her background wall decorated with ribbons and a pentagram (“It’s not a satanic pentagram! It’s just a nice star!”), the 22-year-old musician’s conversation nods to these contradictions with nary a thought - at one moment referencing the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, the next enthusing about her favourite scenes of SoundCloud rappers. Spending her teenage years in the medieval French town of Albi, she explains, “forced [her] to be more creative with [her] mischief”; with no real local music scene available to her, save for a slightly-too-late indie rock revival (“a lot of skinny jean action going on”), Lauren’s only option was to go digging - both around the internet and back into the past - for inspiration.
“We’ve got so many centuries of human culture that have led to where we are today; the intertextuality of everything means I can look at anything and have a reference point,” she enthuses. “It’s always been appealing for me to lean into that. It feels right for me to explore the world in a way that’s at least attempting to make more sense of it.”
Musically, that attitude has led to a rich sonic palette that sprawls between styles, its dense yet beautiful layers landing somewhere between the cathartic exorcisms of Wu Lyf and the classical-nodding majesty of Moses Sumney, with some evocative Lana-esque sad romance thrown in for good measure. “It’s always been in the DNA of my music to have all these influences and to make a space for all these disparate worlds to go,” she explains. “There are metal tracks I’ve made and a bunch of rap songs I’ve produced and hidden away; I guess it’s just paying homage to all the things that have created me as a little being.”
“It feels right for me to explore the world in a way that’s at least attempting to make more sense of it.”
Personally, meanwhile, this month’s EP ‘5 songs for the dysphoric’ marks Lauren’s first material as an out trans woman. Featuring collaborations with Celeste, Clams Casino, Danny L Harle and more, the period of intense personal growth has, she says, nourished her creative relationships too. “It was very hard for me before to work intimately with people that aren’t my close friends, because whatever I talk about is gonna be hyper personal. So from that perspective, it’s really hard when you’re not fully out or even just fully comfortable with yourself in general to then go into a space when you’re obviously going to be extremely vulnerable,” she nods. “But now it kind of feels right and fine to do that; I don’t feel intimidated by that idea, and I have more confidence in my own singing and lyrics and capacity to be in a room with someone as a musician and make things.”
Directly referencing her experiences on the release’s title - “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that word on a record? And I guess that’s something that I would have wanted [to see growing up]” - ‘5 songs…’ nonetheless focuses on “the collateral of this experience, of how that influences the way you navigate the world and relationships - not necessarily the experience itself”. A snapshot of an incredibly formative period, its tracks are personal and vulnerable, their often-gorgeous lyrics (“With you, I grew big and mighty / Small and infinitely yours,” opens ‘quiet’) cloaked in swells of expansive sound that are begging to fill majestic church venues across the land.
Next, Lauren will continue work on a debut LP. Currently obsessed with the Manic Street Preachers and their combination of earworm melodies and dense intellectual reference points, the aim is “to Trojan horse a lot of political and extremely personal and brutal things into something that can be immediately understandable and resonant on an emotional level”.
“Music is an exorcism of a lot of things I don’t want to necessarily have to touch on all the time - although I probably do; if you ask anyone I know I’m probably very irritating in that way,” she grins. “Discussing my political beliefs feels like an important thing to do on record and figuring out a way to do it has been a big journey. I just want it to not be vapid and in vain or virtue signal, but to truly talk about the emotional repercussions of living in this capitalist hellscape. You know?!” she laughs again. “I guess that’s what I’m going for! To try and give a space to how that affects you on a very human level. I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit, so let’s see if I achieve it.”
As featured in the February 2021 issue of DIY, out now. Scroll down to get your copy.