LP: From Songwriter to Center Stage
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Ten years had passed between singer-songwriter LP's album "Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol" and her last full-length effort, "Forever for Now." In 2004, LP, aka Laura Pergolizzi, had done the indie thing, released her record on a small label and hit the road for two years of tours. Then she went major, signed with Island Def Jam and then landed another deal with Universal. She wrote 135 songs. Years passed and there was no album. "We went a few different directions and it just wasn't clicking right with that label," LP says.
For a time, LP found another calling. She started writing songs for other artists. Backstreet Boys were an early credit for her. LP also contributed heavily to reality show star Heidi Montag's debut album. Then there was "Cheers (Drink to That)," which became a hit for Rihanna.
"I'm blown away sometimes when I read pop lyrics on a page," says LP. "With certain songs, you can listen to them several times before a line will sink in, which is amazing to me, and it's one of my favorite things, knowing a song for so long."
Writing pop songs for radio stars is a different experience. "When you get a publishing deal, you just start writing songs with all different kinds of people," says LP, "all different kinds of writers and all different kinds of producers." The songs are pieced together and pitched to artists, often the major label ones, sometimes indie folks. Other times, it may be for film. "I was kind of liberated by that," she says. "I had all these years as an artist, but I didn't get to put my record out. It was a little bit liberating to have songs go to other people and them take them somewhere."
As a child, LP was a little reserved about her vocal talents. Then her mom, who studied opera, noticed young LP singing in the back of the car. "So, then I started singing out a little more and then just kept going." With her singing career on hold, though, LP picked up another instrument -- the ukulele. She was drawn to the tiny music-maker because of the spontaneity that it could foster. She could easily bring a ukulele to sessions. "It was just simple and authentically sweet," she says. It helped her creatively. "As far as me as an artist, I was so scared," she confesses, adding that the ukulele helped lure her away from the fear. It prompted her to whistle those beautiful calls that ring through songs like "Into the Wild."
LP also hooked up with a new management team that nudged her back into the performing realm. "I was a little reluctant," she says, mentioning how things didn't work out on her previous attempt. Her managers, though, pushed a little more. LP, who had recently relocated to Los Angeles, decided to give her performing career another go. It wasn't without creative struggle. She had spent so much time writing songs for others that she had difficulty writing for herself again. "It's almost like I have to fight to get to the center of myself to write for me more," she says, "and I can hang out in the wings a little bit more and be more observational." She likens it to being able to give a friend advice when you can't fix your own problems.
Her work got personal. "Tokyo Sunrise" and "Your Town" deal with relations. Of the former, she says, "It was how I felt in my soul when I moved away from a relationship that was very deep for me." Regarding the latter: "I was in her town. I saw a bunch of things. It made me really sad."
Then there's "Into the Wild," which is inspired by technology and the unknown consequences of it. "We're just kind of on it and in it," she says. "You don't know if you're gonna have-- forgive me-- a tumor the size of your foot growing out of your head in 20 years or not, or, if you're going to lose your soul and the soul of your kids. We don't really know. It's a very frightening, but exciting, place and that's more what that is about."
LP's writing process varies from song to song. "Melodically, I'm very immediate- - it doesn't mean it's great, but I can spit out melodies all day," she says. "Lyrically, it's 50/50. Sometimes a lyric just comes out and then sometimes I have to really work at it. "The results, though, are striking, intimate numbers carried by a voice with an emotional range that is expansive and captivating.
With "Forever for Now" already making a splash, LP is has her mind on what's next. She still writes songs for other artists. Plus, she's getting ideas for her own follow-up record. "It's not a stagnant thing," she says of creative work. "I do have periods of absorbing and then output, but it's definitely touring, writing new songs, growing and moving on. These things happen to you every day and I enjoy that cycle and keep moving."