First Person: LP | KCET
First Person: LP
Songstress Laura Pergolizzi, also known as LP, unleashes her uplifting anthems and infectious rhythms on this session of "Artbound Presents Studio A." She sat down with Studio A to talk about her musical stylings and the craft of songwriting.
Discover more about LP in their own words.
On the ten years between her album releases:
LP: I had an indie deal, my last record was 2004. I was touring for two years on that indie style and then I got a major label deal in 2006 with Island Def Jam and for the next three years I was in the Universal system. I had another deal with Universal following that and I wrote 135 songs, something like that, but no record came out. I just didn't work out, you know? We went a few different directions and it just wasn't clicking right with that label. And then I started being a songwriter and a bunch of those songs got picked up by other artists. So then I started writing songs for other people and I thought that was where I was going.
On being a songwriter for other singers:
LP:When you get a publishing deal you just start writing songs with all different kinds of people, all different kinds of writers, and all different kinds of producers. You basically just keep compiling songs and then they get pitched for other artists. You have to get major label artists or bigger indie artists but it could be a lot of different people...it could be in a movie or something like that. But basically it's for other people. So I was kind of liberated by that. 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 have them take them somewhere. And then I started playing the ukulele and just being very off the cuff with my stuff, enjoying it, you know? Shocking premise (laughs). And then I got new management and they were very embracing of me as an artist, they wanted me to start singing again myself. I was a little reluctant cause I was like, "Ehhh, tried that, maybe it's not meant to be for me." And they were like, "No, you should try it again." And so I was inspired. Especially because I moved to the west coast and I was very inspired by it here, something about the climate and the vibe out here, I don't know, it just really inspired me and I started writing these songs and I felt like I was writing the best stuff of my life maybe.
On the difference between writing for others and writing for herself:
LP: It's hard sometimes, I have to say. It's not as easy as I thought because I hadn't really done that. I was writing for me and then I started writing for other people and then it was kind of a like a more new thing to go from writing specifically for other people to writing for me. And it's almost like I have to fight to get to the center of myself to write for me more, and I can hang out in the wings a little bit more and be more observational; it's probably like when you give your friend advice and you give them this great advice and they're like, "Yeah, yeah!" and your life is in shambles and you can't pull yourself out of your own mess. Songwriting is a little like that for me sometimes with my stuff.
On her songs and songwriting:
LP: "Tokyo Sunrise" is an example for me of where I kind of made it more of a poetic nature where you use imagery to conjure up a mood more-- it was how I felt in my soul when I moved away from a relationship that was very deep for me. And then "Your Town" is a little bit more of a hit over the head: I was in her town, I saw a bunch of things, it made me really sad... (laughs). It depends, I like both.
On "Into The Wild":
LP: That was one of the first songs I wrote for this new trajectory of artists that I went on and that was probably one of my most "inspired by the West Coast" kind of things. It's not about going into the wilderness, the song's about technology and how we're all on a runaway train of our technology now and we don't know where it's going or leading and if it's good or bad. We're just kind of on it and in it. 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 just 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.
On her ukulele:
LP:The ukulele came about because I liked the off-the-cuff-ness of it. It was something I would bring to sessions as a writer. It was never my intention to become like "that ukulele playing person," you know? The instrument spoke to me and it opened this place in my heart that felt very unencumbered. It was just simple and authentically sweet and as far as me as an artist, I was so scared. It's like a forest animal and the hunter shoots the gun, they go back in the log and Snow White's got to go in there and be like (sings "ahhhh") and coax them out-- that was me. And the ukulele was this gentle, sweet instrument that got me to poke my head out of the woods and be like, hey, I'm still here. And it got me making these whistle melodies and that's how the whistling came about. It was all very organic, a magical sort of experience the way I came about being my own artist again and not just a songwriter. It was nice.
On her mother:
LP: My mom sang opera. She stopped when she was a teenager but she was always playing opera around the house. She liked show tunes and stuff like that, like Julie Andrews. I do love some of that music and the vocals. There is a pureness, a purity to that opera sound. And it's very different than pop music. It speaks on another plane or something. It speaks to you differently than regular pop music, not in a bad way but in a different place, a different realm.
On her voice:
LP: I recognized that I had a vibrato which was kind of embarrassing so I didn't really sing out too much when I was little until my mom said, well, I was in the back of a car singing along to a song and she turned it down and was like, "What is that?" And I was like, "Really? You like that?" So then I started singing out a little more and then just kept going.
On what's next:
LP: I'm already onto the next thing, already writing more music for other people, writing my next record in my head. To me it's like that: art, music, otherwise, is just something that keeps going. It's not a stagnant thing. 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.
On pop music being likened to poetry:
LP: I think so. I'm blown away sometimes when I read pop lyrics on a page. They're really deep and you can read them like that. 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. Even a song that you heard, like a classic rock song, and you get to a certain point in your life and you're like, that's what that guy meant. It's priceless. Music is priceless to people and that's why they'll do anything to get it.
On her lyrics:
LP: I kind of like to have a theme before I go in and do something but sometimes I just go in and play. Melodically I'm very immediate-- it doesn't mean it's great, but I can spit melodies all day. Lyrically it's 50/50. Sometimes a lyric just comes out and then sometimes I have to really work at it. I have to really figure out what that melody is saying to me and how it's gonna go.
Low Leaf's music doesn't belong to any specific place or point in time. It doesn't fall under a strictly defined genre. She's trained in piano and self-taught in the harp. She plays with electronics, producing beats that can drive soothing melodies. Her voice often bears a jazz influence, but, on some songs, it's layered with other sounds to appear as if it's a not-quite human texture.
Watch a collection of performances by boundary-breaking Latin Alternative musicians. Featuring performances by La Santa Cecilia, Quetzal, and Ceci Bastida.
Cathartic pop artist MILCK performs an intimate set which includes her viral song “Quiet,” which provided a post-election call for people of all races, creeds, and colors who have suffered and survived gallantly in the face of trauma, trials, and tribulations with resounding piano chords and shuddering, soulful delivery.
Once the frontman for Brazil’s popular rock group Los Hermanos, troubadour Rodrigo Amarante performs a stripped-down, solo set of his ballads on Studio A. When Amarante relocated to Los Angeles, he started the indie rock act Little Joy with the Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, but his recent debut solo record reveals pensive and heartfelt songs inflected with subtle bossa nova vibes.
Buyepongo is an L.A.-based outfit that makes music in the style they have called "buyangú." It's a mix of rhythms and textures influenced by L.A. and the Modesto's travels to Latin America. Crucial to Buyepongo's origin story is a trip that Modesto made to Central America after the band temporarily folded in 2010. During his time abroad, Modesto found inspiration in Garifuna culture.
Los Angeles surf-punk trio Tijuana Panthers performs set of frenetic beachy rock on KCET’s Studio A. The group got their start at Long Beach backyard parties, but have evolved into an upstart act that distills various eras of California rock ‘n’ roll into a unified powerhouse sound.
Singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc performs new music and a cover of Joni Mitchell's 1970 classic "Big Yellow Taxi," a fitting union for a contemporary pop artist who is also an activist for various different causes.
Pairing deft guitar with his lithe falsetto, Moses Sumney performs his soulful folk on KCET’s Studio A. Sumney grew up splitting time between Southern California and Ghana. He recently broke into the Los Angeles music scene with his solo performances, which feature a vibrant choir of his looped vocals.
It's a throwback session from the KCET archives. Soul songstress Roberta Flack stopped by the KCET studios for this intimate session from the 1970s, showcasing her versatile vocals influenced by jazz, gospel and R&B.