Laurel has always loved music. It’s been a fixture of her life since childhood, when she bought her first CD – a single by Lionel Ritchie, no less. Sure, it’s not exactly the coolest purchase in the world, it sums up her sheer, dogged, love of a great song.
“I remember I used to just put it on my CD player, laying in my room singing it on repeat for hours!” she laughs. “That’s probably the first musical memory that I can think of.”
Enraptured, music took a greater and greater hold on her life, until she was left with a stark choice. Finishing college, she choose to forego university and leave her south coast home town for the bright lights of London.
“I literally turned 18 and moved up a week after,” she tells Clash. “I had never lived on my own before, and I didn’t know anybody. A lot of people make friends through their workplace, but I didn’t know anyone. So it took me a while to find my feet and find my place in London.”
“I think I’ve always been quite independent, and that time when I first moved to London is probably why I’ve done all my own production myself. It’s because I really just didn’t have anything else to do! So I would just sit for the whole weekend writing music, figuring out how to play instruments.”
Quietly blossoming in the capital, Laurel moved through several different phases, continually accepting and then rejecting new ideas. “I think at the time I knew what music I wanted to make, but that music sounds different to what I want to make now,” she explains. “It’s only in the last two years that I have found the Laurel that is, I think, the right Laurel.”
It’s a sparse yet indulgent sound, one that promotes a certain intimacy while still evading standard songwriter tropes. A short burst of singles led to a deal with Counter Records, and last year’s enthralling EP ‘Park’.
“I thought they all had the same sort of tone – they’re quite organic sounding, the sound is all sat in the same sort of boat, and they all show a different side to me,” she says. “I just saw them all as one, together. So we released it, and it’s a story of events in my life in the order that it happened.”
“It’s pretty natural to me,” she continues. “I write a lot. A write a lot of songs. It’s weird. I don’t know – this is what comes out most naturally, I guess. Before I was trying to make it sound like a certain kind of music but when I sit down and write a song this is what comes out most naturally. I never really think too heavily about what I’m actually trying to create. It just kind of happens.”
Currently working on her debut album, Laurel also has a number of live shows to take care of – including a show at London’s historic, atmospheric St Pancras Church. “It’s just me at the moment,” she says. “It’s my favourite thing in the world – it’s just me, my guitar, and an amp. I have a pedal, and that’s it.”
“I think I’m going to maybe get a band together soon but the response has been great – it really shows the intimacy in the music, which is what I think my music is about the most. We’ll see. It’s not easy, though – I’m a one man band!”
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Catch Laurel at Live At Leeds on April 29th.