Loren Gray On “My Story,” Future Songs & Proving Herself: Interview
While increasingly common, the transition from social media sensation to pop star is never easy. For every Troye Sivan or Shawn Mendes, there are dozens that didn’t quite make it. Loren Gray is destined to be one of the chosen few that do. At 16, she has 14 million Instagram followers, a major label record deal and her head firmly on her shoulders. Instead of rushing out an album, the LA-based phenom is taking her time to make sure that everything is done right. Take “My Story,” a perky buzz track that Loren recently released to test the waters.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with Loren to talk about her journey from middle-school cheerleader to rising pop star. The talented teenager revealed that she has been in the studio with some of pop’s heaviest hitters including Bonnie McKee and Ian Kirkpatrick and is experimenting with a more rhythmic sound on her next single. She also opened up about the way teenage girls are judged on social media and named some of her biggest musical inspirations. Get to know the breakout star a little better in our Q&A below.
Why was “My Story” the right song to start your music career?
I realized early on that my fans are pretty young. “My Story” is quite a young song and I think it’s a good introduction because I have something to grow from. And it’s catchy, cute and fun. But I’m definitely gonna transition. It was a good starting point.
How have your fans responded to the song?
The response has been really great. Everyone has been very supportive and they’ve been saying how much they love it and everyone’s been listening to it. So, I’m happy with it. I’m happy with the response and I think they’re happy with the song.
How did you connect with [producer] Sky Adams?
So, Sky was a friend of a friend. He was working with one of my friends and I got the chance to work with him. And he’s a really awesome guy and he’s definitely very talented.
Was it your idea to write a song about relationships or his?
It was taken from an experience that I had witnessed. Not from me, but a friend of mine. Something she was going through that kind of inspired me to write a song about relationships. And a good love song is always good. Especially with a little twist like that.
Moving forward, will you write more autobiographical songs?
I take inspiration from my own experiences and from other people’s experiences. I always pull from something I know really well. Because I would never want to write about something that I hadn’t experienced or that I hadn’t witnessed happen to somebody else because it wouldn’t be genuine. And some things I’ve experienced can be altered to kind of, not necessarily fit exactly what happened, but can be altered to be more relatable to everyone else. But it always stems from something personal to me.
What is it about falling for the wrong guy that resonated with you?
That’s exactly it. I had a friend that was kind of going from relationship to relationship and wasn’t really finding what she wanted. And I think that happens for everyone. It’s definitely a relatable situation, because sometimes it just takes a while to get there and you gotta kind of give yourself that experience.
How did you settle on your sound?
I knew straight away when I first started singing in front of people, that I’ve always been passionate about pop music. It’s something that I listen to and something that I love to sing. So I always gravitate towards pop music anyways. The songs that I have coming up in the future — I have one that is rhythmic-pop, so different variations of pop, but that’s definitely my lane.
Who are your favorite pop stars? Who do you currently have on your phone?
I love Bazzi. I think he’s incredible and he’s a mutual friend. I’ve never talked to him, but he has friends that I’m friends with, which I think is pretty cool. He sees like a cool guy, love his music. I like a little bit of Camila Cabello, she’s talented. Ariana Grande’s new album is great. It’s definitely more R&B. And but throwing it back, I like Spice Girls, I like Pussycat Dolls, I like Britney Spears, so those are definitely people that influence me. But in terms of just work ethic, I love Eminem. Eminem is my favorite artist of all time. And I think he’s a genius with lyrics.
You said you have new songs coming out. Who have you worked with?
Yeah, so I’ve been working a lot with Bonnie McKee. She has been really great to me. She has been a mentor to me and she’s taught me a lot about songwriting. Like how to be vulnerable when writing songs and let myself try new things. Which is scary for me sometimes, but she definitely pushes me to do that. I’ve also worked with Ian Kirkpatrick and Captain Cuts. They’re amazing. I love them. Everyone has been really great that I’ve been working with and I’m super grateful that they have given me a chance.
Do you have an EP coming or are you still finding songs?
So right now, I’m kind of focusing on singles. And once I have a few more singles out and I know what my sound is gonna be, then I’m definitely looking into an EP. I just want to make sure it’s something I’m proud of so, I’m not rushing into it.
How long will we have to wait for new music?
Soon! Maybe later this month. It’s very exciting and it’s very different. It’s a big leap from “My Story,” but I think it’s a good leap. It’s a bit more rhythmic.
Are you inspired by other artists that made the leap from social media to music?
Of course. I definitely look up to Troye Sivan and Shawn Mendes as people that have successfully made the jump into the music world. I think it’s incredible that they have been able to do that because it’s not easy. You kind of have to prove yourself, which can be really difficult. But I think they are incredible artists and they really had to work for it. I know people think it’s easy because you have followers, but people don’t take you seriously. Even if you do have this passion for music, sometimes it doesn’t matter. I definitely look up to them as something I aspire to be.
What has been the biggest hurdle that you have had to overcome?
I would say the biggest hurdle is getting people to understand. Because we’re at a point and time now where things are melting together like they haven’t before. Traditional media and social media and digital media is blending into one. There really aren’t any barriers anymore. Music artists are acting and actors are doing digital work and it’s all blending together. And I think that it’s hard for people wrap their head around, but it’s the way the world is moving. You definitely have to prove yourself, that has been the most difficult thing.
Have you learned any lessons from people who tried to make the transition and failed?
Of course. I never jumped straight into music and I definitely had reservations because I had seen how it had worked for other people, and how it didn’t work for other people. It was kind of disheartening to see, but you know from watching other people and observing other people, you go, “Okay, this what we’re not gonna do, this is what we are gonna do.” I’m definitely happy that I have waited before jumping straight into it. I think we have a pretty good plan of attack and I hoping that it all works out.
Was music always the end goal when you first started getting followers?
It happened so suddenly. I was a cheerleader in middle school, I did not know what was going on. So when I started getting all this attention, I didn’t know what to do with it. I was just being myself. I was 13. So after performing for the first time, it kind of opened my eyes to how much I actually loved music. I never really thought I would be in this position to actually do something like music. I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist. I thought I was going to college. Now I’m taking my GED test just to get high school over with. It’s definitely not what I had envisioned myself doing.
As a 16-year-old, is there any pressure on how you should look or behave? I mean there’s Bhad Bhabie at one end of the spectrum and JoJo Siwa at the other.
Everyone has their ideal of what the perfect 16-year-old girl should be. People hate on JoJo for being too young. People hate on Danielle for acting too old. And there really is no perfect way to be a 16-year-old. I’m myself, they’re their own versions of themselves, and I think people don’t understand that. If you walked into your local high school, you’re gonna see all different types of girls. I know some people think we’re still playing with barbies, but we’re in 2018 and that’s not how it is anymore.
If I wanna wear make-up and straighten my hair and be cute and take pictures, why not? They’re probably doing the same thing in their bedrooms. Everyone is so divided in their opinions of how you should be at a certain age. And that’s what the biggest thing for me was when I started social media. Everyone was like, “She’s only 13, she’s wearing makeup, she’s doing this.” And it really frustrated me for a long time because you cant please everyone, and at the end of the day, everyone’s gonna be their own versions of themselves.
How do you deal with those pressures?
It’s definitely a rollercoaster. There were times when I was like, “You know what, I don’t care what anyone says.” But then, there were times when I would kind of tone down my makeup and scurry away from who I was. The older I got, the more I realized that I don’t need to change, that I’m fine. And little girls look at that and they go, “I want to be confident like her.” Everyone thinks I’m encouraging people to wear makeup and be this Barbie doll. That’s not the case. I just want my followers and young girls to be able to express themselves in the way that they wish.
Good luck with the new stuff. I can’t wait to hear it!