LP Talks “Lost On You,” Songwriting & Persistence: Interview
By LP’s count, she’s currently on her 7th record deal and 4th major label. She’s been the Next Big Thing and yesterday’s news several times over, but the singer/songwriter always stood by her art. And that resilience was finally rewarded last year when ukulele ballad “Lost On You” caught fire in Europe — topping the charts in at least eight countries (including France, Greece and Israel) and going top 10 in many others. The gut-wrenching anthem is now making inroads on HAC and alternative radio and spawned a similarly-titled album.
I caught up with the 36-year-old in Los Angeles last month to discuss her surprise smash and revival. LP admits that she didn’t have any expectations for the song (experience has taught her to create and let go) and wasn’t sure if it would even be released. The “Into The Wild” singer also opened up about writing songs for legendary divas like Cher, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. LP even explained how a bunch of her songs ended up on Heidi Montag’s notorious debut album. Get to know the late bloomer a little better in our Q&A below.
Did you know “Lost On You” was going to be the song? No. I played that song for my label, Warner Bros.. When I put my 2014 record out, they barely pushed it because it was all new personnel. The people that were behind me had left. The tide had shifted to a bunch of people that didn’t get it and didn’t care. I played them “Lost on You,” “Muddy Waters” and “Strange” to see if they would keep me and they were like, “Wow, these are great,” and then they dropped me 3 weeks later. To me, it’s just another song that I wrote. I have songs that my publisher has called me crying from loving the song so much and still not cut. I don’t think in terms of the turnaround of a song. I write it and then I move on. “Lost On You” was a real pleasant surprise in that way and the people that tell me they knew all along crack me up.
Did you panic when Warner dropped you? Yeah for sure. I was like, “How many more bites of the apple can one get?” Warner Bros. was like my third major label deal, my 5th record deal. Then I signed to Vagrant, that was my 6th record deal and now I just signed with RCA, which is now my 7th record deal and 4th with a major label.
Is that a record? I don’t know. It could be. To be honest with you, it’s probably a record for someone who’s had actual stuff come out. I don’t tell the Warner Bros. story to vilify anyone, these are subjective things that happen. At the end of the day, those people were looking at my profit & loss [ledger] and how much money I owed. It’s a business, so I get it. I just thik that labels have a function and sometimes it’s the wrong timing to even be on one.
Is it sweeter that success has come later in your career? Yes, absolutely. I’ve been privy to so many different careers and I’ve seen beautiful, young, insanely talented people never heard from again. I’m trying to truly absorb it, which is really nice. I’m super grateful for that because it’s incalculable how much more satisfying it can be later because you get this, you know how much is involved, the luck and circumstance and obviously hard work. There’s a million things at play all the time.
You must feel vindicated. Yeah, it’s nice. I only tell the Warner Bros. story because it’s an important lesson that you never know what’s going to happen. You asked me if I was upset when I got dropped from Warner Bros.. I was like, “Holy shit, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” and then I get picked up by Vagrant and a couple months later all this shit starts to happen. It breaks my heart to think about all the artists that never got to see that flip side and the people that were sitting on a song with potential like “Lost On You” and were just were too shattered and gave up. So to me, perseverance is key. I know I have a truly unique and lucky scenario, but I also really put my neck on the fucking chopping block. I don’t feel apologetic for that.
Will “Lost On You” be promoted in the US? Yes, it just started recently. It’s just starting in London, it hasn’t even gotten to Australia yet, we haven’t done much in Asia yet.
How did the song come about? I was sitting in the back of the van listening to music and then suddenly the title “Lost On You” popped in my head and I wrote it in my book. I’ve always liked that expression. So I had that and I had like three chords of it. I have some favorite producers and songwriting partners and I brought it in to them and played it. They were like, “Oh that’s cool and just literally boom, boom, boom, boom we were done that day.
Have you thought about the next single? “Other People” has been platinum in three countries, it’s gone gold in several. Sometimes I think “Other People” might be the song in the States. Sometimes I think that “Lost on You” might be a little too slow and deliberate for the States? I don’t know. Expectations are the fucking enemy. If I stay at this level that we are in the States forever, I’m still good, you know. It’s a satisfying time for me and at the same time, I’m not just like laying back like, “I’m so comfortable,” but I’m also not winding myself up about holding on to things forever because we’re all going to die pretty fucking soon anyway. In the greater scheme of things.
I like the song you did with Avicii and Otto Knows. Do you have any more collaborations coming out? I have better songs with Avicii that we should put out. I love working with him, he’s wildly talented. I have some interesting things on the way. I have a song coming out on the new Kooks record and then I have a song on the new Spoon record. That’s exciting because they are cool rock bands and then Charlotte OC, another young female artist whose voice is fucking nuts. I saw her on Seth Myers the other day killing it and I’m excited to have a song with her. It’s nice.
Have you put the songwriting on hold while you promote the album? Yeah. I haven’t been going crazy with the writing in the last few months. But I like that. It’s a luxury as a songwriter to have some time to live. I’m living the shit out of my life. I’ve got a new romance with all new complications and all things that go with that and it’s cool. I like storing up the feelings because then I get to go in there feeling like I’m going to fucking explode.
You’ve written for so many big divas. What’s the appeal? I think I can actually connect with them. For me, the big divas have the ability to connect with lyrics. When I write a topline to a track for another artists, I don’t listen to the track at all. I’ll ask, “Do you have a cool track to play me?” and they’re like, “Yes, I couple a couple.” I’ll say, “Alright, just put me in the booth and just play it.” I’ve never heard the track before, but I’ll just start singing to it. You know those screensavers on the computer where the colors are just swooshing around? That’s how I like to write. Usually from the first or second take, I can piece together the whole song. I think that a lot of women that have that kind of quality with their performing and their singing. I think they enjoy that feeling of reckless abandon.
Have you ever had to give away a song you wanted to keep? No. It’s happened the opposite way, where I was forced to sing a song that in my mind I had already given away, that I thought honestly could have been done in a more sexy or feminine way and I did it in a sweeter, genderless kind of way. It’s like having an actor in a movie. When you hear, for example Brad Pitt was going to be Wolverine, it’s like no! He can’t be Wolverine! That other guy has to be him.
How did you get involved in the Heidi Montag album? It seems like an odd fit. Those songs would still be sitting on my computer if she hadn’t bought them. I didn’t write them with her. I was working with a producer who wanted to make money off her and charge her for producing the songs. She paid me to vocal produce and I just gave the songs up and to be honest, she was on a major label at the time, so those songs went into my, I forgot what they call it… but you need a certain amount of songs to get to your next option, so I don’t care who sings those motherfucking songs. She’s a very nice person, but we did not write songs together. I wrote songs that she used.
Were you ever embarrassed about it? When people asked about it, I would take it as an insult — that someone was trying to bring me down a few pegs. Again, I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of songs in my computer, on my publishers computer that have never seen the lighe of day and probably will never, so if someone says, “Hey, can I use that song that’s fucking sitting there?” I’d be like, “Yes.” But I’m a reality TV show star? “I don’t care. Does your dog want a couple songs? I’ll give your dog a cute song too.”
What’s the best song you’ve written? Oh gosh. There’s a couple. I think “Other People” for me I feel is really cool because a lot of time, I go for belting as a singer and I love that “Other People” never does that. It’s got this laid back thing that I don’t usually do. I love my song “Death Valley” because I love how rock ‘n roll it is and then “Forever For Now,” the song I title tracked with my last record. I wrote that while tripping on mushrooms. I wrote it on my mother’s birthday and I wrote it for her because I just felt like she was all around me. I remember I was picturing the City Of Lost Children movie and I was picturing that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where all the kids are underground. I really missed her and I really soaked in that feeling.
I didn’t have my phone on me or anything, I just had my ukulele and I was tripping balls on this cliff and I started doing that whistle and I was like, “Holy shit what is that fucking melody?” I sang that for 3 hours straight because I wasn’t going to see my phone for a while. It was a really cool experiment. If I have an idea or a snippet or even like a sentence, I put it down. Four days later I’ll be like, “Oh! I had a great title, did I not write that down? Fuck.” Mushrooms honestly are a great thing. Not to go like nuts but I like that you can take what you experience into your own life, you can take it with you into a sober place and kind of be like, “Ah, it’s ok.”