LA artist Leo Lauren recently released his new wave/Goth-pop-infused single “Supernormal” – a tantalizing tease to his upcoming EP of the same name. Creating a unique soundscape of pop, funk, goth, soul, heavy metal, and alternative rock influences, Lauren embodies an attractively catchy sound that somehow rides the line of being mellow and upbeat at the same time.
Teaming up with producer Heather Baker (Bonnie McKee, NoMBe, Bea Miller, Adam Lambert), “Supernormal” also sees collaboration with My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander (known as Machine-Gun-Jarrod for his rapid-fire, punchy playing) and Grammy award-winning engineer Nathan Jenkins.
“Supernormal seeks to navigate the brazen optimism, great expectations, and disappointments of human experience,” says Lauren. “It is an expression of release from the tension born when moments of personal transcendence and fantasy are persistently confounded by the limitations of occupying a physical body – a body subject to worldly demands as well as the waves of loneliness and isolation that accompany its individual existence.”
Needless to say, we had to get more information on this dynamic new single so we sat down and asked Lauren a few questions. Here is what he had to say:
You just released a new single, “Supernormal.” Can you share the story/inspiration behind the song?
Leo Lauren: “I think the idea started from a conversation with a friend in my junior year at school. We had a ‘sad-pact’ of sorts, where we were both often equally melancholic towards the end of the night. Circumstantially speaking of course. We’d talk, sometimes play songs for each other. This was when we were both still quite private about our music practices… One night he told me, ‘you’re 21 right? Yeah, that’s about the time I got used to disappointment.’ That’s probably when I started thinking about ‘Supernormal’… but the idea developed over time. It first played with it in some text-based drawings, with little stars bouncing along the letters of the word…. Then a song very modeled after the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today.”
I finally rewrote it to an arpeggiated synth line in my bedroom, where I discovered much more melodic freedom and movement. That kind of movement really came to fruition when Heather (my producer) wrote the bassline to the chorus, in response to my arpeggiated guitar part. I was drawn to the contradiction of ‘Supernormal,’ how it could simultaneously deal with transcendence, of actually physicalizing aspiration, and the inevitable letdown when life doesn’t go as we’ve dreamt it to be – we are sunk back into what’s essentially normality… But the song isn’t resigned to that, nor does it outright defy it. It moves between those poles; it’s a dance.”
What do you hope it conveys to fans? (or) How do you hope it makes them feel?
“I hope it gives some relief. I return to a lot of my favorite music because it gives the more difficult moments a sort of context, a poetic weight… I can appreciate something like my own loneliness or anger or anxiety differently through a piece of music or poetry; it can validate an experience, almost give it permission. ‘Supernormal’ acknowledges that life itself is a transition, filled with much smaller transitions… ups and downs. I would be insanely gratified if the song allowed some semblance of acceptance for that precariousness – if it could make passing through uncertain times a little more bearable… If it helped someone in any way to dance through discomfort.”
What’s your favorite lyrical line in the single?
“Probably ‘impressions on the couch.’ I can satisfy both my art historical bone and my rock and roll itch. It feels almost wildly inappropriate to compare our deadweight on the living room couch to a sort of painterly mark. But I suppose it shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s something like a Neanderthal handprint in a cave – just far more fleeting and banal, which is, in fact, exciting to me.”
How does this single expand your artistry?
“It solidifies my art practice as a musical one, in the public sense. It helps create space for me to generate and share work which I feel the need to. It’s frankly a relief, I feel I’m finally being transparent about what I have a stake in. ‘Supernormal’ also touches on different sonic palettes and ways of organizing a pop song I’ve since explored in other works.”
How has your music evolved from the beginning to this release?
“It’s become aesthetically much more assertive. A large part of the process with Heather was carving out a soundscape for the songs, a sonic world for them to live in. Discerning which sounds were particularly important and which production decisions weaved between songs on the EP (though each tune is quite different) has solidified a sonic identity for me. It’s given me an even greater sense of clarity both reflecting on this material and writing new material.”
What is your creative process for creating new music (more specifically – what was the creative process for this song?)? How has that been impacted by COVID-19?
“As I said earlier, ‘Supernormal’ started with a drawing, as some other songs I’ve written have too. I’ve also made many visual works responding to songs I’ve written. One often ‘frees up’ the other. I try to allow songs to arrive from any which angle or direction. I might come up with a piece of music and have no clue what I’m going to write about until I begin to react to it. In those instances, the piece elicits an atmosphere, it invites me to approach it purely with instinct and discover meaning. In cases like that the song may reveal something about myself, another, or a scenario which was more opaque before. Other times I’ll have a phrase or idea I’m chewing on, like ‘I want to write a song that addresses this idiom or theme or phenomenon somehow.’ Sometimes it’s a coalescing of all these angles, and sometimes they all hit at once.”
How has COVID-19 impacted you both personally and as an artist?
“It’s forced me to continually redefine ‘here,’ in the most immediate sense. I’ve realized on a few occasions (haha) that there’s no shortcut through this period. Perhaps cryofreeze… but that’s not for me. Obviously the distance is a thing… I miss teaching art (that’s been my primary income for the past few years) but the solitude has been productive too. I must admit though that the suspension of normalcy is a little exciting. If there ever was the potential for magic; for unprecedented change on a personal or national or international level, I could see it being now.”
How do you think COVID-19 will impact independent artists in the long-term?
“It’s impossible for me to say. I could only speculate… nothing in my experience has ever turned out quite how I expected it to. I’m sure all this isolation will have some sort of byproduct in the way of artmaking. I know it has for me…”
What can fans expect next? Can you share any details about your upcoming EP?
“More music! And more art. My full 6-song EP should be out in early to mid-June. I’ve also been building a sci-fi set for a ‘Supernormal’ music video in my studio, which I’ll be shooting in my home with friends towards the end of next month… the concept is ‘living room as purgatory,’ with me playing a character in an Alien–Hellraiser–Edward Scissorhands type getup a friend and I are making. And fog. And lots of slime… Should be a great time! Excited to get into it.”