There are people who just seem born with innate talents. Some have a way with public speaking or knowing how to fix things, and others, like Laura Pergolizzi — known professionally as LP — feel destined to create music and, as we discussed in an interview, perform.
Parklife’s David LaMason has tracked LP through their career. He’s watched LP visit DC to perform at small clubs like U Street Music Hall and now to command the stage at The Anthem on Friday, May 6.
In this interview, LP chats with David about the challenges of performing in the advent of a pandemic, their new record, Churches, and their writing process.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity; other photos below courtesy David LaMason, who has photographed LP in their previous DC appearances.)
David LaMason: Hey, LP!
LP: What’s up? How are you?
DL: Good! It’s a little rainy and cold and miserable in Baltimore. How is it over here in LA?
LP: Yeah, it’s beautiful here. I was just actually telling my last interview that the best part about living in LA is that when you’re home from tour, you know what you’re headed toward. You just know you’re going to head there and it’s like, “yeah!” I mean, you know, you might need a jacket, you might not need a jacket, but there’s a 90% chance or more that it’s going to be sunny as fuck and feel like, “yay, everything is fine,” even though nothing is fine in the world, obviously, but like, you know, but you just go home to LA and you’re a little like, “Yay.”
DL: Well, thank you very much for your time. I know I’m super excited to see you at The Anthem here in DC in a few weeks. And I think the first time I saw you was at the U Street Music Hall. That was kind of like you go down the steps and it was a small[er venue], which is totally the opposite of what The Anthem is going to be like. It’s huge.
LP: I hope I can fill that shit. That’s terrifying.
DL: And I see the last couple times you played there you were at the Lincoln Theatre and then the 9:30 Club.
LP: The 9:30! Yeah, exactly. I did two shows at 9:30
DL: Which, by the way, so much of what you do seems to revolve around the craft of songwriting, I know you’ve written for others. But as I mentioned, my first experience with your music was seeing you at U Street Music Hall and being blown away by how, like, you’re able to connect with the audience – quite literally.
LP: Oh, you’re welcome.
DL: Seeing you out in the crowd I immediately was, like, you know, taken back to the days of going to a lot of, like, punk shows where it’s all about audience connection.
LP: Yeah. Yeah, they do that well. So, I played Lollapalooza in July — this past July — and I did a show at the Metro the night before. And we were asking people to wear masks and I was leaning into the crowd and, you know, a bunch of girls with their hands up my shirt and like there were people sweating on me. It was, I mean, it was not Covid-friendly for sure, but it was like, “Okay, I’m doing this,” and I was fine. You know, I mean, I had Covid once around New Years of this year, because I feel everyone had to fucking get it at least once. I did all the things. I got vaccinated, even got fucking monoclonal antibodies.
LP: But, yeah, I’m not one of those people that gets too worried about getting sick. I’m eating healthy, but, you know, it is kind of daunting to, all of a sudden, go from there to here. I think people are getting pretty stoked. Like, I just came back from South America. They had shows like Lollapalooza and everything and people seemed pretty ready to party. I’ll tell you, it seemed like pre-pandemic, even.
DL: I am surprised, and happy, that I see things kind of coming back and I’ve seen some amazing show recently and just a couple of years ago I didn’t think that anything like that was coming back again.
LP: Yeah. Yeah.
DL: Now, your new album came out in December. How much of the album was written before things, you know, kind of got out of hand and how much of it was written sort of in the throes of lockdown.
LP: Probably, like, I would say 70%, was like pre. You know, I was ready to go, but some songs got replaced but we added to things and some, like a song “One Last Time,” kind of changed and got a lot more deep and serious. More emotional. Like treasure those fuckin’ moments as much as you can because this shit is real. And there’s some real exuberant shit with me trying to make myself feel better, like “Angels” or stuff like that. Lift up your mood a little bit.
DL: Actually, one of the songs that hit me and it was it was called “Goodbye.”
LP: Oh, yeah.
Watch the official music video for “Goodbye” by LP on YouTube:
DL: It has lines like “goodbye to wasting more time” and “goodbye to less than goodbye.” And it seems like it could be like talking about maybe a relationship, but it could also be talking about like the beginning of the whole pandemic thing.
LP: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s just about like, you know, if I’m not careful I could wallow in some shit, you know what I mean? So, to me it’s like kind of like trying to change. You know, I mean, and I’m still extremely flawed, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot of work on myself, you know, even navigating myself through this business. It was no small feat, mentally, you know. The biggest thing is I’ve come so fucking close to like saying “fuck it,” you know. Or someone gave you a bad vibe or, like, you got dropped to from like several different record labels and then signed again and then dropped, you know, so it’s like your mental space is the important thing. So just dealing with that, you know, the simplicity that any given moment can change your life. And it’s real.
DL: Yeah. Like I said, you know, a lot of the record seems to be about relationships, but a couple of them in particular. Like, I mentioned “Goodbye,” but there’s ones in particular, like, “My Body” and “Rainbow, and, in particular, “Churches,” which, when I heard it, just blew my mind because it sounded so different from like for the rest for the record and it sounded very specific.
LP: Yeah. That was the first song I did for this record. I remember, I’m sitting down and working on one or two songs that I felt, like, I just like kind of a wrote them the recently, and I feel like, oh, shit, like I just started writing a new record. And “Churches” seems like a moment like that, you know, like I wrote it with this guy, Dan Wilson, the Semisonic guy, and producer. And it was, like, I loved hanging with him and I basically sat at his feet and was listening to his story and what he’s been through. And I could really relate to some of it as far as how can you handle two different aspects of the business as being a songwriter for other people, other artists. And I started to panic at the end of that discussion, like I was pissing away these like valuable hours with this guy to get a good song. And then I don’t know. I just took in this little thing that I was working on and, and then “boom” it was “Churches” and I know, there’s more than we could have played for a concept but it, but just felt very much like, “Hey, we’re in it for a new record.”
DL: Yeah. Is that kind of normal? How, how you write? Like you, you know, are kind of going around and then there’s an idea or something. Like, it hits you?
LP: Yeah, it’s very weird. I don’t know when that happens. I collect. When I go in the studio, it seems to be this like this agreement I have with my creative self or God or the universe and I’m like, “All right. I’m ready. Hit me. What do you got?” You know? Yeah. It’s very interesting. I think the fact that I was writing as only a songwriter and thinking my artist’s career was over, because in those two years I was just like forced to write, you know, and like basically cry on command which I then carried into my artist career because I just kind of make it – like I have to go in and here we go, you know. And I want to put down what’s on my mind. How am I feeling emotionally right this second and just like exploding into it. Like, I don’t know. It’s a thing I figured out how to do and how I like to do it without knowing I figured it out. You know what I mean? Because I was just running for my life for a little while. When you are a song writer you gotta write a lot of fucking songs and get cuts until you get any success at it. And you better play as many rooms you can and go as fast as you can, because it’s not easy. Like, you know, there are a lot of songs out there. So but it made me a much better songwriter and a quicker songwriter.
Watch the official music video for “Angels” by LP on YouTube:
DL: You know, it’s funny you mention that to you because you seemed like, what do they call them Triple Threats? You’re a writer, and a performer, and…
LP: I’m not sure if it’s a singer, the songwriter, you know. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. Like for me, there’s no there’s no singer without the songwriter for me. I mean, I know there are singers that don’t write songs. But, I mean, for me it’s definitely as aspect of one-two punch as far as like, you know, I don’t look how I sound. I don’t sound how I look. I guess. They’re always kind of like, “What do you sound like?” I mean, I could explain to you, but I’d have to kill you. And for some reason I want to kill you. Nah, just kidding.
DL: One last thing. Would you consider yourself more of a song writer now? Or more of like a singer or performer? Because, I mean, like I said, I’ve been blown away from the get-go at your ability to do all of that. Like you said. And I think that it’s something that is rare.
LP: Thanks. I mean, I think I feel like lucky because you’ve got to kind of work on all of those things, you know? The experience of getting to write songs and sing. So I try to honor it and I just, you know. When I’m in front of people, I feel like I practically had to learn how to sing again after I got bigger and bigger and the moves got bigger. And I feel like I was trying to reach everybody so hard, you know, that I was like almost over singing, you know what I mean? I still feel like that sometimes but it’s worth it. I mean, once you fucking ring the bell, as they say, you gotta honor it.
DL: Well, we are so lucky to experience your music and can’t wait to see you in a month at The Anthem.
LP: Great! All right. Well, I’ll see you soon. Absolutely. Thank you. Looking forward to you. Have a good one.
LP performs at The Anthem on Friday, May 6.
w/ Nick Leng
Friday, May 6
Doors @ 6:30pm