L.P.’s voice can turn on a dime from quietly vulnerable to emotionally shredded, or pop out a high note like a shotgun blast. That quality, along with her legendary stage presence, has earned this native New Yorker an army of breathless fans across the country who literally beg her to play in their towns.
This fall, L.P. will release a self-titled album, her third, on SoBe Entertainment. If a sampler of three new songs—“Good With You,” “Cling to Me,” and “Kill the Pain”—is an indication of the record’s direction, fans can expect meticulously crafted pop loaded with orchestral strings; dramatic vocal performance (think Ann Wilson on Heart’s eponymous 1985 album); and soaring, get-stuck-in-your-ear choruses.
She recently finished recording material for the album in Miami, schmoozed music industry players in San Francisco and filmed a video for “Good With You” (see it on YouTube) despite an earthquake in L.A. GO interrupted L.P.’s much needed vacation to ask the following burning questions.
GO: You’ve said the new album is more “radio-friendly” than your first two releases. Why did you decide to go with a more accessible sound?
L.P.: I like pop songs. I always have. I think I’ve always wanted to be more pop, but I went through some other phases first. I like how direct a pop song can be; how it can leave you saying, “Yeah man, I feel like that.”
You’ve teamed up with some of the most acclaimed songwriters and producers in the music business. For the new record, you worked with Steve Morales, David Bendeth, Josh Alexander and Billy Steinberg (who co-wrote Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”!). How has collaborating with such seasoned professionals influenced your own sound?
I think I learned how to tidy up a song more. But sometimes you have to be careful that you don’t lose yourself as well. I went through a lot of that with this record. It was a bit push-and-pull there for a while. I felt like I had to stick up for myself, but try to learn from these people too. It gave me a headache a lot of time, if you wanna know the truth! But I made some great friends with many of them, and I did actually learn a lot and have grown as a songwriter.
You were signed to a major label, Island Records, but decided to leave it after several months to go independent. Not too many artists walk away from contracts like that completely unscathed. How did you manage to do it, and why?
I never thought I’d be on a major and it was kind of a surprise. When they signed me I was perfect, but after I was flawed…that’s how it is. I was writing a ton of songs and they were searching for my “direction.” I hadn’t started recording yet, so I still owned my songs. The people I had around me for good or for ill helped in the decision and I think it was a good one.
I may be [on a major label] again someday, but I think the indie route is better for offering myself to a larger audience, still intact and representing myself truthfully. My current label is allowing me to do that and still paying me well…so I like that.
Which do you prefer: recording in the studio or performing on tour?
There are things I like about both, which is a boring answer! I love singing in the studio because I can really hear myself and I can get my tone exactly how I like it. But when performing live, there’s the danger factor—which is really cool, because you’re just going out there and you can’t take it back, and the audience is in the moment with you. Unless they’re at the bar getting a beer, in which case, get me one too.
More than ever, artists utilize the Internet to independently distribute their music to virtual audiences. But your success has been built the old-fashioned way—extensive touring by van and playing to live audiences in far-flung places. Why do you think that approach has worked for you?
Well, I’m not sure you’d want to write a business plan around what I’ve done just yet. I think that everyone is super-different and that you just have to see what works. When I play live to people, I feel like the audiences really get me and they become fans for life. There are towns that I haven’t been to in over a year, and kids ask me all the time, “when the hell are you coming back…please!” So I take that as a good indication.
I really believe that even when we have computers built into our foreheads and you can download a song by tugging at your earlobe, people will still crave and pursue live music.
What do you hope the new album will say to the world?
I hope it says listen to me and have a life changing experience, and then feel as though you need to come see me perform live. I just want people to feel something like how I feel when I love a song, like they need to hear it every day for a month. Or a year. n
Get more L.P. at lprock.com.