“My music background was very conservative. I learned four instruments classically and was very academic and regimented. It wasn’t very creative. And then suddenly when I was in my teenage years I rebelled and had this obsession with techno and experimental electronic music. I started writing when I was 14 just on guitar and piano, and then I started recording when I was 17. I loved the soundscape and production of electronic music, but I couldn’t let go of the classic side of me. What I wanted was something in the middle. I was never one of those people that was in a big group of girls, following what everyone else did. It’s safe to follow other people, but I like being different.
I come from a family of doctors and engineers, so there’s a lot of security in passing an exam and getting a job like that. It’s all very safe. So going creative was very scary for me. I moved to London and set my mind on signing a record deal. I started putting my music online and then suddenly blogs started showing interest. Then labels came too and I began to realize how real it all was. I think when you make music for yourself, and then suddenly you realize its more than you and people are listening and people are like ‘this helped me get through a breakup or ‘it means something [deeper] to me,’ it’s not just about you anymore.”
Friend of a Friend: What’s your sound, in your own words?
Låpsley: Chill electronic. But the new album definitely delves into different genres—soul, R&B, and dance music. I felt creatively if you can’t push the limits on your first album, then when can you?
FOAF: Who were some of your biggest inspirations growing up?
L: I loved people that had this classical background but were interested in electronic music, like Arthur Russell and James Blake. Because they’re the kind of people I could relate to. They had this interest in the instruments of the future like laptops and synths, and that fusion is really interesting to me. And even now, I’m really inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s album. I’ve always wanted to ghost write for rappers. I love referencing that kind of music.
FOAF: How did you get into producing your own music?
L: It’s actually really difficult. You can write a song it can be very emotional, but the production determines the style. Going from bedroom production to working in a mainstream studio, I really needed help. Rodaidh McDonald, who produced the XX’s album, helped a lot. He acted as this creative facilitator and filled in the gaps that I didn’t know. He played a technical role and opened the doors to me in terms of production that other producers take years to learn.
FOAF: How do you think growing up abroad has affected your music style and who you are as an artist?
L: I grew up in a seaside town. I had to go into the city to see the music that I loved, like illegal raves. I still had really good academics and sports, so I really got away with a lot of things that my parents are only realizing now from reading these interviews. [Laughs] I think there’s something particularly about European electronic music. Obviously you guys have great origins, like Detroit for example, but in England there’s a lot of quality songwriters. My dad used to play amazing northern rock bands, like Joy Division and the Smiths. I think those had a huge influence on me. I also moved to London when I was 17 and that opened a lot of doors and got me a lot of gigs. I got to meet some amazing people along the way. I got to see how other people perform their music live. There’s a big difference between listening to a track on Spotify and seeing how an artist performs it live. Moving really broadened my horizons.
FOAF: Besides Kendrick Lamar, what’s your favorite thing about the US?
L: Mexican food.
FOAF: If you weren’t a singer, what would you be doing?
L: Music is only now becoming a job for me. But when I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to work in heart surgery. I find it so interesting. I also have an obsession with geography…I’m in love with National Geographic.
FOAF: Their Instagram is the best.
L: I wanted to write documentaries on the natural world—volcanoes and tsunamis, all things land and the sea. Maybe one day when I’m older. I’d love to indulge and do a degree later in life. I feel like I’m becoming a pea brain in this industry. I always talk about music, but I’m so interested in many other things.
FOAF: You have a new album coming out this year! What are you most excited for in 2016?
L: Coachella! I’ve never been. I’m so excited to hit some music festivals with my mates.
FOAF: Do you have any resolutions for the coming year?
L: Being myself. If you’re true to yourself, you can’t mess up. You should have no fear going into interviews or TV or anything like that. If you’re pretending to be something you’re not, that’s when you really trip up.
FOAF: What are your ultimate goals as a musician?
L: Honestly, I really just want a flat and a pickup truck. I don’t need much or want a lot of money, I just want to be able to make music. I also love traveling. I think at the end of the album and the tour, to be able to look back and say I couldn’t have done any better, that’s really important to me. You can be a better writer and producer by the second or third album, but I want to look back knowing I couldn’t have done it better. No regrets.