22 year-old singer/songwriter, Lauv, is one of the newest, trendiest, upcoming artists in the business and luckily, we had the chance to sit down and have a chat with him. On Sunday, July 9th, Lauv revealed to us his songwriting inspirations, what it is like to be on tour, what his success means to him, and much more. Later that day we then joined him for his set at Summerfest, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Using Lauv as his stage name, Ari Leff has been playing guitar and writing songs since he was a teenager; all of which captured the essence of heartbreak, according to a press release. Originally from San Francisco, now residing in LA, Leff started to dabble in making his own electronic/R&B insipired music when he was in high school. He then went on to attend New York University, studying music technology and production which eventually led him to sign to Prescription Songs.
During college, Leff focused more on writing and producing for other artists rather than making music for his personal benefit. Soon after college, Ari Leff created “The Other” and branded himself as Lauv, the name meaning “lion” in Latvian which represents his mother’s heritage and his zodiac sign.
His debut single, “The Other” has now almost 100 million streams, reached #11 on Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits Playlist, and is featured on his debut EP Lost in the Light. “The Other” is authentic and portrays Lauv’s transparency when it comes to his emotions. His newest single, “I Like Me Better,” is a lot more energetic and displays Lauv’s wide vocal range, but still keeps his teademark, all-natural vibe. Lauv’s music is nostalgic in many ways and that is its appeal. People are able to connect and interpret those underlying meanings in ways that suit their own lives and their own experiences.
As many people do not know, Lauv co-wrote and co-produced Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato’s collaboration, “No Promises”. Lauv has also had much success early on in his career as far as touring goes. He has appeared at festivals like Firefly, he is about to make his Summerfest debut, and he has future plans to appear at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival this August. We had the pleasure to talk to him about his touring plans and much more in the interview down below.
Q: Let’s get started! So, is this your first time in Milwaukee?
L: This is! Very first time in Milwaukee.
Q: What are your first impressions?
L: Actually like, I have to be honest, it has been doper, way doper than I expected.
Q: I am not sure if you knew but Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival. And crowds really come from all over just to see some of the acts playing. So, what is it like playing the US Cellular stage, which is one of the biggest ground stages at the festival?
L: It is really surreal for me because I have only played one other music festival, and that was Firefly, and I played kind of like a camping stage. And really, just like this year has been crazy because I went from opening for other artists and playing to 100 to 200 people that are not necessarily my fans to doing my first headlining tour and sold out 200 to 500 people rooms by myself. And now to be here, I actually did not realize until a couple weeks ago that I was playing like a real stage.
Q: Yeah, that is really surreal.
L: The only thing I am worried about is that I hope I am not playing at the same time as Bob Dylan! He would be really cool to see.
Q: So your single “I Like Me Better” came out not too long ago, and I really love it. And clearly, so does the whole world. It is such a hit!
L: Wow, thank you.
Q: What has all the success with that song really meant to you?
L: For me it is the first time I have seen one of my songs do this like so quickly and my first time hitting any real Billboard anything. Just seeing that climb and now radio stations are starting to play the song, which is totally new for me. Yeah, it is all just super new, it is incredible.
Q: Especially for so early in your career. This is really impressive.
L: [“I Like Me Better”] is my second main single. I have kind of a weird kind of background and the first song that I put out was “The Other”, at this point almost two years ago, but it like just started to really pop off at the end of last year to this year and now it is at almost 100 million streams which is insane. And to have this song out now and seeing what it is doing is amazing.
Q: And you also just released a remix of “I Like Me Better” featuring Ryan Ribick. What is it like seeing other people’s interpretations of your song?
L: Yeah, it is especially cool for me because I produce all of my stuff. Once I produce the song the way I do it, I obviously can not hear it any other way and just hearing what somebody else does is really cool. And we just ran like a remix competition and it is about to end. And there is like hundreds of kids remixing the song and just to here everybody’s different take on it is really, really cool.
Q: Do you just hear the remix or do you see where these interpretations are coming from?
L: Yeah, no it is all over the world. I see their name and cities, so I know there is a lot, especially from Europe. I think that is probably where most of the entries are coming from.
Q: Now with songwriting, you always talk about in previous interviews how open and honest your are with your songs. So, what can we expect from your debut studio album? Is it going to be very similar to your already released singles or are you trying to push your boundaries a little bit?
L: This first album has taken me some time to really actualize everything and realize that this is the entire first project that I am working on, that we are going to be putting out, that is like all tied together. It is one continuous story. I am going to go back and take some of the songs that I have already released, because pretty much everything I have put out so far has all been about one part of my life. So, I am really excited to format it in a way that really properly tells the story. I am a huge romantic, so I think it will be fun.
Q: And what do expect from yourself in the future? Obviously different events and life experiences are going to shape your writing and music influences in many ways.
L: I think it will depend on my next relationship and what happens, but for whatever reason love has always really, really inspired me, even when I was a kid. Before I was ever in a relationship I was writing breakup songs or what I thought were breakup songs. There is some part of me I think that will always be like a big part of the way I write. I look at somebody like Chris Martin, who is like one of my songwriter idols. I just feel like his point of view on relationships, it just never gets old. It is something that you can just you know, can just keep telling his stories and there is always something to say. But I also am like working on a lot of stuff, now that I am living in LA and I am currently single and exploring some other topics.
Q: What is it like living in LA too? A lot of people will just move there for the opportunities.
L: Yeah, it is funny like whenever I talk about LA, it has definitely been good for me career wise. I have been there for about a year and I do not feel like I have really clicked with the city yet. I was living in New York for four years before and still sort of feel like a huge piece of me is in New York and I definitely see myself going back there.
Q: You went to NYU right?
L: Yeah! And especially since I moved around a lot growing up, I have never really identified growing up with one area because I would always move and then live somewhere else. So its like born in San Francisco, but I moved when I was four so I do not know San Francisco that well, so I feel like I can’t really own San Francisco. You know what I mean? And I feel like in terms of cities where I feel most connected to, especially right now, is New York, but trying to navigate LA is weird. It is a weird place, but it is fun.
Q: Now I already know that you’re very passionate about songwriting, so what is the touring aspect of your career like for you? Because songwriting and touring are two different things, experience wise. And you are playing the Billboard Hot 100 Festival, you are playing here [Summerfest], and you have already sold out a previous solo tour recently. What is touring like for you?
L: So dope! Especially the headline tour made me realize that I just want to tour. I spent years writing songs, just being in the studio day in and day out and I was super ready to go and like play the songs for people and connect with my fans and everything. The live shows have definitely been kind of a journey because you know when I first put “The Other” about two years ago, I did not really know how I wanted the live show to look, so I am finally in a place where I feel really excited about what we are doing onstage.
Q: And even with Summerfest, what do you expect your show to be like?
L: I do not know what to expect! I really do not know what to expect. I mean obviously I know what our set is going to look like, but this is my second time playing a festival and playing anything outside, which is a whole different feeling, so hopefully it will be awesome energy with the crowd.
Q: I know it will be a great show. And thank you so much for your time.
L: Yeah, thank you!
Lauv really had nothing to be nervous about as his set was epic. Later that night, we attended Lauv’s show at the US Cellular Connection stage. He attracted quite a crowd, considering Bob Dylan was playing at the same time, as he mentioned during the interview and onstage. No matter if the crowd did or did not know his music, he had everyone singing and dancing to his eclectic songs. We thoroughly enjoyed how he brought a fan up onstage to sing with him after she presented him with a present.
Overall, Lauv puts on a fun show, one that you do not want to miss and one that will force you to buy his songs on iTunes post-show. Even though the show was outside, Lauv made his set feel intimate and inviting. The show was not too subtle, but it wasn’t too hard or heavy on the ears and mind. We personally loved the show due to his welcoming stage presence, unique music, and impressive guitar riffs. We call a spot in the front row on his next tour.
Lauv is an extraordinary artist with a stylistic vision. A vision that is making an impact on the music industry one day at a time. And with his impact, we admire that Lauv is able to stay true to himself, his music, and his fans. We genuinely loved having the pleasure to talk to him and we can only hope we see each other again in the future.