Back in August 2016, Lauren Aquilina released her debut album Isn’t It Strange? and in October that year retired from creating music for herself. But in 2018, she made her triumphant return to music with “Psycho,” before kicking off 2019 by releasing feisty “If Looks Could Kill.” Now back with her most personal track to date, “Tobacco In My Sheets,” this year looks set to be an exciting one for Lauren. We caught up with her to discuss her new single, future plans and what it felt like returning to music after two years away.
Hi Lauren, you’re currently out on tour in America with Sasha Sloan, how are the shows going for you?
It’s been so fun thank you! Most of the shows were sold out by the time they even announced me as the opening act, so I’m really enjoying the challenge of having to win everyone over each night, knowing that most people probably haven’t heard my music before. Sasha and her band are so nice too so the whole thing has been great.
Can you sum yourself up in five words?
Emotional eater who writes songs ??? Lol.
Your new single, “Tobacco In My Sheets,” is an incredibly powerful and personal number. How did the track come about?
Thank you. It actually started as a joke song (a lot of my songs do). I woke up one morning and my bed was literally full of tobacco and weed, and I started singing to myself what would later become the first verse of the song, about how my mum would probably NOT be proud of me haha. It took about 6 months in total to finish though, I needed to make sure every lyric was perfect.
Throughout your career, you’ve been incredibly open about the struggles faced and you’ve also supported causes including #MeToo when you co-wrote “I Believe You” with Fletcher. Do you feel it’s harder for women to have a voice in the industry?
Yeah definitely, the #MeToo revolution has helped a lot, but I still feel like there are a lot of stones left unturned in the music industry because women are tied into long contracts and maybe can’t speak up as easily. Also, there’s a real lack of women behind the scenes and most teams I’m in are still male-dominated, which is something I hope will change over the next few years.
Musically, your journey hasn’t been the smoothest, but it’s been an incredibly honest one. After two years away, what made you feel it was time to come back?
When I wrote “Psycho” it felt different to all the other songs I’d been writing for other artists. It felt like it had such a big slice of my personality in it that it was gonna be really difficult to give it away. I took a long time thinking about it, because obviously I didn’t wanna do anything that was gonna negatively impact my mental health, but I’ve never been as excited to release anything as I was with that song, so that was enough of a sign for me.
Has coming back felt like a whole rebirth or do you feel like you’ve never been away? In the time you were away aside from writing what did you spend your time doing?
I honestly feel like a brand new artist! I even considered changing my artist name and completely starting fresh, but all the new music is so honest that it just felt right to keep my real name. Even though the new stuff seems a little disconnected from the old stuff, I think it’s nice that my fanbase have grown up with me and been able to see my development. Whilst I was taking my break I also actually got to live my life (I started music full time at 16 so never really got to do that before). I travelled, experimented, had a one night stand… basically did everything all my friends had done at 18. I think I needed all those life experiences to help my writing and artistry too.
You’ve teased that a new release is around the corner, “Psycho,” “If Looks Could Kill” and “Tobacco In My Sheets” show three different musical sides so what should fans expect from the upcoming release?
The thread I’m trying to run through all of my music from now on is honesty, and just making sure that every song I put out I think is one of my best. I don’t wanna settle for anything that I don’t like as much but will ‘make sense for streaming’ or ‘work better with my other songs’. I’m just trying to make a body of work that I’m 100% proud of, cause I think the fans can sense that too.
Have you started any work on the upcoming EP? Or do you have anyone in mind who you’d love to work with?
Yes, definitely. I’m writing constantly, and I find that most of my best stuff for this project comes from me working with my friends and people I’m really comfortable with. There’s a guy called Jonny Hockings who’s one of my best friends (we wrote “Psycho” and “TIMS” together), and also this incredible producer Lostboy who is producing all of my stuff at the moment. I wanna carry on working with them as much as possible, and also I wanna work with more female writers and producers! I love working with girls, I feel like it’s always gonna come out with a different perspective that way.
In five years’ time, where would you like to see yourself?
Hopefully still making music full time, traveling a lot, helping other young women with their music careers. Also, I hope I have my drivers licence by then lol.
To date, what’s your favourite lyric from any of your tracks?
There’s a line at the end of “Tobacco In My Sheets” – ‘Mama, I just don’t understand, how you still raised up my brother to a man’. That will probably always be one of the most personal lyrics I ever write and be really special to me.
Which other artists are you loving at the moment?
Ugh, there’s so many! I love Sasha Sloan, I love FLETCHER, my housemate Orla Gartland is AMAZING, and I’ve been working a lot with Rina Sawayama too who is incredible. I’m really lucky that I work with and know so many talented women in music.
What’s next on the cards for your 2019?
After this tour I’m doing some UK shows with my friend Nina Nesbitt who I’m a huge fan of, and then I get back to finishing my EP! I’m trying to organise another US tour before the end of the year too, definitely got the bug for it now.
We’ll be honest, after this interview, we definitely want to be best friends with Lauren. We don’t just love her incredible, diverse sound but also her honesty about her struggles and realness which is what we absolutely love seeing in the music world.
Lauren Aquilina’s new single “Tobacco In My Sheets” is out now. We have a feeling we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot of Lauren Aquilina in 2019, keep an eye on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates.
What do you think of “Tobacco In My Sheets?” Tweet us @CelebMix to share your thoughts.