Friday saw the release of rising indie-pop sensation Laura von Mari’s debut EP Forevermore. The five track album packs a punch considering its length as Laura introduces listeners to her unique blend of indie-pop with electro and soul elements. She previously released two of the tracks, “F**k You” and “Different Road,” as singles leading up to the full EP’s release across all streaming platforms. The two singles are accompanied by the album’s title track “Forevermore,” “If You Want It” and “Fog,” which is a personal favorite. We got the chance to chat with Laura ahead of the EP’s release and got the rundown on how she was drawn to music, her inspirations and Beach Boys history.
Hey Laura! So how’s it going?
Good. Good. I’m doing well. How are you?
Good. Where abouts are you at the moment?
I’m just outside Boston right now. I’m here just visiting family. I was born in the city and raised in the suburbs. So I’m in my childhood home right now, which is bringing back such pandemic vibes. But after that, I’m headed to London for a couple of weeks to visit some friends and to do a little bit of live music performing. I’m supporting an artist who’s going on tour there.
So are you going on tour with that artist or is it just like a couple shows?
It’s just a couple of shows.
What album cover would be your current mood?
That’s a good question. Do I go minimalist and abstract? I’m gonna go with Aja by Steely Dan. I find a lot of tranquility and peace when I look at that album cover.
So that’s kind of how you’re feeling, just waiting for enjoying the calm at the moment?
Yeah, enjoying some time back home with my family. It’s nice to come back to where you’re from? But there’s a limit on these things, you know? We don’t spend more than seven uninterrupted days with our family or bad things start to happen. We all know this as an adult, right? But it’s like those first few days that you really crave and you’re getting all that kind of ‘wholesome with my family’ energy that where I’m at.
So how would you explain your music style?
I guess I would… I’ve talked to someone in A&R who’s described it kind of, and I kind of agree with this… I’d say it’s indie electro soul pop. I feel comfortable putting myself in the kind of indie pop genre. Indie pop really encompasses so many different styles and so I think that’s a good umbrella for me to operating under. I’m gonna be experimenting with a lot of different stuff from synth driven to guitar driven to vocal driven, with no particular image in mind
Kind of going alongside that, how would you explain your own aesthetic as an artist and everything, or is there any image you’re trying to create for yourself?
You know, what’s really interesting is that I think I’m one of the least visually driven people that I know. When it comes to music, like I know there’s a lot of really talented kind of multi-talented artists out there who fuse imagery with their music making. I am very auditory and so there’s no particular image that comes to mind when I make the stuff that I’m making. I would say that I see music as inherently kind of colorful and I don’t know, auditorily very bright. I would describe it, but I wouldn’t say I’m going for any particular image.
I saw that you used to put out work under the name, Kirsi.
Yeah, that’s correct. That’s the street I grew up on as a kid. I lived in London for two years. I went to school there for a bit and I kind of fell into the dance music community without really meaning to and found a lot of like joy. I think maybe it was the pop songwriting and doing that for coursework. Anytime you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do really, really well at something, you can find the joy really gets sucked out of it. Dance music helped me kind of rekindle the joy that I felt for the music making process without having the pressure of lyrics and storytelling on my shoulders. You could just be sonically inventive and you could just set yourself a really straight challenge of like, “I want this one to make people dance. I want this one to make your eardrums bleed. I want this one to ect.” I did that for a bit and just as a student, just kind of put out some dance music for fun and I’m actually gonna do be doing more of that soon, but I’m not chained to any one of those two genres, it’s just something I randomly fell in love with when I lived in England.
Do you have an idea of what the balance will be between this more dance music and your EP type style that you’re about to release, which is very lyric based in its music?
I guess the only plan that I have is to keep them very, very separate. I haven’t spoken to a single person in the music industry who thinks it’s a good idea for your image or your sound to be all over the place. We look for cohesion. We look for something familiar. You know, when you turn on a track and you’re like, “oh, that’s Justin Bieber.” It’s like unmistakable something about the style of the lyrics he chooses to sing, something about the timbre of his voice, something about the beats that he sings over. You just know when you hear it or like a Coldplay song. The second you hear it, there’s something really distinctive about it. So, I like to say that I’ve got these two kind of sides of me, these two coexisting personalities. One of them really likes to express themselves in rhythm and like without too many words. And the other one of me is very kind of classically trained songwriting background, likes to write pop music, but it is a task writing music that’s both.
Transitioning from that into talking about your inspirations for your music, are there inspirations from when you were growing up that really made you feel like, “yeah, music’s the way I gotta go?”
So my dad is a pianist and a piano teacher, so I was born in a house always filled with music. But the first music I have really strong memories of is classical. I would wake up in the morning and my dad would be practicing something and I was very blessed to grow up in a house with a piano and someone who knew how to play it in the house. So my very first instrument was the piano. My very first thing I was ever passionate about was music. One of the very first things I can remember learning and wanting to learn more about was music. I had all those resources right under my own roof because my dad’s chosen profession was to be a musician and a teacher, and my dad happens to be one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever known. I didn’t realize that not everyone’s dad is a good explainer until I went to school and my geometry teacher’s trying to explain to me geometry, and I know he’s somebody’s dad, you know? And I’m like, “geez, you explain this that way to your kids and they get it. I’m not buying it.”
Are there any artists or groups that you take inspiration from, either with you’re dance music or focusing more on your EP at the moment, that kind of indie pop with the electro soul, is there anyone that kinda inspired that style in you?
I think if you’ve listened to the full EP, I think you’d agree there’s definite cohesion to all of the five songs, but at the same time, each one really has its own personality.
“Forevermore” – is kind of like old school Justin Timberlake inspired groove and sensuality.
“Fog” – I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to much yacht rock, but fog felt like kind of a fusion of if Mac DeMarco really liked yacht rock. So it’s very like guitar driven, but it’s also very… it’s got a kind of silky eighties grooviness to it.
“F**k You” – feels like I don’t really know where to put that song. I don’t really know who to shout that out to but I will say that I use very jazz voicings for those chords and so that’s really exciting to incorporate that. So “F**k You” is kind of my tribute to, to my jazzier side.
I’d say I listened to a lot of Steely Dan growing up. I’ve already mentioned that artist once. I love them. That’s like my dad’s. I grew up with a white American dad and every white American dad is one of two dads. You have your Bruce Springsteen dads and you have your like Steely Dan dads.
“If You Want It” – I was listening to a ton of Majid Jordan at the time, I have no idea why, but I was in a hard like pop R&B phase where I was listening to a lot of Majid Jordan produced Drake music. And I was listening to a lot of old stuff for my childhood, like old Britney Spears and stuff like that.
“Different Road” – I really don’t know what to say for that one. That one also has some jazz stylings and vocals to it, but it’s got a synth base in it and it’s very kind of groovy. I’d say that one’s a mix of all four of them.
I fumbled around in the dark a lot before because you inherently know the more and more you make music, the more you realize like, “what is this?” You can be very critical of yourself and you can hold it up alongside other stuff. And the two questions I kept asking myself are, “am I making a cohesive style of music? Do I have a cohesive identity?” You really need to find that cohesive voice as an artist. Before I felt comfortable like releasing, I went, “all right, now I’m in a vein. Now I have a style. Now I have a pattern. Now I have a trajectory,” and that’s something I’m following and I’ll be releasing more in November and December and January and stuff. *add more?*
You mentioned like new music coming in November. Is that going to be more singles related to the EP?
Yep. Just some follow-up singles. I’ve got a follow up single. I’m aiming for November, but of course it’s got to head to engineering and stuff.
So with the songs on this EP, what’s been the timeline and the process of really creating all this music?
Yeah, so the oldest song on there, I first put pen to paper on four years ago. The pandemic really knocked me for a loop and I wasn’t getting much done. I wasn’t very productive. I had the beginnings of a couple of these songs and I hadn’t yet started on other ones, and I was just really finding that narrative voice when the pandemic hit. It’s incredible what can happen to your narrative voice when you end up back in your childhood bed bedroom. You feel like all of the independence and autonomy and self-possession that you’ve earned as an adult are suddenly like on mute. You know how they say, like you test well in a place where you studied. It’s like that, like I was pulled instantly away from the place that I was doing all of the studying and doing all the making of this music and put back in a place where I felt like a child again.
So the oldest song on this track, on, on this album is “F**k You,” which I first started writing four years ago. And so I’ve got so many more songs, ’cause obviously since I’ve been working against a back catalog, as you can imagine, the next song that comes out in November is two and a half years old. So I’m hoping to catch up with my back catalog but it just took me a while to find my courage and find my voice, I guess.
It also had professional engineers involved in the recording in some of the recording and in most of the mixing and mastering stages. And so those are professional people who have busy schedules that they’re working against and I am an extreme perfectionist, so I have multiple things working against me at all times. I’m not Picasso, I don’t just chart out, you know, expressionist nonsense. *check recording*
If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
Probably Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. That was arguably the one of the greatest albums ever made, if not the greatest album ever made. Something that’s actually really interesting, if you didn’t know this piece of history, I learned this a few years ago, is that The Beatles and The Beach Boys existed in tandem with each other and in a way they’re rivaling success on different continents, and then of course they both made transatlantic jumps because of their excellence, pushed them to be better. So like while the Beach Boys went on tour, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys stayed behind to make Pet Sounds because The Beatles had just released, I don’t even know what album the Sergeant Pepper or something [The Beatles had just released Rubber Soul the year prior]. But basically he was like, “I can’t rest. There’s too much work to be done. I have to push the envelope even further.” And thus was born the amazing work of art. If you haven’t listened to it in its entirety Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.
I’ve listened to that album like in the sequence it was written and I’ve listened to it on repeat. I can’t even tell you how many dozens of times I’ve listened to that album, every song on that is great.
So we’ll circle back to your EP again. Do you have a favorite song off of it or any one of the five that really sticks with you a bit more than the rest or are they all your babies?
That’s a good question. Do I have a favorite? Yeah, definitely. Because like after you’ve listened to songs, and you have to hundreds of times because of the mix process and then the mastering process or the compositional process, I really would love to never have to hear these songs ever again. Part of me would, but at the same time, I stand by the quality of what I’ve done. And if I was gonna have to kind of apply the same framework of the previous question to this album and say like, “well which of these songs would I not mind listening to over and over and over again?” I think I’d probably say “Different Road.”
I was torn between that and “F**k You” because I really enjoy it. “F**k You” is such a joy and that came from such a funny place in me that it still amuses me how I wrote that, ’cause it’s like obviously extremely vulgar and like very uncouth and rude but sometimes you need to say things like that to people. But it just says the word fuck so many times I don’t think I could force myself to listen to it on repeat, you get tired of it. It’s quite repetitive. Someone asked me actually in an interview, ‘do you know how many times you said the F word in that song?’ And I’ve actually never sat down and counted, but I should.
I just like the way the chords move, the fact that I’ve included some really lush background vocals to parts of [“Different Road”], and I really enjoy the bridge to that song in particular. I really love a good bridge and I’m terrified that one day I may let myself down and write a bridge that isn’t good, but like the middle eight is everything to me.
Totally. Yeah. I think personally when I was listening to it, I was like, “oh, I can’t wait for “Fog” to be on Spotify because it’s going on this playlist and this playlist and I gotta send it to this person.”
So it’s interesting that you said that, because I’m making a lot of stuff that sounds a lot more like “fog” these days. That’s the first song I ever wrote that I composed at a guitar and it’s the only song on there that was composed on the guitar. A lot of them include guitars in them, but they were all composed at a keyboard or a piano or a Rhodes or a Wurlitzer.
Just what you were mentioning there, I was kind of curious about your process of creating music. Do you start more with some portion of lyrics of like, oh, I thought of these words and they fit well together, or is it more chord based or key based, like starting with the instruments and finding the words that fit how that feels for you?
The latter is how I’ve historically worked. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life since I grew up in a place with a piano, and I always had at least a crappy acoustic guitar somewhere. And when I went to school, I had access to studios that had a piano and a guitar and instruments in them. So when I song write, I can do it at an instrument and so historically the way I’ve written is I sit in an instrument and I compose chords first and I find a melody. But since I’ve been traveling a lot and I haven’t always had access to a keyboard or a guitar, I find I’m doing a lot more driving and writing in my head and it’s usually a melody and a lyric in my head. So for the first time ever, I have on my phone all these lyrics with no chords to go with them and I’m kind of scared to do my process in reverse. For the first time ever, I have like four full songs written with the entire lyrics, melody, bridge, b section of the bridge, all written lyrically. And I’m gonna have to Elton John it like somebody else wrote them, put the lyrics next to the piano and find the chords that go with it. And I’m absolutely procrastinating on doing that because I’m so afraid I’m not gonna get it right, but I’ve got some time here at home and I’m gonna do it.
So you’re playing shows in London, are you planning any tours/any shows in the US we can keep an eye out for and get excited about?
I am in the process of learning live version ’cause I’m a real studio rat. So all of these songs were written, never intended to be performed. These were all me experimenting as a songwriter and as a producer. Part of the reason I’m here is to just incubate a little bit and learn to play these songs because just because you’ve made them at a keyboard and a guitar doesn’t actually mean you know how to play those chords and sing over them at the same time. My hope is by 2024, I’ll be in a place where I’ll have generated enough interest maybe through the streaming and publicity game that I could put on a small show in LA, put on a small show in Boston or something and start doing some live performances. Of course I can play the songs, but can you make them captivating and exciting and a fun, live performance experience for people? That’s something I’ve never challenged myself to do. I spend so much time in the studio, so I’m excited for that.
What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
My signature pizza. Ooh! I know it would have mushrooms on it. I love mushrooms. I have no idea why, but I’m really big fungi person over here. It would have a bunch of different types of mushrooms on it, and maybe for posterity some prosciutto or like some fig jam. You know how the artisanal pizza places are always mixing flavors that you’re like, “oh, Rosemary Chipotle,” that sounds terrible by the way I don’t even know why I said those two things together, but you know, they’re always mixing things. I would probably call it “Mush Love – Laura.”
What kind of mushrooms though?
Like some champignons, you know, like some small French foragy little mushrooms as well as some like baby Bellas and, I don’t know, maybe even a shiitake.
Just a massive portobello right in the middle.
Yeah, there you go. In the shape of a heart.
Oh, perfect. Done. Get it on the menu.
So just to round things out, what have you got going on the rest of this year and going into 2024 then?
I think you’ve heard it all already. I’m gonna be rehearsing back catalog, continuing to write and get into engineering more singles and more dance music. I’ve actually got two dance tracks that are completed and that I’m gonna be pushing to the playlisting and publicity stages in September/October. So I’ve got a couple things going on.
To keep up with all of Lauren von Mari’s future releases and upcoming shows, follow her on Instagram.