LO The X-Press Interview

If you haven’t heard of Lo, it’s time to change that. Introducing the solo project of Lauren O’Hara (Flossy); a mesmerising, heartbreaking and refreshingly genuine take on the sad-girl pocket of indie music (see: Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Lana Del Rey) that is currently sweeping the world. Lo both embodies this genre and makes it her own; managing to intertwine a sense of nostalgia into every song she writes. Speaking of which, her debut single Floating is currently sitting at around 140,000 streams on Spotify, a staggering result for an unheralded local act, attracting fans from all over the world desperate to hear more of what Lo is offering. Her debut EP Plan For An Independent Future dropped in April, bringing with it a journey through an emotional landslide. SUTTON AVERY spoke with O’Hara about the beginnings of Lo, and everything she’s experienced thus far. 

The success of your debut single Floating is quite remarkable. Did you have any expectations when you released it? Did it kind of confirm that you weren’t wrong to believe in and pursue the project? 

I didn’t have any expectations with the release. I was shocked and very happy to see it added to multiple Spotify playlists. The response has been very kind, I’ve had the sweetest messages from people all over the world telling me how my music has affected them, and I’m very grateful for that. And yeah, it did confirm that it was the right choice to pursue the EP, because I’m a strong believer in things flowing when they’re meant to be.

A lot of people just discovering Lo assume this is an entirely new project, something you’ve just started now. But this is something that stretches a lot further back, right?

Yeah, Lo is a project I’ve been working on since I wrote one of my first songs Shadows at age 12. “It’s enough that you don’t want me/ Broken inside my body” is where it started; an apparent brokenhearted pre-teen! I’ve always written by fleshing out my insecurities and doubts and based many of my songs around the things that scare me. I only decided to put a name to the project a couple of years ago when I started performing solo again.

You’ve been playing in the Perth music scene for quite a few years now. How did you know it was time to really pursue Lo? 

I think I felt it was just time. I’d put it aside for a few years but in the back of my mind there was still a burning desire to write music in this style and see where I could take it. At first, the EP was for personal fulfilment and then I realised I couldn’t keep it in. I felt like I owed it to myself to see what would naturally grow from officially releasing it.

Embarking on such a personal project and taking it into the studio to record Plan For An Independent Future, how did you go about choosing the kinds of people you wanted to have involved?

I went into this project being very selective. I wanted the experience to feel right, to feel like every piece was supposed to be there. Andrew Lawson – who recorded and produced the EP – said that he heard ‘magic’ in the demos and insisted we make this EP. I met Caitlin Norris (Tether) shortly after, just at the time I was looking for a drummer. I went to a few of her shows and instantly wanted her to record on the EP. It was important for me to work with more women in every part of the project – Becki Whitton mastered the EP and Codie Sundstrom (Tether) photographed the artwork – as I haven’t experienced that a lot in the past. I knew all these people believed in it, and knowing that really solidified my choices. Those days in the studio were incredible. I felt so focused and sure of myself even when I wasn’t. I soaked up the entire experience, learning from Andy and Caitlin and not holding myself back, where in the past I’ve felt quite insecure about my abilities.

A lot of the songs on this record feel deeply emotional and desperate at times (in the best way), can you give me a little insight into what some of those tracks are really tapping into?

I wrote It’s All On You back in about 2014. It was based around this person that I was drawn to from afar. I never had a proper conversation with them but I was deeply intrigued by them. The whole song is about imagination and constructing a relationship in your head based on your desires. It sort of starts off in reality with the lyrics, “I can’t help but stare/ Hearts in my eyes/ We’ve never spoken/ But I’ve tried” and makes its way into imagination with verses like; “And then when you touched me/ All over my neck/ I knew that you liked me / Although I’m a wreck”.

Floating I wrote early last year when I was staying down south for a few days. I was at a point in my life where I was so unsure about everything I was doing and felt like I couldn’t wholeheartedly give myself to one thing out of fear of missing out on another or making the wrong choice. Words like, “Don’t drink/ Eat well/ Be with you/ Or be in hell,” are saying that this is where I’m at. I can’t decide shit. The small stuff and the life-altering stuff. And then the last song on the record, Fiction, was a song I wrote shortly before heading into the studio to record it. It was basically just lyrics and melodies, and we worked on everything else as we tracked it.

I was with someone knowing there was an expiry date to our relationship. It’s about how we were both falling into each other while keeping our walls up and accepting the inevitable end. Being able to enjoy the time we had while we had it. It’s a really desperate song and I hope it comes across that way because that’s exactly how I felt when I wrote it. It was basically saying, “I love you and goodbye.”

The EP has a lot of different energies dancing throughout it. We move from slow and heartbreaking to 90s style instrumentation on tracks like Unclear, and then we have moments of sardonic pop with tracks like The Dream. What kind of influences would you cite as shaping both you as an artist and the final form we see this EP taking?

Fiona Apple has always been an influence for me, even though our music is very different. I’m obsessed with her as a person, her thoughts and poetic writing. She inspires me to be bare and honest. I was listening to a lot of The Japanese House and Pheobe Bridgers when I recorded the EP. Lately, I’ve been listening to Now, Now, Marika Hackman, Hayley Williams, Caroline Rose, all of which are influencing the stuff I’m working on now.

Your EP launch was booked for April this year, but with the current circumstances you’ve had to push back. Will this show see you performing as Lo with a band for the first time?

Yes, it will! I’m really excited to get a band together. I’m not in a rush finding members, I have a guitarist and drummer for the EP Launch – whenever that will be – and then I’ll think about either remaining solo for local shows or having a permanent band later on. With the current state of the world, my main focus with Lo is writing new songs and working on the next release! I’ve already started demoing at home.

Do you have a favourite track on the EP? Now that it’s out in the world, which song do you think you’d connect with as a listener?

My personal favourite is It’s All On You. I originally recorded this song at home about two years ago and unofficially released it. I quietly removed it from all platforms when I knew I was re-recording it with Andy. I don’t know if it’s my favourite because it feels most sentimental or maybe it’s because I sink into it every time. It almost feels like it isn’t my song because I listen to it from a different perspective now.

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