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Twenty-year old Laurel Smith, artist and producer from North London, opens up about her experiences as a young woman navigating the music industry, and shares some inspirations behind her debut EP TRASHSTARWRLD.

Annabel Ditchfield: Where did you grow up and how did it shape your music style today?

Laurel Smith: I grew up in North London. I've lived in the same house my whole life, never moved. My parents shaped how I make music now because they always played me a lot of music. My mum was playing me music when I was in her belly and singing to me. My dad played me a lot of rock [music] growing up and when we were going in the car with him on trips, those old CD cases where you could flip them, I used to get handed that and I got to pick what CDs to listen to. It was Pink Floyd, AC/DC... all that type of stuff. I’d say I definitely had a rock-y upbringing.

AD: Are your parents musical then?

LS: Yeah, they are. They aren’t professional musicians, but my mum used to sing in a jazz band when she was younger and my dad has a little set-up upstairs with a whole bunch of guitars. He doesn’t take it too seriously, but I guess you could say they are pretty musical.

Laurel wears bralette NASTYGAL; trousers COLLUSION; rings PIECES; earrings ASOS

AD: So when did your career really pick up? Or has it been more of a progression?

LS: When I got my management, I was like ok yeah, we’re going to do this properly. Also when I decided not to go to university and to do music full time, I think that was the moment it solidified for me. I started taking music really seriously when I was 17, 18 years old.

AD: How would you define your music style?

LS: I don’t tend to put myself in a box because I think throughout my career, I’m going to want to explore so many different areas. I guess if I had to say, there’s a lot of hip hop influence because that’s mainly what I listen to, and also a bit of rock in there and I definitely want to explore that more. Aesthetically it’s ethereal, sci-fi, alternative… sometimes dark.

AD: What is the creative process behind the production of a new song?

LS: It differs for me. I know some people have a very regimented way that they do everything but for me it’s very random. I have a little notes page and sometimes I’ll just think of a lyric and write it down. But in the past year I’ve also started producing, so recently my process has been starting right from scratch, making the best and then writing over it. I enjoy this a lot as it gives me a lot of creative freedom, and I’m the only person involved in the process. It gives you a nice power, especially as a female artist.

AD: How does management play into that process?

LS: To be honest my manager is great, he doesn’t get involved in the creative process which is good as that’s the most important part. He gives me little bits of advice, but his input is mainly from the business side of things. But yeah, he just lets me do my thing which I really like.

AD: And being a young female artist that’s something really important! Can you tell us the inspiration behind your previous single ‘LIKE THAT’?

LS: So this is probably one of the most personal songs that I’ve ever put out. I have a close friend who was going through a really bad time mentally, to the point where she wasn’t really happy with life at all. So it’s basically a love song for her, to show that I care but also showing how someone else’s mental health, if you’re close to them, can affect you as well. I think [that] at the time, I didn’t really realise how the situation was affecting me.

AD: Is there a big takeaway that you want people who listen to it to take from it?

LS: Yeah, keeping an eye out for your friends is a really important one, but also not getting too sucked into someone else’s stuff. To be there for your friend, but also to protect yourself at the same time and not get too drawn into the situation.

AD: Have you produced a music video to go with it?

LS: Yeah, we made a video, which was really fun. We decided to make it feel quite homemade. It was me and my friend running about, being silly. I think it really captures the energy between me and my friend.

AD: Has your friend been involved in the process at all?

LS: She made the outfits for the video; she made these massive furry leg warmers out of IKEA carpets. She’s an amazing designer so I wanted her to do that, to be involved in some way.

AD: In the future, what direction do you want your music to take?

LS: If we’re being realistic, in the industry we’re in, success is defined by being big, being on the radio, people knowing your name. So that’s where I’m heading, I want to be at that level one day.

AD: And how are you finding it, being a young female artist in the industry, are there any major challenges and how have you overcome them?

LS: There definitely are challenges. I’ve been going in and out of studio sessions since I was 17 years old. And at first it was a big struggle knowing how to hold your own in the studio and to make sure your ideas are getting across when there are a lot of people in there, and especially because I’m usually the only girl in the room. As the only female in the room, I think people tend to underestimate you, which is also why I love the fact that I’m producing at the moment.

Something that has really helped me is being part of a collective called Loud London. It’s basically a group of 50 girls, and we put on events and give each other support. If someone’s had a bad experience lately, they’ll come in and talk about it, we’ll give them advice. But it’s a really nice space for everybody.

Laurel wears hoodie MINGA LONDON; earrings PIECES; boots NASTY GAL

AD: Are there any big mentors in your life? Who has been your support network throughout?

LD: Definitely my mum, because before I got my manager, my mum was sort of my manager. I just love how much time and energy she’s put into my career; she really wants it for me which I’m so grateful for. So definitely my mum.

AD: Outside of music, what do you enjoy doing?

LD: I really like gaming, I have a PS4 and I play a lot with my friends. I used to play with them at school and I was the only girl. That’s how I learnt to hold my own, by shouting at boys down the mic. [laughs]

AD: Final question, what is your favourite f-word?

LD: I’m going to say finalisation, for me this is something that I’m trying to do more. I have a habit of starting projects and not finishing them.


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