IN CONVERSATION WITH APRIL
words Charlie Newman - photography courtesy of April Lawlor
On the surface, April Lawlor is like every other twenty-something; small-town girl with big dreams, bleaching her hair every colour of the rainbow, ‘practising’ relaxation and getting drunk over Zoom with her friends to celebrate her recent 21st birthday during quarantine-yes it’s a relief to know she was born in April.
Whilst her contemporaries are busy soul searching, April has very much found her calling in her voice, one that is way beyond her years, just like April herself. It’s all too easy to dismiss Generation Z children as internet and self-obsessed, but April defies expectations. She wisely used the internet to springboard her career to what it is today, but without all the #spons, #ads and endless self-promotion we can see through, instead, April is the real deal. Whilst Aprils effortless voice glides through her lyrics, you’ll catch a glimpse of her idols Lana Del Ray and King Princess, but essentially April is April.
Her debut single ‘The Impossible Task Of Feeling Complete’ might have been cornered by Radio 1's Phil Taggart as the ‘Chillest Record in the World’, but whilst we sit back and relax, April is steadily rising, with the official seal of approval from The Sunday Times Culture ‘Breaking Act’, nominating her debut as “a remarkable, sit-up-and-listen introduction…musically timeless.” Pretty tough praise to follow but her debut EP ‘New Conditions’ doesn’t disappoint. We caught up with April via Skype during the lockdown, to discover how she’s coping during quarantine which is by no means hindering her creativity. April single-handedly shot her very own music video for ‘New Conditions’ as well as the imagery for this interview, all in a matter of two days! As I said, wise beyond her years…
CHARLIE NEWMAN: Firstly, congratulations on your EP ‘New Conditions’! Before we venture into that, please can you go back to the beginning and tell us about your upbringing in Ireland?
APRIL LAWLOR: I was born in Dublin but we moved to Kilcullen when I just started school and we’ve lived here ever since. I got into music really early because my dad has always done music, he was always writing songs and it rubbed off on me; there are even videos of me as a baby writing songs and playing the piano! I did piano lessons only for a few months as a child but I never stuck it out, I kind of just taught myself and my dad taught me the basics. I’m not perfect at the piano or guitar but I can play ok!
C.N: And did the songwriting come about the same way at the same time? A.L: I wrote songs throughout my childhood but started to really get into it when I was about 15, they weren’t good but it was the beginning. Last year I got into writing, so it’s only pretty recently that I actually decided to make music.
C.N: We know you first started writing music when you were 10-years-old about “anti-bullying” and “being nice to people” right? Obviously, your lyrics have developed a decade on, but do you still like to have a moral message behind your lyrics, or is it simply a creative outlet for you at that moment in time? A.L: Yeah; right now I’m not thinking too deep into having a big, strong message or anything. Obviously, I still care about my lyrics but I feel like recently the songs I write, like this EP, is about my personal feelings and love. Mostly I draw my lyrics from my own experiences but I’ve also taken inspiration from my friends' relationships, I feel like I never just stick to one thing. I’ve written songs from loads of different inspirations, I find it everywhere, it’s not only me. Well, it mostly is me but not always! You get me…?
C.N: You’ve cited your dad as an extremely important influence on your musical journey. Who else do you look up to and have learnt from within the music industry? A.L: I think my favourite woman artist is Lana Del Ray, everyone loves her, she’s an amazing lyricist, I love that she writes a lot of her own stuff. When I was young I was big into Lady Gaga and all of those artists too. They all have such distinctive looks but I don’t want to rush into having a ‘look’ because I change a lot so I can’t officially brand myself as something. I think it will just happen naturally if it is going to happen.
C.N: Your career really took off when you began releasing music on Soundcloud. Since then, do you feel any pressure to be a certain someone on the internet or do you just roll with it? A.L: Yeah; so another artist shared my music on Twitter and I was really lucky with that because they have a way bigger following than me. But since then, I definitely don’t plan my Instagram but I do sometimes feel like I want to hold back from posting things because more people are looking at my stuff now. I try not to overthink it. My management, thank God, are only focusing on my music, I would hate it to be any other way. I always think of Kesha, because I think she was formed into something she wasn’t; like the whole being a party girl, being drunk all the time.
C.N: As a result of the lockdown, you recently had to make your own music video for ‘New Conditions’ and it’s awesome! How did you make it? A.L: Thank you! So I made it with my sister and also by myself just on my laptop, using Photo Booth or my phone. We went to a school near where we live and used their football pitch and just danced around there. It only took a couple of days. I’ve always loved taking photos, I prefer film but saying that I don’t even have a proper film camera, I’ve always used disposable cameras.
C.N: You should treat yourself and get one! You’re done so unbelievably well for someone so young. What advice do you have for people who’d like to follow a similar path to you? A.L: Just put everything that you make out there. I have friends who want to do this and they’re afraid of posting things because of fear of judgement, and I still get that. But when I first started the most important thing I did was when I made a song I would just put it on Soundcloud straight away and not think about it too much. It’s just the best thing to post everything and not care too much, because if you’re happy with it then share it. Luckily, I’ve not had too many bad comments. This week I had two negative comments on Facebook, and they’re from two old adults so I don’t really care! Why are you wasting your time? It’s so weird! They’re bored at home I get it, but come on! It’s so dumb I don’t take it to heart.
C.N: Last year you joined Alec Benjamin on his European tour. Please, can you tell us about this incredible experience and what you learnt from it? A.L: I learnt that I wanted to do it again! It was so much fun! I learnt to not care so much when I go on stage because I get really, really shy and afraid when I’m on stage. I still am but from that tour, I definitely got a lot of confidence. When you see people actually enjoy listening to your songs, I guess the more you do it the less scary it gets. Going on tour isn’t as crazy as people might think, the team are so normal. My favourite place to perform on that tour was in Paris because I love France and the city, but I think the best show was in London and Dublin because the crowds were amazing. It was crazy when I went to Dublin. I cried because everyone was screaming and I kept thinking, ‘How do you even know me?’
C.N: In ‘New Conditions’ you explore how it’s all too easy to get lost in love without addressing what’s really in front of us. Whilst we’re all stuck at home during lockdown this feels more prominent than ever! How have you been coping mentally with the lockdown? A.L: It’s up and down. Today I feel great but then a few days ago I felt terrible for no reason and I feel like everyone’s going through that. I was thinking about this the other day because music is my career now I feel a pressure to do it all the time. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that, like they feel a pressure to focus and put all their energy into their project right now. But I think it’s smart to try and give that a break. I’ve been painting loads and doing things I didn’t use to do that I actually love because now I have time to do it. I think now is a good time to do things that you’ve been pushing away and just try to ignore things that stress you out as much as you can. That’s easy to say but hard to do. I was like, ‘Why am I not inspired to write a song?’, and then I realised how could I be when I’m in the same place every day? I ordered a big bag of clay yesterday so I’m going to start making pots and stuff! There’s no pressure for it to be perfect it’s just nice to do something else. You can’t force creativity.
C.N: Have you learnt anything about yourself throughout quarantine? A.L: I’ve learnt this week that sometimes I'm definitely too hard on myself and force myself to do things, so for the last few days I’ve been practising how to relax more. It’s weird because there’s so much pressure but also no pressure at all because we’re all just at home! I’ve also realised that I’m somebody who likes to keep their room tidy, that makes me feel great.
C.N: How is it at home during quarantine? A.L: There’s 9 of us!
C.N: Oh wow! A.L: Yes. [Laughs] There are seven kids; I’m the oldest and the youngest is three. I’m trying to babysit her but she’s not really into it, she prefers running around and playing. There are four boys and three girls, it’s very loud here and very stressful sometimes but I’m happy because if it was so quiet I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m sure if somebody else was here and wasn’t used to this, they would go crazy!
C.N: Obviously, the effects of Coronavirus has stilted many parts of our lives and jobs. Once we’re through to the other side, what do you have in store work-wise and what are you most looking forward to? A.L: I’m most excited to travel again, I can’t wait to go on holiday somewhere. I’m also excited to actually perform again, which is work-related but also not really because I love it so much. To perform live music is just the best. I can’t wait to see my friends. I’m pretty upset there aren’t going to be any festivals this year but they’ll be back next year. I’ve written the next EP so now we’re producing it, that will come maybe by the end of this year and then it’s the album after that! I’m so lucky I can take my time with it, I don’t feel like I’m under a huge amount of pressure with it.
C.N: Which artists are you enjoying right now and would recommend to F Word readers? A.L: I always recommend Gus Dapperton, he’s so good. Biig Piig, Blood Orange and King Princess. They’re my 4 favourites right now.
C.N: Lastly, what is your favourite F-word? A.L: I’m going to say fucker, it’s very Irish! An old Irish man would probably say in the pub to you “Oh you fucker” but it’s a nice thing to say, it’s not a negative.
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