LP's Guide to Becoming an LP Fan
The 'Lost On You' singer looks back on her catalog and previews new album 'Heart to Mouth,' out Dec. 7.
Laura Pergolizzi, better known by her stage name LP, is the first to admit how unpredictable her recording career has been. After getting dropped by a former label, she put out a song called “Lost On You” that eventually become a massive European smash, reaching the top 10 in half a dozen countries by the end of 2016. (It’s one of several hits she’s had in Russia, a feat she still doesn’t quite understand: “There’s something in my work in Russia that hits a nerve or something,” she shrugs.) Her writing credits for other artists are just as eye-catching, having penned material for everyone from Cher to Cher Lloyd, Joe Walsh to Rihanna, the Backstreet Boys to Heidi Montag.
Yet going with the flow and focusing on the music -- not the reaction to it -- is LP's M.O. these days. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” the singer tells Billboard in late October after previewing songs from her fifth studio album, Heart to Mouth, during a Facebook Live session. “Even putting this new record out, I have no idea what’s going to happen. You know what I do know is going to happen? I do know that I already have another record ready to go that I’m going to put out after this. And if they like it or don’t like it, guess what? I’m putting out another record after that. I’m just going to try to put out work that I believe in, and then put out more.”
Below, LP looks back on and evaluates her catalog, picking out her best performances, the surprising fan favorites and the song that almost ended up with Shakira.
The Song I Have to Include in Live Sets Or Fans Will Riot:
At this point, “Lost On You” has to be the one. I also get a lot of shit for not putting “Tokyo Sunrise” in every set, but sometimes it’s just too slow for me.
The Song I Always Want to Perform No Matter What:
“Into the Wild." I'm amazed I never get sick of singing that song. It just feels good to me. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like my song anymore. It feels like I'm covering this fucking sick artist that I love. I love singing "When We're High," too, because that one seems hard, but is easy. It has all of this high [register] stuff in it, but it's so easy to sing, it's fun.
The Song That Best Showcases Me as a Vocalist:
I would hate to say that ever, but I think “Dreamer” and “Die For Your Love” [from Heart to Mouth] are both high-intensity vocal performances that I'm proud of. And good luck to me doing that every single night onstage. I definitely bite off a lot to chew vocally when I'm on the road. I'll never be able to have a glass of wine at night again -- a completely straight-edge tour! I remember back in the day, “Tokyo Sunrise” had these super-high notes in it, and you're just doing your set and looking down at the setlist like, “Oh shit, here it goes!” My fans have come to expect a certain type of singing from me, and that's just my way now. I feel like all of my songs are so belt-y and high -- that's my thing.
The Song That Best Showcases Me as a Lyricist:
“Hey Nice to Know Ya” I really like -- there’s a bridge in there that’s almost like poetry. I feel like there’s a fine line between being direct and also making it poetic. I like to try to accomplish both. “Dreamcatcher” is like a poem, basically. And I think “One Night in the Sun” is a pretty cool song. It’s one of my favorites. A lot of people tattoo “Walk slow and low on a tightrope” [from 2016’s “Tightrope”] on them. I don’t know why, but they like that song from my last record. I just came across an Instagram site that’s all tattoos of me or my lyrics. That’s really crazy. I’m always kind of blown away.
The Weird Sound I Am Most Proud Of Sneaking Onto My New Album:
There's a song called “Special,” and I love the distorted vocals -- it’s just a little bit dirtier. There’s a lot of similar production because Mike Del Rio from my last record produced it again, but it’s also a little more atmospheric and darker. I like this record, especially, because I do feel like it’s not trying to be my last record. It’s just its own thing, and I’m looking forward to disappearing into the world of this record a little on tour. [“Special” has] a real rock sensibility to it. I often feel like more of a pop-type artist, but I think at heart, I’m really much more of a rock artist. My shows are super rock shows.
The Song That Still Makes Me Emotional On Stage:
I get pretty emotional during “Recovery.” That song is like the crying scene in a movie to my set. It has to be sung with emotion otherwise it would come off silly. You can't be robotic about it. You've got to commit. You can't do the crying scene of a movie laughing, right? Otherwise it wouldn't be the crying scene! There’s so much [messaging in society about] “Keep your happy face on, get over it, get through it.” Music is the time when we let our guard down -- when we’re in the car, when we’re doing something solitary. It’s definitely a sweatpants song.
The Song I Can’t Believe I Co-Wrote
I have a song with Joe Walsh on his Analog Man album ["Hi-Roller Baby"]. It’s a song that I wrote for myself with Tim Armstrong from Rancid. That’s just a wild songwriting credit. I’m like, “Okay, very strange, very cool, Joe Walsh from the Eagles is singing a song I wrote with Tim Armstrong from Rancid!”
That's one of the many times I realized that songwriting is so unpredictable. You just never know. “Lost On You” took me all over the world. I played that song for Warner Bros. when I was on Warner, and I got dropped like three weeks after I played it for them. That song could have been sitting on my computer for years. It’s hard to believe that six or eight months later, I’m playing sold-out shows all over Europe. It’s so strange. Art is so subjective, [yet] someone could listen to your shit and decide your fate in an office somewhere. I’ve had friends signed to a label where the guy that signed them was selling phones six months before that. He was working for fucking Verizon and now he’s a goddamn music expert? Okay, dude! These kind of things will boggle your mind.
The Deep Cut I’m Surprised Became a Fan Favorite:
“Switchblade.” I mean, the amount of people that have freaked out to me about that song is funny -- that song was never a single. Even my best friends would be like, “That’s probably not one of the best songs of yours.” My experience has been so wild that I’m like, “Of course this is something.” That’s why I try to really hold back on any expectations.
The Song That Gets a Totally Different Reception Overseas
“Lost On You." Even on this record, I feel like half the world is waiting for me to write another “Lost On You,” and the other half is like, Lost on what? I’ve had three No. 1s in Russia, “Lost On You” included. It is very weird [to be big in Russia right now]. I just go on the basis of people, and the people have been nothing but wonderful to me. I’ve made so many friends there, and I know we’re all the same. Our governments do what they do, but when it comes to people, I’ve met nothing but great people.
The Song I Wish I Could Fix With One More Day in the Studio:
A big chunk of [2014’s] Forever For Now -- I'd love to just dismantle that whole thing. If I could do Forever For Now again, I'd put out the demos of all of the songs instead of all the fucking slick, ridiculous production that I was forced to endure.
The song “Night Like This,” the demo of that? Every cool friend I had -- super-hip indie-motherfuckers, famous, not famous — were all like, “What is that song? Holy shit!” Then it went through the fucking rock tumbler of production and all of a sudden was never the same.
It was a long story with that song anyway. I gave it to Shakira, and she was supposed to put it on her record. They really wanted it. Then my label heard my version of it and wanted me to record it as the first single, so they made me take it back. At the time, [Shakira’s team] was calling us every day asking if we were sure we were going to use that song. I think she took a different turn on her record, and I don’t even know if she would have used it in the end. I just know that she would have done a better job. Shakira would have made it way sexier. I mean, Shakira makes everything sexy. Just add Shakira -- instantly sexier.